At this point, I think we all realize that things are a little different this year than they were last year. Realizing that some have been bathed in financial security, I just want you to know that we are in an economic recession. That means that people are buying and spending less, creating a ripple effect making it harder for businesses to stay in business and keep all assets and resources, resulting in an exponentially expanding catch 22 – “I can’t spend because I lost my job because my company cannot sell their widgets which people can’t buy because they lost their job”
I believe that (in case anyone missed it) all of the articles on how to survive the recession, have been written, and going into Q2, it is time to have our noses to the grindstone and get to running our businesses and being as successful as possible. Now, if you are interested in becoming a statistic, i.e., “one of the 3 million businesses closed in 2009”, I have put together a number of steps, categorically, that you can take. Maybe, possibly, they will get you on the bailout list.
1) Don’t stay true to your company’s belief statements. Heck, they are only fancy words that you use, anyway. The “whatever goes” mentality works fabulously well. I call it the ‘Earthquake” belief program.
2) Try to reach all of the people, all of the time. While this will make you stretch your marketing dollars infinitely thin trying to reach all of them, this approach might actually work. Of course, your core customers may feel that your business has gone in another direction, and may wish to do business with another, more focused organization, but that’s okay…it’s only temporary…you can get them back any time you want.
3) Skip steps and cut corners. Everyone understands that this is a bad economy. They will put up with substandard quality, lateness and unpredictability. Don’t worry about it.
4) Don’t set up systems and processes. These are a waste of time and money. Just because you will be able to operate more efficiently – more done at a lower cost – doesn’t mean that it would be worth investing the time it takes to develop them.
5) Stay tunnel-visioned. By keeping your head low and to the grindstone, you won’t have to worry about things that are happening in the marketplace. SWOT analysis are for students and teachers, anyway. Most importantly – don’t pay attention to your market’s spending habits – that could be detrimental.
6) Don’t reduce spending logically. Hold on to the nice, shiny things you’ve acquired…get rid of some of the people…not your buddies, of course, but the quiet, mousy ones – the guy in finance, the girl in the training department, your consultant. Heck – these people are always whining at you about spending and training, anyway. Who needs it?! As long as you’ve got your buddies around you, anything can be done!!
7) Try to get over on your venders. They like that. Trust me. Make them squeal for every penny they ask for, then pay them late.
8) Don’t give referrals, and if you do, do so with grave reservations. No one has given you referrals – why should you bother trying to help anyone else? Besides, with your new Earthquake beliefs program, you can sell anything to anyone…so go to it!!
9) Cut your marketing! Marketing is SO over rated! My gosh…you can’t even, really, describe a return on the investment. I remember the one fax you sent out a couple of years ago only landed you one sale. Granted, the fax cost you $25 and the sale was for $5,000…it just doesn’t make sense. If, however, you don’t cut your marketing altogether, I definitely recommend a buckshot approach…don’t have a narrow, targeted marketing approach…try to reach everybody once or twice…hopefully, something will stick.
10) Lastly, pursue every new idea that comes across your desk without deference. No matter what it is. Don’t worry about it. Your customers and other stakeholders value your unpredictability, and appreciate the fact that although you might not finish anything, you have good intentions. That’s what we need, in this economy – good intentions.
While this list is not conclusive or exhaustive, if you stay on track the rest of the year with two or three of these suggestions driving your decisions, maybe you’ll have every opportunity to fly to Washington to ask for a bailout.
Rick Meekins is the Managing Partner at Aepiphanni, a Business Consultancy, an Atlanta, GA based small business consultancy that provides Management Consulting, Implementation and Managed Services to business leaders and entrepreneurs seeking to improve or expand operations.