business owners

Surviving a Recession

Many of my clients, these days, are looking to me to help them find new ways to do what they do and to reach out to their clients.  They tell me that the sales process is getting longer, they need to make various cuts and that they cannot depend on their steady cash flow to bring in the clients they are used to serving.

Of course, in a recession, this is no surprise.  The problem isn’t about recognizing the problem, it’s about working through the solution.

One of the biggest questions is around “where to begin.”  That’s one of those questions that makes you kind of laugh and think to yourself…man…if it was that easy!  The question is…do I market more…do I let people go…do I change my product offerings…do I…and how do I know what to do, and when?! clip_image002

Well, the majority of the answer comes from knowing your business.  While this exercise isn’t a “quick and dirty fix” that will turn things around for your organization, it is an exercise that all business owners need to incorporate into their business model.  There are 3 internal considerations and 2 external.  The exercise:

  1. What are the basic things your business needs to survive every day? 
  2. What are the things that will allow the business to continue operating from day to day?
  3. What is your relationship with your stakeholders?  Who are they?  How are you serving them?  How are they serving you?  What is your messaging for each group?
  4. What do people think about your company – or you, if you are the company – when they think about it?  How do they envision your company?
  5. Do you have a plan for growing the organization? 

In order to navigate the tough seas of unstable economies, you need to be aware of your business – it’s capabilities and capacities.  You need to know its strengths and weaknesses and what is going on in the environment.  This is the valuable information you need in order to make good decisions about the direction for your business.  Lastly, remember that the environment is continually change – it shifts like sand, nearly every day.  While there will be some things that rarely change – your belief statements, for example, there are other items that may change, such as your vendors, economic conditions, etc.  Ensure that you have a regular practice of bringing up this list of business needs and making adjustments as your business has need.

At Aepiphanni Business Solutions, we are a Small Business Consulting Firm 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].


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The Sky is Falling!!

Clouds and Ice Chunks

 

One one of my favorite stories is the story of Chicken Little, the little chicken who got everyone in his world excited, thinking that the sky was falling.  Well, as it turns out, the sky really is falling; the price of cloud computing is coming down to a level where it is reasonably priced.

I’ve had opportunity to do some research for one of my clients who is preparing to move her business into another phase, wherein she can take advantage of some technologies that will allow her to do more with less, so to speak.  This was a great exercise, and of course, one that will allow me to write a great article on once I am finished.

In order to get the best product for the job, one that would match was she is currently doing, while allowing her to embrace some opportunities she is just on the fringe of, I created a matrix using, in this case, Microsoft Excel.  In preparation for this, I performed a business analysis, which included a process and systems analysis and a technology review. ( The analysis discovers what she currently has in place, where the review discovery is based on what she has and how she is using it.) 

Once completed, I was able to use the data to prepare a matrix – the left column being the “wish list,”, with everything on the list being prioritized – 1 through 3.  At the top of the matrix, horizontally were placed different software systems, focused primarily on SAAS systems, or cloud systems as they are beginning to be called.

Now, the purpose of the cloud is to allow business owners to log in from anywhere in the world and get into some web-based system to get information about their companies.  What makes these relevant now, is that the price points are getting to the point where they are quite reasonable and there are enough platforms available to meet the needs of most organizations.

While working through the whole process, several things became quite obvious:

  1. It is difficult to make an apples-to-apples comparison of products
  2. Not all vendors will help you demystify the differences between the products.
  3. It is important – extremely important to find a system that will adapt to your business, and not vise-versa.
  4. Don’t over purchase.  Be very clear, ahead of time, what you need, what you want, and what is nice to have.  Don’t pay significantly more for bells or whistles that won’t enhance your bottom line.
  5. Don’t purchase solely on price.  If you focus on getting the lowest cost item (there are free ones out there) you may end up paying more in the long run.  Consider the cost (opportunity cost!) to switch to something you can manage in-house.
  6. Remember – complexity=additional training.  If you cannot afford to put down $4,000 for set up and training, don’t buy the software.  Period
  7. Learn the product!  You’ve invested money into your organization.  It is to your benefit (your responsibility!) to get the most out of your investment.
  8. Make sure there is some level of support that you can work with.  If the system is mission critical for your business, don’t settle for email support!
  9. Consider the fact that although there are systems out there that “do it all,” you’ve got to do your homework.  Just like your company, every company has their “sweet spot.”
  10. Most companies will give you a 30-day trial period on their software.  Don’t bother with this until you can narrow down your product selection to no more than three that meet all of your level one criteria, most of your level two, and maybe some of your level three.

Getting your office in the clouds may pay off for your organization, and allow you to cut back on costs, increase productivity and be more in control of daily operations.  When looking for a solution provider for your organization, being wary of these items will ensure you are spending responsibly and help you to get the best solution for your company.

 

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].

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