What is business excellence?
I asked myself that same question when I was presented with the opportunity to be this month’s guest columnist.
By definition, excellence is the “fact or state of excelling.” OK, so excelling in what—everything? Strategy, marketing, finance, technology and those sorts of things? That seems very broad. I think the answer is a little more simplistic—business excellence is having a great, not good, business.
The following are a few observations I’ve made over the years for what constitutes a GREAT business:
Get over yourself. It sounds silly, but acknowledging your own limitations and expertise is the key to learning. Always be open minded to the idea that someone can teach you something you don’t know. Great companies are not afraid to seek support and networks outside their own business to help get them to the next level. This network can be found in the form of a trusted smart friend, peer groups and industry associations, such as the Gift and Home Trade Association. I have been a member of GHTA for several years and truly believe that the relationships I have formed and the foundation of knowledge I’ve gained has contributed to my company’s success.
Be fearless. Great businesses are never shy. They constantly risk failure and in many cases, fail. But the difference with great businesses is what they do with this knowledge. Do they retreat or apply this new knowledge and move forward with new strategies?
Create an amazing team and have fun. Very simply, people are happy to come to work and have fun once they get there. A sense of teamwork and a ‘work is play’ attitude go a long way in terms of morale, and employees know they are valued. Sure, the bad times still happen, but are short-lived in the face of happy people. And just like life, happy people, i.e. happy employees, are more productive, more motivated, more trusted and are the first to get the job done.
Believe that what you are creating/selling is good for your customer. This is probably my number one strategy for pursuing excellence.
While this idea is sometimes sugar coated and buried in a cliché mission statement, I believe great businesses are in business for reasons other than profit alone. They want to make a difference, add value. They serve their customers, employees and shareholders, not the bank. Profits are the score, not the game. When you truly believe that your product or service is helping or adding value to someone’s life, this is the driving force on the road to excellence.
Beth Lang is the founder and chief executive officer of Alexa’s Angels Inc., based in Windsor, Colo.; president of The Gift and Home Trade Association and a proud sponsor of the ICON Awards. She can be reached at 970-686-7246, alexas-angels.com, giftandhome.org.