According to the statistics from the Department of Labor and Commerce my business was not supposed to last this long. This month, The A Group turns 10 years old. Only 29 out of 100 new businesses that started 10 years ago are still in business today. Not only we are still open for business, we are having our best year yet both in revenues as well as in the quality of work we produce. While there’s no miracle formula, there are a few things we got right from the beginning that allowed us to still be here today.
While I credit God with all that’s good in my life, including my business, I also know that God often gets blamed for poor decisions and misguided business practices of businesses that fail. There are a lot of factors that dictate the success or failure of any given business, some of them completely out of our control. However, there are a few critical things we got right over the past 10 years.
Passion for the work. For me and my entire team, money is often a distant secondary motivation. Yes, we want to do well, but we all love what we do and want it to be the best product it can be. Our entire team, account managers, programmers, and creatives, cares about what we do and want to see our clients succeed. We believe what we do truly matters.
No short cuts. The only thing we have at the end of the day is our integrity. Being trustworthy, delivering what we promise and doing business with integrity is not easy but it’s always the only way to go. If you cut too many corners, your entire organization will crumble. It’s just a matter of time.
The team matters. Nothing has had a greater impact on my business than those whom I hired. Poor hires have cost a lot of money and equity with our clients. Great hires have returned way beyond the resources invested in them. Best hiring advice I’ve ever had: hire slow, fire fast.
Adapt. Adapt. Adapt. In my professional world, communication and technology, the operative word is change. The pace of change has accelerated exponentially in the past decade we’ve been in business. Asking “what do we have to do to continue to serve our clients?” is a much better question than “what do we have to do to sell more of our product.”
Cash is king. If you learn to manage your cash flow, especially during the fat days, you’ll have a better chance to make it through the lean times. The problem with too much debt is that it forces you to focus on making money and not on delivering the best product or finding your best clients. Excessive debt squeezes the fun, creativity and growth out of an otherwise good business. Sometimes the allure of debt-for-fast growth can kill a good thing.
What survival lessons have you learned in your business?