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Getting it right, making it great and keeping it there

These are three simple phrases, but strung together, they create the constant ongoing challenge that business owners face.

I love good quotes; one that is often attributed to Charles Darwin and is so relevant in business today is; “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adapt

able to change”

The recruitment sector is constantly evolving and at an ever increasing pace; new start-ups appearing daily, ever emerging fresh technology rewriting the ‘how best to’ book on recruitment, don’t even get me started on legislation, the cyclicality of the markets recruiters serve and also the in-house vs. outsourcing conundrum, but to mention just a few.

Whilst every business is unique, in working around the recruitment sector business owners and directors for the past 20 years helping make their businesses stronger, three common themes always emerge; how do I get it right, make it great and keep it there.

Getting it right as a business is important, but what is right. Right is whatever you want it to be, the key is how do we know it to be right. Never underestimate the critically of a good strategy. A good strategy is one that is clearly thought through, is relevant to today and adaptable for tomorrow and is not a set of corporate handcuffs. A good strategy is clear to understand, logical and most importantly shared and understood by all stakeholders. The fundamentals to developing good strategy are; to be honest with

yourselves (SWOT analysis), understanding of the macro influencing factors (PESTLE analysis), be clear on growth in products/services and markets (ANSOFF Matrix) and also understanding where you are in relation to the competition and what we mean by competition both direct and indirect are all important.

It’s important for a strategy to be translated into clear critical success factors (CSFs) that are mapped as a journey to the end destination, then how can you be sure you’re always on track. We all use Satnav and Google Maps so why shouldn’t your business have one too?

Making it great is equally important, and today more than ever, the importance of 1% cannot be underestimated. What do I mean by that? I mean be smart, be efficient, and be effective in everything you do. To enable a business to thrive it needs to be able to deliver right first time and on time.

Every part of the process needs to be optimized for the business to excel and achieve optimum ROI. Just look at what British Cycling achieved one they applied the principals of ‘the aggregation of marginal gains’ to everything they did. 1 Olympic gold medal in 76 years became 20 gold medals, over three successive Olympics.

 What gets measured gets done, and businesses should be aligned to that mantra. I’m not advocating that every business should immerse and practice Lean & Six Sigma, as there is a danger of suffering paralysis by analysis. However, a well-constructed business

linked intrinsically to the strategy, which has been shaped by all stakeholders in the business with focus on causes rather than effects, leading indicators not just results, will drive an evolutionary continuous improvement culture. Focus must be on improving causes of results by examining what we do and how we do it, providing our customers with what they want and super serving them, and always innovating and learning… will always drive positive financial results.

Abraham Lincoln sums it up nicely in this quote "There are no accidents in my philosophy. Every effect must have its cause. The past is the cause of the present, and the present will be the cause of the future. All these are links in the endless chain stretching from the finite to the infinite."

Keeping it there, is an ongoing challenge and having a culture of continuous improvement will always be a significant factor in staying ahead, but we need to always be on the front foot, we need to be wary of change both positive and negative and be able to see it early and pivot our business accordingly.

In the very positive market conditions that the recruitment sector has been living in for the past few years then 20% growth year on year has been readily achievable. Quite often this type of sustained growth can mask hidden pitfalls, which only become exposed when markets take a downturn.

Don’t get lazy and flabby in our current positive market conditions, review your business strategy annually and the dashboard on an ongoing and regular basis, and continue to strive for excellence. Always innovate and never be afraid to change the plan from how we originally planned to get to our end destination. Your Satnav reroutes you to optimise your journey and to navigate you safely to the destination, so let your dashboard to exactly that.

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