With Cheryl Jones, Managing Director of nxo Communications

Working towards a future

Despite the early start, the first Propeller networking event of 2019 was lively. Cheryl Jones, Managing Director of marketing and communications company nxo Communications came to speak about the key areas for building value into your business.

Although it seems strange to think about the end at the start, that’s exactly the advice Cheryl gave. When you’re setting up a business, you can ensure you focus on the right areas if you think about what someone else would look for when buying your company.

Why are you setting up the business in the first place? What do you want out of it? Whether you’re solving a problem, laying down a legacy, adding to the economy or being ‘the next big thing’, you want your company to be a shining example of the work you put in.

It’s important to have continuous drive to improve processes, as this is what will add value to your business. Improving processes not only makes your business more robust, it also makes it sustainable. After all, as a business owner, a true sign of success is making it so that the business can operate without you in it. With the correct procedures in place, your business should fundamentally run itself.

What areas should you focus on improving?

Management Quality – When businesses fail, it often comes down to ‘difference of opinion’. That’s a nice way of saying the higher-ups couldn’t agree on the right way to do something. It’s important to ensure that you recognise your own abilities and deficiencies, looking to counterbalance these with the strengths of others. It’s great to have vision, but you also need follow-through. You can ask your employees to work hard, but you have to respect them too. Good management is all about striking that balance.

Value Proposition – Where does your company fit into the market? Have you got a niche audience or are you trying to do the same thing as 30 other brands? If you want to be effective, you need to understand what makes your business unique, and who that appeals to. For help identifying your market position, we offer an Essential Guide to Marketing workshop.

Customer Relationships – Keeping an eye on each individual customers’ journey is important. It’s easy (ish) when you’re starting out, but as you get bigger, you need to make sure you have the right processes in place to continue offering them quality service. CRMs (customer relationship management tools) enable you to do so with ease.

Financial Management – So, consider this. 20% of your customers contribute to 80% of your revenue. Finding that valuable 20% comes from the hard-work of a sales team and it’s important to ensure you have a renewable funnel of leads, and processes to progress customers along. Ensuring you have a good cashflow forecast means that you spot troubles before they arise and can compensate for poor performance during peak times.

Future Foresight – You might have a great idea and a great structure, but that doesn’t make you infallible. The world around us changes and we have to make sure we are able to change with it, or we get left behind. Like Blockbuster. Actively keeping abreast of your market research can help you spot new trends and predict when that star seller is going to become an old dog with no new tricks.

Sales & Marketing – We’ve already mentioned keeping a rich funnel of leads, but it’s also important to convert them into sales. Having tight processes in place can help you ensure you don’t waste too much time on dead leads and focus on communicating with the right customers through the right channels. For a better understanding of how to do this, we suggest you sign up for the next Sales & Negotiation bite-sized briefing.

Employee Engagement – We’re going to say that you have experience of being a disgruntled employee. That may even be why you now prefer to be the employer! Ensuring that you treat your employees with respect, offer them the rewards they deserve, incentivise them with the right company culture, develop their talent and recruit smartly, you can ensure everyone is working towards the same goal.

Revenue Growth – This pretty much speaks for itself, right? It’s okay to bring in a certain amount of money and be content, but you should really strive for consistent profitable growth. If you’ve got a good product, surely you want more people to own it? If you want to make the world a better place, you don’t just sit back and say, ‘mission accomplished’. Keep an eye on the price points, market changes, changes in the supply line etc. It’ll pay if you do.

Next Month’s Networking

Next month we want to focus on you. Networking is an essential part of running a business, but a lot of people don’t have the nerves to get out there and do it themselves. They think “I’ve been managing just fine like this” or “I’m going to screw up and no one will like me”, or “I don’t know what to say” and just kind of hope they can get through life without ever needing to do it. Running away from something might be a relief, but the problem doesn’t go away.

As such, we want to help. Our own Elizabeth Pickstock joins the director of the Centre for SME Alison Hitchen to break down networking from a dreaded chore to a fun-filled, confident-boosting session. It’s a safe environment and everyone will be in the same boat, so why not sign up and see what you can get out of it?