Business worker holding a paper chain of people

How you run a business or a consulting practice can be undertaken in many forms. The how is very much driven by the underlying motivation of the owner and the managers that drive and operate a business. The outcomes that are generated, the success that is achieved all come down to this how.

The how is not something you can fake. It is very much driven by your personal preference. Your motivation and drive comes through the people or the numbers. There is ideally a balance struck between the two which is important for a long term sustainable business or consulting practice.

To expand on this, do you prefer a business that is run, operated and driven by the numbers with decisions required being motivated by the profit and loss? This is the more traditional preference. We look at the numbers, we analyse efficiency, cost and inputs. We review the historical information, look at the trends and make decisions around people, resources, time and cost.

This preference and its decision making is primarily driven through lag indicators. A historical focus that allows decisions to be made based on numbers.   The challenge with this approach is around the fact that the numbers alone don’t tell you the whole story around how a business is running.   It is akin to running a business through the rear view mirror of a car.

The second alternative is to manage a business though it’s people. Staff engagement, empowering the business and creating an environment for them to succeed is the focus. Role clarity, understanding and sharing the big picture along with good communication drives the leaders towards success. This focus is built on the premise that you have engaged people, you improve productivity and through increased productivity business success in all areas follow.

The decision making that flows from managing a business through your people is different to managing through a profit and loss. Decisions are made far broader than financial. There is a strong focus on getting people to play to their strengths. By doing this, the rationale is that they will serve the business, customers and stakeholders to the highest level through being highly engaged.

The results follow not just in the numbers financially but through people satisfaction, client engagement and other key measures.   You are future focussed because your people tell you where the business is at before the numbers do. All the numbers do is validate your gut feeling and instinct that was already known.   They are balanced with your intuition around what your people and culture are telling you and around where the numbers end up.

Managing a business can take many forms. However, people are the cornerstone of your success long term. The imperative to drive a business through your people is the how that separates a significant and impactful business from a short term successful one that looks good financially but not much else.