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Award Winning Businesses Aren’t Born That Way

David Norton ‘Building Excellence’ Award

The prestigious David Norton ‘Building Excellence’ Award was launched in 2008 by the Institute of Financial Planning. I’ve been fortunate enough to have been on the judging panel for this award for the past seven years. Last week I sat down with Steve Gazzard (IFP) and Barry Horner (Paradigm Norton) and we put this year’s finalists through their paces. As in previous years, all the entries were fabulous and it got me thinking; how do these businesses get themselves into award winning shape?

Let’s be honest, it takes a lot of time to apply for any award; particularly so for the David Norton ‘Building Excellence’. Going through the judging process can be a little confronting for any business, and does it make a difference to their success in the long run?

If you take a look at the list of previous winners, clearly the answer is YES:

All of these firms are leaders in the profession.

So, what is it that makes the award winners different?

There are three areas that stand out when you look at award winning firms:

1. They’ve Done The Thinking Work

Creating a great business requires some tough thinking work, not just hours and hours spent at the coalface.

When you choose an issue to work on, there will inevitably be conflicting thoughts on how best to resolve it and move ahead. Let’s say you decide to review your pricing structure. You’ll have your own views, but as you work through the issue, you will discover conflicting views from industry press, other advisers, your compliance people and external business consultants.

It can seem overwhelming, but at the end of the day you’ll need to decide what’s right for you and your business. By all means take on board as much information as you feel comfortable with, give yourself time to assimilate the information and assess all the options but then move to the next step, and make a decision.

2. They Make Decisions

Making decisions is easier if you set a time limit for the thinking phase. Do your research, consider your options, then make a decision and run with it.

Not deciding is a decision in itself and can keep you stuck. Sitting on the fence or adopting a wait-and-see approach won’t drive your business forward. Nor will second-guessing yourself. The best business leaders make decisions and then run with them.

3. They Implement

It’s what you actually do that makes a difference. The greatest idea in the world has no value if it’s not implemented. By implementing your ideas into your business, you move things forward.

When you take action it’s no longer just an opinion. It’s a tangible step and you get real-time feedback.

Even if you’re 100% wrong in what you decide (which is almost never the case), taking action gives you much more precise feedback than continuing to prevaricate. You can’t theorise your way to business success, you need to perform.

Most of the time you’ll find you’re 70% correct and can make the final adjustments as you go. This is why making decisions and taking action is so important.

If you’re sitting there dreaming about your own business success, take heart; everyone started from just where you are today. Award winning businesses weren’t born, they were made. What takes the award winners so far ahead of the curve is their willingness to think, decide and implement.

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