Understand what makes you different (and keep checking). Stick to your strengths, exploit your capabilities. Can you outsource non-key activities?
Identify low cost ways of experimentation. Ensure the key personnel in the Business allocate time to investigate and invest in developing new products / services / methods of operating. Too often key personnel are overstretched doing repetitive tasks trying to maintain and grow the Business.
Put innovation on every agenda (do not delegate it to New Product Development Dept.). Set up a rigorous new product development process and set clear kill criteria.
Be flexible about the boundaries of your business – partnerships will become important
Experiment with channels of marketing and distribution – a mix is usually best to balance risks and retain control (and experiment with different approaches)
Talk to customers all the time – formally and informally but not just about the current sales or projects. Ensure that you talk about their business so you can continue to provide good service as their Business changes and develops
Set up simple systems to manage the business (be prepared to update them as the business changes) which everyone understands – Manage the business (NOT continuous fire fighting). Clear Process Diagrams are excellent to document the processes both for current employees and new. Document the key actions that must be satisfactorily completed before the next process. The level of documentation normally is “Holiday cover” (i.e. for an employee doing an unfamiliar activity)
Business plan (objective/resources to achieve objectives/ responsibilities and completion dates / track and improve) – communicate to all EmployeesMonitor the business, competition, customers and general environment to track performance and identify actions
Ensure that there are feedback systems (e.g. Complaint or Problem and Quality Improvement Systems) which are used effectively to improve the business. Talk to your Customers and provide feedback if there are issues.
Ensure that everyone is pulling in the same direction. Clear relevant Mission or similar Statement which encapsulates the purpose of the Business, then link it to the medium-term objectives and immediate actions.