KEY TIPS FOR SURVIVAL AND SUCCESS
There are 3 major reasons for business failure or success. Those are Market, Team, and Capital. There’s a lot that goes into each of those components so let me layout a framework for ensuring that your business not only survives but succeeds. These tips come from watching businesses succeed in good times and bad.
Re-Evaluate Your Marketplace – Things have changed you need to reaffirm your understanding of who is interested in buying your product or service, or more importantly, why they buy them. If you’re off target here you’ll always struggle to grow sales. In addition, you must know your competition and what differentiates you and your product or service from them.
Maintain a Clear Vision – Knowing what you want your company to look like in 3 – 5 years and what it will take to get it there will guide you through all the unforeseen circumstances you’ll encounter along the way. Develop your vision, share it with others, refine it at every opportunity and identify what it will take to get there. A strong comprehensive annual Strategic Planning process will keep your vision alive and your progress strong.
Plan to Succeed – Your Strategic Plan and Business Plans should be interconnected. If they don’t entirely support each other they’re just wishful stories. Implementing a Strategic Plan consumes resources. Make sure you have the resources to achieve the Objectives, Goals, and Strategies outlined in your plan. Your Business Plans should have strong monitoring processes associated with them in the form of easily readable dashboards that focus on metrics that indicate progress on plan. Your management meetings should be designed for the reporting and course correction discussions necessary to achieve your plans.
Set Goals – If you don’t have a target you could hit anything, or nothing for that matter, and call it success. Sounds pretty foolish doesn’t it. But have you really set Goals or do you just kind of have an end in mind? When setting goals, make them SMART goals. That is, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Bound. Without an anticipated destination you’ll never know if you’ve arrived nor when you need to course correct.
Build the Right Team – Having the right team internal and external to the organization can make all the difference in success and survival. If you know what needs to be done to achieve your vision and goals try identifying the skill sets needed before worrying about the actual functions a position will perform. Hiring for skill sets first will always prove beneficial.
Get Organized & Stay Focused – When you’re the owner of the business a lot of stuff comes your way. It’s easy to get distracted and prioritize the issue of the moment. The key to success here is to organize your priorities in advance, then as issues arise determine who else on the team can handle them. This not only develops your team for future responsibilities it allows you to focus on your priorities. Give your priorities dedicated time on your calendar and zealously protect those times.
Implement the Right Tools – When you and your team are focused on the objectives you will be able to identify tools that will help you achieve them. Take for instance, how a CRM (Client Relationship Management) system can add to your sales and customer service team’s efficiency and effectiveness. Whatever the tools that help you succeed, get them, and use them.
Never Stop Learning – Even once your business is up and running don’t stop learning about new products, services, markets, and ways of doing things. Once you stop the business will stagnate. Invite challenges and look for creative solutions. Admit it when you need help and go find it. Remember, you’re leading the organization. If you’re stuck in a rut, so is the organization.
Work “On” More Than “In” Your Business – I know we’ve all heard this before but it’s worth repeating. Only after you’ve built quite an effective team will you be able to spend virtually all your time working “On” the business. In smaller organizations the owner will always have a certain amount of time committed to working “In” the business. But find time to work “On” the business.
Work “Smart” and “Hard” – Success nor survival just show up because you want them to. You need to work “Smart” so that you don’t waste time on things that don’t make much difference. But, at the same time, you’ll need to work “Hard” and put in some long ours. Working “Smart” isn’t necessarily easy and working “Hard” isn’t without merit. It takes both to survive and be successful.
Take Ownership – My last tip for business survival and success is, “Take Ownership”. This is your company. You started it, you wanted it, you own it. When things go well celebrate those success with your team and when things go wrong take ownership for failing to get the right resources to effectively achieve the objective. Blame doesn’t get you anywhere because you believe it’s someone else’s problem. Take on the problems head on. Get them solved and keep moving.
Hopefully, these tips have provided you with some guidance and direction to help your company succeed and survive in 2021. If your business is experiencing tough times be sure and do these 4 things.
1. Grow Revenue Aggressively, put in at least as much effort as you do in cutting expenses, maybe even more aggressive. Remember, in the long run expense reduction will not grow profits.
2. Talk With all Your Stakeholders. Investors, Customers, Suppliers, Bankers, etc. Gather as much information as you can to improve the situation.
3. Make a New Plan. Your old plan is likely no longer valid. Develop a new one based on the current situation. You’ll need it and your banker will likely want to see it. Don’t wait for them to ask for it.
4. Reinject Capital. Determine how much cash you can put your hands on, divide by your monthly operating costs to find out how long you can survive without income. If necessary reinject capital into the business to provide a cushion. If your survival time is less than 3 months, you absolutely need to inject capital. Ideally, you want 6 – 12 months available for tough times.