In business, there are always choices. Should we do this or should we do that? If we do this, what impact will it have on our bottom line, employees, or customers? If we choose a different approach, what effect will it have on our reputation, branding, or goodwill? If we disrupt the market, will it end up in the long run being positive or negative for our business?
The decisions we make may at times seem obvious and easy, but carefully thinking through our options is a necessity for growth and survival. Consider the following five choices that can change a business:
1. Focus on competitors or customers?
Certainly, every business needs to know its competition. What is their pricing, marketing, distribution, products or services, after-sales assistance, quality, refund policy, etc.? Meeting the competition head-to-head, however, is generally not the key to success.
On the other hand, if a business does not have customers, it really does not have a viable business. So, perhaps the focus should be on customers. Give them what they want in the way of pricing, delivery, customer service, and quality. More satisfied customers will mean more business. All of a sudden, it becomes the competition trying to figure out how to beat you and your business rather than you trying to figure out how to beat the competition.
2. Be a follower or leader?
As a business owner, do you prefer to be a follower or leader in your business segment? Whether your business is retail, wholesale, manufacturing, service, technology, or professional, you have a choice: follow what other businesses are doing or be a leader on the forefront of new ideas, new product or service offerings, a different approach to customer service, or a unique value proposition.
Being a follower might be a more conservative route to go, but will it provide the key elements necessary for you to achieve your goals and objectives? Taking the leader approach can certainly involve more risks, but the rewards can also be much greater.
3. Impede or facilitate employee morale?
There is no question that employees are the most valuable asset of any business. Without motivated and dedicated employees, a business is destined to remain mediocre. When owners and managers do not place a high importance on employees, morale is impeded and growth is stymied.
When management understands the important link between employees, customers, and growth, it will facilitate employee morale with good communication, open-door policies, opportunities for growth and advancement, and individual respect. Facilitating employee morale is not accomplished by accident, but through focused and deliberate actions.
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4. Nonexistent or existent company culture?
A company culture is hard to precisely define. It’s an atmosphere that prevails within a business about how employees behave, how they interact with each other in and out of work, and how they deal with outside parties, such as customers and vendors. It is about their beliefs, and can even be how employees dress, hours worked, and office configurations.
When there is no real, cohesive culture within a business, employees do their job and little else. When the workday is over, everyone goes their separate ways. Conversely, a culture can contribute to the success of a business. A culture that embraces the vision of the business affects in a positive way how employees work and act.
Although every business will have its own culture, a positive culture is essential for success. When employees feel valued with a sense of belonging and loyalty to a business, company value increases.
5. Deny or empower employees?
When there is no opportunity for growth, employees feel stymied in their current positions, which creates a lackluster business environment. Denying employees the opportunity to do things on their own, to implement new ideas, or to try and fail creates a monotonous situation that destroys any ingenuity that might exist in the workforce.
Empowering employees, however, creates excitement, turns ideas into reality, generates efficiencies, and inspires everyone to reach for higher plateaus. When employees have the power to do something, try something new, or make decisions on their own that are in line with company goals, they become more committed and confident in their work. Empowering employees is a key element in creating a long-term, profitable, sustainable business.
Which is more important?
Every action in a business has some type of consequence. When making a decision, consider wisely what will produce the best results, not only for the short term, but for the long term, as well. It can often take just as much effort to produce a negative result as it does to produce a positive result. Direct your energies, therefore, into those areas that have the potential to produce the most positive business results.