How to rev up your business for long term success

By Sarah Stowe | 05 Nov 2018 View comments

As we approach the end of the year, many Australians will head off on road trips over the summer. A successful driving holiday is a bit like owning a business – it may have its ups and downs, but with some careful planning, a clear vision and a focus on the road, you’ll arrive at your desired destination.

Set a goal for your business

What destination is best for you? Like planning a holiday, in business you need to know where you want to go. If you’re going to expand, you need to know what model is best suited to you and the company – perhaps you’ll need to make a change to your structure to maximise your growth potential.

You’ll need to do some research into which is the most appropriate format (a franchise, a licence, a corporate model or a hybrid), starting with clear goals around what you want the result to look like.

Perhaps 2019 will be about selling a successful business and putting your feet up.

Knowing your destination will help you work out the best way to get there.

Be prepared to change course

As well-considered as your plans might be, sometimes things happen. On a road trip, tyres get flat, roads can be blocked off, or hotels lose reservations. In a business, a brand can hit a stumbling block if a new product doesn’t land with the customer base, or perhaps a poorly-managed issue has become a crisis.

You need to be nimble, informed and level-headed to consider the strategy, the risks and the options available to your business to adjust your goals and keep on travelling in the long-term interests of your brand, even if that means a short-term cost or delay in results.

Continuous improvement in all aspects is also vital to stay relevant, viable and attractive.

This may be internal factors such as recruitment, training and human resource management issues. It may be updating premises, investing in new technology, refreshing your branding or marketing platforms like websites or social media presence, and of course, continually reviewing what you are offering.

Are your products meeting a need, or are services fulfilling demand? All these factors require investment to ensure the brand is resilient and attractive in the long-term to investors and new franchisees.

Set your own pace

When driving, you can be distracted by others. You need to focus on driving your own car – assessing your speed, the distance to the next car, what lane you need to be in or your fuel levels.

As you operate a business, you need to keep a close eye on your vitals – your sales, your finances, your marketing, your operations. These are the areas that it does pay to be aware of in your environment.

While you need to have an eye on what your competitors may be doing, you can’t be held hostage by them. You need to know what is happening in your business – seek feedback from employees, step through your customer service to determine improvements, and review products and services to drive innovation.

Avoid unnecessary distractions

Like most road-trips, you will be faced with constant questions from passengers. Are we there yet? Can we stop here? Can we go back and look at something again? This can be distracting, and running a business is no different.

Franchisors, in particular, can often find themselves under pressure to make decisions or changes from franchisees. It isn’t uncommon for franchisees to push for a change they feel will make a positive impact, and their feedback should be welcomed and considered.

However, the business owner is in the driver’s seat. They need to consider the broader brand, strategy and goals of the business – not just one or two vocal individuals.

If it isn’t feedback that is the issue, it may be resistance. This is like having a passenger in the car who doesn’t want to be there.

Why might employees or franchisees be resistant to change? They may be disenfranchised and telling them repeatedly to do something is unlikely to see a change in behaviour.

Instead, it is essential to ‘unpack’ the cause of their resistance – get into their world, find out what their challenges are, have an open and honest dialogue, assess how their team is functioning. Ultimately, the issues can be addressed and managed; alternatively, it may be time for those resisting to travel on a different path.

Stay in control of your business

A clear vision will enable you to realise the final destination for your business. You’ll also need the right rhythm, mood and leadership style, along with a trusted coach who inspires all the stakeholders on the journey.

No matter how many people you have along for the ride, ultimately, you are in control of the business, the brand and the outcomes.