I saw a client recently who I first met seven years ago, when we were establishing the brand for her new company. Her business has progressed from a homegrown start-up to an established and sought after presence in her market. This got me thinking about how, while of course clients and businesses come and go, most of the people I work for regularly, I have been with for many years. That is to say, amidst a difficult trading environment, there are owner managed businesses that continue successfully year on year.
So why do some business thrive while others fold? I’m not an accountant or a business analyst and I’m sure their answers would be different to mine (and contain a lot more charts). This is what I see: if there is a secret to success in business, it’s that these companies are managed by people who are passionate about their product. Even years in, they are evangelical about what they sell, provide or deliver. They do not compromise over anything – of course immediately quality springs to mind but it’s much wider than that. They are ethical in their dealings, treating their teams and their suppliers fairly. Customer service is not a commodity to be farmed out; they know their clientele by name so it’s not a transaction, it’s a relationship. These people are successful because they are very very good at what they do.
The Measure of Success
This is not say that such business do not go through hard times; virtually every meeting I have at the moment is to drive sales in an increasingly tough climate. It is nothing short of a tragedy when such businesses can’t continue. Conversely, it is a joy when they thrive, innovate and throw down the challenge to up and coming competitors to achieve more and be better.
Not everyone wants to grow in size, to have multiple outlets or big teams. That should never be the measure of success in business. Instead I would measure success as being there year after year, worthy of that classic phrase ‘well-established’. These are the businesses we should be celebrating and emulating, those that stay the course.