5 Principles for Business Success

ID-100138627Have you ever been part of a business that really has it together, and really hums?

It’s a good feeling. Everyone knows their part, and it’s nice to get up each day and be part of such well run enterprises.

I’ve been extraordinarily lucky and am very grateful to have worked in a few exceptional companies where this was the case: Virgin Australia, Shell Australia, KPMG, Rio Tinto, Anglo American Mining, DWS Consulting to name a few.

Together with some academic experiences and a bit of time to reflect I’ve developed the following 5 key principles I believe are important at all these businesses to achieve consistent success.

1. Focus: Clients buy because of your organisations strengths, service and sales diligence.

The exceptional companies I’ve experienced were all personable and service orientated. They monitored the quality and client value of their products & services. They were always focused on being more customer centric, or cheaper, or faster to react than their competitors. These companies owned and rectified any mistakes. They remained always diligent in loading their sales pipelines and understood their customers viewpoint.

2. Finance: Financial Management must provide strong Profit.

These exceptional companies were always working to increase margin through non-substitutable benefits for customers. At the same time they never took their eyes of always managing costs. Everyone knew good financial management was important.

3. People: Significant goals are reached by people, in well managed teams.

All these enterprises valued their people. Leaders were honest and hardworking – delegating clearly, encouraging openness, and working to build a supportive culture. Within these companies the best leaders were courageous and decisive.  These people took personal accountability, supported their people, and practiced what they preached.

4. Communication: Communication and Strategic direction matter.

Success seemed to almost always be preceded by leaders taking time out to thoroughly research and develop sound strategy.  SWOT analysis, strategy days, and leadership meetings occurred regularly.  The best leaders inspired by communicating the business strategy direct to their people. These leaders were always out listening to stakeholders and teams for innovation & buy in. These businesses believed that communication should be two way. They listened and responded appropriately when changes were needed – balancing “staying the course” and “changing course” when reality demanded this.

5. Diligence: Great execution isn’t accidental.

All these exceptional businesses put time into developing repeatable processes, planning was treated as important, plans and targets were monitored. In all these cases risk management was in place and leaders created great outcomes through “can do” attitudes.  Through these businesses I learnt to take the time and do my homework thoroughly, often out of sight of my people. To “stay the course” you need to take enough time in the map room to plan the entire journey. If you do diligent planning, I’m sure you’ll be surprised (as I have been) how often your people follow your lead.

Where I’ve seen these principles best demonstrated: Whilst at DWS Qld I worked under a strategic and skilled leader. All these principles were in play with a strategic plan for the state and senior consultants were made part of a consultative leadership team that ran for several years.  In this time, against a contracting market, this branch grew three fold with improvements in team morale, client satisfaction, and profitability.

Separately at Virgin Australia, I was part of the senior leadership team of a very large enterprise transformational change initiative. Once again these five elements were in place and no matter what external challenges came our team succeeded in spades.

Please share your thoughts!

Author: Martin McKern View Martin McKern's profile on LinkedIn

If you want to explore more… some recommended sources:

  • Good to Great, book by Jim Collins. This is an all-time best seller on creating outstanding, long term successful businesses.
  • Repeatable company success can be learn’t. For me the Griffith MBA was a game changer.
  • Talk to me. My twitter and linkedin above will get me.

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