5 tips for building a successful business

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John and Geoff Dahlsen

There may be no one-size-fits-all recipe to sustained business success, but with tenacity and focus the challenge can generate lasting reward.

Both John Dahlsen, owner and co-chairman of the Dahlsens group, J C Dahlsen Pty Ltd, and son, Geoff Dahlsen, CEO, understand this sentiment well.

“There are many benefits and privileges to owning your own business. Not only do you control your own destiny, it affords you the opportunity to think ahead to achieve long-term benefits not simply short-term gains” says John.

Family owned and run, Dahlsens has experienced many of its own business hurdles throughout the years – experiences that have provided valuable lessons:

1. Concentrate business ownership

“Dahlsens only has one owner, John Dahlsen, and that owner is very engaged in the business. This means interests are aligned with the people operating it on a day-to-day basis,” explains Geoff.

The active involvement and engagement of a business owner can be a critical step toward ensuring everyone on the team remains secure and focused, comfortable with the systems and processes in place and works together toward a single goal.

2. Stay in touch with your target market

Take the time to understand the needs and wants of your prospective clients. Don’t underestimate the differences between the pain points when marketing to different regions or client demographics.

“At Dahlsens, we give our store managers the freedom to make their own decisions. We know every market is different and we need to respond to that. This highly localised approach creates a tighter alignment with our customer values,” says Geoff.

3. Plan ahead: set clear goals and objectives

Clearly identify your business goals and objectives with a long-term business plan and regular short-term forecasts.

“Every business needs a business plan – without one, you don’t know where you’re going or even when you’ll get there. A business plan is also an excellent communication tool,” explains Geoff.

4. Acknowledge your strengths and weaknesses

“A weakness is not a failure. It is an opportunity and best that you recognise it first. When Dahlsens made the decision to close most of our retail stores, we incurred a substantial cost and a number of challenges in re-aligning the business – it was one of the best decisions we ever made,” says Geoff. “Today, Dahlsens is focused and driven to excel in the trade space.”

5. Staff are your greatest asset

A great team is fundamental to sustained business success. Take the time when selecting employees, don’t be afraid to ensure they are a ‘culture fit’ as well as highly skilled. New staff are the perfect opportunity to fill any skills gap you may have onsite.

As you grow your team never forget to make each member feel they are valued by you and your business says John: “It is absolutely certain that staff who enjoy their jobs have a sense of fun and engagement that will, in the long-term, produce much better results.”

In summary, taking an honest look at your business, its strengths and weaknesses – including employees – and reflecting on both short and long-term goals can help direct your thinking, and actions, towards enduring business success.