Top business tips for 2016

  • 28 December 2015
  • From the section Business
Plans for 2016 Image copyright Thinkstock

As 2016 arrives, business leaders around the world are now focusing intently on their aims and challenges for the next 12 months.

From implementing plans to further grow their companies, to dealing with the likely problems that will need to be overcome, this is the time of year when forward planning is the centre of attention.

Here some of the best business leaders - and rock music legends - profiled in 2015 for the BBC's The Boss slot share their thoughts on running or setting up a business in 2016.

Dumi Oburota, manager of rapper Tinie Tempah

Image copyright Dumi Oburota

Have a clear objective. Understand the DNA of your business.

What you put in is what you get out. Do not take "no" or "can't" as an answer.

Socialise and network within your industry.

Gene Simmons, bassist and the business brain of rock band Kiss

Image copyright Getty Images

Get rid of all your loser friends. You know the ones - they drink too much, they get high. And like vampires they will suck the life blood out of you.

That may not leave you with very many friends, but… in business your friends will not be much help.

You're too young and not rich enough to take vacations. Work, it's a good word.

Janine Allis, founder of global fruit juice bar chain Boost Juice

Image copyright Boost Juice

There are many reasons people get into business. For me it was creative pursuit, and being a creator of my own destiny.

You need to build your business the right way for the right reasons. If it is just for the money then you will only have a business short term.

New companies are hungry for cash, so anything you are making will go straight back into the business. And often the founder, who is working 120 hours a week, is the last person to see any returns for a long time from their hard yards.

Yet these are the businesses that succeed, and in the long run are the ones that are truly successful. By contrast, firms that are stripped of their cash to "fund" the lifestyle of their owners are very short-lived.

Building a business on passion and hard work, and surrounding yourself with great people, is the recipe for success.

Jacqueline Gold, chief executive of Ann Summers

Image copyright Jacqueline Gold

Be digitally minded - digital is a vital part of any business now, and it goes beyond just having a good website and being on social media.

Consumers want a digital experience across all elements of any business they engage with, and they want it to be seamless.

Diversify - think about how your business can grow and diversify in to new areas, but always ensure these new areas reflect your customer demographic.

I always look for new ways to evolve the brand, and in early 2016 we will be launching Rabbit, our own dating app.

Listen - this is a tip that's relevant every year, never stop listening to your customers. They are the most vital source of information and their feedback is invaluable.

Alex Cheatle, co-founder of concierge business Ten Group

When leading your business, focus on what makes you different - not what is generic.

This allows your team, customers and suppliers to all "buy in" to why your business matters, and why it is worth joining, and staying and working with.

It also means that everyone is better focused on your competitive advantage and unique proposition.

Talk about what makes your business what it is.

Deb Weidenhamer, founder of American Auction Company

Image copyright Deb Weidenhamer

Collective wisdom says that goal-setting, planning and managing your time wisely are critical for success.

However, there is a secret formula to achieving objectives that is widely overlooked - do what you dread first!

Tackle the task, have the conversation, do the mundane that you least want to do at the beginning of your day.

It takes incredible discipline to start with the unexciting, but when you complete the task, you avoid using psychic energy towards fretting about what you're avoiding.

You will open yourself up to more inspiration and imagination and find more time to accomplish greatness.

Oisin Hanrahan, founder of cleaning and maintenance service Handy

Image copyright Handy

In business, no two weeks are ever the same, but if your company has been in existence for a year or more, then analyse and learn from the previous 12 months.

Identify the surge periods and the quiet moments, and make sure that you have the proper staffing levels in place, as well as being ready to pre-empt problems and capitalise upon perennial opportunities.

As they grow, far too many businesses become rigidly hierarchical - the distance growing between senior management and the staff on the frontline.

Beyond the obvious fact that layers of bureaucracy are an enemy to innovation, listening to all staff members, irrespective of their position, is crucial. Not only does such engagement prove good for morale, but the insights that staff can offer could be the thing that changes your business for the better.

Having landed a big contract or launched a new service, it is entirely understandable that maintaining this new workload becomes a priority for a business. However, it should not do so to the complete detriment of maintaining company growth.

Keep on implementing new business strategies and growth plans at all times. It may seem an obvious point to make, but so many companies become wholly dependent on one big client or project that they suddenly find themselves in deep trouble should they lose the work.

David Spencer-Percival, founder of recruitment firm Spencer Ogden

Image copyright David Spencer-Percival

Setting up your own business requires enormous focus, drive and ambition, coupled with an incredibly hard work ethic.

You need funding, and you need relentless energy. Charm and wit help.

You also need to have a decent pair of rose tinted glasses to hand as if you knew all the pitfalls before you started you probably wouldn't do it.

But my one piece of advise is that outside legal and finance issues - don't listen to anyone, don't read business books, and do things your own way.

Technology and new ideas are changing the world faster than people can become experts in it. Don't follow the crowd - think for yourself, be different and break the mould.

Nirmal Sethia, founder of Newby Teas

Image copyright Ed Miller

The most important things when starting a business are - don't lie, don't pretend, and don't mislead your executives and the masses. And be passionate about the mission, have an innovative mind, and be totally honest in implementing your vision.

Hiring the best team is a matter of luck. Bosses must keep their eyes open not to allow politics, dishonesty and indiscipline. Anybody who gets involved with these three, should be sent home immediately. In my experience, referrals are the best source of fine personnel.

How long does it take for positive returns? Management is about making things happen, managing changes.

If the vision is innovative and supported by all requisites, i.e. finances, production planning, and strong administration, then success needs short gestation.

Innovation is not only required for product, but also for administrative and financial systems. Slow progress can be tolerated, but negativity beyond a short space of time - in spite of the excellent management team - should indicate the time is ready to pull the plug.

There ought to be constant innovation in both product, resources and management. Without personal commitment and understanding of people's psyche, the best can fail. A successful entrepreneur needs divine grace, commitment to the cause, discipline and courage.

Gary Grant, the founder of toy shop chain The Entertainer

Image copyright Emma Hollings Photography
Image caption The Entertainer gives 10% of its profits to charity, mainly child-related ones. "We earn our money from family and children and therefore we give back to family and children," he says.

Entrepreneurs have a different level of risk taking.

In life we all have a risk threshold. There are people for whom not having secured their regular monthly salary cheque is daunting.

You have to believe in yourself, and then you have just got to go for it.

Depending on where you are on the risk register separates the very calculated "I need to know all the answers" type of person, from the 'I've got a good gut feel about this, I'm just going to give it a go' person. To be honest, the later one is the kind of person I am. I'll have a go.

I don't take on unnecessary risk. But if you want dead certs they don't come your way. They don't exist.

Mark Constantine, founder of toiletries and cosmetics firm Lush

Reconsider your marketing. If your marketing is the same as others in your sector, you're doing it wrong.

Make sure that your customer can work out the value for money. If they can't, you don't deserve to retain them.

Think of different things you can do with your business that are not just about making money.