John: 10 tips for success in all aspects of business

John Knight is the Managing Director of businessDEPOT and is passionate about using his personal experiences to help ‘#MAKEITHAPPEN’’ for businesses and the people behind them. Now a USQ Alumnus, John graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce in 1996.


In my business I pride myself on being a plain talking and proactive professional. I don’t beat around the bush when it comes to giving advice to my clients so I won’t take up too much of your time either. In any business your financial success is crucial. It’s your bottom line. But to achieve true success, the financial side of your business should be just one element of your overall vision. If you’re a business owner or an entrepreneur dreaming of owning your own enterprise, these are my top 10 tips for nailing the non-financial elements of your business, including everything from business strategy to the back office.

1. Know why your business exists.
Make sure you’re not the only one who really understands the purpose of your business. It’s important that everyone who works for you is also clear on this. Having everyone on the same page and having this reason at the front of mind will help your entire team stay on track.
Know your why and know how to communicate it effectively.

2. Embrace your reason for being.
If your business is a family owned and run business, embrace that fact and keep it in mind with everything you do. There are massive benefits to having a family business, including the fact that there are more people invested in the business’s success. Your staff can be your biggest assets but while it’s important to look after relationships and consider the impact of decisions on your family, it’s also important to have the hard discussions when you need to.

3. Be different.
Rather than going out and developing new on-trend services or learning the very latest skills, the easiest way to grow your business may simply be to expand the market for your existing services and expertise. The key to expansion is to make sure the market isn’t already saturated and that you’re going out there with something new. Innovate, go against the grain, change things up and make sure you’re remarkable, because remarkable will be remembered. It’s important to know why you’re different and how you stand out from the crowd. Once you know this, it will be easier to market yourself and your business.

4. Know what your Sustainable Competitive Advantage (SCA) is.
Spend some time thinking about what value you provide your customers with and your ability to beat your competitors on the basis of that value proposition. To find out what your customer really values, put yourself in their shoes. Just because you’ve built something doesn’t mean people will want it. If everyone is saying the same thing, maybe you need to change your message.

5. Know what your Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) is.
It’s important to have a big, bold vision for your business, even if it’s something you don’t think you’ll ever achieve. Having this goal will help drive all your business decisions and avoid a plateau in your progress.

6. Keep it real and be authentic.
Don’t try and be something that you’re not, because these days people can see right through an inauthentic business presence. Instead, be a refreshingly real experience for your clients.

7. Spend time developing your business culture.
If your business culture is strong, it will push your strategies along for you. Culture is an extremely big beast if you think about business values and the ‘why’, but it’s mainly about the people. To develop a strong business culture, you’ve not only got to make sure everyone is on the bus with you, you’ve got to make sure everyone is facing the front as well.

8. The people behind the business matter too.
Don’t forget to take some time for yourself. Starting a business can be very stressful and can lead to fatigue, so it’s important to take breaks and look after yourself so that you don’t lose your mojo! Besides, fresh eyes can make a big difference to changing your perspective or gaining insight.

9. Find your Yoda.
Everyone who is starting their own business needs someone they can go to and ask the ‘ridiculous’ questions, because they’re probably not ridiculous. You need a strong business mentor
that you respect, and who respects you enough to give you honest feedback and advice. And don’t forget to send the elevator back down. If you can be a mentor to someone who’s new to the industry, seize the opportunity and help them grow.

10. Go into business with your eyes wide open.
Don’t wait for things to be perfect before you launch your business. Put your toe in the water and start talking to people about your ideas as soon as possible. This allows you to ‘fail fast’, get people’s reactions and make adjustments as you go. Don’t be proud; if something isn’t working, refine it, and that way, even if you fail in one component, your business won’t fail overall.

If you can get these 10 things right, you’ll be well on the way to having a strong, successful business. If you’re interested in discovering more advice to help your venture succeed, click here to listen to the webinar on building a successful business. You can also visit John at businessDEPOT and learn how to #MAKEITHAPPEN for you and your goals.


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Viki: How uni helped me start my own business

Leesa: An entrepreneur’s top tips for career success

Alan: How postgraduate study has helped my career