A lot of business press focuses on the “next big thing,” or unicorns that roam around (or more often than not, get killed) the rarefied air of Silicon Valley. But you won’t often hear about those “boring” businesses that quietly bring in significant incomes for the owners and employees, because these businesses are in mature, established markets. And while it’s true that longevity (simply outlasting your competitors) is a big part of that success, we’ve identified five key factors that we see in businesses in mature markets that go on to have excellent exits.
While you don’t have to be the best in the world at what you do, or even the best in the country, you certainly need to be among the best in your region or city. This means that people have a reason to talk about you in superlatives when recommending others who might need what you provide.
While there’s always talk about automation and delegation when it comes to customer service, it’s important to make sure your team is as empowered as you, the business owner, when it comes to customer satisfaction. Most business owners, when dealing with a disgruntled customer, want to please that customer within reason. If those in charge of customer service feel that level of ownership and accountability, customers will feel it come through in every interaction (and will rave about it to others).
Clean Processes and Documentation
We say it all the time, but that’s because we can’t ever say it enough: have clean books, pay your taxes, and document how the business works. This doesn’t just make a business attractive for acquisition, it’s a simple method of “housecleaning” that makes businesses more efficient and enables them to create best practices. No employee was ever stressed out about having clear processes with which to do his/her job.
Those same employees need to know, more than ever, that they aren’t just economic ciphers or cogs in a machine. They want to continue to develop personally or professionally. The most successful companies invest in their people as they would invest in equipment or infrastructure. Everyone always talks about wanting to hire the best. These successful companies are actually willing to pay for the best, and that includes benefits that go beyond salary.
We are champions of annual meetings for employees and one of those reasons is the ability to share the roadmap with them. Where are we going? How are we going to get there? If people feel included in a vision and desire to help achieve a goal, they are going to perform better than if they are kept in the dark. Making sure everyone knows what the short, mid-term, and long-range goals of a company are empowers them to contribute every step of the way.