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  • Writer's pictureDel Chatterson

Business challenges continue. Time to revise your plans?

Time to reflect on current challenges and revise the plan?

 Any time is a good time to take a look at doing better this year.

How are we doing so far? 

It seems that we are always in uncertain and challenging times. Maybe that's what they mean by the "new economy". But we have been here before and it has been even worse in the past. Still, the current environment and recent events have us wondering again about the impact on our businesses.

What are the right management strategies and action plans to get through this year and build a more resilient, stable and successful business for the future?

Here are the lessons we have learned in the past: 

1. Do not react to the headlines.

They are primarily trying to get your attention and a train wreck, death or disaster are always more interesting than a business success story. You will not likely get balanced or insightful input to your planning or decision making from the daily news. You will have to dig deeper. Make sure your market feedback and competitive analysis are both current and accurate.

2. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

Keep employees and customers informed. They are also worried and confused and need to be reassured that they can count on you. You may not have good news for them, but it will be appreciated that they are hearing directly from you and are not left guessing what's next.

3. Keep on Selling.

Now is not the time to cut back on marketing and sales. Your efforts will be even more conspicuous and effective if your competitors are suddenly reducing their marketing and sales efforts. Be selective and very focused. Work on building stronger customer relationships by being relevant and responsive to the current circumstances. Calmness, confidence and competence are very appealing to those potential buyers who are still spending and want reliable, long term suppliers.

4. Do quickly what obviously needs to be done.

If it's clear to you, it's also clear to the people affected. They are waiting for you to act and will be more confident and proactive themselves if they see you taking action. Face the facts, don't fight the facts. Now may even be a good time to take advantage of the heightened awareness of crisis and make the hard decisions that you have been avoiding. Everyone will be more willing to accept the consequences.

5. Adapt.

Remember Darwin's "survival of the fittest": those who adapt to their environment are most likely to survive; not the strongest nor the biggest. This is not the time to be stubbornly persistent and sticking to your plans. Look around and be creative. Your destination may still be the same, but the route, the vehicle, the driver and the passengers may need to be changed.

6. Be confident, but cautious.

Recognize the difference between taking a calculated risk and taking a wild swing hoping for the best. Make a decision if the potential outcomes and the probabilities are reasonably clear, but hold fire if they are not.

7. Show conspicuous leadership.

This is not the time to hide in your office. Strong leaders understand the need to be the most conspicuous communicator on current issues. No one can do it better than the one who is ultimately responsible for taking action. We may not all be adept at it, but we can all speak with more sincerity than any spokesperson or intermediary on our concerns, our strategies and our plans. Good management will be tested again and again, but good decisions will mean a better business for the future. Keep at it and better times will follow soon.

Stay hopeful and be optimistic.  

Two new books: "Don't Do It the Hard Way" and "The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Business Plans." are available online or at your favourite bookstore. To learn more or buy a copy: Click here

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