Time after time we see good companies, or what we thought of as good companies, experience major issues in their business health with some unable to pull out of their death spiral. What caused this and how could this have been prevented?
Apathy, or complacency, can be the root cause in many cases, especially in small to mid-sized businesses. Example…business is booming, everything we do seems to turn to gold. As you, Mr. CEO or business owner, are counting your stacks of cash and enjoying all the perks of your well-earned success you’ve failed to realize that your focus on every aspect of your business as you were growing has disappeared. This is what I refer to as going to sleep at the wheel while your business has been on cruise control for years. Would you do this while you’re driving a non-autonomous car, the answer is a resounding NO. Then why do this with your business? Aren’t the inherent risks the same, well not exactly because you won’t die by falling asleep at the wheel, but your business can succumb to the damage of that unexpected crash!
Think about your business for a few minutes and ask yourself this question “Is my business on cruise control and am I at risk of failure?” Are you thinking one of these 3?
- DENIAL: “No way is my business going to fail. I’ve worked 10, 20, 30 years building my business and we’re the leaders in our field and too big to fail!”
- GUILT: “Oh No, what have I done? Is it too late to recover?”
- AWARENESS: “I don’t believe so but I’m going to conduct a thorough examination of my business, from top to bottom, and identify where we can improve our processes and productivity!”
If you answered #3 then you are many steps ahead of the others. Owning a business and staying current and relevant doesn’t happen by accident. It’s the direct result of a commitment to succeed, a willingness to change and empowering your employees to be contributing and respected members of that success!
The old saying, You Can’t See the Forest Through the Trees, is very applicable to business and change. In some situations, a business owner and their team are so close to the company’s processes, its products and services, operations, marketing and more that they can’t see what’s wrong. While some business owners and their teams have the inherent ability to do identify and correct issues as a normal operating procedure, many can’t and that’s where you need to employ some different options like these.
- Survey your customers to gain a better understanding of how they perceive the company, its products, your staff, the quality and reliability of your service and do they understand your Value Proposition, assuming you have one. Another key information point to uncover…Is your company easy and enjoyable to do business with?
- Conduct internal discussions with your team and white board every idea that is presented and prioritize the top critical areas to change. Take each critical area and prepare a detailed Action Plan for the changes you desire and empower your staff to execute. Establish KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) to track the results of the change and don’t be afraid to make additional changes as needed to succeed. Establish regular meetings to discuss your progress and enjoy the results.
- Hire outside professionals who will look at your company from a different perspective and a fresh set of eyes. Make sure to have a detailed agreement on their scope of work and provide them with background on the company and the employees. Their sole purpose is to help you and your company succeed so be open to the issues they discover and embrace the changes they recommend.
One of the big things to keep in mind is you must embrace change and the pain that sometimes is part of the process. Remember the old saying, No Pain, No Gain? Well that statement is so true in business and in life. We can learn so much from our mistakes and those trials and tribulations help form the core of who we are.
You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know. So, I encourage you to take that giant leap of faith and learn what you don’t know about your business. No matter how successful you are there is always room for improvement, Always!