‘What is your top tip for business success?’ is the question I asked Tom Glanfield, one of the country’s most dynamic and successful entrepreneurs, founder of LHI Group and director of Optimizon Amazon Consultancy.
Without skipping a beat, he told me ‘you should aim to be the dumbest person in the boardroom’. That may sound like strange advice, however when you think about it logically, it’s a fantastic tip for success.
Don’t be mistaken – this advice doesn give you a licence to be dumb in the boardroom. What it actually means is surrounding yourself with highly capable people and experts in every position. It makes perfect sense that people sitting in each role should know more than you do within their chosen specialisms.
If you find yourself doubting the credentials of your senior management team, it’s unlikely that you have a recipe for success.
Tom is testament to his own advice. After starting his business, Lawrence Harvey International, in his early twenties (out of his parent’s attic), Tom has recently sold the business for a ‘Euro-Millions worthy sum’. Despite his success, Tom is quick to attribute his success to his wider team.
‘It’s all about making the best hires. I’m fortunate enough to say we nailed things on this front. We’re a recruitment business, so there are no excuses for getting that part wrong. But it’s not easy. I got the best people to work for me, and the senior team fully bought into my vision and delivered the results.’
Five tips for success in business 2022
Hoping not to push my luck, I asked Tom if he could give me his five most important tips for success in business. Here’s what he said:
‘Making the right hires is everything. Recruitment is tough. It can be demoralising, time consuming and frustrating. But don’t cut corners. If you make the right hires, the chances of your business being successful have just increased tenfold.’
‘Poor hires can suck the life out of your business, create huge inefficiencies, damage your working culture, and, quite frankly, make your life a misery.’
‘On the flip side, having the right people in your business will enhance your culture and profitability.’
‘Make sure your recruitment is so exceptional, that you ultimately end up becoming the dumbest guy in the boardroom.’
Outsourcing to specialists
Too many businesses hold an old-fashioned view of outsourcing. You don’t need to try and do everything in-house. It can be much more cost effective to work with outside specialists.
For example, if you require custom eCommerce development services, it is unlikely that you will be able to build an effective in-house team with the necessary specialisms required for your projects.
It is possible to quickly build great relationships with outsourced specialists who can still act and feel like they are part of your team. Not only will you benefit from their expertise, but if they aren’t performing, you can address problems and issues quickly.
Outsourcing niche tasks
‘The same applies as above. But outsourcing doesn’t need to be limited to highly technical or specialised tasks.’
‘Anything that isn’t at the core offer of your business can be outsourced on an ad-hoc basis. For instance, you might wish to hire a professional copywriter to create new web pages every so often.’
‘If you find your business repeatedly carrying out the same tasks, then you can look to bring the specialisms in-house. But until then, get comfortable with tapping into the services of external professionals. Quite often, it will even save you money when you take account of all costs.’
Clear strategy and goals
‘Communicating your strategy and goals clearly is paramount to achieving success and buy-in from all staff, and your external workforce.’
‘Keep the message simple, be concise, and communicate your aims effectively. If everyone knows what they are working toward, you will all be pulling in the same direction.’
‘It’s vital to remind your workforce of your goals regularly, and put a strategy in place showing how you will get there.’
‘Your workforce should be asking themselves, ‘Will this make the boat go faster?’ ‘Will this action help towards the delivery and success of the business goals?’
‘It sounds like an obvious point, but you’ll be surprised how many businesses do not communicate the intended direction to all of their workers. Using the boat analogy again, imagine if a captain doesn’t communicate to his crew effectively. The boat hands could end up confused and pulling in different directions.’
‘Now we’ve spoken about the importance of recruitment, outsourcing, and setting out a clear strategy, the final step is to set out specific KPIs (key performance indicators) for every individual (or outsourced service).’
‘This sounds like a large and off putting layer of admin, but I can’t stress the importance of this enough.’
‘I’m thankful to say that during my business life, I’ve rarely had to endure the painful experience of firing somebody. Nobody wants to have to let someone go, but if they aren’t performing over a sustained period of time, you may have no choice.’
‘However, you’ll find that by setting clear and mutually agreed KPIs, most people will walk away before they get fired. The majority of people instinctively know if they aren’t performing, and will try to address it. Those that don’t can be held to account by the mutually agreed KPIs, making the process of letting somebody go a lot less painful.’
‘Ultimately, shedding the poor performers who are not meeting their KPIs leaves you to the important business of being the dumbest person in the boardroom.’