Business and Operations
Don’t Wait Until it’s Too Late! 10 Things You Must Do Now
By By George Hedley
By By George Hedley
Jan. 7, 2009 – Customers have stopped buying, companies are closing,
layoffs are common, banks have stopped lending, consumer confidence is falling,
and the list goes on. Many business owners hope things gets better before it’s
too late and are struggling to stay afloat during these tough times.
As a business owner, manager or leader your choice is
simple. Do what you know you need to do and do it fast, or die a slow death.
Most people are afraid to make tough decisions, try new ideas, or do business
differently. So they continue to hope their outdated business strategies will
keep working as they tread water or sink slowly and wait for something good to
happen. Even if survival is your goal, past methods won’t work. Running your
company the same way you always have will result in failure. The successful
will make tough decisions. What difficult choices do you need to make right now
to grow your business and make a profit?
You must do these 10 things right now:
1. Set goals to grow and make a profit now!
Stop lowering your prices and cutting costs. Start focusing
on sales, customers, and making money. Write down your annual targets for
revenue, direct costs, overhead expenses, and net profit for the next three
years. This will get you aligned in a positive direction so you decide what
steps you’ll need to take to achieve your profit goals.
2. Cut your fixed cost of doing business now!
Determine what your business really needs to prosper in tougher
times. Decide how much overhead you can cut, so you can make a profit with
reduced revenue. Eliminate all unnecessary expenditures or underutilized
people. Hold a company contest to see who can cut the most money from the
budget. Sell or eliminate any underutilized equipment or assets. And if you
can’t sell it, rent it out.
3. Preserve cash now!
In times like these, cash is king. Delay any major
purchases. If you really need something, lease it on an “as needed” basis.
Outsource or subcontract as many things as possible including engineering,
manufacturing, design, drafting, accounting, human resources, payroll,
maintenance, training, or trucking. The more services you outsource, the longer
you hold on to your cash.
4. Cut your poor performers now.
Eliminate poor employees who have bad attitudes, stopped
contributing, don’t make money, or don’t fit into your long-range plans. Good
people are easier to find now, so you have choices. Rate your people on an “A –
B – C” scale. Keep the A’s, train and challenge
the B’s, and replace the C’s with potential A’s.
5. Go visit your top customers now!
Most service businesses have a handful of loyal customers
who provide 80 percent of their revenue. Make a list of your top 10, 20 or 50
repeat customers. Go see them and ask about their needs, problems, and plans.
Learn how your company can become a bigger part of their future, how you can
provide additional services and solutions, and what else you can do to improve
6. Seek new customers and markets now!
Continuing to sell your services or products to the same
customers won’t give you better results. As sales opportunities decrease, you
must increase the number of sales proposals to land the same amount of
business. Your selling price might be lower, so more revenue will be required
to hit your profit goals. Start looking for more customers, markets, and
territories. Seek difficult, technical or complicated customer requirements
competitors won’t go after. Find new underserved locations or forgotten
customers waiting for what you have to offer.
7. Get in the opportunity business now!
Why do you continue to only offer what you’ve always
provided? Wealthy business owners realize their companies are platforms to seek
business opportunities to maximize their bottom-line. For example, speedy
printers keep busy by printing for customers who show up at their store.
Successful printers are pro-active and seek new creative types of
entrepreneurial opportunities like joint venturing with authors to publish
books or producing catalogs for a piece of the profits. Seek strategic
alliances, ventures, new profit centers, and additional services.
8. Increase sales and marketing now!
Now, more than ever, you must make marketing and sales your
top priority. Advertise or mail to your target list monthly. Enhance customer
relationships via meals, sporting events, and time together. Send thank-you
cards and handwritten notes to every customer to let them know you appreciate
their business and want to do more. Upgrade your image, presentation,
stationary, uniforms, facility, signs, storefront, and web-site.
9. Increase spending on technology now!
Can you improve or become more efficient by implementing
cutting-edge technology? Make it your goal to eliminate paper, and never stop
upgrading your technology.
10. Seek companies to buy now!
Keep on the lookout for struggling companies available to
acquire at low prices. Weak competitors may need an infusion of cash and
consider merging with your business. Also look for distressed real estate to
invest in. Get out of your comfort zone and look for new ways to make more
You can continue to do business the same way and hope it
gets better, or you can start looking for new ways to build your business. The
only way to succeed in tough times is to make tough decisions, face reality,
and change the way you do business. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Implement
these ten ideas now!
Best-selling author and professional speaker George Hedley
helps entrepreneurs and business owners build excellent companies. He is the author
of "Get Your Business To Work!" His proven business success blueprint
system to earn more, work less, build profits, lead people, and generate loyal customers
has helped thousands of companies in numerous industries. To receive his free profit
report, e-newsletter, blog, or hire George to speak, visit his website at www.hardhatpresentations.com, email:
firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 800-851-8553.