Image: ShutterstockSome of us will have read Michael Gerber’s “E-Myth”, which shows how processes are the key to working on your company, instead of in your company. But although it may be one of the most popular business books of all time, there is one point of advice that many have butted heads with: “You’ll be able to read your firm’s health chart by the flow of the numbers”. Indications that your company is built to last are a bit more complicated than a healthy balance sheet. Numbers don’t chronicle morale, low ethical standards or obsolete technology. But if that’s the case, then how do you know you’re on the right track? To determine our own health, we go to the doctor and get a check-up. Doctor’s will often look at key indicators like blood pressure and heart rate. With the same concept applying to firms, we unveil seven factors to keep an eye on. (1) Corporate values An article from the Harvard Business Review once suggested companies enjoying enduring success have a core purpose, as well as values, that remain fixed while strategies and practices endlessly adapt to a changing world. “Core ideology is the glue that holds a company together as it grows and changes,” it claimed. “Core values are essential and enduring and purpose is said to be the organisation’s fundamental reason for being. The second component of the vision framework is the envisioned future. A company must identify bold stretch goals; then it should articulate vivid descriptions of what it will mean to achieve them.” It may have been written in 1996, but each mentioned component is equally as important for the modern business. The article’s biggest message: clear goals allow everyone to understand the purpose of the company and their roles within it, which results in a healthy culture. (2) A little bit of conflict Healthy debate and constructive criticism are essential to a company’s growth. It may sound odd, but having a culture of “yes men” will cause the business to stagnate and inhibit innovation. Instead, it’s been said that great companies have the ability to “handle conflict well”. Leaders of such firms expect, want, and respect conflict and debate. But that doesn’t mean the office should be open to brawls and careless words. A deliberate structure for conflict should be created. For example, by appointing devil’s advocates to challenge decisions. Conflict is the mechanism through which most businesses do the best thinking, and if you’ve mastered the art then you’re definitely on the right track. (3) A good reputation The reputation of a business is essential to its survival – the trust and confidence of the consumer can have a direct and profound effect on more than a company’s bottom line. Indeed, while an intangible concept, having a good reputation can benefit a business in a multitude of ways including support in times of crisis or controversy and influences the future value of the company in the marketplace. Acing this sector requires listing to what your customers are really saying and getting in on the conversation via social media. If they’re satisfied with your offering, then you are resonating with your market and have a strong base for the growth of your business. Repeat business from the same customers speaks even louder than social media praise. Continue to find out how engaged staff and varied clients will boost your company’s health.
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