Business Building Tools in 2021
Most of us recognize the ‘worldwide hit’ we experienced last year; let’s celebrate 2020 being over. Meanwhile, active entrepreneurs are faithful, opportunistic and forward-thinking; they often ask me what ‘business building’ tools can be successfully adopted in 2021. I am happy to offer thoughts, techniques and observations and have combined several new ideas with points from an older post.
Build a great team
Your business is built on a great idea but the chief visionary has to sleep. It’s obvious you need as many rock star strategists and producers surrounding you as possible. Luckily, I found this out early in my career (in the 1980s): Success often depends on the strength of the organization’s employees.
In my experience, putting time, energy and effort into building a passionate, motivated and competent team is a mission-critical element in having business success. It is easy to shop for market rates on the internet (or have your HR team tackle market compensation averages per job family); however, I suggest you build on top of ‘standard compensation’ and get creative. Ask: What can I deliver to the entire organization if we hit a special milestone? What are some clever rewards for an over-achieving sales team? How can the team be rewarded for internal activities (living out a positive and productive culture) as well as external factors (customer growth, revenues and profits).
Adopt a base-plus compensation system
Speaking of compensation, consider adopting a flexible and scale-able compensation formula which works well for individuals at a base compensation level and for those driven, goal-oriented team members who push to succeed at an elevated level. Those highly driven employees may perform best on a ‘base-plus’ pay-for-performance plan. Financial incentives on top of their base salary usually take the form of commissions, incentives, tiered bonuses and perhaps stock options.
Know your audience
Whether your business has already launched or you're still putting it together, you must completely understand the demographics, socioeconomics and ‘appetite’ of your services or products. At Express Employment Pros, we constantly market to three distinct markets: job seekers, employers and franchisees. Figuring out who your target audience is before you launch your business may seem like a no-brainer, but the impact that this has on other factors can't be downplayed. Once this factor is clear and the target audience is shared to everyone in your organization, you can consider tactical approaches for sales, maintenance and stewardship.
Tweak your marketing budget to put your brand (and value proposition) in front of the target audience(s)
Streamline your products and services ensuring they appeal to that target demographic.
Highlight happy customers (client testimonials, referrals rewards, etc.)
Explore niches or channel marketing (pinpointed sections of the target audience) only after you are receiving revenues/profits from your primary base
Test and execute creative ways to connect with your audience(s) and build brand loyalty
Celebrate ‘values in action’
Create ‘think tanks’ to ideate what type of programs can showcase and celebrate values-based initiatives and accomplishments. In my 50+ years as a CEO we constantly looked for ways to give ‘shout outs’ for creative, risk taking measures resulting in delighted customers and extraordinary market outcomes. Values in action may range from leadership activities (goal and objective sharing, team meetings, employee feedback forums, etc.) to associate activities (results driven activities, collaboration in corporate solutions, client building).
Make sure you have a “chief people person”
Strategically hire specialists to nurture your internal culture and connect with your external community. In our company the chief people person organized ‘lunch and learns’, emceed events, coordinated Angel Tree charity communications and supported the FUN committee. On the external side, they represented the organization on select non-profit boards, at community events, ground breakings and civic-minded initiatives.
Be a brand specialist
I am a self-taught brand guy who believes there is no such thing as “over-communication”. Get your corporate story into the hands, hearts and minds of clients, prospective clients, employees and community leaders/legislators.
We launched an internal leadership simulcast to articulate and amplify our brand. This initiative was complemented by celebrities, public spokespersons and client testimonials.
The Express Clydesdales team was a strategic ‘brand ambassador’, making appearances at nationally-recognized parades, large-scale special events, major world competitions and in partnership with other brands such as Cancer Centers, Ronald McDonald House Charities and Make-a-Wish Foundation.
Work-life balance is unheard of in small, start-up companies. Own up to it, embrace it and prepare to manage a small base of employees who will be working their tail off to advance the corporate mission and the collective yield benefiting risk-taking stakeholders. But be prepared to reward these early co-pioneers as the company begins delivering impressive revenues and profits.
Culture is a major differentiating factor in attracting and retaining great people, and companies can shape some intriguing employee perks around their business model. Learn from the above guiding principles and seek ways to inspire, reward and celebrate your employee base whether you have 5 or 500,000 associates. Be nimble, creative and sincere.