The Benchmarks of a Successful Business
There are many definitions for business success. We believe that success is best defined as “the ability for an organization to achieve the goals and objectives it sets for itself”. Most businesses, based on this definition, are not successful. Why? Because many businesses and their owners aspire to great things, achieve big goals but ultimately fall short of their mission. Level 7 is designed to help those businesses and their owners achieve the goals and standards THEY establish for success.
Business success is setting your own standards and achieving them. The bottom line is that many will tell you what they think success is, but what really matters is “how you define it.”
Does this mean we settle for less? Absolutely not! In fact, The Level 7 System requires more. The Level 7 System expects that a business will set extraordinary standards for itself. Setting high standards and achieving them is one of the things the make up a world class business.
Even though you might have established your own definition, we have found that most companies that implement Level 7 measure their success in 5 specific areas. These areas include:
- Revenue or Total Sales – The ability of the business to reach the sales and/or revenue goals that it sets for itself in the time frame desired.
- Profit Margin – This can be defined in many different ways; gross profit, net profit, or some other derivative. The ability to achieve profit goals in the time frame desired.
- Owner and Employee Satisfaction – We believe that a successful business serves lives. For the owner, that could mean more freedom, more money, the ability to do work that is more desirable and at the same time experiencing their vision for the business to become a fulfilled reality. For employees it might mean a more rewarding work environment, more opportunities and security, potential for growth and advancement or simply a connection with the people they work with. The company’s ability to achieve and satisfy the lives of the people it touches is a critical benchmark of business success.
- Customer Satisfaction and Loyalty – Customer satisfaction can be measured in a variety of ways. Most businesses are able to achieve some level of customer satisfaction or they simply would not be in business. Level 7 businesses focus on creating an experience for their customers that lead to dramatic increases in retention, repeat business and referred business generation.
- Company Value – Regardless of the long term plans for the business, a great benchmark for business success is company value. Company’s can be valued in a variety of ways. The bottom line is that Level 7 businesses see continued increases in the overall market value of the business.
The Things Successful Businesses Do
Successful, world class businesses and their people do what average people and average businesses won’t do. The things that successful businesses do that average businesses won’t do are often very simple things. In other words becoming a wildly successful business is simple, just not easy. It requires change, commitment, focus, discipline and perseverance.
It requires doing the right things, the right way consistently.
Here are the things that Level 7 businesses do to create an environment that leads to success.
Setting Goals and Defining Results
- Level 7 businesses are clear about goals and expectations throughout the ENTIRE business. They don’t just post a mission statement on the wall and leave it at that. They don’t establish a revenue goal at the beginning of the year and forget about it.
- Level 7 businesses are specific and intentional about the direction and goals for the business as a whole, for each department and every position and person in the organization. They are also very clear about the purpose and goal of EVERY system, process and procedure in the business.
- Level 7 businesses set goals before they apply energy toward an action. They are remarkably intentional about everything they do. If the work they are doing doesn’t have a clearly defined result or purpose, they just don’t do it.
Knowing the Numbers and Truth
- Level 7 businesses know the truth about the performance of their business, it’s people and the systems it operates. They understand that the things that get measured will get done. If they want to improve sales, then they carefully monitor and report sales results back to their sales people. If they want to improve profit in the business, they monitor and report profit.
- Level 7 businesses conduct objective research for opportunities to grow their business and then respond appropriately based on good information.
- Level 7 businesses do not gather knowledge and information for the sake of having it. They only gather the information that is going to lead them to making effective, organization enhancing decisions.
Creating Replication and Quality Systems
- Level 7 businesses invest time and energy into the development of systems, processes and procedures. They know that without becoming a system driven business, a company will be limited in its ability to grow, resolve problems, maximize profit and ensure high levels of owner and employee satisfaction.
- Level 7 businesses systemize every aspect of the organization, even the “little things” like answering the phones in the morning to turning out the lights at the end of the day.
- Level 7 businesses establish and implement a strategy to get their systems documented and making sure their people are trained and accountable. Those systems are innovated on a regular basis.
Building Truth and High Levels of Accountability
- Level 7 businesses create an environment of trust through high levels of accountability.
- Level 7 businesses understand that in order to function at the highest possible level, they need to trust their people to follow-through with their commitments, responsibilities and assignments 100% of the time.
- Level 7 businesses have complete trust that their people will always do what they say they are going to do 100% of the time. Without KNOWING you can count on your people, how can you have complete trust?
- Level 7 businesses establish the standards and expectations that require that their people ‘Do What You Agree To Do Every Time’. People are held to the standard without fail. Average businesses don’t have the guts to raise the standard and hold people to it. That’s why they remain average.
Building a Self Sustaining Culture
- Level 7 businesses pay attention to their culture. What is culture? It is a commonly held set of beliefs and values that are reflected in the actions of the people in a group or society.
- Level 7 businesses recognize that they must define the values and beliefs for the business and fervently articulate and communicate them so everyone in the business knows and understands them.
Engage in Effective Communication
- Level 7 businesses are intentional about communication. They understand that creating an enthusiastic collective focus within the organization requires diligent, creative and consistent conveying of the message. They don’t have a one-time company meeting, share the goals and direction of the company and then say, “OK, that should do it”, and then go back to work. They consistently and intentionally communication goals and objectives throughout the organization.
- Level 7 businesses also understand that communication is a two way street. By taking the time to really listen to their people, they find that their people will take time to listen to them. Employees feel valued and important through effective and consistent upward communication.
- Level 7 businesses consider the effectiveness of their internal communication systems and processes. Evaluating how, when and where people relay information back and forth has proven to dramatically improve efficiency and quality of communication within businesses.
- Level 7 businesses consider the impact of their external communication, which is how they communicate to the world outside the business. They look at the quality of their marketing and lead generation with tremendous focus and intention. They look at every facet of their interaction with their clients, prospects and vendors. Essentially they step outside the business and consider what others see and perceive when looking in.
- Level 7 businesses become masters at ensuring quality communication throughout the entire business.
Conducting Systematic Innovation
- Level 7 businesses are very systematic about innovation. It is not random and arbitrary. They implement a process of orchestrating change when it is timely and relevant. They know how to respond to situations that require improvement in an appropriate manner. They know how to identify areas of the business that can be innovated effectively and efficiently. Innovation is the key to keeping a business or organization alive, relevant and growing. Without innovation and reinvention, the business will eventually die. No great revelation there! Over-innovation can be equally destructive to a business. Over-innovation leads to confusion and inconsistency. When a business over innovates, the people in the business are constantly trying to figure out what to do. They can never get settled into a rhythm. They never get settled into how to produce optimal results. Often, the employees shut down and begin to ignore the constant barrage and attempts of the business owner to drive change. Ultimately, the business owner is the only person engaged in innovation because they cannot enlist the cooperation and help of the people around them.
- Level 7 businesses effectively get their people engaged in the process of improving the business. They create tools and systems so their people can offer and facilitate meaningful innovation.
In summary, successful businesses do seven things consistently well that ordinary business won’t do.
- They set and define goals throughout the business.
- They know their numbers and objectively evaluate performance.
- They build high quality systems and procedures that ensure consistent and predictable performance.
- They create an environment of high accountability and trust.
- They build and thread a self sustaining culture.
- They are intentional and highly effective in their communication within and outside the business.
- They are systematic when it comes to innovation and engage all their people when it comes to improving performance.
Time for an Honest Assessment
Many business owners see what world class organizations are doing and believe that they are doing those things as well. It is easy to see how a business owner might feel that way because most of the seven activities described above take place in some way, shape, or form in every business. In most cases however, the business isn’t really doing a good implementing these things.
The bottom line is – How well is the business really doing these areas? Are they being done with intention or by accident? In addition, consider who in the business is engaged in these actions and has it been embedded throughout the entire business. Have doing these seven activities become a part of the culture and way the business works is an important consideration.
Take an honest look at your numbers. Are you achieving the financial goals that you believe you should? Honestly ask yourself if the business is all that you want it to be and if it is genuinely serving your life. Is it possible you have settled for less?
Once you have honestly addressed those questions, you will have a better idea if you are on track to building a successful business.