The changes we have seen across the country in the past few years have put Americans, as a whole, in a state of concern. The price of gas is skyrocketing and approaching a new high, the value of the dollar in plunging, mortgage foreclosure rates are defined as “crises” and on and on. On top of that, we have the media stirring up a frenzy of fear to ensure we run full-speed into a national recession and stay there! But that’s another story. Regardless, all of this results in increased risk and cost to do business.
You, as a business owner, need to be proactive and prepare yourself, your staff and your business for the changes that will affect the way you work. Some businesses that rely on helping people and businesses get through this type of economic challenge (yes, challenge…this, too, will pass), will be faced with the challenge of managing a larger number of clients. Their challenge is THRU-PUT, or being able to manage a larger number of clients while providing the same level of service and attention they normally give their clients. Others, who deal, primarily, in “discretionary” products and services are going to experience a slowdown in their business. In both cases, how do you planning to adapt? (consider…adapt or die)
Ideally, you have created a business plan for your business, complete with a business model (or financial model) that you can return to in order to help you see not only where you came from, but also where you are going. It should provide you with the BIG PICTURE perspective – what the business is about, what the goals are and what the purpose is. This should encompass your BRAND, or what people – customers, clients, the community, etc. – expect from you.
Your business plan is not only your map, but also tells what kind of car you are driving, who is going with you, why you are going on this journey and what you expect when you get there. On every journey, there are hills and valleys, some steeper than others, some lower, respectively. In order to reach the vision, you mush KEEP MOVING FORWARD. In order to keep moving forward, you have to make good decisions on how to protect the vehicle.
Now, if your vehicle is a hot air balloon, what do you do when you start plunging from 3,000 feet? Unfortunately, you may have to drop ballast. You are not going to throw out the engine…you will not throw out the map…you will not throw out the fuel reserves…you will get rid of the items that have the least amount of VALUE on the trip.
Well, what has the greatest value? Your BRAND. Your brand IS your vehicle. Your brand is a major influencer that encourages (or discourages) people to go with you. You need to avoid losing it (though it will cost you far more to re-establish a damaged brand than to start with a new one!)
What else has value? What fuels your business? What drives your business? What is it that is simply nice to have, but not helping you to move forward toward accomplishing your vision? Is it your office with the nice leather chairs? Is it your fleet of 2008 vehicles your sales team drives? Is it your $5 per month co-pay benefits plan?
Conversely, in what area or areas have you invested the most that are moving the business forward? Look at your staff…how much time have they spent thoroughly learning your business through countless meetings, OJT (On the Job Training), etc.? Will it be in your best interest to cut positions arbitrarily? Is your best option to gut your HR or training arm, completely?
Believe it when I say that there is NO HARD, FAST RULE FOR EVERY BUSINESS OR EVERY BUSINESS OWNER! However, looking at your brand, your mission, your vision, your path, your values and those of your business, it becomes apparent that you have to make smart decisions based on the bigger picture. Plan with the expectation for things to recover or reset. Could this mean looking at your exit strategy (a set of indicators that ‘light up’ letting you know that it is time to exit the business)? Well, is this part of your business model? It should be. Does this have to affect your personal mission, vision and values? YES, the business can be ballast that you have to let go. The business can absolutely STOP you from moving forward. Stopping the business is NOT the end of the world, but not knowing when to stop could definitely seem like it.
Planning is the key to knowing what to do as the world changes around your business. Planning is the key to moving forward. You cannot know the future. However, you CAN observe what is going on around you and look to contingencies as things occur.
Take the offensive. Do your homework and plan. Remember…He who fails to plan, plans to fail.
At Aepiphanni Business Solutions, we are dedicated to serving the needs of small business owners. We specialize in helping you develop strategies for your organization, and are committed to your success. If you have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at [email protected]aepiphanni.com.