Word count: 574 words
Time to read: 2-3 minutes
When things are tough, taking a downturn, or just uncertain, here are eight axioms that have kept my business prospering through the ups and downs, while seeing competitors nose-dive:
- The trend is your friend. All successful owners, leaders, and managers possess an uncanny ability to ‘connect the dots’ and spot trends. Did you ever think gas would stay the same price or go down? Did you think it would be easier to find good workers? Did you think competition would go away? The answer is, “Of course not” to all of these. So clearly you started thinking long ago about how you were going to reposition your finances, staffing, marketing and service efforts to ensure flexibility and profitability without sacrificing customer-endearing service, right?
- Follow the pack and get the ax. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard and seen people get hung-up on trying to follow someone else’s ‘best practices’ – it usually fails. And it should. IF it succeeds it means you’ve just started looking and acting like someone else, thereby destroying any hopes of ‘distinction in the marketplace.’ And distinction translates into preference.
- In it to win it. No business leader ever gets up saying, “It doesn’t matter if we win.” Winning is about preparing, executing, and readjusting as necessary. Number two isn’t a bad position, but one is better and three is lousy. Being in second place means you stand a very likely chance of getting your number one competitor’s ‘spillover business’ and that can be very rewarding.
- Pay to play. It takes an investment of time, energy, and money to increase any chance of success. You’ve got to commit to being a professional marketer, salesperson, customer service representative, ethics officer, buyer, and take the trash out sometimes. Regardless, you must be determined to do what it takes to lead, build, and leave a legacy of excellence and honorable work.
- Lead with speed. There is never enough information or enough time to make a decision and yet you must. Leadership requires being able to turn as quickly as possible to avoid an obstacle or to steer toward an opportunity. This means streamlining decision making, layers of management, and remaining flexible in operations, fiscal, and logistics dimensions.
- Go with what you know. Innovation is necessary but there is nothing wrong with ‘going with your gut’ and following proven fundamentals. Many companies have shut down following a fad or embracing unproven methods of prudent business acumen. Risk is necessary for growth, but there is a lot to be said for tried and true vendors, lenders, etc.
- Plan to take a Stand. You’ve got to hold your ground on principles, values, and your commitments. To waiver or compromise is certain disaster-in-the-making. People always prefer to follow and do business with someone who is predictable in his or her decisions and actions. Certainty of character is a cherished attribute these days.
- Be Good or Be Gone. There comes a time when priorities and situations in life change. For whatever reasons, ensure you continue to grow your business through succession planning and grooming or sell before you get to the ‘burnout’ stage. It’s far better to leave a little early than to stay too late, and watch your company’s or organization’s value and/or reputation suffer.