Ten tips for building a sustainable business

  • Woman creating a business plan for sustaining a successful company

Ten Years of profitable business operations and the lessons along the way

April 1, 2018 marked our 10th year in business at Goldstone Partners.  I’m reminiscing a bit and planning a big celebration for later this year – watch for more information on this!  I was talking with Annie today about what I should write about.  We have so much to be thankful for.  Ten years of building a business, great clients to hang out with, committed team members, steady responsible growth, profitability and a bright future.

I get to spend time with brilliant entrepreneurs and their teams every day.  It’s amazing to see careers bloom and witness the satisfaction that goes into building something that stands the test of time.  I thought I would share some of my personal lessons with you this month. Who knows – maybe some of this will strike a chord with you, too.

1. Don’t borrow money unless you need it

About two years in I was pondering growth. I had been bootstrapping for a couple of years and was ready to move to the next level.  I met with the banker along with my financials and business plan.  He was super excited to help me with a credit line in order to help with short term cash shortages as I grew.

2. Keep your eye on your market

In my first company we did a business plan, market analysis and product plan. Then we filed it away feeling really good about where we had positioned ourselves.  About 2.5 years in the market began to change – but we didn’t.  The only constant is change.  You must regularly check in on where your competitors are going and what your customers need.

3. Happy team members make happy clients

As a leader, your job is to design a work structure that leads to the best possible output.  In my experience, when people are working with their natural talents and empowered to use these talents in their work lives, they are much more productive, successful, satisfied and happy.  If someone on your team is struggling, try reconfiguring their role in order to allow them to utilize their natural talent – and watch them sprout!

4. Reputation is EVERYTHING!

You can replace and repair pretty much any error in business, but here in Colorado we are, and will always be, a small town where everyone is connected.  Actively manage your reputation.  There are executives who have had to leave the state because they couldn’t get a job here locally – they had such a poor reputation.

5. Always play an active role in Sales and Marketing

You can’t outsource revenue generation. Sales and marketing are where your money comes from.  If you take your eye off those balls you are being irresponsible as an executive.  There was one time in the last 10 years that I stopped selling because we had too much business.  That may be the biggest mistake I ever made – and I will never make it again.

6. Know your metrics and measure them consistently

This is a combination of metrics used globally, metrics used in your industry and metrics that you decide will help you run your business. Know them, record them, measure them and hold yourself accountable to them.

7. A real business solves real problems

Otherwise, it’s just a hobby. Just because someone says you have a good idea doesn’t mean they are writing you a check next week.  Don’t try and create a problem or build something cool and think that you have a business.  I don’t care what your friends tell you.

8. The most successful people I have ever met LOVE the work they do

You can keep your head down, gut it out at work and complain on the weekend about “having to go to work” on Monday. But this doesn’t mean you will be successful.  I learned very early in my career that I was spending a large portion of my life at work – and I made a commitment to myself that I would skip to work every day or make the necessary changes.  I have been true to that commitment, and I encourage you to do the same.

9. Delegate and trust in order to be trusted

One of my team members taught me this lesson. She said, “You know, when you go on vacation and let us cover for you without checking in on us, we feel empowered – like you trust us to cover for you – it feels good!”  ‘Nuf said.

10. Respect is earned, not gifted

Your team will respect you because of the leader you are – someone who will watch their back, cheer them on, admit their mistakes, practice humility and serve them from behind. They won’t respect you because you have an Ivy league education, have done stuff in the past that they weren’t around for or speak with the biggest voice in the room.  Oh, and respect doesn’t happen overnight either.

My wish for you is that you enjoy your next decade of success as much as I will!  For more information on how to find, attract and hire the talent you need to grow and sustain visit us here!

About the Author:

Kimberly Lucas is the Founder and Chief People Connector at Goldstone Partners, Inc., a Colorado-based search and talent advisory firm specializing in recruitment strategy and engaged search for privately-held companies. As a seasoned entrepreneur and career coach, Kimberly is committed to helping founders build strong, profitable companies that stand the test of time. As a Certified StrengthsFinder coach she works with individuals and teams to help them achieve their stated objectives. Kimberly is an active mentor for MBA students at the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business, serves on the board of the Rockies Venture Club, is a founding member of RVC Women and facilitates a Thinking Partner Mastermind group.