Whilst there is no denying that we live in arguably some of the most challenging economic times for decades, it is interesting to observe how people handle the same situation differently in their business.
We have seen a pattern developing of two distinct responses to the current tough times from business owners and operators, and a lot of the reaction has to do with how you see the present times – either as a threat to the very existence of your business or as an opportunity to work diligently on your business and chart an enduring, positive outcome.
Some businesses have adopted the victim approach and then turn on the very people that have helped them operate their business successfully to date – their customers, their suppliers and even their staff. There is a sense of frustration of not being able to control that which is uncontrollable, such as the broader economy.
On the other hand we have seen a very proactive approach where the mindset is:
“This is the perfect time to refine our processes so we are ready to take advantage of the good times when they roll around again”.
Whilst much of this initial response is driven by an attitude, there are certain tangible actions that could assist you in your quest to design a positive business future.
One of the first things is to identify those areas of your business (if improved) that will bring the greatest benefit (both now and in the future). This could be done via a simple Business Systems Audit, by taking a close look at “the way we do things around here”. Do this with a critical eye and don’t settle for second best. This is the time to invest in your business so it is well positioned to take advantage of the turnaround when it occurs.
Some questions to ask could include:
- Which systems do I currently have in place, and are they working efficiently? • What are we currently doing manually that could be automated? (e.g. invoicing / quotes / payroll / timesheets/ financial reporting etc.)
- What are the most successful businesses in our industry doing?
- Would we benefit from having systems that allow staff or management flexible access to the office (e.g. working from home via remote access)?
- Are our business systems and processes fully documented allowing for easy replication when needed?
- How do we look after our customers differently from our competitors? Consider implementing a fully automated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system that allows you to cultivate relationships with both existing and prospective customers.
- Am I receiving reliable and timely information on key business drivers such as profitability, tax obligations, budgeted performance, short to medium term cashflow forecasts, etc.?
- Are our business systems fully safeguarded from loss with multiple backup routines including offsite / online automated backup systems?
Whilst this is by no means an exhaustive list, it is a start, and that is one of the keys to success – beginning! This process is one of constant improvement and questioning. A good idea is to take time out to look at your business as though you were to buy it from yourself.
In its current form, would you judge it to be a good investment? If not, then set some time and resources aside to invest in those areas that will help place it in a position of strength for the future.