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Create the conditions for a business to grow

From the title you may be expecting an impression of Alan Titchmarsh and an offer to come around to your place and do a GroundForce, writes Garry Smith. 

Fortunately for you, I will be doing neither. Instead I will offer some ground rules which I believe are essential ingredients to promote the growth of your business and to establish a strong root system that will support your business as it expands.

Have integrity

My first ground rule is that a business should be founded upon a principle of integrity. You and your business will require the cooperation of many other parties during its lifetime and the surest way of building firm relationships is to establish a reputation for trustworthiness. 

I mean here that you will not demand of others something that you will not deliver yourself. That is true for both internal and external aspects to your business. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that you become naïve in your outlook. To be successful you will need to be shrewd but do not confuse that with being devious.


Communication is an imperfect art. That is not to say that it is not worth the effort. Communicate positively to all around you. It’s when others know what your direction is, and what the environment is, that they can react to situations in support of your goals and have the confidence to know that they are doing the right thing. 

This breeds confidence and you will find that you will be spending less time correcting mis-aligned actions, or directing even the smallest activities, and becoming frustrated with the time you spend as a nursery teacher. That leads us to... 


Motivate all around you. Set your business objectives as aspirational and not just safe. You might fall a little short of where you set the objective but you will be much further ahead than the safe target. 

Reward yourself and your team for success, and recognise contributions being made towards that success. This doesn’t have to cost anything if done honestly and openly, but it will encourage efforts towards greater achievements.

Set targets and measure progress

But how do you know that your business is “on track”? The answer is measure everything. At the business level you will know the numbers that are important but encourage your team to measure themselves. 

Everyone should have some personal measures that continuously tell them where they are against targets. And when the business knows where it is against targets then actions can be taken early to correct under-achievement or mis-alignment. This also helps with the next ground rule.

Encourage a no-blame culture

When things go awry, and they will, do not look to blame as a first response. The first priority is to keep the business on course. Analyse the situation, take the right corrective action, and only when the business is back on track take breath, consider the circumstances and then take the necessary actions to ensure that the event that caused the problem is never repeated. And part of that is to make sure that everyone in your business learns from it. 

Take action

Inertia is a hard thing to break and get moving. Avoid prevaricating over decisions that need to be taken. Things very rarely heal themselves in business. Catch them early and act decisively.

As business leaders we all have the same three basic functions: communicate, motivate and control.  It is the way we undertake these functions and the breadth of our application that will determine our success. The ground rules provide the medium for these to develop positively. 

Garry Smith is a business coach at Advantage Business Partnerships and co-author of Creating Business Advantage: Setting Up and Running A Successful Business