4 Things Every Company Needs To Get Right To Succeed
It’s a cliché to note that succeeding in business is a marathon, not a sprint, but that makes it easier to disregard it — and when good companies do just that, they run into trouble.
They envision feel-good endings like those that litter romantic comedies: moments of absolute victory, replete with industry awards and big payouts for everyone.
But only fiction has endings like those. In the real world, you need to think about what comes after.
And that’s if you can even reach that singular moment of achievement in the first place.
Instead of getting there in a taut 90 minutes of comedic mishaps, you may need many months, or even many years, to turn a business idea into a practical reality.
That isn’t the kind of feat you can happen upon through favourable circumstances and good timing.
The point here is that long-term planning and preparation are mission-critical in business.
Understandably, so many entrepreneurial types adopt a more freewheeling approach since it’s tough to commit so much effort to something that might not work out. Still, they’re surely not going to get anywhere if they don’t believe in what they’re doing.
To help you plant the seeds for meaningful long-term success, this piece will detail four core things that every company must get right to move towards its goals persistently.
By the end, you should have a solid idea of why it’s so important to get the basics right. Let’s get started.
1 – The brand foundation it steadily builds on
Branding isn’t something to be tacked on as an afterthought, yet that’s how it’s sometimes approached.
Instead, your brand should be a core inclusion at the root of your business, ensuring that it’s conveyed in everything you do in the professional realm.
You might wonder how this gels with the eminently-viable process of rebranding; of course: doesn’t an effective rebrand indicate that a company can get its brand wrong and still achieve its goals?
In a word, no. Getting your brand right in this context isn’t the same thing as making it perfect. There’s no such thing as a perfect brand, and even if there were, it would soon be rendered less than perfect by changing circumstances.
Suppose a business has the financial and organisational stability to commit to a complete rebranding, which strongly suggests that its outgoing brand did precisely what is required. It supported and enabled growth.
Consider how many times huge companies like Amazon and Netflix have revised their brand ingredients.
Or take an even bolder example like Google: compare today’s company to its brand in the early days of the internet, and you’ll notice the enormous disparities.
Each branding step reflected the progress of some kind and hinted at the company’s plans. Look deeper, and you’ll spot some core branding elements that have persisted — and it’s those that are key.
When working on your brand, you should think about two distinct areas: the fundamental throughlines and the contemporary expressions of those components.
The throughlines of your brand are the parts that may never change. Core values. Aspirations. Creative preferences.
If you like to be playful in your marketing, it’ll behove you to stick with that in the long run and make it an entrenched part of your business identity.
How you express those parts will shift over time, and that’s all right. Commission a logo that suits the style you want to use for the foreseeable future.
When the time comes, you can tweak it as needed or even replace it entirely. Provided there’s enough commonality between the two; your customers won’t find the change disconcerting. All they’ll notice is the consistency.
More than anything, though, a brand identity needs to be memorable. There’s little use in laying out themes that attract no attention and are swiftly forgotten.
It’s something that every startup manager needs to consider carefully. “Will our customers remember us? What will they say about us when asked?”
And when you’re trying to be remembered, you need to be willing to take some risks. Grating on people is less of a worry than being fatally bland.
2 – The technology used for regular operations
Are you running an online business? It’s a question that used to be significant but has since lost most of its meaning.
Today, just about every business operates online in some sense, whether it’s selling through eCommerce or simply advertising its services through the internet.
And even in the unlikely event that a business indeed steers clear of online representation, it still leans heavily on the internet (and digital technology in general) for everything from finance to admin.
Due to this, one of the most critical decisions a fledgling business owner can make is what assembly of hardware and software they’ll use as their technological foundation.
Both things will heavily impact their level of success. Hardware is the first consideration, naturally, as you can’t use the latter without the former. So what’s the suitable configuration for you?
There are two standard approaches to IT hardware: buying or leasing.
Buying all the machines and peripherals you need has the advantage of lessening ongoing expenditure.
You’ll still want to invest in support service and may have maintenance costs, but you’ll otherwise be set for as long as that hardware fits your needs. Unfortunately, that may not be as long as you’d hope.
This is why leasing is generally the right way to go.
It avoids hefty upfront costs that don’t suit startup budgets, maximises convenience (you don’t need to dwell on exact configurations because you’re only leasing the equipment), improves flexibility (you can change your hardware loadout as needed), and makes functional obsolescence much less of a concern since the onus will be on your equipment provider to swap out your machines when they fall behind the curve.
Yes, leasing means you don’t get to sell your used hardware once you’re done with it and ties you to a lengthy financial commitment — but since the typical IT lease is bundled with broad software support, it’s likely to be far better for your finances than the alternative.
It would help if you thought about which people need which pieces of equipment.
For instance, a graphic designer will benefit significantly from a sizeable colour-accurate monitor. At the same time, someone with a dry data-based role could use some decent headphones to help them focus.
Failing to equip your team members with the right equipment will set you up for long-term woes.
And now we need to address software, as there’s little use in having high-end hardware if you don’t use it productively.
Software and services are easier to swap out.
Still, it would be best if you considered the learning curve associated with using a particular program or service (and the challenge inherent to moving from one utility to another with a similar purpose but a distinct design).
Your goal with software should be to make your regular tasks easier and more impactful. You shouldn’t shy away from paying for valuable tools, but you also shouldn’t make the mistake of paying for numerous licenses that you never actually use.
Match the principal investment to the core of your business, then use freeware tools for everything else.
Invest in plugins and themes for your CMS to make your store more appealing if you’re in the eCommerce game.
If you’re selling subscriptions, subscription management software will make it markedly easier to adjust your rates on the fly.
If you need to store and access massive files (if you’re doing something complex like 3D modelling, for instance), don’t try to save money through using free storage: invest in enterprise-tier data storage as a matter of urgency.
When in doubt, look to similar companies for inspiration. Owners of businesses ostensibly competing with yours may well be willing to give you some recommendations due to the prospect of saving money through referral rewards.
And be sure to trial tools before you commit to fully-fledged subscriptions. If they don’t suit your team members, keep looking.
3 – The hiring process it uses to expand
Human resources are the most valuable you can bring to the table. They’re as influential as they are variable.
A poorly-assembled team will be persistently distracted, mired in conflict, lacking in competence and confidence, and a net monetary drain.
The frustration of trying to yield some measure of productivity will sap your energy and motivation, robbing the business of its most crucial element and slowly but surely leading you into abject despair.
But if you get your team right, those negatives will all be inverted. You’ll notice a remarkable level of focus, cohesion, ability, belief, and — so crucially — ROI.
Knowing that you can trust your employees will free you up to focus on your primary job, which is to drive sales and be the most effective spokesperson in your niche.
And while there’s an element of luck involved in finding talented and enthusiastic professionals, it’s as accurate as ever that you make your own luck.
Putting an intelligent hiring process into place is the key to this, ensuring that you consistently make good decisions about new additions to your team (and impress them enough to keep them around for as long as possible).
Don’t make the now-common mistake of relying on automated applicant tracking systems that break applications down to keywords and odd formatting requirements.
This will guarantee that you miss out on many promising candidates who are simply unwilling (as opposed to unable) to cater to such things.
Does it matter how well someone plays the interview game or how they perform as part of your company? The latter is somewhat more critical in the end.
It would help if you also made firm offers to show that you’re serious about keeping the best talent. It’s tempting to cut costs by opting for the cheapest workers, but that’s a huge mistake.
Offer as much as you can afford, and add as many perks as you can accommodate. At the same time, be clear about what you expect from a hire.
When employers and employees are on the same page and similarly motivated, they tend to achieve remarkable things.
4 – The set of goals it strives to accomplish
Most companies share a familiar ultimate goal of making much money. Profit is significant, regardless of the situation: even someone independently wealthy with enough funds to accommodate thousands of failed projects will care deeply about their latest hustle making money.
But that probably won’t be your only goal — plus, you’ll need a myriad of other goals to give you purpose while you make the arduous climb towards that point of profit nirvana.
No matter how carefully you plan, you’ll surely come up against moments of doubt that test your determination to continue.
You’ll wonder if maybe you’re never going to achieve your dream. And in those moments, it’s your short-term achievements that’ll inspire you to keep going (at least, that’s if you have those achievements).
Small victories like releasing your first product on time, completing a marketing strategy, or hitting an operational milestone.
In the end, it’s the companies that manage to enjoy their journeys that most commonly reach their destinations. By laying out a set of goals that stretches from humble beginnings to business glory, you can ensure that you always have something realistic to aim for and always have a recent accomplishment (however minor) to buoy your spirits.
And whenever you hit one of your goals, do something to celebrate, even if it’s speedy and straightforward.
Exchange compliments with your team members. Arrange a social event. Take a victory lap in a nearby park. The more you accent the positive of getting something done, the easier you’ll find it to maintain even your loftiest ambitions.
Wrapping up, each of the things we’ve looked at here is a core business component that’s serious about long-term success. Suppose you commit time and attention to laying a brand foundation, choosing the right technology to support your efforts, getting your hiring process right, and having clear goals to keep you on track. In that case, you’ll end up with a vastly-improved chance of hitting your long-term target.