For a Clue as to How to Weather the Storm, Look at Those Who Have
Almost every business feels it when the economy takes a down turn and we all hear the little voice that says, “what if ?” But taking a cue from those companies that have sailed through the Tsunamis, not just once but many times, just may hold the key to your survival.
Kimberly-Clark, Philip Morris, Walgreen’s, Kroger, Gillette, Abbot Laboratories, Wells Fargo, Pitney Bowes, Wal-Mart and Walt Disney are only a few companies that have sustained growth through good times and bad over the last fifty to more than 100 years.
They all became and were known as the best at something.
They all focused on hiring good people and then not micro-managing these people.
They all had very specific goals for the company and everyone knew those goals by heart.
They all had core values that went beyond just making money.
Every decision that these companies made were determined by their goals and their core values.
When times get tough, it may be more important than ever to find something in which your business can become known as the best.
Regardless of what simple small business you are in, you MUST be a seed planter! Planting seeds is basically laying the groundwork for future business. EVERY business must do this. Most of the time the seeds that you are planting today will not bring any fruit until six months or a year from now. So you must be continuously planting seeds.
There are two common problems that simple small businesses have with seed planting. First, when you are planting seeds you are not bringing in any income to pay the bills. Cash flow is the blood that keeps a small business alive. Oftentimes, a simple business is a one or two person operation. The second problem is just the reverse of the first. If the entrepreneur is busy generating income, then they are not planting seeds.
This is the catch 22 that destroys most small businesses and the worst thing is, like a silent deadly disease, the entrepreneur never even knows that it is at work in the organization until it is too late.
In the previous article I mentioned that it is imperative that you find help with two of the Basic Pillars while you focus on only the third (it does not matter which one). As your small business grows you can and should take the liberty to break each of the Pillars down into their sub-columns assigning someone different to each area. You can slowly do this as your business grows, delegating or farming out one sub-column at a time over time. Pillar 1 – Create the Work: Columns
Develop the Product (R & D and Market Research)
Develop the Production System (Purchasing Materials, Stocking, Quality Control, Facility Layout and Manufacturing Processes)
Developing the Distribution System (Packaging, Shipping and Receiving)
For twenty years I have analyzed successful small businesses and I have asked a lot of questions from these companies that I have worked with. My goal has always been to find the common denominator that I can apply to my own simple small businesses and to help other entrepreneurs like myself.
I have uncovered something that, although may not be new to some, was revolutionary to me. I came to realize that all simple small businesses succeeded because they recognized that success comes from not one, but three different minds. This Trilogy of minds requires someone to CREATE the work, someone to GET the work and someone to DO the work!
Even when entrepreneurs discover this little secret they may not understand that these pillars must be built in this specific order. In other words, someone who has a love for something may build it or sculpt it (DO the work) and then look for a buyer only to discover that no one is buying. This is an example of doing things out of order.
Even a simple small business can learn a lot from the big guys. Sears department stores posted a tiny, 4% climb in sales recently (thanks to Kmart) while at the same time Pier 1 Imports claimed an increase of sales that reached a little over 12%. The high end store, Neiman Marcus, posted sales that showed an increase of 4.5% but Barnes & Noble, the low priced booked store, had sells fall much greater than anticipated. Zale Corporation, (the one that sales diamonds) said it had sales fall over 9% and Costco bragged of a 9% increase in store sales last month.
Even the experts are not in agreement as to the state of the economy. Some say the worst is still to come. Some state that we have not only hit the bottom, but have started the up hill climb out. With such confusing messages being expressed from the numbers, where are small business owners to turn?
As a small business owner, one of your keys to survival is learning how to interpret the mass amount of information that is coming at you all the time. This is a little bit art and a little science. It is experience, however, that will help you decipher the complex code of economics.