But First, Why Do Businesses Fail?
Depending on the source, the failure rate of businesses in their first year is huge.
Bloomberg suggests that 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs or startups, fail in their first 18 months. Other sources put that number slightly lower – regardless, there is consensus across respected authorities from the USA, UK, Canada and Australia (and I am sure most countries), that failure is prevalent in the startup space.
So, you really must ask yourself why is this? What are the factors that lead to business failure and can these be avoided?
Well, of course much has been written about this topic and I am sure will continue to be written, but some of the factors that have led to business failure that I have seen over twenty-five years are things like:
- the personal reasons for starting a business were wrong
- the business concept was not well thought out (lack of market research, lack of planning)
- inability to market the business
- inability to service the business
- inability to scale the business
- inability to change the business
Now most business books or courses, address these factors as they are largely technical skills that can be learned. However, there are several aspects which are more behavioural that I see repeatedly, starting with these three at the top of my list…
Passion Does Not Guarantee Success
Firstly, entrepreneurs are passionate individuals. They want to change the world in their own distinct ways and passion is critical for this, as it keeps your focused and drives you to achieve your goals or big dream. However, it also tends to influence you to do the things you get the most pleasure from and avoid those things you frankly well, just do not like doing. If not kept in check, you can become myopic to everything else around you – you become your own worst enemy!
The second aspect is that businesses do not fail because of lack of information. In fact, there is so much information available and some of this is contradictory or not relevant for your specific circumstances! So, what this means is that it can be confusing or down right overwhelming. That’s why it is critical for you to be able to decipher what’s important and what is not important today.
The third behavioural aspect that I see frequently is the tension between striving for “perfection” versus disciplined consistent execution over time. Did you know that there are some people who will not do things until everything is perfect? Maybe you know these people very well! You see, that was my problem when I first started out and I see this all the time – analysis paralysis!
“You have to get moving, build momentum and keep at it – and I know that it is tough when in the early days, you may not be getting the results you seek”
The 5 Fail Safe Tips
That’s why when I work with my clients, we focus on these five capabilities which help in countering the negative side of these behavioural aspects, to instil a working rhythm in the core of the business – it’s operations…
First: When you are a business of one, you do everything right? Well not always – you still need to be very clear about the roles and responsibilities. Then as you start to scale and bring in new people, there is never any question as to “who has the ball?”.
Second: However, knowing who is doing it, is different to knowing “how do I do it?” and this is where things like guidelines, procedures and standards are essential as you grow. This insures people keep to their swim lanes and while there is still room to move in terms of creativity, they are not out deviating from the direction you want the business to be heading.
Third: Next, metrics, score cards, and benchmarking assist you and your business in knowing “how are we tracking?”. Not only internally with your own expectations, but also against external standards and benchmarks so that you can compare yourself for a reality check.
Fourth: Management operating systems that drive day to day performance, continuous improvement, and innovation more strategically, are key and goes to the heart of “are we moving forward?”. You see eve if you are a business of one person, things still must happen on a regular basis.
Fifth: Finally, my fifth behavioural aspect I discuss with my clients is leadership. Because at some point as your business grows, your team will ask themselves “why should I follow this person?”. Never kid yourself that just because you may pay people a higher salary or give them additional benefits, that you have established a team.
“Successful entrepreneurs must become successful leaders – so as you build your business, you need to build on your leadership”
Bill & Warren Says You Need To Focus – So Focus!
I recently read a story about Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, two of the world’s most successful and also influential business people. They were asked to write down the “one word” they felt was key to their success and perhaps on reflection, it was no surprise that they both wrote down separately the word “focus”.
Now I have never met Gates or Buffet, but I have read relatively extensively about them and viewed many interviews and presentations by them, so I feel it is safe to say their one word “focus” can also mean focusing on the right things, at the right time, by the right people, in the right way.
Passion Plus Disciplined Consistent Execution Multiplied By Time
Remember, these are behaviors and not technical skills that need to be mastered. So do not let your lack of financial numeracy influence you to not starting a business (or any other technical skill by that matter)! You have everything you need right now to setup, scale and sustain a business in The New Economy. You just have to go about it the right way, to some extent methodical, but importantly, take your passion and apply disciplined consistent execution over time!
Take Your Step Forward
So, take on board what I have said, and write down a few notes that first comes to mind. Structure this into a plan and get going. Then take another step forward, but only this time, a little more refined than your first step because you are now wiser for it. Then repeat, repeat, repeat!
I Tried (fill in the blank here) But It Did Not Work Out!
When I hear somebody say something like that, I immediately pay attention to listen to what comes next – their justification.
For example, in the last 24 hours I heard…
“I tried India for outsourcing but it did not work out, so I went to the Philippines instead – I just could not communicate with them”
I don’t know about you, but do you think it is possible that the reason that outsourcing did not work out for that individual, is more than just about nationality? Like did they just have a poor experience with one specific outsourcer? Perhaps they themselves did not know how to outsource effectively, or possibly between the two organisations, there were aspects that contributed to the issues? Yes it appears they are ready to dismiss a whole country!
Maybe you have had similar experiences?
Now I know I am starting to sound like my father, but when you have been around for a while, which for me is over 25 years in the outsourcing industry, you start to see patterns and importantly, what works and what does not work!
Most Outsourcing Is Mediocre At Best
But here’s the rub…
My outsourcing mentors: Professor Bill Hefley (The University Of Texas), Dr Mary Lacity (University of Missouri), Professor Leslie Willcocks (London School Of Economics), Professor Emeritus Arie Lewin (Duke University), Kate Vitasek (University of Tennessee) and others, repeatedly show in their research that most outsourcing fails to live up to expectations. However, they have equally demonstrated that there are critical success factors that need to be in place on both sides – the buyer and provider of outsourcing services, to guarantee a successful outcome for all parties.
Yet, there is something about human behaviour, even when we know what to do, we keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again! Don’t do this to yourself anymore, because it’s painful for me to watch you go through all this and see you in denial!
So here is what you need to do…
The 5 Critical Disciplines Of Strategic Outsourcing Partnerships™
I spent years going through all the outsourcing research and case studies, as well as reflecting on my own experience having worked on both sides of outsourcing and also as an advisor, and realised that there are five things you need to do in collaboration with your outsourcing partner (client or provider) to be successful and I call these The 5 Critical Disciplines Of Strategic Outsourcing Partnerships™.
Discipline 1 – Service Delivery Excellence
The First Discipline you need to have when you outsource, is ensuring you have a strong foundation in the day to day operations of your business. When you have this, you have the certainty of which you can build on, you can scale and grow your business. When you do not have this, then your whole business can become unstable – it can hold you back. This is about the discipline of Service Operations Excellence and includes things like…
• Services & Capabilities
• Availability & Capacity
• Technology Collaboration Tools
• Onshore Oversight & Offshore Supervision
• Development Of Key Performance Metrics
• Daily / Weekly Status Dashboards & Reports
• Customer Satisfaction Surveys
• Continuous Improvement Practices
Discipline 2 – Expertise, Consultation & Advice
The Second Discipline you need to have when you outsource, is the ability to leverage your outsourcing partner’s experience. You know your business, but they know outsourcing. When you have this, then you can take advantage of their experience more fully. This is about ensuring your outsourcing journey is aligned to your business needs for today and for tomorrow. When your outsourcer does not provide this, then all you have is a transaction. This is the discipline of Expert Consultation & Advice and includes things like…
• Monthly, Quarterly, Annual Reviews
• Regular health checks
Discipline 3 – Robust Risk Management
The Third Discipline you need to have in place when you outsource, is the ability to ensure you do not open your business up to possible threats. When you do this, you are implementing certainty into your business and you have control despite any unplanned event. And of course, when you do not do this, you open your business to uncertainty. You’re not in control of your business and this is not good because we know that in business there are some many facets which can impact you significantly if you are not prepared. This is the discipline of implementing Robust Risk Management and entails…
• Documentation Of Operating Procedure Manuals
• De-Risking Of Key Individuals Through Cross Skilling
• Access Controls (Virtual & Physical, CTV Monitoring)
• Non-Disclosure Agreements To Protect Client IP
• Business Continuity & DR Protocols
Discipline 4 – Value, Leading Practices & Insights
The Fourth Discipline you need to implement when you outsource, is the ability to ensure you are continually improving your business with new ideas and perspectives. When you have this, then you will get positive outcomes – from cost savings, improved quality, improved service, and even new capabilities, because you are up to date as to what is happening around you. When you do not have this, then it unlikely that your business will evolve or step up – it will instead remain static with other businesses likely to pass you by. This is the discipline of implementing ongoing Value, Leading Practices & Insights and leveraging your outsourcing partner’s ecosystem of…
• Business & Technology Seminars & Resources
• Industry Introductions
• Social Media Promotion
• Quarterly Joint Press Releases & Case Studies
Discipline 5 – Effective & Efficient Administration
Lastly, The Fifth Discipline you need to have in place when you outsource, is the ability to minimise your overheads and day to day focus on tasks that do not generate value for you or your business. When you have this in place, then outsourcing is easy for you to manage. When you do not have this then outsourcing starts to become complex and time consuming for you and your own team and what I am referring to is the discipline of Effective & Efficient Administration and includes in its simplest…
• Seamless account processes that are easy to reconcile so that you always know at any time where you at
Time To Reset & Move Forward
So if you are currently outsourcing, have a conversation with your partner about these 5 Disciplines, or do this quick online self-assessment to see where you current sit…
Click here: http://survey.theoutsourcing.expert/
If you are considering outsourcing for the first time, then make sure you include these 5 Disciplines as criteria in selecting the best partner for you.
Finally, if you want FREE resources including…
• 70 Page Step By Step Business Implementation Guide
• 68 Point Check List
• Online Business Benchmarking Tool
• 5 Training Videos
• Business Strategy Consulting Session (Optional)
Click here: http://resources.theoutsourcing.expert/
And always remember…
“Today, success is achieved through partnering and collaboration – not going at it alone”
Technology Is Encroaching High Street!
It’s hard to imagine even just a few years ago, that technology companies like Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung, would be opening flagship mega stores in traditional high street retail locations like on George or Pitt Street in Sydney CBD (let alone Tesla who are selling their cars around the corner in Martin Place!).
But we are not living in the past. Today is the future and so too is the criticality of technology, particularly when you are in business.
Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud (SMAC technologies) followed by Software As A Service (SaaS) and Internet of Everything (IoE) are profoundly transforming how business is being conducted.
Blockchain and similar technologies, crypto currencies, and industries like FinTech or Green Energy, are disrupting the status quo, while Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, and Smart Automation (AIRA technologies) are enabling new capabilities, possibilities, and innovation.
We are just scratching the surface to what is yet to come!
You Must Think Differently
However, the challenge as a startup business, or a SME, is how do you go about implementing the right technology solutions that are fit for purpose today while ensuring you can scale and remain relevant?
Also, when you do implement technology, how do you avoid just “automating the process”, because we need to be thinking all the time as to how to “transform or re-invent the process”.
Compounding this, is that many businesses address isolated problems and not see the bigger picture. They implement point solutions but have not addressed things from a holistic perspective. So, what this means is that they are left with multiple technologies which are not talking to each other, they are not integrated.
Ultimately this leaves to a sub-optimised business environment. One that is costly to run and potentially increases the overall threat of security breach because to maintain all this requires a deep understanding of your ecosystem – in other words all the moving parts.
6 Steps To Implementing Technology The Right Way
So, here’s what you need to do…
Firstly, you need to maintain an architecture of your business. Now large organisations employ technology architects to do this job, but of course as a startup or SME, this will have to be a task that somebody else picks up. It does not need to be complicated either – just a single point of knowledge of how all your current technologies work and importantly cost, where there are shortcomings and gaps.
Second you need to evaluate your needs around what I call “tier one” items. These are common for all businesses – only the complexity varies. For example, Communication, CRM, ERP, Desktop Apps, Storage, Security, Financial platforms can all be placed in this bucket.
The next step is to evaluate the “tier two” items. This list will vary, however could include social media tools or service desk tools. They are generally less in criticality than the tier one items.
Once you have done the evaluation for your tier one and tier two technology needs, the fourth step is to define the requirements and selection criteria to help you implement best in class technology that either replaces exiting systems, closes gaps, or brings new capabilities. .
Integration is the fifth step. This is about having different systems work with each other seamlessly. For the startup / SME sector this is easier than you might think, compared to corporates, because you can access third party tools like Zapier to get the job done as I do across my companies.
Finally, the sixth step, but often not fully appreciated, is to ensure you are leveraging the broader capabilities that your technology partner can bring to you – even without additional investment. This might be accessing services such as 24×7 support, or educational and training, because this will make it easier for you and your team overall!
Meet The Alibaba Of Software
Dane Eldridge, Founder & CEO of Already Built, recognised these challenges of how to find proven technology that solves problems while also being able to be integrated relatively efficiently, and importantly not cost a lot!
What he and his team created is a market place for buyers and sellers for proven software. It’s a disruptive business model, and I am sure Dane will not mind me saying this is that I think they are the “Alibaba” of custom software development!
Here, businesses who have gone down the path of discovering ways to solve problems and then designed specific software to do this seamlessly for their own organisations can now “sell” this knowledge in the form of code to businesses seeking the same or similar answers! Great for seller, great for buyer bringing total cost of ownership down for both.
Remember To Address This Holistically In Your Business
There are many ways of how you may consider addressing this and while each of the six steps requires a lot more detail in respect to the specific “how to”, these steps should help you being more structured in how you go about this in your own business.
So, if you are a startup or SME, start now by listing the current technology you have in your business and what specifically in terms of outcomes they bring you. Then, think about your priorities and what are the “nice to haves”, after all we do have to be wise as to where we allocate our resources. Then where you have identified gaps, which you will, find ways holistically, to close them. In other words, don’t by off the shelf software unless you know how all this fits in with the bigger picture.
You Must Do Differently!
Keeping up is a challenge as everyday there are new technologies going to market. At the same time avoid being attracted by every bright and shiny object.
Also, to keep in mind that in today’s age, we must look beyond just automating the process to transforming the process.
We must see things differently and we must do things differently in this age of The New Economy.
Should You Have A Blue-Print For Your Business?
I am in the early stages of a conversation around setting up a new business with some future partners. It’s an exciting proposition, but it also has me thinking about what is the best operating model for it, as we start to scale.
You see, one of the things I see time after time, is that having the best ideas will not always guarantee success.
You have to turn these ideas into a blue-print or plan, and then once you’ve done that, execute on the plan with both passion and discipline – no more, no less.
This starts with being organised in how you structure your business for success – even if you are a team of one and just starting out, let alone an existing business who has been around for a while.
But how do you know the best way to structure your business?
Also, does a one-size-fit-all approach work, or will you need to keep evolving as you scale, or as external conditions change?
Why Starting, Scaling & Sustaining A Business Is A Challenge
For example, as I think about this current business opportunity and future partners, I need to think about what do we need on day one. Because at this stage, there are so many unknowns, such as access to initial seed funding, market acceptance of our proposition and the time it will take to break-even and then be profitable, so we need to make sure we set this up the right way – and keep it that way!
But of course, I also know from previous experience that when you have your business up and running, and it is growing very fast, you also have to make a lot of decisions around where your resources go.
Like do not get me wrong, as this is a really nice challenge to have to deal with scaling rapidly, but the outcomes of your decisions at this stage will also have significant consequences further downstream.
Now I have spent a long professional career driving efficiencies and reducing cost in many companies around the world, so there is no surprise that I am always coming from a cost perspective (or bias) when setting up a business. So, the other potential complication when you do not structure your business the right way, is if you have to suddenly scale down for some reason.
This is a reality, and even the best plans need to change from time to time. Because if you have invested significantly say in capital, or signed up long term leases, or recruited individuals too early, to unwind all this, while it can be done, is a very difficult process to go through.
That is why there is always this fine balance that as a founder, or partner in a business, you are constantly needing to manage, in order to be sustainable.
The Four Steps To Structuring Your Business The Right Way
Now while there is no silver bullet to these possible scenarios or dilemmas you may find yourself in, I believe that if you follow these next four steps, it will place you in a much better position to set up and scale your business for success.
So, the first step you need to do, is to be clear on the end game. Now of course if you were Mark Zuckerberg back in his university dorm in 2004, it would be unlikely to have envisaged what Facebook is today! However, at least give thought to your direction. For example, if you are currently working from a spare bedroom in your parents’ house, maybe your vision is about having your own offices somewhere and perhaps beyond that, are several offices globally.
In parallel, you must come to terms that businesses do have specific capabilities required to ensure they run effectively. At The Startup Business, one of our accelerators is what we call “The Five Imperatives” which simply are: Strategy, Sales, Service, Support and Sustainability. In essence, The Five Imperatives is your organisational structure and method to frame your business from day one – even if you are doing everything yourself right now!
The next step you need to do, is recognise what you are good at currently and what you are not good at.
If you’re in a business of one, this might be an exercise of self-reflection, where you come to terms that your preference is about creating, and less about doing financial accounts. Or if you are in an existing business, you collectively come to the realisation that your business is awesome coming up with new innovative ideas, but you really suck as a business in day to day customer service.
Whatever it is, get a handle on it, as this step is about knowing your strengths and being real on your weaknesses – as the weaknesses are potentially your gaps, or even blind spots which can trip you over.
Step three therefore is the natural flow-on, as this is where you need to find ways to close these gaps.
This might be bringing in specific talent, or it might be looking at what technology can do for you, such as the use of Artificial Intelligence and Personal Assistants! Finally, you also need to consider the importance of partners, collaboration and outsourcing to expand your business in areas where you are not good at, or do not have the capacity to do so yourself.
Finally, the last step is putting together a road map. This is not a business plan – see it more of building your startup business operations structure.
How do you manage sales and marketing, how do you deliver the services, how do you keep the administration side of your business up to date and risk free? Each business will have their own specific needs, so you need to design what your startup business operations needs are.
Imagine Doubling The Size Of Your Business Every Month
Imagine doubling the size of your business every month in terms of cost, including the number of employees that you are bringing on. How many contracts do you think now have your signature on them… a lot!
Well this was a scenario for one of my clients some years back.
It was a crazy time for this tech / comms startup, and while they had the seed funding, it still in many ways was not a sure thing. However, within twelve months they had put together a global workforce of close to two thousand! The onboarding alone was a challenge and while the contracts provided my client maximum flexibility, it was their focus to balance the initial vision of their business and implementing a structure, followed by best of breed technology and partnering, that allowed them to scale in such a way.
Be Clear On Where You Want To Take Your Business
Of course, your situation will be different for your business, but it’s the principles, or steps you need to take that remain the same.
So, follow these four steps as well, become clear on your intent or vision as to where you want to take your business, then discover what’s currently working and what’s not working for you, and importantly what you need to do in order to close the gaps, then create and implement the road map. This will make a big difference for you!
It’s All About Working On Your Business
Also, this does not need to be complicated. You do not even need to get consultants to come into your business to help you with this either! It’s just about stepping back, letting go of bias, challenging perhaps old paradigms and then structuring your business the right way for success!
As Michael Gerber, author of the eMyth says…
You Need To Work On Your Business And Not In Your Business
I have never met Al Gore in person, though I have attended his lectures and read his books and publications.
My view is that he is a very forward looking and positive individual, despite the subject matter he typically speaks about today.
Depending on where you’re coming from, you may associate him as the former US Vice President, with a long and respected career in politics, as is the case with many of his peers, regardless of what side of the aisle you may stand. Or perhaps more recently, you may associate him with the message around global warming?
For me, I go back to his 2013 book – The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change, because here he highlighted very clearly the impact of artificial intelligence, robots and automation (we call these AI.R.A technologies today), long before it became a main stream conversation of urgency in business to address.
But in the last twelve months there have been additional voices adding to the dialogue around “robots”.
For example, in March 2017, Bill Gates suggested a tax on robots that take human jobs.
In April 2017, I had the opportunity to join a panel of speakers at the Annual Investment Meeting Congress in Dubai to discuss the impact of robotics on emerging nations with 15,000 delegates.
Then as recently as 17th July 2017, Elon Musk calls for increased regulatory oversight into AI.
Robots will be able to do everything better than us (Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla and SpaceX)
That is why regardless of your individual perspectives, you must stop and think for a moment what Gore, Gates, Musk and others see, that many currently do not?
And while I am also optimistic like Gore, I am also of the same view and have no doubt what so ever, that we will all be impacted – if not already.
So that is why when I am speaking to businesses or professionals, a common thread is about future proofing yourself in this New Economy.
What helped us, what contributed to our successes so far, will not necessarily cut it going forward.
As individuals, we need to acquire new skills.
For existing businesses, it is about acquiring new capabilities, and for startups, it’s about doing things fundamentally different.
In other words, this is about “re-wiring” yourself from the old ways and paradigms and this must be at the core, otherwise you will not be sustainable.
To do this in business, is about assessing the value proposition in everything you do. Whether this be how you market, how you onboard new clients, deliver services or develop new services (or products), value must be present.
Now of course value can be measured in numerous ways – above the line, bottom line, or triple line.
To help you do this, there are four things you need to do…
Firstly, this starts with a set of organising principles so that you have the right structures in place for your business for the New Economy. This is about architecture and as we know there are some really bad designs out there, which just do not work! So regardless of your size today, let’s get this aspect right so that you can scale and be sustainable.
Secondly, you need to evaluate the right technologies that are both agile and scalable for your unique set of circumstances – a cookie cutter “plug in” approach will not work. Integration is essential here as you need to be turning data into insights.
Third, you need to assess the right partnerships and collaborations in which there are synergies that compliment and supplement your business. Too often I see supplier relationships that are just transactional – you have to shift these to strategic partnerships of value.
Fourth, you need to keep “re-wiring” yourself and your team, to new opportunities and adjust or respond to new threats. This is about ensuring you are fully optimised or have the right performance in place all the time.
In addition to these four areas, at The Startup Business we also believe in doing something else and is very much aligned to our values, Learn, Lead, Legacy. This is about service, or more specifically about the “imperative to serve”. We do not always get this right, we do make mistakes. However, we do believe it helps us ensure we are continually providing value.
So, whether you are an optimist like Al Gore (and myself), or maybe visionaries like Gates and Musk, or just a pragmatist, transitioning to the New Economy is possible regardless of where you are right now and the external changes that are possibly impacting you.
You just need to get on to it, because if you do not, the consequences will be dire.
Have you ever considered the possibility that what you do on a daily basis and what you strive to achieve throughout the course of time in your business, profession, career(s), or even a lifetime for that matter, could be contributing to some higher purpose?
Now, this of course will mean different things to different people, but it is no surprise that having this sense of purpose or mission, can drive both individuals, through to the largest businesses, to do great things.
So, that is why we believe at The Startup Business that our last practice of The Seven Practices Of Highly Effective OutsourcingTM is the most important of all the previous six – Expand Your Global Mindset.
Never in all the history of time, have we been so connected with each other as we are today.
A mining disaster in regional China can be news around the World in minutes. A fireworks celebration on New Year’s Eve on Sydney Harbour, can be broadcast live to billions of people. A teenager, still in school, can share to the world in the most intimate of detail, their personal story to a global audience while sitting in their bedroom – and they have probably monetised their shows and are now making more money than their parents may have done in a lifetime!
The old rules of business are being broken.
The Sharing Economy, The Me Generation, Internet Of Everything, Wearables & Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Automation, Big Data, Everything As A Service, The You Economy is today’s language.
Companies like AIRBNB & UBER are fast becoming old school… the next wave of players are entering the market, contributing to greater disruption than those of their predecessors
However, there is a dark side to all this disruption.
People are losing their jobs to outsourcing and automation. Infrastructure development is destroying arable and natural landscapes and polluting our water and sky. The gap between the very wealthy and the poor is extreme. In fact, according to a 2017 report by Oxfam, this gap is so large that just eight individuals own the same wealth as 3.6 billion of the world’s poorest people.
Clearly, there is much to be done – and we can take positive steps in a way that not only it is good for our business, but also for our communities, societies, and our planet.
You see, today success is achieved through partnering and collaboration – not going at it alone.
Our global ecosystem is borderless, tightly integrated, highly interactive, and technologically revolutionised. Synergies, innovation, and excellence are a team sport. Finding new ways of working with each other, challenging the status quo, moving beyond the mediocre and being socially responsible, must be today’s imperative.
At The Startup Business we believe you can do this in three ways. Firstly, it is about having a Philosophy of how you see this world – a global mindset, then developing a set of Principles, followed by implementing specific Practices into your business and then initiatives that contribute to your ecosystem.
Philosophy & Beliefs
Having a philosophy in business is important because it guides you in how you go about achieving your ultimate vision and mission. A philosophy has a lot to do with how you see the world and why you do what you do and that of course leads to how you go about the decisions you make.
We are also, by our nature, attracted to individuals and organisations that stand for something. When this happens, it is often because we feel a sense of connection. A sense of common humanity reaching out. A feeling that we are all in this together to achieve a common goal or cause.
This philosophy must also extend to your outsourcing partnerships. They are part of your ecosystem. So, for you to achieve your vision and mission, they also need to buy into your philosophy – otherwise we are just working together for the sake of a transaction, and not connected at a higher level.
Principles & Ethics
Principles and ethics are the rules on how you conduct yourself and what your actions are judged by.
At The Startup Business, as a service organisation, we are defined almost entirely by what we do and say each day. For us to be successful, it is therefore critical that we model exemplary behaviour. Our ethical principles are the values that set the ground rules for all that we do at The Startup Business, The Startup Business School and associated companies including Phykon.
As we seek to achieve responsible commercial success, we will be challenged to balance these principles against each other, always mindful of our promise to our stakeholders that we will achieve responsible commercial success.
Sometimes ethical demands and economic realities conflict. In such cases, exhibiting high ethical standards should always win. We cannot justify or rationalise illegal or unethical behaviour because it undermines trust.
The Ethical Principles and the Guidelines For Ethical Decision Making have been adopted by us to support these objectives. They may also provide an example on how you may like to address them in your own business – even if you are just starting out…
The Ethical Principles
Honesty: We will not say things that are false. We will never deliberately mislead. We will be as candid as possible, openly and freely sharing information, as appropriate to the relationship.
Promise-Keeping: We will go to great lengths to keep our commitments. We will not make promises that can’t be kept and we will not make promises on behalf of the The Startup Business, The Startup Business School or associated companies unless we have the authority to do so.
Fairness: We will create and follow a process and achieve outcomes that a reasonable person would call just, even-handed and non-arbitrary.
Respect For Others: We will be open and direct in our communication, and receptive to influence. We will honour and value the abilities and contributions of others, embracing the responsibility and accountability for our actions in this regard.
Compassion: We will maintain an awareness of the needs of others and act to meet those needs whenever possible. We will also minimise harm whenever possible. We will act in ways that are consistent with our commitment to social responsibility.
Integrity: We will live up to our ethical principles, even when confronted by personal, professional, and social risks, as well as economic pressures.
Guidelines For Ethical Decision Making
At The Startup Business, to guide us in making ethical decisions, we apply the following questions.
While they do seem obvious, we suggest you trying some scenarios of your own, starting with the first question on top of the list and working down in that order. The way in which these questions are designed is to shed a light into that often-grey area of business decision making…
Is it legal?
Is it a violation of the company’s Code of Business Conduct?
How will it make you feel about yourself?
How will others who are affected react?
How would you feel if the world knew about it?
Does the behaviour make sense?
Is the outcome appropriately fair to everyone involved?
Will your leader and your leader’s leader approve?
For example, you may be deciding around offshore outsourcing, in which your current local support team will no longer have jobs in your business. While this decision to outsource is aligned to your overall strategy, how you go about implementing this strategy will have different outcomes depending on the approach you take. In the case of your local staff, how you communicate to them, and when you do this, and which ways you will support them through this significant event will be influenced positively if you use the Guidelines For Ethical Decision Making, or potentially negatively when you do not use the guidelines.
Practices & Sustainability & Social Responsibility
Our final way of developing a global mindset, is about who you are as a member of the community.
Are you and your business a role model and example, and are contributing your influence and resources to a greater cause which is encapsulated in your everyday actions? For example, this might be in terms of your environmental footprint. This might be in ways of embracing diversity in the workplace. Maybe for you, it is about sharing your rich insights more broadly by speaking out in publications, social media and events? Perhaps one of the things you are doing is volunteering for local causes – either participating, supporting, promoting, or funding.
There are many things you can do – and they do not need to cost money for you to do them either. Of course, some activities may provide you with greater exposure and even potentially lead to business opportunities – but of course that is not why you do them.
You embrace practices of sustainability and social responsibly because you believe it is the right thing to do. You and your business have a higher purpose that is greater than just the day to day transactions that may be providing an economic benefit.
You are about making a difference.
You & your strategic outsourcing partner need to be aligned …
That way the power of one plus one will always be greater than two
So, having an outsourcing partner that believes in the same things as you is also important.