When managing your business, it can be difficult to operate without taking influence from others on the market. It would be logical to see a tried and tested business model and assume that you can be successful by borrowing from it, or even replicating it. While this is helpful in preventing you from making a fundamental mistake, what you must remember is that your business is individual to you, and therefore will thrive and fall short in different areas depending on your personal strengths and weaknesses. What you should be more concerned about is what you are doing right, and why.
Focusing on the successful elements of your business could take you in an entirely new direction. Business experts also speak about finding a ‘gap in the market’, but sometimes a gap can present itself without you even realising it. Is there an area of your business or a specific type of product that sells a lot more than others? Ask yourself why you aren’t placing more focus on this. Maybe you have found a gap, but you’re just not pushing hard enough to fill it.
Where’s the money?
An important question to always ask yourself when making any business decision is “where’s the money?” This especially applies in retail, where some of your products will sell much better than others. While you may have a clear vision in mind of how you want your business to look and feel, ask yourself whether this is based on facts and figures or whether it is just personal preference. The best business minds will identify their own strengths and constantly adapt their business model in light of what they know they are doing right — even if this means taking off in a completely different direction.
This is what happened with Gary Lyons from The Plastic Box Shop, when he realised that the plastic storage boxes he was selling from a small hardware store in Thirsk were by far the store’s most popular product. It was clear that there was a demand for plastic storage boxes, and Gary spotted the opportunity to move into an area of retail where there was few competitors and money to be made.
Play to your strengths
For sectors other than retail, finding the strong elements of your business may be more difficult than simply identifying which area makes the most money. Your strength may not lie in the actual product or service you provide, but rather the manner in which you do things. If you are blessed with modesty and unsure of what your individual strengths are, perhaps you could ask a colleague or a partner what they consider them to be. The likelihood is that if they enjoy working with you and your business is succeeding, you obviously excel at something. Or for a more objective view of your strengths you could always try completing a Briggs Myers test, which will tell you your personality type based on behavioural traits.
If you’re particularly charismatic and thrive when meeting with clients, you should consider restructuring your staff roles to allow you to spend more time doing that, and less time undertaking tasks you aren’t very good at. Charisma is a fantastic attribute to have, especially with the importance that ‘the pitch’ plays in getting your business off the ground and attracting investors, as discussed in this interview with Dragons’ Den’s Piers Linney. While a lot can be said for self-improvement, when it comes to business you must assign the best person for the role at all times, so don’t be too proud to admit when you don’t think you’re the right person to perform a task. Instead, spend time doing things that you’re good at which also benefits the business.
If you aren’t playing to your strengths or doing the things that make the most money, you’re not running your business correctly. Don’t be afraid to deviate from an earlier business model in order to be pragmatic when managing your business, and always remember where your business started from — it’s okay to celebrate your successes once in a while, just don’t let it go to your head!