5 ways to learn from your business and avoid repeating the same mistakes
I was reminded just last week of the following grim stats: SME’s account for at least 99% of the businesses in every main industry*, yet 55% will fail to make their fifth birthday**. Yes, these are depressing statistics, but…imagine what the future would look like if business owners and leadership teams could always learn from mistakes. A business will tell you everything that is going on, but only if you ask the right questions.
A growing business is an evolving, dynamic entity that has ALL of the answers; getting stuck in the day-to-day and in a ‘we’ve always done it this way’ mind-set will block growth and limit learning potential.
This week my SCALE Snippets are all about ways to help you learn from your business and avoid repeating the same mistakes.
1. Define your processes: you must work out exactly what makes your business work and document the method. This includes having a clearly defined process that logs all issues (however big or small), and solves them. By noting these down, you can focus on striking them off, learning from each one, improving on it, and removing any barriers to growth.
2. Set accountability: you next need to identify the person who is accountable for each one, and the date they will be solved by. Everything and everyone who needs to be involved must understand their role (and the goal). A set of progressive leadership behaviours have to be agreed and adhered to.
3. Set the questions you want to ask your business and put measures in place; it pays to have a way to track progress against your defined processes and alert you to potential problems well before the alarms go off. I.e. why did you lose that contract? How do your staff really feel? How many of your clients are fans? By asking those questions most important to your business, on a regular basis by introducing simple tools and measures such as the Net Promoter Score®, will mean you are constantly learning and evolving, and there’s no nasty surprises.
4. Create the right environment, give the tools, get out of the way. Our belief is you cannot manage people, it’s your environment that will dictate your performance. If you don’t get this right then every decision you make will be an emotional one, based on short-sighted information at hand (at best).
5. Get into a routine. A third of meetings are unproductive so having focused regular meetings (same day, time, agenda) are efficient and effective because everyone is accountable and aware of what their 100% looks like. Meetings needn’t be marathons; a 15-minute Daily Huddle first thing will answer all you need to know, and focus your team by simply asking: what happened yesterday? What are we doing today?
Let’s face it, we all make mistakes from time to time – however big or small – and the key is to learn from them and move on.
Here at Advocate, we even celebrate them, because our clients who have nailed this aren’t constantly mopping the floor because of a leaky roof; they’ve mended the roof and have moved onto the next challenge.
Have a great week.
* Business Population Estimates for the UK and Regions in 2015. The FSB. November 2015. http://www.fsb.org.uk/media-centre/small-business-statistics
** The Business of Numbers. Fair Finance. February 16, 2016. https://www.fairfinance.org.uk/blog/the-business-of-numbers/