Business Improvement – Protect and Grow your Business
USE THE POWER OF HINDSIGHT
Business people often say, “I am going through a tough time right now, I need more business”. If they need improved results now then they probably required urgent change or improvement some time ago. Improved results such as sales growth will very often follow if you have implemented the right changes or taken some action. However, it is rare for success to be instant. Businesses often require long lead times before they see clear results from change or action.
On the basis that businesses cannot always change the current position immediately, they need to plan ahead to avoid poor performance or to mitigate negative market impact and so on. Avoid the typical business response to immediate problems which is often to re organize (too late), do something different (for the sake of it), focus (on the wrong things), blame people (for poor performance) and so on. Business leaders need to have a Change Plan.
A living example:
A friend/client/supplier of mine (yes, all three) worked extremely hard to keep her existing business afloat in tough circumstances. It was obvious to her that she had limited cash flow, high overheads, no view of a growing order book, a clear view of her growing overdraft and a seemingly endless downward spiral in a faltering economy.
Use the Power of hindsight:
My friend ran her business according to what she saw as the constant elements; costs, sales order book, activities, required capital outlay, salaries, taxes etc. Then she expected much of the same in the next year -plus a bit. Nothing wrong with this in principle- it’s what most business owners do. What could she have done differently using the power of hindsight?
1. She could have added a factor of ‘unknown’ into all of her figures, say + and – 5%. This is not just growth but an ‘extra over’ factor against all of her figures. Then she could have challenged herself how she would cope with the various swings. What could she do differently to avoid the peaks and troughs of such a change in the coming year? She did some of this but perhaps did not go far enough.
2. Then, she would have needed to plan her actions to cope with these swings. What would she do? How would she prioritise her time/efforts? How would she measure if the swings were going to affect her? When would she need to change the way she does things? In the majority of cases she could have implemented modest changes there and then which would have mitigated the swings (if they ever happened).
3. Then she could have imagined a big swing – one which could put you out of business. Such as an unprecedented tax rise, a major slump in sales, her largest client going out of business, a major new player in her market. You get the picture. What might this calamity be and what she might do about it?
4. Having thought about a business threatening change, she could have looked at insulating her business from it as far as would be practicable. She can look at her wider options such as, closing her business down, changing her business radically, doing other things, finding ways to spread her risk. At least she could have been ready for the consequences and saved herself a lot of heartache and self-doubt…and would have known when to act.
5. My friend did not have a ‘plan B’..I would recommend a ‘C’ and ‘D’ too. Look to the horizon, see what might come and be ready for it.