by Tim Connor, CSP
For the better part of three years I have heard from hundreds of people running organizations today – many in factory built housing - that this sluggish economy is driving them up a wall. OK, so we all agree – things are not what they used to be or the way we would like them to be.
The question is – what are you doing about it? Stuck in the past and negative mindsets? Whining every day? Unwilling to re-invent your business model? Hoarding your cash? Circling the wagons? I could go on, but the only positive answer to all of these is to - simply embrace change and move on – whether you are comfortable with it or not.
Here are the Five Keys to Turning Your Business Around in a Sluggish Economy and the basis of this program.
Perhaps the single best resource that drives your organization’s success are your employees. If they are driven by fear, uncertainty and stress I will guarantee that it will take months or years to turn your business around and you will remain a victim of a sluggish economy. If they are driven by creativity, innovation, a positive culture and an empowering motivational climate – watch out – anything is possible and you will be amazed at the results that can be achieved. Focusing on the negatives, what isn’t working and micro-managing every employee action and decision will sabotage employee motivation and a willingness to take risks and change things for the better. If you are not investing in your employees development, then you are losing all of the benefits of a workforce that will help you emerge from these challenging times with confidence, enthusiasm and real positive and consistent results.
Your customers are the source of all of the revenue that enables your growth, stability, progress and success. Treating customers as only a source of revenue is a recipe for disaster sooner or later. Employees under a great deal of stress will tend to lack customer understanding, compassion and a willingness to help them solve problems, but rather try and just get more business from them. Customer loyalty is earned and not purchased and it is vital for long term success and stability. If you treat customers only as a financial entity and do not focus on the quality of the relationship with appropriate communication, validation and respect you will lose their business. Your competition, even if they can not satisfy your customer’s needs in an effective or positive way, will take this business away from you. If you are not cultivating your customers in a positive and consistent way you are losing business both from present and future customers.
Advertising and marketing
“If you build it and they will come!” Sorry, not true, except in one movie. A cute line, but in today’s world, driven by technology, this attitude will fail to yield consistent positive results. Having sold a variety of types of advertising during my early career; magazines, newspaper, trade shows, billboards, transit and internet of course - I can tell you that if people don’t know who you are and how you can help them grow their business or solve their problems – you will never get their business. Yes, word of mouth advertising is a great tool and we recommend it as one of the arrows in your quiver. But can you afford to wait for this word of mouth method to take hold? I will tell you - in a sluggish economy if this is your approach – you will sooner or later become a forgotten statistic. When the economy sinks smart people improve their advertising and marketing exposure. Too many in the business world has this archaic attitude – we can’t afford it now – (oh, really)? We will advertise and market again when things pick up or improve. Sorry – with that attitude – business may never improve for you. The companies who invest during downturns in marketing see the payoff now and when the recovery takes place. One of the best investments you can make during sluggish times to improve business is to increase exposure and that can only be done by reaching out to your markets and its potential with creative advertising and marketing strategies. Use proven methods and experiment, but do it.
There are only two basic mindsets when it comes to dealing with uncertainty and the future’s unknowns. You can fear and deny them or you can embrace and take charge of them. Everything in an organization – its culture, prevailing attitudes, employee behaviors, decisions and overall performance - is directly or indirectly related to management style, management philosophy and management mindsets. If management (ownership) has the belief that things are tough and uncertain – what do you think is filling the minds of your employees every minute of every day? If you think management mindsets do not have a 100% impact on everything that happens or doesn’t happen in your organization you are living in la-la land. How’s that working for you? There are reasons why successful companies spend time working on their company culture! If you want to change things bottom-up you have to change things top-down. Like it or not – you are responsible for whatever is going on in your organization – good or bad – positive or negative.
A re-invent mentality
It’s time to let go of what is no longer working - no matter how long you have done it - or how entrenched it is in your organization’s history or philosophy. Re-invent simply means to let go, re-charge, re-ignite, re-vitalize and take the lessons from the past, but not the processes or approaches into the future. Re-invent is simply a – “throw-away-the-box mentality” and not just a - “think-out-of-the-box” one. It means holding on to what you believe in, but now how you deal with it. Core values should prevail, but success or failure of a process should help you determine what is kept and what needs to change. It requires surrender to the new-normal and how that is influencing your overall business approaches and their ultimate success.
That’s it. How is your organization doing when it comes to these five steps? ##
(Editor's Note: Tim Connor is a member of MHSpeakerTrainer.org)