Innovation you require in 2019 to build a successful business

Get something totally new or marshall the power
Get something totally new or marshall the power to disrupt. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Curtains have fallen on 2018, a year in which quoted and unquoted companies have issued profit warnings, many businesses have besen closed down while others are in receivership. As you make your New Year business resolutions, let’s go through how to be successful.

Starting a business takes huge amounts of hard work and time so you had better enjoy doing it. Simply create something people would enjoy using, have fun doing it. Building a business is all about doing something to be proud of, bring talented people together and create something that brings a better difference to people’s lives.

Just as a good artist has to get every single little thing on canvas, as an entrepreneur you have to get every single little thing right when setting up. In fact, you have got to do something radically different to make your mark today.

Figure out the most successfully businesses we have: Apple, Alibaba, Facebook, and Google among others. They shook up the world by doing things that had never been done and continues innovating.

If you are in or enter a crowded sector, offer a different customer service that will blow the competitor away.

To be a good entrepreneur you have to be a great listener, no one has a monopoly on good ideas or advice. Listen to people, draw people out and learn from them. Never openly criticise people; never lose your temper, and always be quick to applaud a job well done; people flourish on praise.

Finding the right people, managing them, inspiring them and holding them together is a major challenge entrepreneurs face.

Your business success or failure depends more on your people, it is said ‘Customer is the king’ but I say employee is the king. People are your key asset, on the front lines of business they can make or break a company. Even the best people need great leadership; as a good entrepreneur you must know your team, its strengths and weaknesses; socialise and listen to the team face to face. One of the most common reasons people leave a job is not being listened to.

While I agree that a strong personality is a great asset, but ‘strong’ does not equate to aggressiveness. It’s often hard to get past your own feelings of frustration when dealing with others, delegating to a member of your team brings fresh ears and eyes and often a different approach and perspective. As for negotiation, the key is to remain calm and collected; if you are getting angry take a deep breath.

Delivering a good customer service requires that a front-line employee receive support from co-workers.

It is impossible to run a business without taking risks. Devote yourself and be prepared to take a few hits along the way. There are probably a lot of 2018 business decisions you regret, but try not to dwell on them, move on to more positive things.

For every entrepreneurial David who has the courage to take on a Goliath with an equivalent of a slingshot and a couple of stones, there are many more who will say you must be kidding. There is no way you can compete with a monster company like Google. Play the role of David; young energetic businesses have advantages when taking on large competitors. Just figure out Goliath’s weaknesses and how best to leverage them.

The four Ps of People, Product, Price and Promotion are the keys to a successful business.

Out of practice I add another vital ingredient: Fun. Your employees and customers like humour and sense of fun. They will be proud to be associated with the company that makes people smile.

Many companies are operating on low cash flow. If you are looking to raise capital, keep it simple and be sure that your business is concrete, has a sustainable growth and unapologetically disruptive.

In life, it’s better to stick to a few simple values and aims; the same holds true for business. When you assess a new business opportunity, submit it to your brand test, if it fails decline and move on. The decision should come from your instinct or experience.

If you pursue your passions, your visions will be more likely to become successful businesses. So, if in 2018 things did not work out, don’t hesitate, take an escape route. Gather your team, discuss what did or did not happen and embark on next venture. Not much older but a lot wiser.

There is no better way to learn how to succeed in business than to learn from your mistakes. Empower your employees to make mistakes and then learn from them. This creates a high level of loyalty, devotion and innovation, when things go wrong the team members feel such ownership and roll up their sleeves for turnaround.

When Steve Jobs died in October 2011, many wondered whether Apple could continue to thrive. His impact is being felt to date. This makes me think more about leadership in building great and strong companies.

As you pursue your entrepreneurial resolution in 2019, take heart, overcome obstacles and ignore critics. Pursue your passion; admit it when you encounter something you are not good at by either delegating it or finding a way around it.

So, if your business did not survive in 2018, just remember that the majority of new businesses do not make it and that some of the best lessons are usually learned from failure. Just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and start all over again.

Happy and prosperous New Year.