Last night I was performing the monthly audit I carry out of my studio business. It is an extraordinarily successful organisation, both artistically and as a business.
I keep a list of issues, developments and projects and review it monthly. This enables me to ensure that we continually move in the right direction.
As a dyslexic, with no qualifications, I got to thinking about why my business is successful, when so many similar ventures fail. Here is my top five tips for running a successful venture.
1. Build a great team. Surround yourself with great people who you trust.
2. Be organised and have a plan. Make a plan, track your progress against it and analyse why you fail to meet targets.
3. Adapt to change. The world constantly changes, make sure your business changes as well.
4. Stay calm. Things go wrong, people will always let you down. Calmness is always the best strategy.
5.Have a vision. Be clear in what you are doing. Analyse why people need your services and work out how they can find you. Make sure your customers understand how you meet their needs.
I've also learned a few things that may seem counter intuitive, but are true. For instance, difficult customers are your greatest asset. You know the ones, complain about everything, never happy,always finding fault. They are the ones who have the key to making your business better. They tell you what the customers who smile sweetly but never come back are thinking. Another important lesson is to realise you can't do everything and that if it's important, then it is worth calling in an expert. For me this was starkly demonstrated when we redeveloped our business. For a year, we failed to hit targets and lost shed loads of money. I then engaged a website designer and within a year we were back meeting targets. We saw 60% growth in a year. Although I've written blogs etc for years, I found that this is totally different to a commercial website.
The biggest lesson though is to ensure you enjoy life and don't become a slave to your business. I have many friends who have got their work/life balance wrong. It has destroyed families, bankrupted people and caused depression. If you run your own business, you have more responsibility and you will have to do things at unsocial times. Sometimes, you will have to dip into savings. If you have no time for family, no holidays and making no money, then you need to change what you are doing. There will be periods when this is inevitable, but if this is how it is all the time, with no prospects to change, then cut your losses and do something else. The key to success in business is hard work, but what will sustain you and your business is a happy and fulfilled life. If you are not achieving that, you are never going to succeed.