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Let's get down to business

PUBLISHED: 10:26 26 September 2012 | UPDATED: 21:57 20 February 2013

Let's get down to business

Let's get down to business

David Anderson, Partner at the Cheltenham office of Crowe Clark Whitehill, the national audit, tax and advisory firm, examines why local businesses should aim to be a 'disrupter' business rather than 'disrupted'

Lets get down to business

David Anderson, Partner at the Cheltenham office of Crowe Clark Whitehill, the national audit, tax and advisory firm, examines why local businesses should aim to be a disrupter business rather than disrupted.

My favourite quote for some time is from a futurologist, who gave a talk at a conference I recently attended. He said that business took two forms, either the disrupter or disrupted model. I like this, and it has often found resonance when I have used it in conversation with local Cotswold businesses.

I am sure we can all think of many great businesses, even household names, that we have considered to be invincible, but have now been disrupted, so to speak.

What is clear to me is that any business that doesnt challenge its business model every so often risks being disrupted. Equally, businesses that are not focused on profitably growing their top line in these challenging economic times could also quite easily join the disrupted club.

Fortunately, there are many good examples of local businesses that are in the disrupter category, many can be found in this months Top 50 Technology Firms. From meetings with many businesses, the dominant features among these disrupters appear to be leadership and innovation, as well as alignment and focus.

Leadership is worth examining in more detail as a disrupter business frequently has someone at the helm who can make sense of the competitive landscape, is aware of the market in which they operate and is able to define the direction of the business. Crucially, this person also has to be able to engage at all levels within the business.

I recently visited a business in Gloucestershire. Whilst touring the firm with the chief executive, one of the warehouse employees stopped us to ask him why he had not considered a particular course of action which the employee thought would improve the business. They had a short discussion on the point. To me, that was a healthy sign of a disrupter business.

Here are some actions that can help your business to either attain or maintain disrupter status. Firstly, create a not to-do list. How often is time the biggest constraint to getting things done? Why not try to create some by identifying those things you are no longer going to do? Try it it can be very liberating.

Secondly, improve your ability to execute. Again, how often are the same action points on the meeting agenda? A few practical steps, such as only committing to something that everybody agrees is a priority, mapping your decision-making process are too many people involved/are the right people involved/should greater authority be delegated? as well as leading by example can help here. If youre the boss and executing is not your strong point, it may be difficult for others to change their ways.

Thirdly, share information and give feedback. Your staff want to be part of your business, too. By creating a dynamic company culture, where your staff feel involved and valued, you instantly multiply the number of people looking out for the business.

Finally, think the unthinkable. Scenario planning can be a useful tool to deploy every six to 12 months. What would happen if you lost your largest customer or if a new entrant into your market undercut your price by 20%?

Above all, to attain and maintain the disrupter status, its essential that your business has a sense of vitality. I joined the Cheltenham office of Crowe Clark Whitehill almost two years ago. During this time, I have been fortunate enough to meet many businesses with enduring vitality. As advisers, we can help you maintain this vitality with ideas and by providing access to who we know and what we know to help your business thrive providing this service is certainly where I get my vitality from. n

To find out more about being a disrupter business, contact David Anderson, Partner at Crowe Clark Whitehill, on01242 234421 or emaildavid.anderson@crowecw.co.uk

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