This is a good time to be in business.
The markets are starting to uptick, and we are seeing growth we have not seen in some time. While I’m certainly not an economist, this comes as a welcome relief to many who have weathered some storms and taken the hits in recent years.
I can’t predict the long-term feasibility, but what I can predict is this: As a business owner, I can enjoy success in the up years and the down years, because I don’t wait for politicians or events to stimulate my business.
And so can you!
Right now, things may be good, but there are no guarantees. You can’t relinquish control of your success to the whims of politics or economy. You as the leader are ultimately responsible for the success of your business.
I’m reminded of a company whose leaders declared bankruptcy, blaming several factors, including the economy and the events of September 11, 2001. The company was then sold, and went on to become highly successful in that same economy and during that same post-9-11 era.
What was the difference?
The economy and historical event factors hadn’t changed. The products didn’t change. The real difference was…leadership. The real failure was also…leadership.
What is the basis of your business?
While it may be easy to become complacent in times of economic upturn, it is also dangerous. As leaders, we must never get comfortable with running our business on “circumstances.”
Because we can’t control circumstances.
Therefore, a strong business will operate on principles, plans, and sound practices. There will be the inevitable and unexpected, but having a plan allows you to quickly re-route while still remaining focused on objectives and reaching the goals you have set.
Ask yourself if you are basing your business on circumstances or on principles, plans, and sound practices that will sustain the business under any circumstances. Create a business survival plan well before you need one.
Here are 10 Tips to Survive and Thrive in your Business
While you may have invested everything you have in your business or career, don’t love the idea of your business or position so much that you allow emotion to guide your decisions. Keep it professional. Manage your business and yourself professionally; don’t let outside conditions or events manage them for you!
Get off the Fence
Delay can cost you your business or your job. Good leadership requires you to not only make decisions, but make them quickly. Thinking about something too long is, in effect, “no decision”. Of course, make sure you analyze changes and opportunities; but then get on with it and take the necessary steps on your decision.
Take Action with Speed
When you’ve decided to make a change, do it quickly. Time is money, but time can also mean survival. Opportunities come to those who act quickly in pursuit of them.
Even while you are enjoying growth and profit, there is still a need to reduce overhead and manage it well. In good times or bad, if the overhead doesn’t directly or indirectly add revenue, it should be cut or reduced significantly. Companies who do this in crisis mode create business disruption, which further affects production and profitability. Consistently managing overhead prevents operational disruption and, in fact, creates a stronger company.
Improve your Marketing
If you are doing the same marketing you were doing two years ago, chances are it won’t work. Develop new marketing plans and techniques frequently. And track results. You have to be able to track the return you’re getting on marketing investment to truly know if your plan is working.
Review your Products and/or Services
If the market segment you sell to is not buying, you have two options: (1) Get them to start buying or (2) sell your products and services to a segment that is buying. If this doesn’t work, you may need to reinvent your company and what it sells. Be willing to pivot quickly where it is in the best interest of your company.
Keep Financials in Order
There is never a time for having sloppy financial records. This applies to all levels of business, whether a small business or a Fortune 500 corporation. You have to know your numbers, or one small setback could kill your business. And you must look at them realistically and regularly.
Provide Training to your Team
It is always a good time to invest in your people. Training in sales, technology, and leadership are wise investments in terms of keeping your organization on the cutting edge and your teams fully engaged and equipped.
Vince Lombardi said it well, “If they aren’t fired up with enthusiasm, I’ll fire them with enthusiasm.”
You can’t afford to keep unproductive people on the payroll. Even if they are fully commissioned sales people, their lack of productivity can hurt your business and affect the rest of your team.
Don’t wait for a downturn to optimize productivity with your people and systems. This must be a continual process.
Dave Ramsey is tough when it comes to budgeting. But even he agrees there are points where you have to make room for something enjoyable. As a leader, yes, you are the guardian of the bottom line. But make time for fun as well – in your business and in your personal life. Celebrate goals achieved with your team before diving into the next big project. Celebrate wins, both personally and professionally. Take time to recharge.
Leading well takes energy. Be sure to replenish spent energy frequently so you can hold steady in upturns and downturns as well. Executive burnout is a real issue. Our leadership retreats are designed around the idea of renewing leadership energy, working through roadblocks, and setting new goals. Take time for advancing your objectives, but take time for retreats as well.
These are solid practices for any era and circumstances of business. Consistently acting on these guidelines will help you build and maintain a strong business that not only survives, but thrives.
Dave Ferguson is “The Leaders’ Coach”, an internationally recognized executive leadership coach, speaker, facilitator, and author. Are you interested in talking to Dave about coaching or having Dave speak to inspire and motivate your team? “ASK COACH DAVE” at 704-907-0171 or at Dave@AskCoachDave.com.