Keep raising the bar

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  • Tuesday, 28 Jan 2014

There is no use in resting on your laurels so strive for more success.

WHEN I was a child, my father liked to drum into me meaningful Chinese phrases and proverbs. I never understood them then and never cared to.

But as I grow older, I find myself recalling these sayings and relating them to my work, life and business.

One of the phrases that has been coming back to me recently is: Yi Shan Haiyou Yi Shan Gao (in Mandarin). Loosely translated, it means there will always be another higher mountain. The significance of this phrase is that we should never think that if we are the best or at the top, it will be so forever.

This got me thinking about what a business acquaintance told me about his employees. He has a small team that he takes great pride in. They are really good, he said.

That was until he expanded his company last year and hired more people. Among them were some even better people than his original team.

It opened his eyes. He thought he had a good team, but he did not realise that there could be, and were, better ones.

However, I am not saying we should always be comparing to others as there are always two sides to a coin, the pros and cons of everything. But, we should always aim to improve and to be better in what we do or provide.

Many companies and businesses fall into a comfort zone after experiencing some success. And then before they know it, their performance slows down just because someone or something better has appeared in the market.

It is easy to think we have arrived and to rest on our laurels just because we are meeting or exceeding our revenue numbers and things have looked rosy in the past few years.

But does that mean we will continue to perform?

Or that we will stay in the top position forever?

We have seen what were once market-leading products being replaced by products that are better and more advanced. The harsh reality of business is that no one can stay on top indefinitely.

In one of my earlier columns (Being Good Matters; MetroBiz, Nov 19, 2013), I wrote about the importance of doing good work and delivering good quality products and services to our clients.

In my own company, I focus very much on this philosophy of doing good work and over the past four years, we have built that reputation. But what was good in the past does not mean it will be always be good.

So lately, I have been asking myself if the work we are doing is already good, how can we make it even better. How can we raise that bar? And how do we do much more than we ever thought we could? Sometimes, the biggest limitations to what we can or should do is ourselves. We set our own limits as to what we can do or achieve.

For example, many of my clients are SMEs and start-up companies. Some people are sceptical about the publicity that a start-up company can draw compared to bigger, well-known organisations. When I started my company to do PR work for these SMEs, we amazed ourselves with the media coverage we managed to help smaller companies get.

Our clients are happy with the good work. But what if we can do better? How about not just getting media coverage for them, but helping small companies get featured as a cover stories?

So I took up that challenge and pushed myself to think hard. There is always a way. It may be just that we have not found it yet. And this month, one of our SME clients was indeed featured on the cover of a well-known magazine. The client was amazed — she had never been on the cover of a magazine. Her peers in the market saw the story and were equally amazed. And we are not stopping at this one success.

If we are to make it in the world of business, we need to keep thinking and to keep raising the bar. Who’s up for it?

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Opinion , Business , Starting Out , Jeanisha Wan ,


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