With the economic downturn that the world has seen over the past year, millions of people are losing their jobs as companies cut costs or output, lower expectations, or worse, go out of business. We have lined up 10 general steps to helping ride out the economic turbulence and come out stronger when the economy does improve.
First and foremost, keep your smile. The old adage that our mothers used to tell us, ‘When life hands you lemons, make lemonade’ really does work. Keeping a positive attitude motivates not only yourself, but those around you to find new solutions to problems that every organisation faces.
Gritting your teeth, bearing through the difficulty, and smiling will help you and your business grow, even in times of economic strife. The ‘Chicken Littles’ of the business world never prosper when difficulty arises, so keep a cool head and keep working towards your goals. However, make sure not to stare too long at the sun as only seeing the positive can kill you- consider the fate of a deer caught in the headlights. So continually be aware of the storm around you but keep a positive attitude and know that brighter days are ahead soon.
Know Your Situation
Have you done an organisational situation analysis recently? In business school, they call it a SWOT analysis, which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
The first two, strengths and weaknesses are internal. It’s quite important that you know what you do well in your business, but even more important to know what you do poorly. From there you can develop an internal action plan to improve your processes and various skill sets.
Conversely, the external side of things, opportunities and threats will help you get a better grip on the entire environment that surrounds your business. For example, if your business is a hotel, would it not be a good idea to understand what is going on in the airline industry? Are there any chances to partner or is there something brewing that you may be able to capitalize on or that could severely harm your business?
Staying smart and aware of your position during tough times can help you develop an action plan to better weather the storm. Will you be able to sit pretty and simply go with the flow, or is it time for some tough choices?
Community building in business is key. Much like a small convenience store in an inner-city neighbourhood, your business relies on the people that surround it. A strong community can insulate your business in economic strife.
No matter where your business is, make every effort to build both your business community and the community at large. In business, if you can give others work, it eventually will help you build your business as you will receive work in return. Aside from business, with people losing their jobs every day, the general public is struggling. Donating time or money to local charitable endeavours will help your business in the long run as those you have helped will not forget your kind gestures in the better days ahead. Remember, business works much like the circle of life- the more you give the more you get.
Find Other Sources of Revenue
Economic crisis is the perfect time to diversify and offer new related value added services to your existing clients. Generating new business from new clients can be real difficult when the purse strings are much tighter. It is much easier to find additional sources of business and revenue from existing clients that know you and the quality of your work. Brainstorm with your executives or talk with trusted clients about services that they might like to see you offer in the future and work together to build alternative revenue streams.
Recognise Your Most Important Assets
Your people. Unlike other assets – the knowledge that your employees hold is irreplaceable. You need to ensure that your employees feel secure and valued. Be the general that you are supposed to be and gather the troops to explain the situation. You’d be surprised how quickly they’ll rally around you. Involve key staff in strategy sessions and acknowledge their good ideas.
If worst comes to worst and you have to cut some people, do you have a knowledge retention plan? Ask yourself the tough question- is your organisation’s intellectual property safe? If not, maybe you need to find a way to keep your company’s biggest competitive advantage, your intellectual property, secure.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
Share more. Collaborate likes its 2009 – not 1999. Get rid of the inefficiencies of the daily office grind. Little things like sending email back and forth, waiting for colleagues to contribute or edit documents waste valuable time.
Look to the likes of Google Docs – a tool that allows you to work collaboratively will colleagues. You can even work on the same spreadsheet at the same time together! Similarly, don’t waste time running over to the other side of the building, holding unnecessary meetings, or spend money dialling another office. Use GTalk and work together in a timely, efficient, economical manner.
NETWORK NETWORK NETWORK
Networking is key in business. Everyone knows this. However, getting to know people around you is especially important in times of crises. You never know who you might meet.
Whether in the role of an employee looking for a new job or as a company looking for new business, networking is truly important. You may meet a fellow company that has never even heard of your business or line of work, and you may be able to provide them services.
At the end of the day, business is about people and you need to be out there meeting people! So get out there!
Oil Your Machine
Keeping your infrastructure sound is one of the best ways to keep your company strong during tumultuous economic times. Weeding out inefficiencies or problem areas through new technology or other infrastructure optimisation plans is a major cost savings boon for companies that invest in themselves wisely. Sure, the initial outlay of resources may be enough to scare many companies away, but do not be timid. Not only will keeping your company’s infrastructure strong benefit you in economic lean times, it will be even better for you in the more prosperous times ahead!
Do you really need that big, expensive corner office in the heart of the city? Does your company need a real presence in every country it operates in? The shifts in technology have made it easier for companies to cut costs through working virtually.
Through cloud (Internet) computing, working as a company has become dramatically cheaper and easier. For many companies, they have been able to cut costs by moving to smaller offices that better suit their needs or by simply trashing the office all together. The speed of the Internet allows for companies to work together virtually and telecommute each day to work. On top of the obvious savings in rent and other utilities, they have noticed their workers happier and more productive without the rush hour commutes.
Is your company ready and able to shift into a more virtual environment?
Challenge yourself and your co-workers. These are trying times for everyone but necessity is the mother of invention. Can you develop a new product or process that will push your company to the forefront of its industry?
Analyze everything. Go over every step of every business process that your company engages in and look for improved methods. Or is there something that customers want that no one has yet been able to provide? Work towards that goal and set yourself up for future success. Satisfaction is the death of desire, and one major key during financially stressful times is to never get comfortable. Keep pushing!