Having spent the last 18 months interviewing business owners who have been in business for more than ten years, the elements of “success” are never far from my thinking. What is it that makes a particular business spectacularly successful over time?
So far, I have identified some components that I will share with you. These are components that stand out and are clearly visible, or at the very least, discernible.
They are, in no particular order:
1. The business has customers/clients who are keen to buy from them.
Does your business have people lining up outside your doors to do business with you (physically or metaphorically)? Imagine that when you publish your weekly specials to be released in limited editions once per week, and people anticipate it so much, that each week they line up before you even open your doors to make sure they don’t miss out on these catalogue specials.
Enter Aldi. This is exactly what happens there. I’ve witnessed it myself.
There are plenty of examples of Aldi stores in Canberra, where you can see these eager customers – my favourite is in Jamison Plaza, where the recent store upgrade has made a real difference to the shopping experience.
Turning your customers into raving fans will do it every time.
2. The people who work there are happy to do so – the culture is something that has staff buy-in.
Google springs to mind here, but some other organisations that are in high demand are taking on the Google “fun to work” reputation, like Apple and other multi-internationals.
Online shoe and clothing retailer Zappos is one of the world’s most famous passion-driven businesses and has huge buy-in from its employees. See this amazing YouTube video to see how much these employees are truly part of the Zappos family brand.
But in Australia, I was surprised to find the results of a LinkedIn survey which named the top 25 companies people most wanted to work for in this country. Some of these surprises were to do with well-known competitors like Woolworths and Coles – one of them rated at #4 and the other at #24. Interesting, isn’t it? Which do you prefer to shop at? Where do you do your grocery shopping and is it because of the great service provided by happy staff?
I am not even sure if we are up to world standards in Canberra yet, with regards to staff buy-in, or whether it’s to do with the way we create and promote a culture of aligned goals and values.
Do you know of any businesses in Canberra that have great staff buy-in? Please share if you do – it would be really interesting.
3. The customer experience is values-driven.
This is also very much aligned with the previous point. The values shared by the company and the staff are also customer-centric. Socially conscious would be best to describe such a model. One very good example of this in Australia would be Zambrero, which is a Mexican restaurant with a mission. And it all started in Canberra!
This Canberra creation, Zambrero, has a “feel good” element in that every plate of food you buy is matched by a plate of food to feed the hungry. Customers love to feel good about their purchases and to know that they are helping to solve world problems.
4. The standards are sky high and often there is a unique selling proposition.
Costco has a unique selling proposition, in that not only does it have the reputation for selling in bulk at discounted prices, but also its “membership” model is a separate stream of annual passive income. Are you a member of the Canberra Costco store? How are you finding it?
In Canberra also, Aspen Medical has been recognised as the Exporter of the Year (2015) and a category winner in 2016, with contracts all over the world, including one signed by Former US President Barack Obama himself. One could well say that the standards are sky-high in this business.
Last year, Dilkara Essence of Australia was the emerging exporter of note in Canberra, and Seeing Machines certainly earned the winning exporter of the year title in 2016, with all the great things they are doing. See more of these Canberra companies doing extraordinary things in export here: http://actexportawards.com.au/winners/2016-winners/
5. The business is sustainable over time.
Of course, it’s one thing to rise to the top, but maintaining your success is indeed another challenge. Businesses need to be there for the long haul. In the Canberra Business Success Stories book, I have told the stories of those who have been in business for more than ten years. That was the measure of success that I used and still use for this publication. After all, if you have been in business for more than ten years, you must be doing something right!
6. The business is profitable.
This might seem like a strange one to put in, but according to the Australian Taxation Office, their definition of business includes the expectation of making a profit. Naturally, the more profit a business can make, the more they can give back to society and their communities. In my experience, the most successful do give back a lot, with few exceptions. We just don’t often hear about them.
If you know of any local businesses in Canberra that stand out from the rest in their field, please do share details them right here in the comments below – let us all know about them, so we can try them out and “buy local”.