Learn to succeed in business - it's all about the fundamentals
Whenever I get chance I like to break into my business fundamentals speech. It is something that I came to terms with a few years back and, to me, is the most essential part of doing anything well in business - learning and practicing the fundamentals. I would even go so far as to say that this formula can be applied throughout life. When undertaking any task, strip it back to the basics, master them and the rest will follow. Just look at any great sports star. When asked why they are so good they will often reply with, “I practice the fundamentals.”
Here is a great quote from Kobe Bryant (NBA superstar for those who don’t know) that sums up the importance of fundamentals perfectly. “Can I jump over two or three guys like I used to? No. Am I as fast as I used to be? No, but I still have the fundamentals and smarts. That's what enables me to still be a dominant player. As a kid growing up, I never skipped steps. I always worked on fundamentals because I know athleticism is fleeting.”
If we take this approach to business, then surely we could be onto a winning formula? This begs the question, what are the fundamentals of business? I guess this could be debated for some time but, in my opinion, there are four core fundamental practices that, if paid attention to, will lead you to succeed in any business activity you undertake.
Communication is key for any business or function within that business. Good communication can be the difference between a project getting done on time or not. A missed deadline doesn’t seem like a big deal but when you start adding up all of the inefficiencies from poor communication then you will see a huge issue. Efficiency can be improved through better communication. Simple!
This is something that can be way too easy to take for granted but can also be practiced on a daily basis. Just take a little extra time when crafting an email to make sure it is clear what you are saying. If the purpose of the communication is to get something done, then make sure you include actionable points. After you send the first communication don’t just leave it there. The attitude of ‘well I sent you an email’ or ‘I told you last Wednesday’ is not going to cut it. Sure you can rest on the fact that you “did your job” by telling that person, but why have your responsibilities stopped there? If you want to do something well, then following up with them once or twice more is not going to take up much of your time, but it will have a huge impact on whether that person carries out the task.
Research can come in many forms and you probably do some form of research on a daily basis. Whether it be in your personal life or at work, we are lucky to live in the age where anything we want to know is at our fingertips, so researching has become a part of our daily lives. It goes without saying that it should be a part of our business lives as well. If we work in sales, we should be researching the prospects we want to reach out to. If we work in marketing, we should be researching our target market. If we are undertaking a new project, then research should play a pivotal role in project delivery.
How can we practice and improve our research skills? Don’t take it for granted for one. Being good at researching is a fantastic skill set. People can all too often fall into the trap of, just google it. But that might not tell you everything that you need to know. Before taking on a research task, think about what it is that you want to find out. What are the most important pieces of information that you need to know? What will the research be used for? Conducting research for research sake is pointless. Having a clearly defined goal and outcome is what will benefit you the most.
We make plans for a reason. To help figure out the best way to carry out a particular project or function. The optimal word in that sentence is best. Planning leads to developing best practice. You might not have nailed down the best practice at first but with a little learning by doing and optimising that plan you will soon find the very best way to conduct that project or business function.
So how do we practice planning? This is probably one of the easiest ones to do. Next time you come to a task, don’t just rush straight into it. Stop and think. Evaluate what you are trying to achieve and think of a plan for the best way to achieve it. Your research skills from earlier might come in handy here.
This is the point where I often get glares from the people who I am giving my business fundamentals speech to. People think that they take action every single day and perhaps they do. But often, if you really look at what they are taking action on, it is the same old action that they have been taking for the past few years.
We are innovators by nature, and also procrastinators. Put these together and we find ourselves at a constant stalemate. Forever innovating but never doing. Without pushing boundaries and putting into action the new ideas that we have, we will never get anywhere than where we have already been. I have been guilty of this in the past and I know so many others out there have been as well. Saying, “I have this great idea but it’s not quite perfect yet.” Just put it out there for the world to see. If you have applied the fundamentals, then it is probably going to do pretty well anyway. Have faith in yourself and your ideas, and take action!
Don't get conceited
Being good at something doesn’t mean you’re always going to be good at it. You need to keep on practicing to stay sharp at your business fundamentals. Constantly revaluating and improving is going to take your fundamentals to a whole new level, giving you the means to succeed in anything you undertake.
I am going to turn this blog into a series, providing simple tips and tricks on how to improve and maintain each individual fundamental practice within your business. Sign up to our newsletter to receive our latest blogs straight to your inbox.