Sarah Elms of BDO: The five habits of highly effective companies

PUBLISHED: 05:30 15 August 2018 | UPDATED: 08:05 15 August 2018

Sarah Elms of BDO.

Sarah Elms of BDO.


The way in which businesses operate has dramatically changed.

The rise of technology and access to information has meant agile-minded entrepreneurs can grow cutting-edge businesses overnight.

It took the telephone 75 years to notch up 50 million users. Facebook did it in three-and-a-half years, and the Angry Birds mobile app did it in just 35 days.

The use of technology and a better connected society, generally, has meant businesses can become global overnight.

These opportunities continue to increase, despite ever more complex political and socioeconomic climates.

With Brexit, the country is moving into uncharted territory. The direction of travel posed by the exit from the European Union has already raised concerns in the business community.

But, despite this uncertainty, there are still countless opportunities available, and many emerging businesses are taking advantage of them with “record numbers reporting rises in revenues and customer numbers” in 2017, according to a Hiscox report.

To understand what was driving success in these businesses, BDO commissioned research among some of the UK’s most successful companies.

The results offered an interesting insight into the world of innovators, founders, change drivers and owner/managers alike.

One common theme that emerged from our findings was that like highly effective people, highly effective businesses share specific traits and follow common pathways to greatness. They all:

• Have a clear road map, but stay flexible;

• Invest in productivity and innovation;

• Learn from peers;

• Focus on sales growth;

• Recruit the right team.

These are the habits we have coined as “The five habits of highly effective companies”. Our report summarises the findings of our survey and includes advice from many of the business leaders who were interviewed, as well as from some of the advisers that helped drive the strategy behind the success.

Naturally, these are not hard and fast rules. A company does not need to undertake all of them to be successful.

But they are intuitively good practices for any business that wants to be highly effective. The more you can make them habits in your business, the more likely you will be to succeed.

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