LEADING YOUR SMALL BUSINESS THROUGH BIG CHALLENGES
It’s such a cliché, we groan when we hear it and then dismiss it.
“When the going gets tough, the tough get going!”
Unfortunately, for those who prefer to moan and groan rather than ‘get goin’, it’s true.
Facing up to reality and accurately assessing obstacles is intelligent. Focusing on them continually, without creatively seeking solutions with a problem-solving mindset, is stupid. Yet so many do. Waiting, whining and wondering who will bail them out.
A quick search on the web produces long lists of now big businesses who were born, or built and thrived during recessions in the United States. There’s General Electric, IBM, General Motors, Disney, Burger King, Microsoft, CNN, Apple. So it can be done.
The way is three-fold:
Yes, cut back on non-essentials. But let’s be clear what these are – or more importantly what they’re not. They’re not anything to do with marketing, networking, genuine business generation. They are not to do with upskilling or rewarding performance. They are not to do with production capability.
They are to do with time wasted, materials wasted, and anything not congruent with your strategic plan. (You do have one, don’t you?)
You will have done an analysis of your most profitable product or service lines, and you’ll be able to focus on them and cut the rest, unless they are strategically valuable.
If there is insufficient demand for your existing products or service, you will have analysed whether there is demand for them from other providers (in which case your marketing is at fault) or whether you have missed market signals and you need to tweak/update/modify your offerings.
You will by now have learned the critical importance of having all your financial reporting up to date and carefully analysed. When times were easy, we may have been careless. Now, we can’t. There’s heaps more money to be made – we need to know where to find it!
You’ll be reading blogs and books, attending relevant events, to try to find the jump you need.
Most importantly, you’ll be managing your people. Hire the right ones, and train them the right way. Never throw them into your business assuming they can do the job because they have done it before elsewhere. Always run an induction program for them, even if it’s a day or two. Because you want them imbued in your culture by YOU, not by one of your team members who may be currently disenchanted or just having a bad day. Hire on attitude, and train skills. The latter are learned much more easily than the former. Train them regularly – money spent on training is never wasted. There is a BEST way to train, of course – workplace specific, spaced repetition, with management involvement. Look up www.best-training-systems.com if you want it done for you.
With real estate we have been told the three rules are location, location, location. Now, with marketing anything, it’s database, database, database. Your business value, your goodwill, is now in your list. That is your real estate.
Of course you have a website. It could be a simple brochure site, which impresses the daylights out of anyone who is thinking of doing business with you – because it provides all the reassurance and evidence they need of your capability. Or it could be a full e-commerce site, providing a way for people to do business with you online now all over the world. At the very least, it will have a data capture facility, an encouragement for people to leave their name and email address with you, probably in exchange for a gift, or discount, or other incentive.
I’m really frustrated at the number of retailers I visit (and I do shop a great deal) who never ask me for my contact details – especially my email address. I would give them, if I had a good reason. I like a good deal! I like to be kept informed! Please don’t assume in advance that I will say no – just ask me. And create offers, information, ideas, that could be of value to me, so that I get to build a relationship with you. There are probably heaps of things you can provide, that you take for granted. For instance, my local tyre dealer now runs workshops teaching women how to change a wheel. Guess who I go to for my tyres, and to whom I refer all my girlfriends.
I often am asked if I am a motivational speaker, with some cynicism. My answer is always that I hope so, I would rather be motivational than boring.
It’s often said that we can never really motivate another human being, that they have to be inspired within themselves. I agree that’s true – but we can be motivated short term, by all sorts of external stimulus. Fear of pain, or desire for pleasure, are definitely motivational factors that get applied all the time by parents, politicians and for profit!
The two most fundamental human needs are for validation and nurturing. When you remind yourself and your people that every one of us is important and significant, both you and them, it engenders mutual respect. When you can communicate that we all need to be looking after each other’s wellbeing, for mutual benefit, it makes sense. Having those two needs met, help us feel committed and motivated. Then when a leader taps into our individual unique values and goals, we become inspired. That creates energy.
We will always have challenges, big and small. Weirdly, the big challenges are always the greatest gifts. It’s then that we grow the most, and that growth is the most valuable. As Robert Kiyosaki used to say in his seminars – the Winning Team learns nothing, it just celebrates. The Learning Team gains the most. So make the big challenges the biggest opportunities for you and your team.