As much of the media continues to headline the extremes for how our nation’s government cannot be run as a business, let’s find some middle road here. We all know it’s an adapting and adjusting process to improve operations and services for both businesses and government. With part two focused on lifeskill, Recordkeeping, let’s begin with what defines profitability for possibly for both private and public sectors.
When it comes to government, maybe we should look a little deeper on what defines “profitability.” Does it only mean “making a profit,” or can it mean something more than just money? Maybe, we should include simply balancing the budget as something profitable, just like every family needs to in order to stay out of overwhelming debt?
For those who try to keep their business in the black and profitable, they also know how debt can drown both business and the bureaucracy of government. And without a balanced budget recorded, and followed, neither will survive, let alone thrive, very long. What defines a successful and profitable business?
According to Neil Ducoff, Ten characteristics of a successful business (Strategies, March 24, 2014), Characteristic #1 is Leadership. First and foremost . . . the owner is engaged, accountable and drives performance by paying attention to the business.” When they are so immersed in what Ducoff calls “non-leadership work” the business flounders without direction, structure or systems. No business can be run by remote control.
Characteristic #2 is Business Culture. This represents . . . “the collective behavior of its leaders and employees. Businesses that possess well-defined cultures stand out from the crowd because they’re a joy to interact with. Customer points of contact at the front desk, retail areas, and service departments – everything throughout the business feels natural yet orchestrated. What you don’t see are employees that are indifferent and disengaged. Great business cultures require leadership, systems, training, coaching, accountability and commitment.”
Characteristic # 3 is Financial Literacy. This is “. . . a non-negotiable skill in business. This doesn’t mean that the owner needs to be an accountant or have the skills of a bookkeeper, but it does mean that the owner knows how to read and understand financial reports and use them to make the best possible business decisions.” The owner builds a cash-flow plan in order to project service and retail sales goals complete with a budget to manage expenses. Successful businesses have mastered financial responsibility that ensures they will have what it takes to reach their goals.
Characteristic #4 is Structure and Systems. Structure is also non-negotiable to ensure efficiency, productivity, consistency and predictability. “Systems produce predictable results. Lack of structure and the absence of systems all but ensure inconsistency in how work is done, conflicting agendas, dissension, stagnancy and, worst of all, uncertainty.” Systems refer to the structure that supports success, rather than mediocrity that will never win in business.
Characteristic #5 is Skill development. “Success is the result of acquiring knowledge and mastering the skills to use that knowledge to the best of your ability. A commitment to training and education is non-negotiable for both technical and non-technical skill development.” The test of support and success with training is seen in the number of “. . . first-time clients that return for a second visit within about 90 days.”
Characteristic #6 is Everyone sells. “When it comes to the topic of ‘selling,’ there is always a ‘love/hate’ relationship. The ‘love’ part is that selling is what every business is all about . . . The ‘hate’ part is . . . not all people are comfortable with the concept of ‘selling.’” Basically certain personalities thrive in a sales situation. Others do not and prefer being more behind the sale scene. Yet, everyone is important. Success ultimately “. . . depends on the company’s collective ability to sell.”
Characteristic #7 is Work environment. “Success has a ‘look.’ . . . Clean it, paint it and refurbish it . . . Front door to back door, everything about the facility should communicate and support its brand identity.” Everything from décor, equipment, to lighting fixtures should function and look organized and professional.
As you review these seven characteristics, think about how you personally reflect those qualities at work and home. In what areas do you know you need to improve? Then, consider how you see our government embracing them, if at all. In part 3, the final three characteristics will be covered and how they could possibly relate to ourselves, our business, and our government. What do you think are those three characteristics?