Posted by: Susan | September 10, 2009

Three Steps to Business Survival

4th Quarter 2009 action plan

It’s all about timing.  As business owners and managers, we find ourselves in scary times.  It seems like just yesterday we experienced a very different picture.    We had economic expansion, low interest rates, easy credit and customers with seemingly limitless wealth.  Okay, maybe I’m dreaming a bit but you must admit it wasn’t too long ago that times were quite different than they are today.  Now we’re faced with threats of Al Qaeda, bank bail-outs, Bernie Madoff and the government take-over of the car industry.  Did I mention the spiraling cost of health care? 

As the threats continue, how do we survive and even prosper? How do we get more sales revenue?  More importantly, how do we get it all done with fewer resources, shrinking profit margins and seemingly perpetual customer, employee, (not to mention personal) anxiety?

What I’m about to share with you are the three most powerful steps you can take as a business owner or manager in 4Q 2009.  Take them now if you want to survive and thrive in 2010.

1.  BECOME CLEAR ON YOUR VISION

Vision is having a clear picture of where you’re going.  Not just a clear goal, but a strong commitment to achieving it.  It’s expressed in a leader’s actions and confidence level.  The visionary leader has a deep belief that their objectives are possible and that they’ll find a way to achieve them.  As a business owner or manager, you have an important competitive advantage.  When the founder is leading the company,  and the manager is steering the ship, you do it with an authentic passion to deliver on the vision.  You’re always designing, revising, and carrying out the plan of action.  When your vision is energized by a strong mission or purpose, you become unstoppable.  Are you clear about your vision?  Do you know where you’re going?  Do your people, your customers, and the rest of the world?  Is it being clearly articulated on a regular basis so everyone “gets” it?

2.  INVEST IN A COURAGEOUS CULTURE (BACKED BY A STRONG TEAM)

A courageous culture is critical when the stakes are high and uncertainty abounds. Successful business owners and managers must have courage, determination, backbone and persistence.   Let your courage spill over to your entire team.  Even if you have few (or no) employees, you still have a “virtual” team.  They are the vendors you work with, colleagues in the industry and your suppliers.  Communicate with them often – form alliances, build camaraderie.  Strong teams achieve more than any individual can, reinforcing one another to do what they could never do on their own.  Want to expand your team?  Form a mastermind group with your peers.  Mastermind groups can be run very inexpensively and the agenda is set by the group based on group needs.  It’s a great way to share best practices, learn new strategies from one another, and hold each other accountable for the things you know you should do but don’t. 

3.  GET AND STAY FOCUSED

Finally, focus.  On what’s working.  You can create calm out of chaos by identifying the things that have worked for you up until now.   Write them down.  Determine why they’ve worked and resolve to stay focused on them.  And by all means, quit focusing on the “small stuff.”  This quarter, put your energy into the most important company priorities and be sure these get done first.  To pull this off, deal with at most three to five things at a time.  Don’t do other things until these top priorities get done.   Need help staying focused?  Work with a peer or colleague.  Agree to call each other regularly to keep each other on track.

fishNews of bankruptcy, foreclosures, terrorism, bank failures and corporate greed persistently remind us of the threats we face.  In some ways, these things may seem like the new normal. But YOU don’t have to accept them as the new normal. Take steps now, in the 4th quarter 2009, to confront these realities.  Do it with vision, courage and focus!

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