Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It was the Best of Times...It was the Worst of Times...

The song went something like that. Today we hear the economic crisis has passed then with the next newscast, it still is present but weakening. The economy is improving but taking a very slow upward tick. Regardless of what we hear, read or speak, we have been in one of the worst recessions ever recorded and we are probably not out of it by a long shot.

But even with the improvement, it is important to learn from the past so we don't repeat it. That is something I am very conscious of as I am always seeming to learn from my repeated mistakes after I have banged my head a few times too many. So I decided to find some universal advice that would work in both bad and good times. I think I found it. Some may call it common sense but we all know that item is in short supply these days in America's business world today. But read on and let me know your opinions on the advice.

#1 - Adapt your business - don't be afraid to answer those questions/problems that are constantly there waiting - fix them and get them off your back; look to see if your business strategy is still in line with your customers; take a look at your strengths and weaknesses and address any changes; realize the correct decisions made now will make you stronger in the future.

#2 - Motivate your people - Remember your workforce is your best selling tool to the public; tell them the tough decisions you need to make and share with them the why you are making the decisions; it is important they understand your actions and can support them; if you have to cut people, try to do it one time as repeated cuts only serves to demoralize the workforce; get it done and behind you so you and your most important asset, the people, can move forward together.

#3 - Be more focused on your core - Look at your products and if something does not make sense, fix it; if it is not profitable, then get rid of it; ask yourself - what does this product contribute to the company's bottom line?

#4 - Stay True to Your Vision - Know where you are and where you want to be in the future then work towards that goal; constantly ask yourself how does this decision get me closer to my ultimate destination for the business?; look into the future and see where your business fit in.

#5 - Communicate, Communicate, Communicate - When you make a decision talk to your key stakeholders about the reasoning behind it; don't let your marketing efforts suffer either as companies that advertise during a down time consistently come out on top in market share/sales when the economy improves.

#6- Innovate on new ideas - Encourage your employees to think of new ideas, you think of new ideas; watch people use your product for new ideas; take some calculated risks in research and development and when they hit pay dirt, you could transform the industry; look for new partnerships to create win-win situations.

#7 - Remember your customer - Position your small business through marketing efforts to talk to your customer and remind them of your solutions to their needs; build on a few key themes to drive home; remember to add value instead of cutting price so you can maintain pricing levels, keep customers buying and overall increase your market share.

#8 - Retain credibility - Honesty is always the best policy; lies have a way of being found out and then cause harm to the business and you; when the news is bad news, say so, tell why and your plan of action to correct it; face the music and you will be stronger for it.

#9 - Inspire customers to be better - That sounds sickening sweet but if you can create an emotional tie to your customers you have just strengthened their willingness to purchase your product no matter what; emotions are strong influcencers for us.

Well there they are folks - some universal tips to help us in both the bad and good times. Send me your thoughts and opinions so we can start talking about these ideas.

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