Taking a long-term view of your business, what would you look back on in ten or twenty years’ time as your proudest achievement? Will it be the bottom line or will it be an enduring legacy, thriving innovation or perhaps the development of a talented team of people?
Over the years, I have come to understand that the most successful owner managed businesses are those that are founded on a growth strategy which recognises the need to be profitable while staying focused on purpose.
In my experience these businesses share five key characteristics.
They are founded on a strong vision: having a clear purpose and deliberate, documented strategy for the future. But crucially, the plan is given life and made to work by ensuring that there is a team on board who support the goals, the values and are motivated by the same outcomes as the founder and owner. This underpins a shared culture that is well communicated and supported.
They take a long-term view: these owners are committed to the long game. They have a clear plan and their investment decisions are focused on the activities that will help realise that plan. That’s not to say these businesses don’t keenly track performance in the ‘here and now’ and adjust their plans regularly – it’s rather that they resist allowing hurdles to detract from the end goal.
They understand their customers: these businesses engage with and listen to their customers and in turn build products and services founded on the needs of their customers. They don’t try to create and sell something that their business wants to sell.
They listen to all stakeholder needs: every touch point of the business is fine-tuned to listen and respond to customer needs; but that’s not all – the organisation pays attention to the needs of its people, suppliers, and wider-community. Being receptive to and creating dialogue with all stakeholders is in their DNA.
They make a positive impact: for these businesses, what they do matters in context of the wider community and world in which they operate. Whether this takes the form of creating opportunities for people, reducing environmental impact, engaging in local issues – they are determined to make a meaningful contribution.
Having a clear sense of purpose and destiny that shapes both the day-to-day activity in your business and informs the big decisions gives your business a differentiator, helps attract the best talent and great customers and ultimately underpins sustainable growth.
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Haines Watts Surrey offices in Esher and Godalming.