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“Secret Sauce” for Success in Business in 2017

“Secret Sauce” for Success in Business in 2017
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secret sauce

Is there such a thing as “Secret Sauce” for Success in Business in 2017?

Earlier in 2016 we had the pleasure of being guests of Nottingham Means Business at the Creative Class of 2016 event held at the Nottingham Contemporary Gallery. What a fantastic evening we had hearing from the entrepreneurs and directors of the 10 successful SMEs selected to join the city's Creative Class for 2016. Their stories provided a refreshingly honest insight into how creative companies were leveraging and driving growth from innovative use of cutting edge design, tapping into and working with the ready supply of highly skilled resources available from local universities and being part of the wider Creative Quarter movement in the city. We certainly look forward to seeing who makes the cut in 2017 and hearing how the 2016 have fared during their term.

So now that we have the benefit of some further insight, is there a pattern to success which can be liberally applied like some “secret sauce” as they say to make your business a sure fire success? Well, it won’t come as too much of a  surprise to hear that actually there is no such a thing as sure fire formula but there are some common elements and great things happening which are open to all organisations to emulate and draw inspiration from. Here are just a few examples we have come across in 2016.

Making it big in your field of business – ingredients for improving your prospects of success:

  1. Communicate your passion - translate your passion into tangible values and share it with anyone who will listen. Your enthusiasm backed up by consistency (your values and how you conduct business) will be recognised and act like a magnet to stimulate and inspire customers, suppliers and, of course, your colleagues and staff
  2. Test your market - check you have something people actually want to buy and are prepared to pay for. Make use of user experience testing and market analysis to refine your concept and use this feedback to improve your offer. A great concept or idea isn’t enough to make it sell or base a business around
  3. Do something now rather than plan and discuss it to perfection – if it’s good to go then do just that and refine it on the move.  Waiting for the perfect time risks denying your customers or risks someone getting there before you. If you have got your market analysis right then, as the saying goes, there is no time like the present
  4. Engage Experts – stick to what you are good at and bring in the expertise to do what you are not best at or who are simply better equipped to make it happen more effectively. Objectivity and external set of eyes can make a huge difference. Marketing springs to mind but so too does HR and Recruitment and IT, particularly around information security. Mishaps in any one key area can result in conflict, reputational harm or even worse consequences for your business  
  5. Get creative with your recruitment and surround yourself with skilled people - become a magnet, not a drowning pool for talent.  Invest in getting people who resonate with your values and bring with them  complimentary and different skills, campaign by getting your staff to tell people how great it is to work there. Draw upon people who have different skills to your own – work with people who share your passion and purpose – and avoid at all costs people who agree with everything you say and do
  6. Recognise and reward your staff– unleash the energy your workforce has to offer – take a leaf out of the approach which Software Europe has to valuing its workforce and really tap into  their enthusiasm – giving every member of staff  an extra day off for their birthday as practiced by Software Europe is a great way to reward their contribution
  7. Be open to ideas from every part of your organisation - lead by example and be consistent. Give you workforce the confidence to tell you how it is and reward their contribution in innovative ways. Employee engagement is certainly a very strong contender for one of the main ingredients in the secret sauce. Without exception every organisation which has impressed in some way or another has also been very committed to its workforce and that is not some for form fluke – Greater engagement provides tangible benefits for all parties yet so many companies still don’t – We are proud to be delivery partners for Engagement Multiplier which is on a mission to support greater employee engagement across the SME sector – Their  commitment to user confidentiality combined with leading edge and intuitive user design allows then to get straight to the points which matter in minutes and  run surveys every 90 days. This rapid access ensures business owners can genuinely have their finger on the pulse and tap into all that positive energy in a far more meaningful way and is a far cry from lengthy and cumbersome tools many of  us have been  seen used for annual staff surveys
  8. Collaborate and be part of the local business community – two organisations we have encountered on our journey stand out. Newark Business Club, which has an impressive following of devotees with a strong sense of purpose for everything Newark based, draws a large audience every month and is very well organised and run. Nottingham Means Business shines brightly as an ambassador for all things Nottingham based as well as the city’s role in the East Midlands region. Attending one of their events ignites a passion which is difficult to describe but is tangible and purposeful. There is ambition and determination by the bucketful and this organisation is definitely poised to take placed based commissioning to a new height as it holistically promotes everything which is great about Nottingham and the wider East Midlands region
  9. Draw from the local talent pool – build links with and leverage FE Colleges such as Lincoln College, the strong performing universities in Lincoln and Nottingham and other higher education establishments. Make full use of internships to increase capacity and draw on their capabilities. Consider links with schools, so you can catch their enthusiasm early and make the effort to  capture the imagination and ignite the next generation of school leavers to make a bee-line for your door
  10.  Keep your finger on the pulse - get out there and see what’s on offer. High performing companies such as Duncan and Toplis, who ran an excellent Director’s briefing at Belton Woods in November, provide thought provoking and meaningful speakers to keep your knowledge relevant and informed. Your local Chamber of Commerce, LEPs, Growth Hubs, FSB, and the excellent Ingenuity Gateway based out of the University of Nottingham provide excellent opportunities for keeping up to date with strategic initiatives as well as funding initiatives for the area.  Great local publications, such as Lincolnshire Business http://lincsbusiness.co/ and  the Business Desk, provide timely and informative articles and content about what’s happening across the region http://www.thebusinessdesk.com/eastmidlands/
  11. Celebrate your success - take time to celebrate your achievements and if the opportunity arises to enter a business award then seize it with both hands and allow your employees share the glow of being part of an organisation with heart and ambition and a future. Chamber of Commerce,  IoD,  Family Business Awards , Newark Business Award  the list goes on of organisations who run annual ceremonies to recognise the excellence and expertise which exists across the region
  12. Give something back – whether its supporting a local or national cause or just freeing up time for your staff to donate blood or attend a First Aid course, create opportunities to make a wider contribution. The hardest thing will be deciding from so many worthy causes which ones to work with. Go with your heart - is all I can say or consider opening up the decision to your workforce


There are lots of organisations we have come across in our first year of trading who have impressed us and of course some less so, however it is not appropriate to reference many of these organisations.

The SME community is the backbone of the UK economy and is doing some truly remarkable things. This will continue to be the case for many years to come and so it should be. So take time out to thank your staff, your colleagues, your suppliers and your advisors for a job well done and let’s look forward to 2017 being an even stronger year for the region. 

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