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7 Key Disciplines to Running a Business

Business woman in her fifties

Article by Emma Wimhurst

 A key finding in a recent business survey conducted by the London Development Agency revealed that there are “5 times as many women-owned businesses than men-owned businesses using the four basic planning tools in their organisation – 1. business planning,  2. financial planning,  3. marketing planning and 4. training planning.”   

On the surface this is an impressive multiple – however, it is shocking when reviewing the actual numbers involved – only 3.4% of majority-male-owned businesses and 15.9% of majority-female owned use these tools.

 One in Six businesses now majority female owned 

With one in six businesses now majority female owned, compared to less than one in ten three years ago and with an estimated 1 million female entrepreneurs throughout the UK, generating a combined turnover of about £4.4billion (source:  Times Online,  September 2009) – we need to ensure that we put the right plans in place to ensure our businesses are built with solid foundations.      With the knowledge that our businesses are run correctly, we will continue to grow, thrive and develop an inner-confidence that we truly deserve the recognition now being directed towards Women business owners.

I attribute the success of my cosmetics business to the mastering of 7 key areas – which I refer to as DISCIPLINES.   I don’t believe that we should be following steps, or rules, in business – as quite frankly these are reminiscent of school and rules in particular as meant to be broken!  DISCIPLINE is a tough, challenging word that is designed to put you back in control.     They are guidelines and they are firmly-held principles – but principles are optional and guidelines are flexible – they will let you off the hook on a bad day.     DISCIPLINES on the other hand become fixed in routine, they impact on who you are, and become a practical habit.   DISCIPLINES will help you stay on track when the going gets tough.   They become an intrinsic part of the way you think, the way you act, the way you lead and the way you conduct your business.

The building blocks of business

The first four disciplines help you to plan and achieve whatever you want and take you wherever your ambition leads you.    They are the building blocks of business, without which you will be unable to survive.   They are the practical disciplines that affect the systems and processes that you implement within your company.

No 1 – Business Strategy.   Do you have 2020 vision?    By which I mean do you know where your business will be in one year, five years or in the year 2020?    Every business needs a strategic plan – a vision statement to identify your company’s goals;  to provide a framework for making commercial decisions and to aid with business planning – it needs to motivate and inform and be concise – no more than 50 words.

No 2 – Business Planning.  Every business also needs a business plan – when you know where you are heading, you need to plan on how you are going to get there.  A business plan is an important review document and provides a benchmark against which to assess and review ongoing results and assess how each business area is performing against forecast.   As the owner/manager, it is especially important because it will keep you focused on your goals and steer you in the right direction.

No 3 – Marketing Management.  Marketing is so important for your business – not just the tactics you employ but management of the outcomes will ensure you keep a close eye on the results you are achieving and the benefits to your business.

No 4 – Practical Finance.   So many business owners relinquish control of the finances and this approach is simply not good enough.  Never try to do without an accountant – it is false economy – and don’t adopt a head-in-the-sand approach to money – as an owner/manager, it is crucial that you know what state your finance is in – and that you know how it will look in the weeks/months ahead.

The last three disciplines focus on aspects of business management that are harder to control – the people related areas.   They are also the areas that are likely to provide the greatest personal satisfaction when you get them right.    These disciplines will help you to communicate, motivate and improve the results of your team, your customers and yourself.  

Woman over 50 building teamNo 5 – Team Building.
Your people are your most valuable business resource and building a strong team is what really puts a BOOM! into your business.

No 6 – Customer Commitment
.  Your business begins and ends with customer commitment.  It is important to be totally tuned into your customer’s needs, because with them, you would have no business.

No 7 – Personal Development
.  This discipline will determine your ultimate success.   The success of every business begins and ends with the attitude and drive of the person at the top

By focussing on these 7 areas within your business – you will become an expert on your business – and with this level of knowledge comes a huge amount of power.    You will not only know that decisions need to be taken, but you will also be aware of the areas which require your greatest attention.    By being on top of this level of your detail – your business will not simply survive during these economic times, it will thrive and grow. Make it your responsibility to ensure that your business BOOMS!

My next article will uncover the traits of a successful entrepreneur.


Emma Wimhurst is a sought-after Motivational Business Speaker & Business Turnaround Expert. She is also a successful Entrepreneur, Broadcaster and regular contributor to UK media. She is author of 'BOOM!', '7 Disciplines to CONTROL' and 'GROW and ADD IMPACT to Your Business' Emma founded Diva Cosmetics, which was founded after she spotted a gap in the market for colour cosmetics at the height of The Spice Girls fame in the late 90s. Following a 10 year career in-house at Revlon, Emma seized the opportunity to nurse her entrepreneurial itch and Diva Cosmetics was born. The business rapidly became the leading supplier of own labelled colour cosmetics to the majority of high street chains including New Look, Monsoon Accessorize, River Island, and George@Asda. The business was sold late 2003: a conscious decision by Emma to grow her family and take some time out. Emma was one of the featured Big Shot Entrepreneurs in the 2009 series of Beat The Boss for BBC Children's TV, presented by Saira Khan. She has hosted her own internet radio show via www.connekt2.co.uk.

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