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It is said that a picture is worth a 1 000 words. I recently saw a drawing of two circles. In the one circle it stated “Things that Matter” and in the second circle it stated “Things you can Control”. Where these two circles overlap, there was a note: “What you should focus on”.

With this pearl of wisdom in hand, I set out to compile a brief list of elements we have control over in our businesses and what we need to focus on:

  • The marketing of my business – We can decide on the content of our marketing mix and how much money we are prepared to spend on marketing. If set up correctly, we should always endeavour to choose marketing elements of which we can measure the success.
  • The credit policy of my business – Will I allow payment terms to clients and if so, what should my policy guidelines be?
  • Delivering on my promises – Talk is cheap, as it is easier to say I will do something than to actually do it. Make sure you create a culture where all staff delivers on their promises.
  • My personal attitude – If I see the glass as half empty, guess what – everyone in my business will mimic my attitude over time.
  • Contracting with my suppliers and clients – Contracting is a two-way process. It needs to serve the needs and requirements of both parties. Make sure the interests of all contracting parties are served.
  • Ask for referrals – I know this is supposed to be conventional wisdom, but are you and your staff doing this?
  • My business plan – We all have the luxury to decide what the future plans for our business are. Choose wisely and be careful not to set your business up for failure because your goals are not realistic, or very difficult to achieve.
  • The service delivery of my business – Good service should not be negotiable. Although this is a “hygiene” factor in business, it does not mean that we are currently meeting and exceeding client expectations.
  • Professional conduct – This one goes hand-in-glove with service delivery, but it speaks to the level of professionalism in which my staff delivers the service experience of our business. Look at your dress code, use of language and client-facing documentation, to mention a few.
  • After-sales service – Service delivery continues after a sale is made – this can make or break a client relationship with regard to follow-up purchases from our business.
  • Finances – We can decide how we would like to spend the hard-earned money of our business. Wasteful spending can be limited and frugality should be the guiding principle.

By diligently managing these elements in our businesses, we are able to guide our businesses through the maze of business uncertainty and economic realities which are outside our span of control.

To support business owners with the important task of business planning, Sanlam gives you free access to the book Your Annual Business Game Plan for Success, which provides an easy and straight forward framework needed to draft a well-crafted game plan that will create the positive change and growth necessary for business success.

Go to to download your free copy.

Article written by Jannie Rossouw, Head: Sanlam Business Market



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