There are so many things involved in running a business, but when it comes to winning in business, only one thing
matters – RESULTS.
Winning in the competitive world of business requires more from you than just efforts; it requires an unwavering ability to produce consistent results. All your strategy, marketing and activity must ultimately lead to some results or else, there’s going to be a big problem.
When it comes to competition, nothing differentiates better than results. All your marketing campaign, strategic planning and efficient activities will not compensate for a lack of result. Results are what you can point to, results are measurable, and results silence every doubt in the customer’s mind.
You’ve probably heard the saying, “Action speaks louder than words.” Well here’s the business translation of that saying; “Results speaks louder than promises”.
Meaning, at the end of your promises and after expending all efforts, what matters most is the results achieved. Nobody cares about your efforts, nobody is interested in all your stories, all they want to see and care to know is what you’ve done over the years. In other words, what are the outcomes of all your efforts and how many of your promises have you successfully kept?
To remain in business and win in its highly competitive terrain, you’ve got to keep on getting results.
This unusual article has been specially designed to show you how. Read on …
An unusual challenge
In April this year, 2011, precisely the week of the Easter celebration, Newchild, the I.T. Company I co-founded got a call to attend a meeting where together with some other I.T. companies would compete for a website re-design deal of a big business.
This was our first time of hearing about this business; in fact our name was enlisted as one of the companies to contact due to a referral from one of our customers who got a word about the deal. We got the clue that it was going to be an unusual project judging from the part of town they were located –Lekki Peninsula.
The instruction was very simple; come with your company profile and nothing more. This was an obvious reverse from the norm which was supposed to be come with your proposal and be ready for a presentation.
The meeting was stated for Wednesday and we got the call on Monday. Easter holiday was starting on Friday of that same week, through the weekend till Monday and there was another holiday on Tuesday for the gubernatorial elections in my country.
We were the first to arrive at their office which was located at the tail of Lagos, very close to the Atlantic. We didn’t have a car, so we had to wake up early in order to meet up the time. Some other two companies joined us much later and the meeting commenced.
They are a multinational company formed by the joint-venture between the Chinese, Lagos State government, and some Nigerian Investors. They are developing 3000 hectares of land out of the 16,500 hectares of land set aside for economic development as a Free Trade Zone in Lagos, Nigeria. This obviously meant they were much bigger than we had thought and this was going to be a big break for us.
The following questions were generally put across to the 3 companies represented in the order we arrived;
- “Who are you and where is your company profile so we can know more about you?”
- “How long have you been in business?”
- “What is your staff strength?”
After we all answered, it turned out that our company was the youngest of the three, only two of us presented our company profiles and ours had a better packaging.
They had a poorly designed website which they weren’t very pleased with. The purpose of the website was to attract foreign investors globally to invest in the diverse industries of the Free Zone. They had initially given the website design to several other companies that had promised much but delivered less and so they didn’t want to go by that approach again.
This time, they wanted to twist the approach by asking us to come up with a demo or beta design of their website and the company with the best design gets the deal. We had only one week to deliver this demo site, which meant we had only one working day to ourselves since the Easter and election holidays were coming up.
The company with the most preferred demo design will not only get the contract, but will also be given an award. The game was on!
An Unusual Solution
We couldn’t possibly come up with a winning demo design in just one day, so it meant no holiday for us. To meet the deadline, we had to work both night and day, through the holiday, weekend and even after the election.
In the end, we were a day short. Instead of submitting the demo design on the given day [Wednesday], we sent in ours on Thursday. We thought we had lost our chance.
But guess what?
We were the only company that met the target. In fact, the following day after the meeting, two other companies joined in the bid for the deal making a total of 5 companies competing for the deal. Out of 5 companies, our demo design came in first!
But this is not the highlight of this story, there’s more.
Out of the 5 companies, only two others were able to come up with a demo design of the site and this was sent in two more weeks after the initial deadline had expired. The other two companies till now haven’t sent in anything, they probably weren’t up to the task. So they had 3 demo designs to choose from.
Our design was eventually chosen as their most preferred after one month and we emerged as winners!
As I write this, we are concluding the final phases of the project and will soon upload the site officially. Once it is uploaded, you can view it from our latest project portfolio on our website.
Needless to say, the negotiation was stiff. From an original quotation of a little above 1 million naira, we eventually settled for a little less than half a million naira after considering other non-financial benefits such as recurring maintenance, more referrals and of course, bragging rights!
The Unusual Lessons Learnt
- Size is irrelevant
- Differentiate or die!
- Know your stuff well
- Prepare, Perfect, Persist
Size is irrelevant
Results have nothing to do with size. Big is not always better and greatness is not measured by size!
The first take away from this story is this; don’t be intimidated by your size or the size of any other company for that matter. When it comes to winning and delivering results in business, size should be the last thing you should be worrying about.
Winning and delivering results is more about attitude [insight] than about magnitude [size]. You can be a small company up against other big companies, this shouldn’t intimidate you, rather you should be excited because you can work twice as fast as they ever can as a result of your being small.
We didn’t have a car, we didn’t have their staff size, and we weren’t as long in business as they were, yet we beat them to it. We knew we were going to win right from the beginning, because we believed in ourselves and focused on giving our best. We weren’t in anyway frightened or worried who we were going to compete against, we just kept our eyes on the mark. This matters more than size when it comes to winning and delivering results.
What you must bear in mind is this; it is the result that counts not the size of the team. It is the results that count not the number of years in business. It is the results that count not the size of the car they drive. It is the results that count not the location of their company. The result is what you would be judged against and this depends more on what you got on your inside than what is on your outside.
Differentiate or Die!
Results are not cheap and you shouldn’t expect them to be. From the onset, we didn’t set out as an I.T. company to follow the crowd; we set out to lead them.
Our web designs are not only professional, they are unusual. We strive to make an impression on the client by delivering the extra-ordinary. In a very simple term, the difference is always clear. Our work always stands out when compared with that of others.
So the lesson here is this, creating results begins with being unique. You’ve got to differentiate your market offering from that of the competition even if it means making little profit. On the long run, just in our case, being differentiated will hit you a big break!
Know your stuff well
To deliver results, you need to be well informed. Again, I say to you, results don’t come cheap. They will require so much from in terms of skill and creativity. Knowledge is the secret formula for creating consistent results.
Result is about letting your work speak for itself. To achieve this, you’ve got to know your work better than anyone else. When you know better, you will naturally do better and ultimately achieve better results.
Our team is complete; we have different people responsible for different things when it comes to web design. I lead the team creatively through my conceptual skills as a person and bring my content creation abilities to full bare making sure the right words and phrases are in the right places. We have a graphics person that caters for every image that is to be used and then there is the web programmer and designer himself who ensures the right layout is crafted creatively.
We are not a one man army and we are not a battalion either, we are just a guerilla unit. We are a highly specialized team with each person operating from their core area of strengths and expertise. We know our stuff and allow ourselves enough autonomy to unleash our creativity.
Prepare, Perfect, Persist
This is the ultimate price of results – consistent preparation to perfection. Results don’t come cheap because they take time to achieve!
Long before we got the call, we as a team have been trying our hands on various web design projects on our own. I mean we have been giving ourselves different web design challenges to test our skills and creativity.
We have several company initiated websites that require an unusual level of skill and creativity. We didn’t create websites just when clients need them; we create some for ourselves too.
This is a classical way of being prepared long before the opportunity manifests. You’ve got to keep persisting and improving on whatever it is you do. Don’t fold your arms waiting for the next contract, create one for yourself.
This is especially true for those of us in the creative business; our job is to create always. Whether it is for you or the customer is immaterial, just keep on creating!
Over to you
What other lessons did you learn from this unusual article?
How do you deliver results in your business?
What are some of the challenges you face in trying to deliver results?
Well, here’s the thing, the golden rule of business is no different;
do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Not only is this mindset towards business wrong, it is a losing strategy.
You see, there’s no way you are going to succeed in business if you keep ignoring the fact that business is not different from life, but rather an extension of life.
I cannot over emphasize this enough.
Many businesses fail because they ignore this universal truth. What they have failed to realize is that the same principles that govern life are the same principles that govern business.
The fact is, you cannot separate life from business or business from life. To succeed therefore, your task as an entrepreneur is to create a balance between the two.
This unusual article is about helping you achieve this balance. Read on …
The Golden Rule of Business: It’s never about you!
The secret to creating this balance lies in understanding that success both in life and in business is all about people. People are at the crux of all that we do here on earth. Everything we do, we do because of people.
The products/services you create and hope to sell is not meant for you, but for other people. I have never met a business owner who is in business just to create products/services useful for only him/herself.
The reason people patronize a particular business is because that business is offering something that is both unique and useful to them.
A business that cares about the well being of others ultimately becomes the most profitable. The moment you start putting your needs above that of others, your business begins a downward spin.
The golden path to profitability is putting people first!
Profitability is a function of meeting other people’s needs just as you would have wanted yours to be met.
This fact alone clearly indicates that business as an institution exist for the advancement of life here on earth.
You are in the happiness business
Your customers are people.
Your suppliers are people.
Your employees are people.
Your shareholders are people.
The government is people.
The society is people.
All that you need to succeed in business revolves around people, isn’t it obvious why there’s only one golden rule of business?
When people are the focus, happiness becomes the goal.
At the core of everything people do is the desire to derive some form of happiness.
Products/services are purchased because of their inherent capacity to make people happy.
Workers come to work because of the inherent capacity of the work to produce certain rewards; financial, mental or psychological that makes them happy.
In essence, your success in business and in life is tied to how you treat people.
The question then is this;
“How would you like to be treated if you were an intending customer of your business?”
“What kind of treatment would you desire if you were an employee working in your business?”
Always asking and answering these questions is all that the golden rule of business represents. The moment you start putting yourself in other people’s shoe, the golden rule is at work in your life and in your business.
Every other rule or principle of life and business derives their meaning from it.
Applying the Golden Rule of Business
Business must be undertaken not only as a commercial activity, but much more. It must be seen also as a spiritual, emotional, psychological and relational activity.
Business as it turns out is much more than just the bottom line –profit. To really succeed, you’ve got to look past the obvious –money, to the not so obvious –people.
You have to constantly remind yourself that everything you do in this life leaves an impact on others. This could either be positive or negative, the choice is yours to make.
Don’t see people as a means unto an end; rather see them as the end in themselves. Everything you do is because of them, helping them invariably means helping yourself.
In my company and the others I co-founded, we have a simple rule for dealing with people and that is;
Consider first what’s in it for the other person”
It’s an outside–in kind of thinking and it is a simple way of living and doing business by the golden rule.
Over to you
How has following the golden rule helped you to build a better business?
Do you think life and business are different sides of the same coin or totally different from one another?
How have you been putting others first in your business and life?
For instance, everyone instinctively knows that long lasting success in any sphere of life is unattainable without handwork. In essence, hard work becomes an essential element in the composition of factors necessary for achieving success.
In the same way, there are certain “must have” pillars that are crucial to the success of every business. This is a matter of fact. When these fundamental pillars are lacking in any business, success is often unattainable. Identifying and applying them to your business, is what this unusual article is all about.
The 5 Essential Pillars Of Business For Guaranteed Success
If you are going into business and your sincere desire is success, here are the 5 pillars you need to focus on consistently;
Every business started with the conception of an idea [solution] or the recognition of a need [problem].This is the very first pillar of a business and the source of its purpose.
Businesses that succeed don’t exist for nothing, they exist for a reason. Purpose is your reason for existing as a business and that reason must be clearly defined.
The moment you venture into the world of business without a clear-cut reason, you‘ve already chosen to fail from the beginning. Also, the moment you venture into the world of business with a wrong reason, you’ve equally chosen to fail from the beginning.
The challenge is simple, what is the right reason for venturing into business if one is to succeed?
The only right reason for venturing into business if success is what you seek is to find a purpose greater than just making money.
I am used to saying this and won’t stop saying it; successful businesses are built on purpose not profit.
Why is this so?
BECAUSE PURPOSE IS PROFITABLE
Purpose in a simple term is the impact you are in business to make.
Purpose is the change you started a business to create.
Purpose is the difference you are in business to make.
Purpose is the problem you are in business to solve.
Purpose is the big picture behind your business’ existence.
Purpose is the value you created a business to add into people lives.
Purpose is the essence of your business’ existence.
The Essence Of A Thing Is The Fundamental Reason Why It Exists!
The essence of medicine is healing.
The essence of education is learning.
The essence of leadership is empowerment.
The essence of thinking is problem solving.
The essence of working is achieving results.
And the essence of business is customer satisfaction.
Meaning, until a customer is satisfied, a business is not fit to exist.
To satisfy a customer is the fundamental purpose why a business should exist. The moment a business fails to satisfy a customer, the business must stop to exist.
Your purpose for being in business therefore, is to satisfy customers by meeting their needs and solving their problems better than anyone else.
Since this is so, the big question then is this;
“What must a business do to satisfy customers?”
By creating unique and useful products/services that meet their needs and solves their problems.
In other words, for your guaranteed success in business, you must have a purpose that is completely focused on satisfying the customers by creating unique and useful products or services that meet their needs and solves their problems.
To find this purpose [reason for being] you must begin to think less about yourself, your needs and your problems and more about the customers. When they are satisfied, you are satisfied. Why? Because successful businesses exist for customer’s sake and not for the owner’s sake!
Having a reason for being [purpose] is only the beginning of building a successful business. A successful business begins with a compelling purpose that surpasses the effort of any one person, hence the need to recruit the help of others.
People are your greatest asset in business; they are the means through which purpose is achieved. Without people, your business no matter how big its purpose, is only a dream. It takes people to fulfill purpose.
However, you need purpose to be able to attract to the right people to work in your business. Successful businesses pay keen attention to the selection process of employees in order to shift out the wrong people from working in their company. One way of doing this is by examining if their values align with the purpose of the business.
Here are 6 characteristics of the right kind of people to put into key seats in your organization. This was extracted from management guru, Jim Collins’ latest book “How the Mighty fall” –a must read for every CEO!
6 characteristics of the ‘right kind of people’ to work with in business
1) THE RIGHT PEOPLE FIT WITH THE COMPANY’S CORE VALUES:
great companies build cult-like cultures, where those who do not share the institution’s values find themselves surrounded by antibodies and ejected like a virus. People often ask, “How do we get people to share our core values?” The answer: you don’t. You hire people who already have a predisposition to your core values, and hang on to them!
2) THE RIGHT PEOPLE DON’T NEED TO BE TIGHTLY MANAGED:
the moment you feel the need to tightly manage someone, you might have made a hiring mistake. If you have the right people, you don’t need to spend a lot of time “motivating” or “managing” them. They’ll be productively neurotic, self-motivated and self-disciplined, compulsively driven to do the best they can because it’s simply part of their DNA.
3) THE RIGHT PEOPLE UNDERSTAND THAT THEY DO NOT HAVE “JOBS”; THEY HAVE RESPONSIBILITIES:
they grasp the difference between their task list and their true responsibilities. The right people can complete the statement, “I am the one person ultimately responsible for ….”
4) THE RIGHT PEOPLE FULFILL THEIR COMMITMENTS:
in a culture of discipline, people view commitments as sacred – they do what they say, without complaint. Equally, this means that they take great care in saying what they will do, careful never to over commit or to promise what they cannot deliver.
5) THE RIGHT PEOPLE ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT THE COMPANY AND ITS WORK:
nothing great happens without passion, and the right people display remarkable intensity.
6) THE RIGHT PEOPLE DISPLAY “WINDOW AND MIRROR” MATURITY:
when things go well, the right people point out the window, giving credit to factors other than themselves; they shine the light on other people who contributed to the success and take little credit themselves. Yet when things go awry, they do not blame circumstances or other people for setbacks and failures; they point in the mirror and say, “I’m responsible.”
The fusion of purpose and people creates the perfect environment and motivation needed for business success. However, this is not enough.
The perfect environment plus motivation have to be harnessed by creating operational processes in the business.
What are operational processes?
In simple terms, they are how activities, tasks or work is being done in a particular business. In other words, they are systems through which work is executed; a specific way of doing things.
Creating a process of executing work helps to properly align the activities of a company with the central purpose of the business.
Without a structured way of doing things the central purpose of the business may be compromised as people go about their respective duties.
To ensure the purpose is achieved, the activities of people must be organized by creating processes through which work is done.
Examples of operational processes in a business are;
- Human Resources [HR] – a specific way of finding, hiring, training, retaining and firing workers
- Finance – a specific way of sourcing, allocating and managing funds
- Marketing – a specific way of attracting, retaining and growing profitable customers
- Production– a specific way of converting resources into finished goods and service.
Purpose + People = PROCESS
The purpose of a business can only be fulfilled through the creation of a product or in some cases services that are offered to the customers in order to satisfy them [meet their needs and solve their problems].
Without a product, a business is just expending efforts and money and will never be able to fulfill the purpose for which it exists.
When creating a product /services for your business, the key thing to bear in mind all the time is this; uniqueness and usefulness. Meaning, make your products/services as unique as possible and useful enough to your customers.
Don’t always copy other people’s products/services; always be on the lookout for creative ways to originate yours. And even if you do copy, always find creative ways to differentiate yours.
Purpose + People + Process = PRODUCT
The creation of a compelling purpose, the selection of the right people, the establishment of operational processes to organize activities and the invention of products are all efforts expended in a business.
All of these are considered expenses and there’s only one income –profit.
Profit is the reward gotten for fulfilling purpose.
Profit is the result of all your efforts is business.
Profit is not an input you create; profit is an output you get after putting in so much effort.
Profit is the last pillar of business that guarantees success because it is what empowers your business to fulfill more purpose.
The essential thing to bear in mind when it comes to profit is this; never expect profit until you’ve ensured the above four essential pillars have first been created.
Purpose + People + Process + Product = PROFIT
The almighty formula for business success is given below;
BUSINESS SUCCESS = Purpose + People + Process + Product + Profit
Over To You
How have you been putting to use each of these 5 essential pillars of business to use in your company?
Besides these 5 essential pillars of business, what other ones are you currently applying in your own business?
Change is the only constant thing in life. Some changes are favourable, some aren’t. To succeed, whether in life or in business, you must be willing to accept change regardless of how it comes. This unusual article is about a particular kind of change in business, a very rare one indeed, disruptive market changes.
Disruptive market changes are ground breaking inventions or innovations that utterly redefine the nature [characteristics] and structure [organization] of a particular industry, niche, business or market.
They are also known as disruptive innovations or disruptive technology and here’s a definition from Wikipedia;
“A disruptive technology or disruptive innovation is an innovation that disrupts an existing market. The term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically by lowering price or designing for a different set of consumers.”
They are disruptive because of their enormous impact on the market; they create new trends in the marketplace. Examples are; social media, the internet, telecommunication, smart phones, iPod, etc.
Don’t be deceived, the odds of being in business are very high. Business whether you like it or not will go bad at some point or the other during your entrepreneurial journey. This is just the mere reality of life, there are no permanent conditions. The good and the bad times all add up to make the journey worthwhile. So brace yourself up when the bad times rear up their ugly heads.
For the record, especially if you are new to naijapreneur, I will like to mention the businesses I am involved in concurrently; a cybercafé business [Lighthouse], an I.T. consulting business [Newchild], a people, business and life development company [MADphilips] and a Network Marketing business [Avenues To Wealth].
Why the list you might want to ask?
Because one of these businesses is currently going through a disruptive market change and I want you to pay close attention to the lessons I am going to share in this unusual article.