Coaching Business Survival
Coaching business survival is not a function of size; it is a function of strategy. The United States Government classifies all business that has sales of $500 million as being a “small” business. Whether your business is large or small, the steps to long-term survival remain the same. In the words of William A. Ward, you have to “plan purposefully, prepare prayerfully, proceed positively, and pursue persistently”. Great words from a great man. But to put it in more practical terms, the day to day survival of your business depends on you and your business habits.
Information Acquisition – Acquiring knowledge in your field of expertise provides you the luxury of just staying current. It is a bare minimum to succeed in today’s competitive environment. The learning mechanisms surround us daily. The information vehicles are numerous. Whether in the form of an industry periodical or the information highway via the Internet, the opportunities are vast and easily accessible. It is our responsibility to make the time to keep the self-education process moving forward. The ongoing process of staying current is a daily necessity to keep the health of your business in good shape.
Impeccable Customer Service – An article unto itself, the business of customer service builds loyalty among your customer base. It enhances your brand cache in the market place and provides good will for your business. Many companies use a differentiation strategy to grow their business for the short and long term. Superior customer service can provide one of the largest components of a differentiation strategy. How do we prepare to offer this type of service? Through constant preparation, execution, reassessment, and improvement can a business have world-class customer service.
A Strong Business Model - No matter how the product, if the business model is flawed the business will fail. Prepare a quick mental checklist that looks at the major areas of your business such as the product selection offered, your sales and marketing tools, the order fulfillment process, the billing and collection process, and the measurements you use to track operational and improvement processes. Without these areas being constantly assessed and reassessed, the opportunity to stay healthy as a business contracts greatly.
Financial Planning – As many have experienced in the past 18 months, the economy in many parts of the world has been constricted in growth. This puts pressure on businesses at all levels and a strong financial plan can man the difference between success and failure during difficult times. A good plan will allow your business to weather the reduction of top line revenues and focus on cost cutting measures. It also gives you the opportunity to try different program and products with a measured approach. If successful, these can be inflated to multiple sales channels when economic times get better.
Cash is King – We see it in everyday life with individuals and with companies. The use of credit has become a bottomless hole from which many cannot climb up from the bottom. Credit, when used properly, can be a very useful tool. Used improperly, it can destructive and provide the business with an anchor that weighs it down limiting its ability to function. Purposely slow payments are another tool that is employed by many companies effectively growing the company on the back of the suppliers. Regardless of the nature of the business, having the cash to provide for critical elements such as R&D, inventory needs, general operating costs, and employee payroll and benefits are no longer optional. They provide the basis for your business. Having cash protects you when times become difficult and sales contract.
Find a Role Model – Many of us have mentors that we speak with regularly and look to for advice. Having a personal role model and a business role model can provide you with insight that cannot be gained except through experience. Look for these relationships on a continuous basis. People are more willing to share and help others than ever before in the business environment. Be seeking council and by having a willingness to listen, the knowledge that you gain from others wisdom will be more than just beneficial, it will be priceless.
Aspire to Balance in Life – So many of us often catch ourselves saying “If only…” we had done this or that. Finding that special balance between work, family and other important areas in our lives can be difficult. The key is to practice good time management skills, planning for the outcomes, setting the goals and taking daily steps to realize our progress toward these successes. There are numerous techniques that can be used to reallocate the amount of time in you have. You cannot create more time. It is a finite resource that we have only so much of daily. Make conscious decisions to aspire to a balance that you can, not only live with, but embrace daily.
Create and Grow Your Network – As with computers that connect us to one another on networks, both internal and external, so are the relationships that connect us to our businesses. Many businesses get comfortable with the networks that were developed from the beginning of the business. The business doesn’t except change and the opportunity perspective is thus limited. By increasing your network of customers, suppliers and other meaningful relationships, the business gains increased perspective and opportunity for success. As the business owner, you should be the champion of this cause. Another common characteristic that limits a business is promoting from within. Though this can be a good situation in some cases, it can also stunt the growth of the business due to the new perspective and ideas brought by people working in other businesses. Work constantly to improve whom you know and why you know them. Networks are grown, not given.
Persistence and Discipline – Of course “Rome wasn’t built is one day” and neither will your business. Just as a baby learns to walk by taking baby steps, so do businesses learn to be profitable by formulating policies and processes that provide excellent products and services for their customers. The willingness to stay on course day after day comes from persistence and an internal discipline to succeed. The culture that you company builds should be immersed in these two qualities. Without them, the employee retention will be poor and generally a poor attitude toward providing for your customers. When the customers become a bother or too demanding, it is time to reassess. The attitude starts at the top and your will make the difference. Your employees mimic you, and without your dedication, you can be sure theirs will be less than stellar.
Watch Your Rear-View Mirror – No matter how you treat your competition, you should always keep an eye on your rear-view mirror. We often get so engrossed in the daily aspects of working in our business that we forget to work on our business. By keeping constant vigilance on the business environment and our competitors, a personal business barometer can measure critical peaks and valleys that will help grow and enhance the overall business. This does not mean focus on things that have happened in the past. It does mean take them into consideration when planning for your future. It is difficult to know where your going if you do not remember where you came from or how you arrived at your current point.
Match Skills and Talents to Your Business – By focusing on what you at particularly good at, you can enhance the overall business format to exploit those traits. Matching talents with financial and physical resources is an acquired knowledge base. Many businesses do not or cannot get it right the first time. The key is that change is constant and today’s failures could be tomorrow’s success. We never plan to fail, but if it happens, learn from the experience and try again. When using your special skill sets and talents, by cognizant of specific business opportunities that present themselves based on level of priority, potential profitability, and the wisdom you have acquired from past experiences.
No matter the type of business you have or the industry you have selected, you have to enjoy the surroundings. This includes the daily issues you are faced with to make it all happen. If you have lost this joy, it is time to look elsewhere work for someone else who is willing to take the chance to succeed and be entrepreneurial. Regardless, your goal should be more than just survival, it should be success. Revel in it.
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