Having built my first company to become the UK’s third largest Financial Services Network – with more than £3bn in fund under management – I have since launched Clarus Fortior, a specialist business growth consultancy that mentors businesses to achieve their financial goals.
Below I’ve listed my top five tips on how to build a successful organisation from the ground up.
Set clear goals
Clear and achievable goals will help you to map out the short, medium and long-term goals of the business. These should be agreed within a three or five-year plan. You may also want to set goals per week or month, so you have a clear idea of what success looks like on a rolling basis.
In my experience, business owners with clear goals will tend to achieve greater success. A goal-oriented environment means decisions can be made more efficiently, as you will have a clear and focused sense of your objectives throughout the process.
Without clear goals, decision-making can become confused and counterproductive.
Plan, plan, plan
You have your destination, now you need to map the journey. This is the track your business will run through to get there. There will inevitably be twists and turns, so the planning should be intuitive, allowing flexibility for unexpected changes or new opportunities to be factored in, understood and reacted to effectively.
I would recommend having a regularly updated business plan, a marketing plan and a product development plan. Depending on the business, you may also wish to plan for market research, fundraising and recruitment.
Team building is key
You should never underestimate the importance of the people around you. As William Blake wrote, “we become what we behold” – i.e. we inevitably come to reflect the behaviour and attitudes of those around us.
In my experience, collective endeavour is far more valuable than individual brilliance. However, this is only true if you create a team dynamic and culture that good people want to buy in to. Shared responsibility leads to a shared sense of purpose, ensuring your team will drive together towards the end goal. Sharing responsibility also means sharing the wealth created within the business – so never be afraid to bind the team in with equity, share options and bonus schemes.
The business case for diversity is also well-established now: in simple terms, your team’s diversity of background, thought and expertise will give the business a competitive advantage.
Build a ‘risk register’
These days the world is moving faster than ever, with disruptive brands applying intuitive technological solutions to quickly dominate entire industries within a matter of years. But industry disruption is just one of the threats to a business.
I would recommend spending some time auditing all potential risks, with a corresponding plan to mitigate each risk. I call this a ‘risk register’, as it allows risk to be understood and your responses planned in advance. By pre-empting risk, you know what to do if the worst happens.
What would you do if you turned up to the office and it had burnt down? Implement the disaster recovery plan, of course! Without a plan, nobody would know what do. Future acquirers and investors will also want to know about your risk mitigation plans.
Outsource where you can
Don’t feel that you have to build every capability within your business – outsource certain functions of the business wherever it is convenient and cost-effective to do so. There are a range of new digital tools and services that can make core business functions both cheaper and more efficient.
Outsourcing will keep central costs lower and allows you to access expertise without the need to pay for full time staff –this is particularly true for marketing, HR and IT. However, make sure you run due diligence on any new supplier!