Reflecting on past experience and moving forward with a strong strategy should always be front of mind at the start of the year. Whether you want to get a business off the ground, or expand an existing company into new areas, assessing your strategy and making the necessary changes to help meet your goals is the first step.
Here are five top tips on how to make 2017 a year for growth, success and new business beginnings.
What do you want to be famous for?
Whatever your business, decide what you want to be famous for. Don’t follow the norm if you know you can do better. The ‘Kuckoo’ brand was founded after realising a niche in the hospitality market for a small, highly skilled cocktail spot. We went against the grain because we knew we had something bigger and better to offer the cocktail bar scene. Our brand reflects our personalities as a team, and so our ethos is centred around having fun and letting loose in a comfortable yet glamorous environment. We ran with this from day one, and it continues to work, so why change it?
The hospitality sector itself has faced tough times, as have many industries, yet our brand has continued to grow because it has stayed true to our brand values. Decide on what you want to be famous for and go with it – your brand and business will be stronger because your passion and enthusiasm will shine through.
A sound business structure
Before embarking in a recruitment drive, investing in new equipment, or breaking the bank on a new website, decide what the structure of your business will be. This can be incorporated within a business plan, set goals, make realistic deadlines, but also make time to revisit and assess your structure on an annual basis, and tweak it if needed.
When we first began, we knew how we wanted the business to run and developed a ‘True Team’, meaning we have a ‘manager-less’ structure to our team configuration. Perhaps seen as a risk as traditionally, the hospitality sector is built up on layers of management based on the time served by each individual as opposed to their leadership qualities or skill set.
We wanted to be different from the start and recruit passionate, enthusiastic and hard-working staff who’d love our brand as much as we do. All our staff are salaried too – they don’t just work for us, they are part of our business.
You don’t have to follow the stereotypical norms to a business structure if this doesn’t fit with how you work. Whatever your industry, you need to decide from day one your own way of working to ensure you portray a strong and consistent message internally as well as externally.
A strong network
Having a loyal and trusted set of suppliers and contacts is a key part to business success, and can greatly help if you ever find yourself in a sticky situation. It can take many years to build a bank of good contacts, and we have experienced the benefits of having a loyal network of people around us. Professional advice has become vital to supporting our ambitions as a business, and it has helped us recognise areas of weakness and motivated us to seek help in areas we’re not specialised in, such as training consultancy, location finders when looking for new sites, specialist lawyers, graphic design and PR consultants.
We also invest in our staff heavily – ensuring our Brand Champions’ professional development is always monitored, and sponsoring staff through relevant training where needed. Having a good network of people around you also includes a loyal and dedicated workforce.
Time for training
Whether your work alone or have a small team of staff, training and up skilling is vital to help any business grow and change with the times.
Investing in your staff, learning new things yourself, and keeping your eye on the ball of sector changes can really motivate a team and ultimately help boost bottom line.
We have always believed in continuous up skilling and training, and have been lucky enough to develop our own, in-house training programme – building on the experience of the team and harnessing the youthful energy & exuberance of staff has proved highly successful.
In 2017, why not set yourself at least four goals to achieve by the end of the year, or within the next five or ten years – depending on the goals! From the outset, we had some very specific targets in mind, and we named these the ‘Four Pillars’. When you face challenges (which you will), it’s important to have these ‘pillars’ at the forefront of your mind, to help you grow as individuals as well as a business.
Our four pillars included, having ‘the next bar’ in mind, continuing to think big, and never being satisfied with what we have – we always strive to do better.
With a clear goal in mind, entrepreneurial spirit will not be dampened and you always have a focal point for times when it’s hard to see the wood through the trees. Above all, always be passionate and true to your goals and dreams – as this sets strong foundations to the success of a business. Here’s to 2017!
Richard Powell is founder of Kuckoo.