Monday 23 October 2017

What I wish I'd known: Focus on the things you do really well

Denise O'Connor, MD, Optimise Design

Denise O'Collins
Denise O'Collins

Denise O'Connor

This year we're celebrating our 10th year in business. But it hasn't been a smooth path. I set up the company to work on residential developments in 2007 and, in 2008, all development stopped so I had to adapt fast.

We were well-positioned to move into the private residential sector but people were very wary about hiring an architect. So we had to completely change our service offering. I developed a consultancy package called 'Optimise Home'. This is a one-off service offering architectural advice and drawings. It has been hugely popular and I now have a dedicated team running it. What this taught me is not to fear change -in fact it can spark the greatest innovation.

It's also vital to specialise. This can be really hard to do, but while you don't want to say no to opportunities, you can't do it all, so it's vital to focus on the things that you do really well.

Over the years we branched out into hospitality, retail and office projects which, while enjoyable were very different to home design which is where the heart of Optimise Design lies. Specialising has been a great decision. I am always reviewing every aspect to find ways to make the customer experience better, which primarily comes down to simplifying everything we do. Focusing on residential has really helped.

Now everything we do is focused on honing our service to ensure that the client experience is excellent.

Time away from the business is really important.

The first couple of years, I barely took a holiday. I took my first two-week holiday three years ago and it was a revelation. Not only did everything keep going, I came back recharged and refreshed, which in turn helped me refocus. Taking time out is vital if you're going to be able to succeed at the business of being in business. Just like any endurance pursuit, you need time for rest and recovery so it's important that you build it into your schedule and prioritise it.

Don't try to do everything yourself, which is what I was doing at the start. If you are offered help, take it.

It's impossible to manage all aspects of your business alone. The sooner you learn to delegate and outsource so you can focus on what brings you the best returns - which is what's best for your business and for you.

Sunday Indo Business

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