In today’s competitive landscape, it’s important for a business to be able to rapidly adapt to market and environmental changes. “Agile” is the buzzword associated with this ability to adapt quickly to changing situations; but what is “agile” and how can a business become an “agile business”?
Agile is a philosophy, not a process. Although originally used for software development, it’s now used by companies large and small in any industry. According to the Agile Manifesto, agile refers to:
- Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
- Working software over comprehensive documentation
- Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
- Responding to change over following a plan
Becoming an agile business is a process that constantly needs work. Is it worth it? According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, agile firms grow revenue 37% faster and generate 30% higher profits.
Here are some guidelines for becoming an agile business:
Create focus. Don’t be distracted. Get rid of a long list of priorities and instead replace it with a short, manageable list of three or four items that are “must dos”. As you complete one item, add another to your list. This will keep you focused.
Communicate your vision. Communication is the key to change and change-worthy behaviour. Communicate with employees often, be transparent and give them clear and compelling reasons to embrace agility and become agile champions.
Hire the right people. The success of your business rests on hiring the right people – employees who are aligned with your vision and your values. In order to be agile, the employees you hire must be results-oriented, not task-oriented. They must be able to work within an organization that gives them the freedom and the responsibility to accomplish their jobs without a step-by-step instruction manual on how to do it.
Create autonomy. You can’t maintain a stranglehold on your employees and micromanage every decision in an agile environment. Senior managers need to lessen their direct control over day-to-day activities and give their employees control over how they do their work. Give your employees the environment and support they need and have confidence that they’ll get the job done.
Be prepared for the unexpected. Although you can’t plan for the unexpected, you can be prepared for it. Agile businesses are flexible, adaptable and expect change. They are ready for all eventualities and can quickly pivot. Changing requirements are the name of the game.
Agile is motivating. An agile environment by nature is motivating. Instead of working on the same project month after month with little change, an agile environment empowers employees to respond to changes, giving them freedom to become more than their job descriptions.
How agile is your company? Want more advice on becoming an agile business, or general advice from other business owners like you? Find out if a TAB Board is right for you!
We’ve all heard the terms business consultant, business coach and business advisor, in fact in my last blog I shared a case study, which highlighted how an entrepreneur grew his business with the help of a business advisor. But these terms are bantered around interchangeably, despite the fact that they are all quite different.
These three distinct business professionals represent different types of support and benefits. Understanding the differences and knowing how each of them can benefit your business will help you determine who to engage in helping you grow your business.
To help you better understand what type of business professional you might want to consider, I have outlined below my definition of each of these professionals and how they can each benefit your business depending on your needs.
A business coach is a professional who “coaches” you in conducting your business affairs and completing tasks. They may or may not have a background in your specific business. They are like a sporting coach, a person who inspires and pushes you to reach your goals. Most will conduct research about your company to find areas of improvement and help you work on these.
A business coach focuses on motivating you usually by creating a personalized plan to help you stay on track. If you’re looking for someone to push you further, encourage you, help you complete tasks, keep you on track, and help you overcome obstacles you may want to consider hiring a business coach.
A business consultant is an expert on a particular business topic who can pull from their years of experience in the field to assist you in making informed decisions. A consultant is usually brought in to handle a particular problem or lend their expertise when there are not internal resources with the same level of experience.
Business consultants differ in their abilities, competencies and scope of involvement. Some may help you solve your HR issues for example by writing a report on HR policies and procedures if that happens to be their area of expertise, or by hiring an HR resource for you, or by simply creating a needs assessment document on why you might want to invest in hiring an HR resource.
It’s been my experience that consultants work for a specific period of time, which is usually until the issue they were hired to solve is resolved. If you feel you need specific expertise (marketing, HR, legal, etc.) you might want to consider hiring a business consultant.
A business advisor is a mentor. They offer you a two-way, relationship in which you look up to them for their “seasoned” business opinion, guidance and expertise. They act as your trusted “go-to” person with decades of expertise and a deep interest in helping you succeed. They are a true mentor, taking a personal, active, and thorough interest in your business and working in partnership with you to provide the support you need.
A business advisor can also act as your business resource, capable of answering your business questions, providing an educated opinion, or accessing resources to get you the answers you need. You work with them to create goals, focus your business, and steer your business in the right direction.
You might want to involve a mentor or business advisor if your business growth has been stagnant and you’re not sure why, or you know where you want to go with your business, but you need advice as to how to put the right infrastructure in place to reach those goals.
Whether you’re looking for coaching, consultancy, or a mentor, every business needs help to grow, and knowing what you need and who can help you will lead you to success.
What type of help do you think your business needs right now? What type of business professional will best help you reach your goals? I look forward to your answers and a lively discussion.