Change Is Constant – Get Used To It!

Most of us don’t like change.  In fact, my guess is that the word itself makes you uncomfortable.  So maybe we should call it something else – how about Shift? or Transition? or Adjustment?

Why do we “fear” change?  Generally because we’re comfortable in our present situation and maintaining the status quo, and things seem to be working just fine.  Some of the comments I hear most often include:

  • “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.
  • “This is how we’ve always done it”
  • “It’s working fine, why change it?”

In these uncertain times, however, these approaches, and doing nothing, may actually risk the future survival of your business.

When you really think about it, most of the issues and challenges that you face, or objectives that you want to achieve in your business, require a change.  Call it whatever you like, “Strategy Development”, “Revenue Growth”, “Performance Improvement”, “Cost Reduction”,etc. etc., it is still a change from what you are doing now.

The fact is that the pace of business today, and the uncertainty of the current environment requires continuous adjustment for a business to grow, remain competitive and relevant to their markets and customers, and ultimately, achieve sustainable success.

Why do we need to constantly make these adjustments?

  • Market and customer requirements are continuously moving
  • Customer expectations keep increasing
  • Costs are rising
  • Prices are under constant pressure
  • Technology continues to change the way we do business

Sailors know the need for continuous adjustment better than anyone else.  On a sailing vessel, the wind is constantly changing velocity and direction, and the sails must be adjusted consistently to maintain course and reach the destination.

Change is inevitable and required to keep pace with the changing conditions.  Organizations must constantly review, evaluate, and adjust their business and operations to new conditions in order to grow and be successful.  They need to be prepared to learn new skills, take advantage of new trends, and adapt to unforeseen circumstances.

While it may be uncomfortable, those organizations that choose to make these adjustments will be successful.  Those who choose not to will be left behind.

“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.”  –Bertha Calloway

What Are Your Whats?

What does your business need to succeed?  Do you really know the answer, or just guessing based on your experience and “gut”?

Every business has a What, and some have several Whats.  So – What are the Whats for your business, and how do you identify them??

It’s not easy, but identifying these Whats is critical to the success of your business.   It takes an objective and critical review of the entire business, asking hard questions in each key area to find the answers.

I’ve listed some obvious questions to get you started in each key area.

Sales

  •  Do you have enough revenue? (Businesses always need more customer and sales, so this is always the first one).
  • How is the health of your major customers?
  • Are your prices competitive in your market and how do you know?
  • Do you have a good mix of customers, or are you too dependent on just a few?

Costs

  • Do you know your true costs and does your pricing system reflect those costs?
  • How are you managing your suppliers? Are they the right ones to support your business?
  • Are you as productive as you could be and managing your overtime expenses?
  • How much waste are you generating?

Cash

  • Do you know your cash position each day?
  • Are you billing and receiving payment promptly?
  • Are you getting the best payment terms from your suppliers?

Organization

  • Do you have the right number of employees and in the right positions?
  • How do your customers feel about your organization?

These are just some of the question that you will want to ask.  As you think through your business and begin the process, others will become obvious.  When you think you have asked enough questions, ask some more.  It is critical that this process be thorough and objective to get the best results.  You may even consider outside assistance to insure that these objectives are met.

The answers to these questions will give you a realistic picture of your business today, and help you identify What it needs to improve, grow, and succeed.

Now that you have the What – it’s time to take action to improve your business for the future.

If you have any question or comments, or would like more information about this process, call us directly at (727) 637-4666.

 

Are You Ready for 2013?

As the new year begins, business leaders should ask themselves several questions:

  • Did the business perform as well as I had expected or wanted?
  • What did we learn last year?
  • What will I do differently in 2013 to improve my business?

Most of us look at the new year as a time for reflection and resolution, and a fresh start that holds the promise of success and achievement.  We begin the year with the standard resolutions of working harder, improving the business, and doing things better.   But, without a plan and commitment, most of these resolutions will be lost in the daily activities of running a business.

Every successful business has a plan to guide them toward their destination.  This plan sets the course for the business, and provides leaders with a map to help them manage and achieve their goals for the year.

The most important part of this process is to identify, specifically, what you want the business to accomplish and improve on this year.  As you think about your goals, consider the following:

  • What did we learn and what were the results of the past year?
  • What are the anticipated changes in my market and customer base?
  • Are there any organizational changes that I need to make?
  • What potential problems may encounter during the year?

These goals can range from increasing sales, reducing costs, improving cash flow, training, etc.  The key is to focus on those areas that will have the most positive impact on your business performance this year, and for the future.

It is critical that you limit the number of goals to be accomplished.  Too many goals will dilute your efforts, and result in not making the progress that you want and need for your business.  Ideally, you should have five major goals for the year.  Each goal should be written down and meet the SMART criteria – Specific; Measurable; Attainable; Realistic; and Timely.  If the goal does not meet ALL of these criteria, chances are that it will not be achieved during the year.

After you have completed this process and identified your goals, the next step is to develop specific action plans for achieving each goal. The major steps are as follows:

  1. Identify the requirements for each goal, including resources required, responsibility,     timing, and your desired outcome.
  2. Develop the specific steps required to accomplish each goal, and set milestones for each step to measure your progress through the year.
  3. Develop a reporting system to measure your progress on a regular basis throughout the year.
  4. Review your progress monthly to stay on course.

Once your action plans are complete, an annual budget, and monthly budgets should then be prepared for the business.  These budgets will help you monitor business results, identify trends (good and bad), and measure your progress and improvement throughout the year.  There are a number of very good budget templates available on the internet that can guide you through this process.

After setting your objectives and preparing your budget, use them during the year to manage the  business, guide decision-making, and chart progress.  Regular reporting and reviews will also help to identify issues and problems early to keep you on course.

If you have any question or comments, or would like more information about the planning process, please contact us through this blog, or call us directly at (727) 637-4666.