The winners at this year's Clarence Valley Business Excellence Awards had a few strengths in common.
The winners at this year's Clarence Valley Business Excellence Awards had a few strengths in common. Pixie Bella / Contributed

Business winners are grinners but others can learn from them

WELL, it's over, done and dusted. The winners of the Clarence Valley Business Excellence Awards for 2013 were, very rightly, quite chuffed. Each put a lot of effort into their entry, as they had done to their business and reaped the rewards.

The winners should feel pleased; recognition as being top of the class is a wonderful thing for their business and their employees.

The Clarence Valley Business Excellence Awards provide an opportunity to celebrate and reward the entrepreneurialism and leadership that is vital to the Valley's economy. They recognise business founders and leaders who have turned their ideas into a commercial success. They benefit, and so does the Valley.

So what can other businesses learn from the top performers? There are some key lessons you can take on board. Ask yourself - how do you measure up? Any gaps will make a difference to your bottom line.

Businesses need to clearly define what business they are in:

  • Who is their main target market?
  • What products or services do they provide for that market?
  • How do they provide it (eg sell, design, manufacture, organise ….)?

The winners were able to do this.

Vision - they can clearly state WHERE they want their businesses to be. The business vision is "a statement outlining the key characteristics of the business at some future point in time". It must be specific and measurable and achievable at that future time, for example in three years.

It describes the future state of the company that will satisfy the goals and ambitions of the directors, and, as such, is a very strong company driving force. A business strategy that is inconsistent with the business vision will have a very limited chance of success. Face it, if you don't know where you want to go, how do you determine the strategies to get you there? Winners had fairly clear ideas about where they wanted to be in the years ahead.

Promotion - there is an old saying that being in business without promoting is like winking at someone in the dark. You know what you are doing but nobody else does.

One of the outstanding messages from not just the winners but also the other finalists is that they didn't just rely on one or two promotional channels but took advantage of many; print and electronic media, social media, sponsorships, media releases, web sites, events and tradeshows, promotional specials, encouraging referrals.

Customer service - All winners worked hard on their customer service, could demonstrate what they were doing to deliver great customer service and the results in terms of repeat customers, testimonials and referrals.

Developing staff skills - another message that keeps coming through is the attention paid to developing staff skills, sending staff to special courses and conferences, taking advantage of webinars, utilising suppliers and regular staff meetings.

Winners are grinners, not by accident, but by hard work, planning and working on their business.

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