Many of us dream about creating a successful business, but unfortunately for every Entrepreneur that succeeds there are nine others will fail. There are many reasons for failure: poor business proposition; lousy planning and organization; insufficient funding; weak execution; mismanagement; the list goes on and on.
Too many people go into business with their eyes wide shut, with little to no preparation, and then are stupefied when they crash and burn.
But understanding why businesses fail is only part of the story. If you want to create a sustainable business, you also need to identify some of the defining reasons for the sustainable growth of successful companies.
With that in mind, I recently spoke with Jerry Haffey Sr., CEO, and Founder of Ambrosia Treatment Center, whose addiction treatment business has grown from one location to five locations over the last ten years, to get some insight into what were the keys to his success.
Here are nine things that Jerry shared that he felt were the main contributions to his business growth.
Have A Strong Purpose
Right from the start, it was clear that Jerry had a passion for his business and a compelling purpose.
When I asked him what his business goal was, he immediately said: “it’s to save lives.” Which wasn’t the answer I was expecting, I thought he might say it’s to double our revenue or increase our market share, but it’s clear that these were just some of the benefits of having a strong purpose and following his passion.
According to the Harvard Business Review, when leaders act on their passion is energizes them and helps them to stay true to both their short-term and long-term goals. Jerry was working as a nurse when he saw hospitals overrun with patients due to drugs; he saw the struggle of addiction, the pain it caused, and the impact that it had on lives and families… that’s when he knew he had to do something to help.
Having a firm purpose helps keep you committed and motivated during the difficult times, it also makes you focus on long-term goals, rather than short-term profits. A strong purpose also helps you to attract and retain good talent.
Know Your Business
Surprisingly many people go into business with limited knowledge of either running a business, or the area in which they plan to run a business. In fact, according to CBInsights the number one reasons businesses fail, a staggering 42 percent of them, is because there is no market for their product. Which shows a clear lack of business knowledge, especially around their own business and products. Jerry says, “when it comes business, knowledge is power, and the more you know, the more you can grow.” Understanding your market helps you to identify opportunities, better understand your competition and avoid some of the risks which can impede growth. Take the time to keep abreast of the latest developments, technology, and market trends, and it can help prevent you making disasterous mistakes.
Surround Yourself With Great Talent Who Care
According to Deloittes research, 87.7 percent of employees cannot contribute to their full potential because the lack a passion for the work that they do. When looking to recruit, always look to recruit the best talent available, but check that they have a passion for the work you want them to do. Because when it comes to execution, the more passion the team has the better the results will be. Jerry always looked for passion, and to hire people that were better than him. He believes that if you’re afraid to hire people that are better than you are, then you will always limit what you can achieve.
Focus On Continuous Improvement
What is best practice and innovative today could be old hat within a short period. Change is constant; improvements are constant, new ideas and ways of thinking are always evolving. You need to develop a continuous improvement approach, or you will get left behind by your competitors. Jerry says “Challenge everything, don’t settle, there is always a better way, even if you are one of the market leaders. Let making improvements become your habit.”
Create A Simple Business Model Which Is Scalable And Repeatable
Complexity is a business growth killer; it can make it both complicated and costly. Just look at some of the fastest growing businesses over the last ten years such as Uber and Netflix and ask yourself what do they have in common? The answer is they had a simple, repeatable business model which allowed them to scale quickly and dominate their markets. Jerry focused on creating a process for an efficient, easy to understand, and easy to implement a business model so that when the opportunity to grow arose, all they had to do was replicate an efficient, profitable and proven model.
Network, Network, Network
Networking is just as important as sales and marketing because a strong network gives you access, access to new markets, access to new opportunities and access to much-needed resources. Jerry says to build a strong network; you need to focus on building credibility, nurture the relationships, and look to add value. But be blunt and learn to recognize those who can help you in return and those that are just helping themselves.
Be Cautious Of Timing – Know When To Stick Or Twist
While aggressive growth can be exciting, it can also be dangerous and even deadly to your business. Sustainable growth comes from having a solid foundation, an understanding of the market conditions, and then taking calculated risks. Jerry could have looked to grow his business much quicker, but with the downturn in the financial markets he knew it was time to consolidate and wait for the right moment to expand.
Ever since Jerry took his life-savings to open his first treatment center, he has always given back. In fact, giving is such a big part of his success that he was recognized for a Humanitarian award. Opening doors for others will lead to new opportunities for growth. Building a business is exciting, challenging and somewhat risky, but if you follow the advice of Jerry you will give yourself an advantage by having a clear purpose, an excellent understanding of your niche, a talented team, a strong commitment to continuous improvement, focus on simplicity, leverage your network and look to take the right risks at the right time, then you can significantly increase your chances of success.
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Gordon is the author of the critically acclaimed book “FAST” and works with enterprises on implementing results-based leadership initiatives to rapidly accelerate the organization’s growth.
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