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The Simple Truth: How to Improve Business Performance

My biggest nightmare, that wakes me up at night couple of times a year is if all my company customers will leave us.

Highly likely, this will never happen, but fear makes me do stuff that would make my business stand out from the competition. 

I would randomly, without any system, pick up the phone and give a call to all our customers and ask “hey, is there anything else we can do for you?”. 
A lot of such conversations end up in an upsell, even though I was thinking to calm down my anxiety and just hear the voice of the customer and understand their mood. 

In this article I would like to share some wisdom that I’ve learned over the course of 15 years in business on how to improve business performance.

Make More, Spend Less

Make More, Spend Less

As obvious as it sounds, the best advice for improving business performance is either growing your revenue, cutting your costs, or both.

The whole point of a business is to perform well financially. If this isn’t happening, it’s either in the very early stages or you have a very expensive and time-consuming hobby.

There are countless resources, business consultants, courses, training sessions, and “thought leaders”. They all advise you to think positively, set unrealistic business goals, follow market trends, increase productivity, provide better customer service for improved customer satisfaction, improve operational efficiency, etc.

The truth is, there is no magical pill.

Cut five percent here and there, maybe let go of customers who aren’t profitable. Let go of one or two employees whose employee productivity is equal to 0, and you’re good to go.

You probably already have someone in mind who you think causes more harm than good.

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    Start with the Problem

    Ask yourself a question: How do you define your business performance? Depending on your answer, you will need to seek different solutions.

    For example, if I ask myself, “Jeff, what does business performance mean?”, I would immediately think about customer acquisition.

    We’ve been busy lately with our existing customers, who have been growing quickly over the last couple of years, and we didn’t focus much effort on acquiring new clients for our portfolio.

    So, in my eyes, to maximize the business performance, we should find a few new projects and land a couple of contracts in our pipeline. That would be nice.

    The next question would be, how would I do that? But I already know the answer to this question.

    All our customers come through the content we generate. Sometimes we share customer stories on our LinkedIn page, sometimes we publish an article with one of our partners, but most often, customers call us saying, “Hey, I read an article on your website, and I believe you are the right team to help me.”

    business performance

    I always look back at what has already worked and try to repeat what has proven to be effective.

    Ask yourself, what worked, then repeat it. Again, there is no magic pill. Simply repeat what has already proven to be efficient.

    80/20 Principle

    Sometimes it’s worth remembering that maybe it’s not worth improving everything.

    I’ll share a short story with you. One of my customers, in the travel industry, was trying to improve how they work with their VIP customers.

    Their product was a VIP, one-of-a-kind trip to various exotic places across the globe. They would prepare a customized offer for their customers in the form of a PDF and send it for approval.

    That PDF was prepared manually by an agent. However, this was not perfect, as they were often offering the same services to a few different customers and losing money due to the inability to merge those services.

    They asked us to develop a custom plugin for their CRM, which took us 6 months to develop and another 3 months to launch.

    We ended up developing a feature that would allow them to export those offers back into a WORD document so that they could fix it on the fly before sending it to the customer.

    As a result, managers used this feature as a very expensive template generator, yet they still prepared most offers manually.

    pareto principle

    The company already had a system in place. It wasn’t very fancy; it was manual. And still, it did 80% of the job. To achieve the remaining 20% and perfect it, would have taken them 80% of the effort they had already invested. It was simply not worth it.

    Simplify Your Goals

    As I’ve already told you, most likely, you already know where the problem is. You simply need someone to say it out loud and confirm your own thoughts with someone else’s words.

    If you are looking to improve business performance, break down the large problem into multiple smaller ones and start resolving them one by one.

    Make sure that each of your “problems” is turned into two levels:

    1. Goals – specify high-level achievements
    2. Tasks – outline how you will achieve those goals

    Consider using the OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) technique used by Google. This has proven to be very efficient on both individual and corporate levels, for small teams and large organizations.

    Just make sure that your tasks are super-granular, doable within one day, and so clear and simple that you don’t procrastinate when approaching them.

    For example, I would set my marketing tasks like this:

    • 2 articles per week
    • 1 marketing email per week

    Notice, I’m not setting tasks that are dependent on others! I’m not setting a task of “getting 10 new leads” because this is unachievable. I can only influence how many people want to talk to me. Training and development opportunities are all up to you.

    Stick to the Plan to Improve Performance

    Once you are done with your list, make sure to execute it.

    It’s simple as that, but at the same time, this is the hardest part.

    Sticking to the plan is where 95% of people fail and lose their chance for professional development and improved performance. Think about it.

    This could easily become your competitive advantage. If you put something marketing-related into your agenda and stick to it for at least 6 months, you will probably be ahead of a few of your closest competitors and achieve sustainable growth. This is just one of many proven strategies to improve business.

    Last Words

    Lastly, I can’t stop repeating—don’t seek a magical pill. As one celestial philosopher said, “One who seeks magic will find a magician.”

    If you need an understanding pair of ears and open and transparent communication for making business decisions, drop me a line or leave your contact information on our website.

    Cheers, 

    J.

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      System Thinker, Technology Evangelist, and Humanist, Jeff, brings a unique blend of experience, insight, and humanity to every piece. With eight years in the trenches as a sales representative and later transitioning into a consultant role, Jeff has mastered the art of distilling complex concepts into digestible, compelling narratives. Journeying across the globe, he continues to curate an eclectic tapestry of knowledge, piecing together insights from diverse cultures, industries, and fields. His writings are a testament to his continuous pursuit of learning and understanding—bridging the gap between technology, systems thinking, and our shared human experience.

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