Many thanks to Lord Alan Sugar for his guest post for Company Check.


 

I’ve been in business for a while. I’ve grown and sold many more businesses than most entrepreneurs. If I say so myself I’m good at it.

Over the years, I’ve learned some important business lessons. There are a number of core principles I work to and that all businesspeople should work to if they want to be successful too.

1) Know your numbers

One of the absolute basics of running a business; know your numbers. If you’re not up to date with where your business is financially, who is? Yes, you might have a financial director. And yes, you might have been in meetings all week or you’ve been focused on the launch of something.

 

But there’s no excuse. If you don’t know your numbers, you don’t know how well the business is doing or why, and you can’t lead the change/strategy it needs to be a success.

It’s as simple as that.

2) Know their numbers

There’s no business out there that doesn’t rely in some part on another, for the provision of services, products or promotion. Your business will have suppliers and it will have customers and it’s important to know their numbers as well as your own.

Why? It comes down to trust and, to be frank, just being sensible. Due diligence sounds like a big undertaking but even just having a basic understanding of a company’s credit rating and financial status can alert you to potential issues and arm you with the knowledge you need to form a more secure relationship, based on trust and transparency. That’s where websites like Company Check are so powerful.

 

3) Build relationships

I know I come across a bit tough especially on TV where, let’s face it, it’s my job to weed out the chaff from the wheat. Every day in business though, we develop relationships and these relationships can be integral to your business success.

It’s really important to build those relationships over time and work on nurturing them even when you don’t have an immediate need for something from that person. Never be so sure of yourself that you think you don’t need anyone else. Treat others with respect and when the time comes, that relationship will have a positive impact on your business.

 

4) Be transparent, expect transparency

I’ve never pretended to be anything other than who I am. And that’s important in business. I’ve invested in a lot of businesses over the years and one of the things I expect from them is that they are transparent about what’s happening, and what’s going to happen in the future.

Whether you’re investing in a business, or working day to day with colleagues and suppliers,it’s important that you expect transparency from them in the same way. If they’re not going to be able to deliver for any reason, you should expect to know about it now. In return, you should be open with them about the strategy for the business and the role they play in it.

 

5) Grow together

There are very few businesses that have grown without any input from anywhere else. From simple peer-to-peer advice, to the provision of services or products, right through to investors or shareholders, every business owner will be indebted or at least grateful to someone along the way.

It’s fair to say that when their business grows, yours should too. If you see a supplier of yours is experiencing huge financial growth but that that hasn’t translated into a better service for you in some way, that’s the time to start asking questions.

Business is complicated, there’s no doubt about it. But following these simple principles will help you protect your business and work more sensibly in future.


 

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