Every so often when a particular project keeps going wrong, or you have to chase a late-paying client, that internal voice nags: “Is this all there is? Is this what my life is meant to be?” Rather than brush it away, take time to consider where you are and what you want. Consider your business at arm’s length
Hopes and dreams Firstly, ask yourself about your hopes and dreams. What do you want out of life, work, your personal circumstances? List five or six of them together. These are the reasons you show up every day, why you run your business, and should form your direction of travel. If you want to grow your business to sell – a perfectly sound ambition for lots of companies – your path will be very different from a company that wants to grow profit to provide a long-term, stable income for you, your family and your employees.
Passions, skills and talents Whether a business is a small workshop or a larger company, it comprises people from differing backgrounds who bring a whole host of experience and abilities. In the pressure of daily delivery we often overlook who our colleagues are and what they bring to the table. You looked at their CV when you first met them, but haven’t revisited since.
Encourage the key players in the company to list their passions (that driving force that sits at the core of their being), their skills (what they’ve learned to do in life) and their talents (those activities they’ve discovered a real aptitude for). Assess whether you can use these in the development of the business. Could you expand a team member’s role to incorporate their interest in heritage to go after a new client sector? Can you harness another’s design skills to develop new services?
By aligning people with activities they enjoy and letting them explore these further in the context of your business, you unlock potential, a new energy and excitement, which helps the business thrive. It becomes a more attractive place to work, with clients also recognising that passion and commitment. Apply this to your passions, skills and talents just as much as you do to your team. Do you need to reshape how you work to ensure that you are maximising what you love and what you do best?
Innovate, innovate, innovate There are myriad reasons why we end up starting a business, taking one over or joining a growing company. Those reasons are a culmination of factors such as where we live and our experience growing up, as well as the trajectory that our career has taken us on. Your route to here will be unique to you – just as it will be for every person in your business.
In my work as an innovation expert, I encourage companies to unpack the trajectory of their staff, their board, their companies and their products, and to look at those stories in detail to see where there could be hidden value that they are currently overlooking that could generate new revenues. For example, if a team member has experience of building collaborative teams across organisations, can you link up with local industry to develop joint offers? Or by focusing on your supply chain, could you harness your knowledge of sustainability to help clean up your industry?
Innovation can be small advances – it doesn’t have to be new Silicon Valley-style grand gestures that need big budgets. They can be new ways of selling, talking about or finding clients for what you already do. Each of these steps will give you a new perspective on different aspects of your company. They have the potential to shake your business up, to find new ways of working, new revenues and new ambitions. You have a great business so rediscover why you love it and what you can do with it. Enjoy it!
Erica Wolfe-Murray is a leading business growth and innovation expert. Her book, Simple Tips, Smart Ideas: Build a Bigger, Better Business is available now, and her podcast, Simple Tips, Smart Ideas, is available on all platforms.