Although we should continue to proceed with caution until all signs clearly point to the north, there are some things you can do and should be doing now to improve your business results in the recovery-based economy that is ahead of us.
Take a critical look back. The past 18 months have been tough for virtually all business in every industry segment. So, try to get a clear fix on what got you to this point, and why. What could you have done different or better to improve your performance during the recessionary period? Use the data you compile as an integral part of your recovery planning, and as a vital learning tool for the future.
Have a Prosperity Plan A-Z. During the latest recession, most businesses probably had a Plan A and a Plan B at best. What recent history has taught us is that we need to go well beyond this to cover the contingencies that arise in a shortfall economy. Also, make sure you have the cash reserves to continue to invest in marketing and other key areas of the business that are critical to your evolving growth plans.
Balance short-term and long-term goals. Until your business begins to experience double-digit growth, your horizon planning needs to be fixed on the next 30-60-90 days. Don’t get too far out in front of your headlights with expenditures, staff additions, or long-term investments in the early stages. Make up a daily list of your top three priorities, and complete them first before getting involved in other projects, or distractions that could derail your progress.
Reward your customers and employees. Your customers and your employees have stayed with you during the good times and the bad. Let them know how important they are to you and how important they are to the future success of the business. Visit your top customers and thank them in person with a special gift. Do the same thing for your employees. You will be building trusted relationships and friendships for life by expressing your gratitude in this manner.
Grow the “old fashioned” way. Get back to the basics and start the transformation to double-digit growth one order, and one new customer at a time. This is still the least painful and most often, the quickest path to prosperity in a recovery-based economy. Be patient, things are not going to turn around overnight, it’s going to take some time. Remember the tortoise and the hare!
Stay ahead of the pack. While you’re building your prosperity plans, and making the changes needed to improve your business results, don’t overlook the competition. They are smart people too, and are hard at work to find creative ways to acquire new customers, add market share and “capture the flag”. Don’t let them win! Stay ahead of the competition by being first to market with any new ground breaking product announcements, special incentive programs, etc. This is a great time to innovate.
Finally, stay positive about the future outlook for your business. You have survived the worst recession in decades. Learn from it, and then put the past 18 months behind you. It’s now time for you to capitalize on the next growth curve in the recovery-based economy ahead. Best of luck for your continued success!
COPYRIGHT © 2010-11 John Carroll