As you know, I coach successful entrepreneurs and CEOs across many continents of the world to maximize potential and growth. Over the past couple of years, I have been examining trends that drive success and growth in businesses and organizations. In this post, I will share some of the key trends for future business growth.
The trends for future business growth
1. Best talents
For a great majority of businesses, “Best Talent” is the only sustainable competitive advantage that wins consistently in the marketplace. They focus deliberately on the quality of talents they attract and turn into the power-house of their organizations. As businesses will become highly competitive as a result of global policy changes, organizations that will succeed in the future are those that make a conscious effort to retain their employees. The best talents will go the extra mile to take good care of their customers and deliver superior results for their organizations. Notwithstanding, many CEOs and entrepreneurs pay lip service to the issues around talent management. They neither invest in employee development programs nor provide adequate tools for them to deliver great results. Regardless that the best talents are highly mobile, companies that implement strategies to keep them will be happy for it.
To overcome the challenges of the best talent, make talent acquisition, development, and retention a strategic objective in your business. Get your hiring process right, focusing on high-potential individuals with an incredible mix of experiences. Develop a database of prospective quality talents you can contact when the need arises. Implement a focused interviewing process that not only attracts academically qualified talents but individuals whose personal values align with your business core values also. Create a robust onboarding system for your new entrants, incorporating a compulsory talent development scheme that turns your employees from good to great. Finally, develop a long-term career pathing program that includes coaching, mentoring, and feedback procedures so your employees can feel the importance of being a part of the business.
2. Effective sales process
If the purpose of business is to create and keep customers as opined by Peter Drucker, then selling is the lifeblood of any business. Organizations that fail to create an effective selling process in the coming years would go out of business. As competition increases, business leaders need to adopt better ways of not just selling, but creating purposeful relationships with their customers and clients. There is no guarantee for success for a company offering great products or technology if they can not consistently turn those products into cash. The sad reality about building an effective sales process is that you have to sell every day to remain in business. As I coach many small and large businesses, I discover that many salespeople do not have in-depth knowledge of what they sell. They lack knowledge of their products, as a result, can not communicate value to their prospective customers.
To resolve the challenges of sales ineffectiveness, pay attention to building the right sales team for your business. Once you have a sales team that understands their core objectives, set them up for success. You do that by providing all the relevant training, coaching and mentoring that they need to succeed in the marketplace. Training should include selling skills, consultative selling, human relationship, as well as product or service knowledge. Understand that tTe most effective salespeople in any organizations are consultants. They listen actively, ask great questions, and support their customers or prospects to make the right buying decisions. That is the quality of individuals you need to succeed long-term.
3. Superb Leadership Development
As the world changes at a fast speed so is leadership also. There is a shift from Theory X, authoritarian leadership and centralized control to Theory Y, a participative and inclusion style. The shift is interesting because it ushers in the millennial workforce. Millennials are individuals having different perspectives on life and obviously want to be led differently. Presently, they consist of about 50% (or more) of the global workforce. Since best talents drive organizational successes and growth, a superb leadership is required for getting the best performance out of millennial employees. For many businesses and organizations, ineffective leadership is the number one reason why millennial employees leave a company, and it contributes up to 50% of lost revenue.
The key to developing superb leadership is by treating everyone in the organization to become a leader. Develop a leadership style that encourages team support, builds trust, and creates relationship and followership. Dare to be different in your approach to leadership, consider leading with a heart and purpose. Identify individuals in your team who are not “leaders” today, but have the potential of becoming one tomorrow, and empower them. Be sure that your vision is clearly defined and understood by everyone in the organization. Uphold core values that neither you nor your best talents can compromise and invest time and effort in training, supporting, and rewarding your employees to live them.
4. Effective Communication
You can keep your employees constantly engaged, aligned and mobilized to creating high-performance results through effective communication. Unfortunately, many leaders do neither understand the impact, nor leverage the power of communication to grow their business. How can employees understand your vision and live your core values if you do not communicate them consistently? How can you build an incredible army of repeat clients if the clients do not clearly understand your value propositions? The bottom line is not just about writing emails and sharing information; that’s not all about communication. Asking great questions, active listening, receiving feedback and acting on feedback are all incredible aspects of effective communication also.
Overcoming the challenges of ineffective communication requires the development of new attitude toward communication. Being a key trend for future business growth, you need to make a deliberate choice to over-communicate relevant information about your business. Except for proprietary rights, every important piece of information should be communicated to empower your employees and customers to make the right decisions. You can communicate through a wide range of channels including social media, town halls, emails, newsletters, and one-to-one meetings. You can also brainstorm other creative ways of communicating to better understand how to keep your employees and customers engaged.
5. Disciplined Execution
Lack of disciplined execution is the one greatest factor that separates successful businesses from mediocre ones. Leaders who deliberately grow their businesses are adept to disciplined execution. They set clear ambitions for their teams with a set of realistic goals and high standard of performance. They know that the best strategies can fail if not executed with discipline. Studies show that lack of disciplined execution is the fundamental problem facing many CEOS and entrepreneurs across the world. In my business and executive coaching work I come across leaders who invest so much in good strategies that could take their businesses to the next level when implemented. Sadly, many of them do not have the courage to roll up their sleeves and turn those strategies into action and results.
Whereas it is easy to overcome the problem of lack of disciplined execution, it requires courage and discipline to achieve. You need to invest time in creating ‘action plans’ as much as you would on developing strategies. Understand that result comes last and only disciplined execution of a carefully planned action creates them. Set a clear, ambitious, and realistic goal, then hold your best talents 100% accountable to achieving those goals. Focusing on the results you want, not activities is important for your team to determine the best actions for achieving the result.
Ask yourself, what resources do I need to achieve these results? Who will be responsible for doing what? and by when do I want the result achieved? Once you have clarity on the expected results, provide resources and delegate actions. Be sure to delegate tasks to individuals team having the right skillset to deliver the result. Develop the discipline to follow-up consistently until the results are produced. Let me emphasize, though, that following up is not the same as micromanaging. It means communicating with your team regularly, asking great questions, acknowledging milestones reached and acting on feedback. The objective is to keep your team in high spirit, engaged and performing.
As I write this section on technology, I just received an email from a dear friend, Professor (Dr.) Alan Barrell. Alan is a lecturer in entrepreneurship at Judge Business School, University of Cambridge. He is inviting me to a seminar at the University of Cambridge on the future of business, and his email reads in part: “The future development of our world will be driven strongly by ever more sophisticated technology. Fintech, Biotech, Agritech, Genomics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning and Big Data will dominate life on earth as the decades unfold. Sophisticated and well focussed human talent will be needed to drive that technology and scientific advances for the good of mankind…”
While I was pondering over Alan’s thoughts as well as several opinions by other world-class experts on technology and business, it dawned on me that we are living in the time and age when technology is disrupting the way we do things. The impact of technology on business is as huge as on our day-to-day social life. While the trend seems exciting for some people, a great majority of businesses are caught up in fear and doubt as a result. Sadly, though, it is difficult for anyone to comprehend the full impact of technology changes on business and life yet.
To overcoming the challenges of technology requires dedicating a small proportion of time in studying emerging technologies. Business leaders need to pay attention to technologies having the potential to impact their business. Say you are in the automobile industry, it is advisable to research how the advent of autonomous cars will impact your business five years from today. The same is true for businesses operating around cloud computing, 3D printing, wearable devices, smart machines, New Wifi standards, digital and electronic ink, etc. The list is not exhaustive but I hope you get the idea.
Paying attention to the six key trends for future business growth above will give you the leverage for building a super successful business in the years ahead. I hasten to add also, that each factor remains important regardless of the industry, size, and location your business operates in.