Creating a Differentiating Strategy
“You, the owner, are the beating heart of your company”
Business advisor and former MD of a commercial law firm in Manchester; Michael Lister is most definitely a well-established individual.
With over 25 years experience in the law sector (he was the founder and managing director of MLP Solicitors, a commercial law firm in Manchester), Lister describes himself as a lawyer who just so happens to be a businessman.
After passing his own law firm onto his junior partners, Lister has spent the last two years working as a business advisor for SME clients advising them on how to implement effective, differentiating strategy in order to achieve growth.
At a recent digital round table event, Lister mentioned how one of his clients grew their digital marketing business for 5 years then ended up selling it for £16million. This, Lister says, is possible for everyone.
On how every business owner should plan out their strategies Lister explained, “One thought all successful entrepreneurs always have is that it’s great to start with a clean sheet of paper. I did that; I got my desk, cleared all the files off it and got a blank piece of paper.
“Write on it, where am I? Where do I want to get to? What obstacles am I facing along the way? And, what is there to help me? That’s the strategy, there’s no magic, you will have the answers within yourselves.”
Lister makes a point of making sure business owners know what is happening in their industry. Which trends are happening that will hopefully help you on your journey? And incidentally, which trends are going to stop you doing what you’re doing?
“Do you have a list of these trends somewhere? If you haven’t, that’s one action point for you right now.”
Lister compares your competencies to the X Factor. Essentially he says if you’re reasonably good at something specific, then you can charge more for this than you charge for other things. He also says business owners should research their competitors and make it their goal to ‘knock them off their perch’ and replace them within 5-10 years.
What are your core values? What are the things you always make sure to do within your business?
Michael’s core values came from the reasoning behind why he originally started his own business – “I love proactivity, I love people who are proactive. I hate reactivity. That’s why I wanted to set up my own law firm, which believed in proactivity, and that detested reactivity. The core value simply being ‘we will call you, Mr Client, before you even dream of calling us’. Having been a client himself, Michael knew what it was like to be left worrying, over the weekend for example, about a case, he says a simple call will help a lot.
“Why do people talk about the football when they come into work on a Monday morning? Because football has a finishing line. A race has a finishing line. You need to show your people the finishing line”
As the backbone of your company you should be setting quarterly targets to show your employees where they’re aiming for. Every month every person in your business should have a goal; they should know what he/she has to achieve to meet the quarterly target. With every target you hit, celebrate!
‘The number one way to increase your cash is to put your prices up. The only way you can put your prices up, is to have a strategy and you make this strategy work by reference to your core competencies.” – Michael Lister, speaking at a Digital Roundtable event in Manchester.