As it appeared in the Daily Nation on January 23rd, 2018
What is your business focusing on? Businesses can choose to focus on one major thing or on a number of areas. Most businesses focus on aspects such as revenues, profits, staff engagement, customer numbers, customer retention, customer satisfaction, expansion, digitization, social impact and the like. Other business focus on the wrong things such as power struggles and politics. When a business’s focus is clear, not only is there devoted attention but also most efforts are steered towards the right direction. Unfortunately, most businesses have no clear focus or have the wrong focus. Without a clear focus or with the wrong focus, business meander through life and whatever comes their way may determine their failure or success.

Many businesses that I have interacted with have a clear focus on the financials. They know how their company performed in the previous year financially. In addition, they are clear on the sales revenues they are targeting and profits they hope to achieve. The CEOs in such businesses are on top of it in terms of focusing on the top line and the bottom line. Some of these CEOs consider other areas such as staff engagement, customer retention to be more of details.

Every business leader must recognize that the revenues on the top line of every income statement do not just happen. These revenues result either from existing customers or from new customers making a purchase. The revenues are also because of the effort that staff put in in acquiring the new customers, getting business from existing customers, and preventing existing customers from going away. I believe that organizations need to focus more on their staff and customers and the revenues will take care of themselves. What is your business’s number one focus?

I have come across some businesses that are too focused on their competitors. They watch every move their competitors make and they try to decode it. A scrutiny of the competitors keeps these organizations on their toes. As a result, such organizations become too obsessed about their competitors that they forget to focus on their staff and their customers. Jeff Bezos the Amazon.com founder and CEO has this to say about this sort of focus “if we can keep competitors focused on us while we stay focused on customers, we’ll turn out all right.” Is your organization too focused on the competition?

I believe that business are in the business of providing their customers with products and services. They are also in the business of providing a source of income for their staff and a return to their shareholders. A large chuck of this income and the shareholders’ wealth is as a direct result of the products and services that our business provide. Without a clear focus on the customer and the staff, most business topple over in the long run.

The focus on the staff and customer needs to start from the top and extend into the board level. In addition to asking questions about the financials, questions such as how are we doing with our staff and how are our customers doing need to be asked and answered more often in the boardroom. If you are not focused on your staff and customers, be certain that your business is headed in the wrong direction.

Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy