How to Adapt Your Business in a Global Pandemic
Your psychological response to situations dictates how successful you are in business. During the pandemic there have been winners and losers in business. Those businesses that have enjoyed success despite the challenging work landscape will often have one thing in common. It is their flexibility and ability to adapt to the changing and difficult market conditions.
Being a CEO or business owner can be isolating. However, an emotional reaction to unstable conditions in business can be unhelpful to growth. When a crisis hits, as leaders we must ensure our team and customers are safe and shielded from the worst. There is a tendency to blame something or someone for our failures or shortcomings. This is unhelpful and will stunt a business or individuals growth, instead we must take responsibility for our actions and emotions. We have to adapt and diversify if necessary to keep moving forward. There is also a level of acceptance needed that the world has changed and we are unlikely to return to the old ways. We must think of ways our businesses can fit into this new way of working. Adjust our mindsets.
Use this new world to find new opportunities. Humans don’t like change. We aren’t wired for it. At the beginning of time our physiology meant we were hypersensitive to risks. The threat of danger could mean death. Finding a safe environment was paramount to our survival. Changing our patterns of behaviour meant we were more at risk from predators. The world is now changing and evolving at such a fast pace that many of us struggle to keep up with it. It is important to understand this about ourselves. It doesn’t mean we cannot challenge these behaviours. We must remember that the majority of us have food, shelter, family and are safe. We must remember that we are more able to take calculated risks without catastrophic consequences. This is so important in business. Standing still means you remain static and you do not grow or develop.
Our negative behaviours in business are often borne out of fear. We must identify limiting emotions like fear. Question it and find the ability to rationalise it. What is the fear, where does it come from? Fear limits us, cuts down our timeframes and options. Recognise that strong emotions can distract us from our end goal. Take a step back and don’t make panic led decisions based on fear.
Let us use the retail industry as an example. One of the hardest hit industries during the pandemic. Those that immediately poured time and finance into upping their e-commerce offering and online presence were successful. They made their service easy for people to use. They were visible to their customer base. They pivoted and created a successful online experience. Many of these retailers have accepted that the industry has changed and been forced to move in a different direction. Their core values remain the same, they are still putting the customer at the heart of their business.
Focus on you and your business. Social media is a fantastic marketing tool but it is important not to be drawn into the successes of others. Those successes can often be magnified on social media and transparency is a problem. In times of change staying focused is key. Comparing your business to others can also halt growth.
Strive for a balanced mindset with your business. Be optimistic but realistic for the future. There will always be challenges, but how we deal with those curveballs will define our success.
Remember; failing to learn, is learning to fail.
How AI Can Help Your Business Grow
What is Artificial Intelligence or AI as it is more commonly known?
AI describes a machine function which mimics human behaviour. Artificial intelligence as opposed to natural intelligence demonstrated by animals and humans. It is also described as ‘any system that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximise its chance of achieving its goals’.
AI examples are search engines like Google, or voice recognition products like Siri and Alexa. Artificial Intelligence also describes sites like Netflix and YouTube as well as driverless cars. AI has been through many reinventions since its conception in 1956. Through the years it has been met with optimism and disappointment and often suffered through lack of funding. In the late 1990’s due to the invention and widespread use of computers, AI was finally taken seriously and started to be developed on a much wider scale. ‘According to Bloomberg, 2015 was a landmark year for artificial intelligence, with the number of software projects that use AI within google increased from a “sporadic usage” in 2012 to more than 2,700 projects’
There are many people who see AI as a threat to humanity. They believe that by making machines that can perform tasks as well as humans, humans are essentially redundant. However, AI plays a huge role in the business world. A recent survey found that 50% of companies use AI for at least one business function. AI is changing the way we work.
The major employer in the East End of London during the 70’s was the Ford Motor Company which first opened in 1931. By the 1950’s it employed more than 40,000 people at its Dagenham plant and during its time produced around 10 million cars. It employed huge numbers of people in East London and was seen as a job for life. Thirty years later those people are no longer working there. The plant at Dagenham has reduced dramatically and now employs just under 2000 people. In its heyday it spanned 44 acres of East London, now that land has given way to new housing. The 40,000 strong workforce has been replaced by machines. The machines help them to produce more which is of better quality and cheaper. For a business it makes sense to use the machines. Currently there is huge investment in AI, driver less car technology being the most commonly talked about. Elon Musk, a Silicon Valley tech magnate is pouring all his resources into this. Whilst the idea of a driverless car picking you up and dropping you at a restaurant seems unthinkable, it would be foolish to dismiss it. History has taught us that one constant is change. Back in the 1960’s who would’ve thought we would be able to hold business meetings via a screen with multiple people in different countries around the world.
In business and as a leader, it is imperative that you allow yourself to embrace change. Being open to changes in technology is key. It could mean the difference between being stuck trading at a profit of hundreds of thousands as opposed to trading at a profit of millions and growing your company to its full potential. There will be more financial investment in new tech including AI and your competitors will be using it. New technology may have a direct effect on your original product offering. If you adapt and work with it you will survive and move forward. Now is a good time to consider how new tech can help you. Fighting change will not work. The world moves at a much faster pace now and it may get even faster and it will continue to change. Don’t get left behind.
If you want to discuss new technology and how it can help your business move forward, get in touch here.
To listen to my Business Owners and Entrepreneurs podcast with interviews from top entrepreneurs and marketers giving some unreal business tips please click here.
Remember; failing to learn, is learning to fail.
How to sell Your Business Successfully
Should you start a business with selling it in mind? Yes is the answer, but few people do. However, as a business grows and ultimately scales up, selling it becomes a more attractive and achievable reality.
In 2018, a total of 10,312 businesses were sold which was a 4% increase on 2017. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 774,725 entrepreneurs started new businesses in the year ending March 2019.
So, your business has grown and now your revenue is rising faster than your costs. You decide you want to sell. How do you get the best price?
Typically most entrepreneurs sell for around four times the industry trade value. There are a few who buck the trend and sell for much higher than the market value. Surprisingly, those entrepreneurs don’t always have the most remarkable companies. So how do they break the mould and sell for a much higher amount than those around them? They look at the value of their assets through the eyes of the buyer and often that exceeds the market value.
Here is an example: A small payroll company facilitates parents paying for childcare. It has 10,000 subscribers and offers a reasonable turnover of 9 million dollars a year. The CEO notices a fast growing online company which links parents with childcare in their locality; they have around 7 million subscribers who all have childcare to pay. The CEO thinks if I had just 1% of those 7 million subscribers (700,000 subscribers) my company would be 7 times bigger than it is now and it would be worth much more. Ultimately the CEO did a deal with the online company and sold her business to them for six times the yearly revenue. She knew that her business was going to be much more profitable in the hands of the online company and that the sale price should reflect the profits they would see. This was an exceptionally high sale and a rarity, but it can and does happen.
Think about who you want to sell to and what value your business will add to theirs? Is it worth considerably more in their hands? Like many transactions – the value is what someone is willing to pay. The buyer decides the value ultimately and the market helps to determine it.
When selling a business you must consider the transitional period when thinking about value. Selling a business is not like running a relay race. You do not run as hard and fast as you can, hand over the baton and walk away. The reality is that there will be a transitional period where you are working for the new owner. This is commonly known as the earnout period. It could be for a period of three years or as much as seven years in the case of a private equity group. Selling a business takes years. First you have to do your pre due diligence where you show the business to the market and gain interest amongst competitors. This part can take 3-5 years. To maximise your value, it is important to carefully consider this part of the exit strategy. Arrogance rarely pays off but communicating to the buyer that you have their competitors interested, will help to raise the value of the business in their eyes. The process of actually making the sale often takes around a year. Then the post purchase relationship, the earn out period, begins. This is where you agree a period of time that you help to ensure the business continues to trade effectively and profitably. Earn out periods can be up to 5 or 6 years.
Transitioning and the earn out phase is a huge part of the sale as getting your full sale price often depends on it. Whilst building your business up from the beginning, ensure that you are structuring it so that you are almost redundant. That way you can keep the earn out period to a minimum once the sale is done. Earn outs should be kept to a minimum as they are always based on profit targets, which can be a movable feast and are often not realised. For example you are offered 7 million pounds for your business.
3 million upfront and a 4 million earn out dependent on targets being hit at certain times. Often targets are linked and if you miss your first target, it can be hard to hit the second. You could end up missing all your targets and walking away with 50% less of the purchase price than you agreed. Your job as an entrepreneur is to maximise your upfront payment and minimise the earn out part of the deal. Think carefully about what you want to tie your earnout to. Agree to targets that you can control despite relinquishing overall control of the business.
If anything above resonates with you and you’d like more advice on getting your business ready to sell please contact me.
Remember failing to learn is learning to fail.
How to Maintain Strong Client Relationships Remotely
We live our lives online now more than ever. The pandemic has provided us with the skills and platforms to exist entirely online if we want to. Various surveys conducted worldwide conclude that most of us want to continue working from home or in a hybrid flexi working environment. One survey found that a staggering 97% of respondents felt this way and 58% said they would look for another job if they were forced back into the office full time. Businesses are starting to come round to the idea and 70% of companies surveyed said they are looking to adopt a hybrid scheme of working.
This shift to remote and online working practices filters through to every part of a business. Let us consider client relationships and how they are affected by remote working. Can you maintain client relationships successfully without face to face meetings? You have to work hard at online relationships in the same way you would face to face. Don’t rely on Artificial Intelligence. We know that automation can affect the value a client or customer feels.
Although you cannot physically shake someone’s hand. It is still important to build this level of familiarity and trust in online relationships. You need to become that genuine friend and trusted advisor. You can still be human over zoom! Consider how you build relationships in real life and adapt them. Historically people wrote letters to each other and it was an intimate form of communication. How can we recreate that through our online relationships? Mix automation and technology with old fashioned approaches.
It can be difficult to know all your customers in this way if you run a large organisation. However, finding out where most of your revenue comes from is a useful exercise – Kathleen Cutler says that in her experience it is from just 20% of your client base. Identify those people and tap into them. Spend time on those relationships. Follow them on social media. Set aside time each week to connect with them personally. Then work out how to retain that relationship. What is the next layer of service you can offer them? Building relationships is effectively building your business and you cannot afford not to find the time to invest in relationships with existing clients. Match the time spent in making yourself visible to prospective clients to the time spent nurturing those existing clients who are in your top 20% of revenue providers.
Kathleen Cutler was a recent guest on my Transition Guy podcast, she is a luxury sales expert for fine jewellers. She explained that even collectors have now embraced online sales. She recently had a client sell 43,000 dollars worth of rubies virtually. In the business she operates in, revenue has exploded due to the accessibility that online commerce affords. However, she is keen to point out that her business doesn’t simply involve going to a website and clicking a ‘buy now’ button to purchase fine jewellery. She says “The upturn and increased revenue in conducting business online is relationship driven. It is about utilising old school sales techniques to bridge the gap in the virtual space”. This is a clear example of building solid foundations and relationships to encourage online participation and sales..
If you want help and advice in maintaining strong remote relationships for your business growth contact me.
To hear more of Kathleen Cutler’s sales tips go to the Transition Guy podcast.
Remember, failing to learn is learning to fail.
How to Avoid Work Burnout
The world threw us a curveball in 2020. The economy stopped and shut down overnight. Our businesses stalled. Now the world has opened up, we find ourselves playing the tricky and often dangerous game of catch up. We want to make up for lost time. Some of us have seen our work hours double to get our organisations back on track. Burnout is on the increase. Let us stop for a moment and consider this: burnout will only harm your business more. Think smart. You do need to recoup your losses but doubling your workload is unlikely to herald those results. It is unsustainable and will cause more long term damage when your business inevitably crashes.
What does a clear forward planning strategy look like? It looks like delegation and automation. You need to get more done in a shorter space of time so find the people and technology to help you do it. Do not do it all yourself. Run your business like a machine. Each cog in the wheel has a purpose to keep the machine going. Find your cogs. Find people with different skill sets to your own to deal with the different parts of your business.
Use technology to automate your business and spread the load.
The world has changed. We have seen the biggest digital shift ever during lockdown. We now have a vast array of services and people available to us at the click of a button. The traditional world and its practices are being challenged daily. As the world moves forward it is becoming increasingly obvious that we need to use technology more to save time and access expertise. An example being that we do not need to travel to meet with people 300 miles away, we can use zoom to meet them. It saves time and money. Generally, as human beings, we struggle with change. It makes us feel unsafe. When you feel resistant to a change you know is likely to be right for your business in the long term, dive back into your belief system and question yourself. Why don’t you like this? It is different but it might make your life easier. It might afford you time with your family? It might cut your costs? Focus on the positives and give it a try. Consider your customer or client. They might like automation. We must listen to our customers and identify their changing needs. If they are shopping or accessing services in a different way to the one you are providing, your business is likely to fail. We’ve seen this happen to numerous big organisations because they did not stay up to date with customer trends and engage with new ways of doing business. They fought against change and stayed with traditional practices. Eventually even the most loyal customers left. If accessing a product or service is made easy and is cost effective, even the most traditional customers will stray. Always consider customer demand.
Delegation is important.
Entrepreneurs get to the top of their game because they are extremely good at what they do. To grow beyond that, they need to believe that they can show other people how to do the job just as well. There is a limit to the amount one man can do and growth stops. This is when burnout occurs. Spend money on good staff. Train them to deliver your vision. Do not cut costs by thinking you can do the job of ten men. It is a false economy. You need to be the leader of a team that can execute your innovation. Find your team. Find the cogs in the wheel which keep the wheel turning. Restructure and cover all bases. You cannot be all the cogs in the wheel. It is impossible. With structure and support within your business strategy you won’t burn out.
If any of the above resonates with you and you would like to find out how to avoid burnout and grow your business please contact me here.
Remember, failing to learn is learning to fail.
Owning Your Marketing and Growing Your Business
Make marketing your business
Ensure it is part of the DNA of your organisation. Consider it as part of your business strategy from the inception. Brian Clayton is the co-founder of mobile app Greenpal, he says “Business owners often pour all their hard work into starting the product and service and then sprinkle a little marketing over the top. That is a recipe for disaster”. What he means is that it is not enough to dabble in marketing, every business big and small needs a robust and clear marketing strategy from the beginning to drive it forward. Successfully getting your product or service out to your customer base is as important as the product itself. Marketing innovation is crucial to the continuing success of any organisation.
Get good at marketing early on
As a CEO, consider it to be one of your core competencies. If you are not a natural born marketeer, learn how to become one.
Here are some tips: Communicate with your customers. Listen to what they want and need from you or your product. Solve any problems they may have. Know what your marketing needs are. Handing it over to an external marketing agency won’t always work if you haven’t done your due diligence. For example, learn copywriting skills. You are the expert on your subject, share that expertise in blog posts. Create content. Think about what content works for your audience. Do they ingest information visually by video, aurally by podcast or verbally via articles? Consider social media content. Make your product real for your customers. Even a tech product like an app can be successful on social media with before and after shots of people using it, or videos. When creating content ask yourself what would make you buy your product. Tailor your content to that. Marketing has changed largely thanks to the internet. It is complex but there is more opportunity to spread your net far and wide. Work out what marketing channels are growing your customer base and concentrate on those. It is often wise to concentrate on two channels to begin with. Do not spread yourself thinly on all of them. Social media channels have different audiences and uses. For example, a fashion business is going to perform better on instagram than any other channel. The Greenpal app that Bryan Clayton co founded is described as the Uber for lawn care product hire, so they focus heavily on local SEO to get customers.
Existing companies can still revamp their marketing strategies
If you are an existing company it is not too late to reassess your marketing strategy. Now is a good time as businesses everywhere look to reset. Take your business back to basics, find out what is working and what is not. Then rebuild it from the inside out. Allocating time to work on your business rather than in your business is key to growth. Over time you will learn what marketing strategies are working and those that are not. With this knowledge, you can start outsourcing. Hire experts. You can maximise parts of your social media strategy by hiring someone who has a proven track record in that area. If you are hiring experts, do not just choose the cheapest, pick the best you can afford. It is a false economy to buy in less experience for more time.
Analytics and why they are so important
Keep assessing where the strengths in your marketing strategy are. How many people visited your site, how long did they stay, what was the conversion rate and most importantly where did these customers come from? Then you can start allocating money to maximise these areas and grow your customer/client base. Keep learning about marketing. It is constantly evolving. Do not get left behind. Allocate some of your time per week to listening to business growth podcasts or go to ‘YouTube University’ and learn what is fresh and new in the marketing world. Some of what you learn you will be able to apply to your own business. Ultimately marketing will produce leads which will turn into sales to drive the profit of your business. A product or service without customers or clients will fail. Marketing is a tool to educate your customers on the product. This means less time needs to go into sales pitches. Through clever marketing content your customer base will already know what they need to know about your product. Marketing does the selling for you.
If you want more information on how to ensure marketing grows your business please get in touch via the contact page. To listen to ‘The Transition Guy’ podcast episode with Bryan Clayton mentioned above please click here.
Remember, failing to learn is learning to fail.
How to Prepare Your Business for the Unexpected
Our business and personal lives are intrinsically linked. We can learn a lot from recognising the events in our personal lives that have a bearing on the way we do business.
On my ‘Business owners and Entrepreneurs podcast’ I spoke to Helen Yu, the best selling author of ‘Ascend your startup: Conquer the 5 disconnects to accelerate growth.’ She explained how a promise to her dying grandmother has shaped her both personally and in the way she approaches business. Her grandmother said: Stay special, make the world proud and spread my ashes on a tall mountain. Helen decided to climb Mount Everest to scatter the ashes and during that time she conquered fears, realised her strengths and qualities and was able to apply them all to her business strategies. She says they have helped her personal growth and the ability to scale successful companies.
Losing a loved one, a global pandemic and many other things are out of our control. How we deal with those unexpected life changing events can teach us a lot about ourselves. We also have to deal with unexpected changes in business and how we deal with those can be the difference between our business surviving or folding. Helen Yu could have taken an easier option to fulfil one of her grandmother’s wishes. A family member suggested she drop the ashes from a helicopter over the highest mountain in the world. That would have taken little effort on her part and she may not have learnt what she subsequently did about herself during the gruelling training regime she undertook to complete the climb. She says she learnt four salient personal lessons that can be applied to our business lives.
Prepare emotionally and physically for the unexpected:
Do your research and ensure that you are prepared. When an event hits you and changes the course of your business, research the cause and effect. Research what people have done before in similar situations. Research what you might need to change or acquire to ensure your business can move forward. Get yourself ready to face any issues. Preparation and research will give you and your business the strength to survive. Ensure you consistently approach your preparation. Consistency is a strong basis and gives a solid grounding for moving forward. Don’t forget that your personal life can often mirror your business life so consistency in the way you approach your health and mental wellbeing is also paramount and can affect your business. If those around you, like staff or co-founders have doubts about your plan, find a way to allay their fears, yet still continue with the path you know is the right one because you have researched it and have the confidence in it.
Adapt to your surroundings:
Whatever is going on around you will affect the way you do business. Events out of your control will affect the way you carry out your plans and preparation. Learn to think in solutions rather than problems. There will be solutions within your control to the problem. They may not be in line with your original plan but they will enable you to move forward with your end goal still in sight. Consider who the solutions matter to? This can also be applied to your personal life. Events will happen beyond our control but it is key that we focus our attitude, mindset and effort on what we can control in those situations. Don’t give up at the first sign of trouble. It may be that you need to join forces with someone else to achieve your aim or It may be that you have to adapt to dealing with a situation alone. Whilst pre-empting problems is not always a healthy way of doing business, it is wise to be aware of what could go wrong and to have a plan to circumvent those problems and still reach your goals. No one could have foreseen or prepared for a global pandemic but as business leaders, we all knew a business downturn was on the cards at some point. Historically, that is how business works and we should always have a plan of what to do in a downturn. Any market shift will also be a catalyst for change, so ensure that you are open and ready to adapt and look at your business model. Be flexible.
Unexpected events will change the way you do business so you have to acclimatise. Sometimes just like climbing a mountain, you have to get used to the change in altitude or you will not succeed. As humans we need oxygen to survive, our businesses also need a type of oxygen. Conditions change without warning. You might have to take a step back to take a step forward if things do not work the first time around. In a new market you will have to get used to dealing with different ways of doing things. Listen to people around you. It is not always the strongest people physically who get to the top of the mountain, often it is those who have listened to experience, applied it to their situation and are disciplined. Sometimes as leaders knowing what not to do is just as critical as learning what to do. Make sure you listen to the voice of your customers. Consider how they are dealing with the changes you are implementing. Ultimately they will drive demand for your product or service, so as business leaders we must ensure that the solution we are providing matters and works for them too.
Celebrate your wins:
Getting to the summit of a mountain is the aim but it is not the end goal. It is the same in business, we must recognise and celebrate the decisions and people who got us there. We must celebrate our achievements and have fun. Life is short. Being positive will shine through in the service or product you provide and more people will gravitate to doing business with you. Gratitude is important. Be thankful for the wins. Celebrate them and plan for moving forward.
Going forward and growing your business after an unexpected event:
Add value to your business by reaffirming your brand’s core values and beliefs. Take another look at your marketing. Consider your customer experience. Think about how to drive your business forward sustainably. Helen Yu talks about the 5 business growth disconnects in her book. There are different stages of business growth to consider: Idea to product. Product to market. Market to scale. The disconnects are: Product market fit disconnect, defined minimum disconnect, voice and customer disconnect, process disconnect and measurement disconnect. She says that uncovering them at the right time is critical to the growth of your business. You can only do that by asking the right questions as you go through each stage. If you do not ask yourself the right questions at the right time you could find your business out of control and accelerating too quickly. Think about your framework to accelerate sustainably.
If anything has resonated with you and you would like to discuss growing your business further, please do get in touch with me via the contact page.
Remember, failing to learn is learning to fail.
Resetting Your Business Goals
Are you feeling stuck? Did you know that growing your business is intrinsically linked to your goals and dreams? If a tree isn’t growing, it’s dying and If a business isn’t growing, it is also dying. I’m going to set out the reasons why a business may stop growing and how to address things to get your organisation back on track.
When we leave education we all have ambitions. Some of us would like to earn enough money to buy a big house or an expensive car. Some of us would like to travel the world. Many of us are keen to meet someone to share our lives with. Those goals are clearly defined and we know that very often we need to earn money to realise those dreams. As the years tick by, we get on the property ladder, we get a decent car. At this point our lives are good and we feel we have achieved. We may not have the exact house we dreamed of or the top performance car we imagined, but what we have is good enough. We settle. We are comfortable. It requires energy to desire something which may seem out of our reach and we may not have the motivation for that. Settling can be defined as forgetting what those original dreams and goals looked like. If we settle we can not move forward.
In business it is the same. Our business is a reflection of our personal desires. All entrepreneurs and business leaders set out with a clearly defined purpose. Very few of us have an Elon Musk or Richard Branson high sense of purpose or the finance to make it a reality. Setting up a business for most of us is to facilitate our own personal goals. Once our business has enabled us to meet those goals, the organisation starts to tick along at our level of desire. Very often it remains static. It does not grow. Very rarely we see founders and CEOs who are not driving their businesses forward but are still seeing growth. If we do see it, the only reason is because the market they are operating in is growing. To rely on this happening is a dangerous tactic. Our business operates within a certain band and stays there because we have not reset our personal goals and ambitions. They may still be the same ones we left school or started the business with. We need to reset.
How to reset:
First you need to reset your personal goals and ambitions. Ask yourself what you really desire? Where do you want your life to be in 5 years time? Draw up a bucket list and write down the things that you really want. Give it serious thought and do not put something on the list you think should be on the list, make sure what is on the list is what you really want or you will lack motivation to achieve it. Go and look at the house of your dreams, go and test drive the sports car. This will help your desires to become real and you will strive to realise them. The next step is to translate them into business aims and goals. Make the business a reflection of your current desires. You can do this by asking yourself these questions: What do you want to grow your business into? Why do you want to grow your business into that? If it is a figure, say £2 million, ask yourself why that figure in particular? Have you thought deeply about what that figure means to you? What will that figure enable you to do? Resetting your life should become a habit.
Make a Five year plan:
When do you want to move house, buy the car and have the experiences you desire? Work out how much it will cost to achieve those things. 5 years is a good period of time to base a plan on. It often follows our personal and business financial obligations. For example, mortgages are often fixed for a 5 year period. It is also a good period of time for self development. A longer time frame can be problematic. Setting goals and aims too far in the future leaves us with a lack of urgency which can affect our motivation to move ourselves and our businesses forward. As individuals we develop. It is hard to look at ourselves and how we may have changed beyond that 5 year period. Keep checking back in on your desires and goals during the 5 years, they may shift slightly. Finally get excited about it. As you reset your personal dreams and ambitions you will propel yourself forward. By doing that you will move your business forward and see real growth.
If you want more information on how to create your five year plan get in touch.
Remember, failing to learn is learning to fail.
Why You Have to Make Business Decisions TODAY!
Indecision is the inability to make a decision quickly. As business leaders we are often in situations which require us to act immediately and make important and far reaching decisions. Sometimes these decisions involve staffing or finances. They impact us as individuals and they impact the people who make up our teams. They can also affect the success of our business going forward.
The pandemic has created a divide in the business world. Companies now fit neatly into two categories: Those who stalled and stopped making important decisions as they sat and waited to see what was going to happen and those who read the room and changed with the tumultuous and uncertain times we found ourselves in. Now we are learning to live with the virus, those businesses who made tough decisions during that period, are in a stronger position than those who did not.
When lockdown hit us for the first time in March 2020, no one, not even the government had a plan. A situation of this magnitude had never happened in our lifetime. The world shut down overnight and suddenly fear and uncertainty took over our lives. People’s needs changed quickly. They did not need to consume the same things in such quantities. Cars were left on drives, petrol station forecourts were empty. Restaurants closed their doors. Business and the economy took a severe hit. Those companies who made decisions quickly to change with the changing world had a much better chance of survival. For example, restaurants who diversified to offering a take – away service managed to ride the storm. Shops went online and asked their workforce to adapt. Adversely, some companies closed their doors, took the furlough and waited to see what would happen. By the time we came out of lockdown they had missed the time to affect change.
As businesses, uncertain times need a plan with key decisions mapped out and moveable time frames initiated. The businesses who took advantage of the situation, for example, the upholstery companies who started making PPE, continued to trade and move forward. The people at the top made timely and key decisions. I came across many businesses who were of the mindset that they would wait until things were clearer and then make decisions. However, the pandemic had other ideas. Lockdown 1.0 started out as 3 weeks and quickly became a 3 month period. After the lockdown eased, within 4 months we found ourselves back in an even longer period of lockdown, known as 2.0, during the winter months. It meant that those who had put off making decisions were once again hamstrung and unable to move forward.
My question to you is this: What decisions would you have made if you knew that in March 2020 this pandemic would have lasted for 18 to 24 months? Would you have still made the same decisions back then that you’re making today? Probably not. And that’s the whole point. When a life changing/world changing event takes place we need to get used to a new normal. As businesses we must change the way that we do business so that we can operate and succeed in today’s reality.
Don’t get stuck in the waiting place. Be hungry for a new journey. Don’t be scared to make decisions.
Educate yourself. Restructure your business. Change your business model and never rely on government handouts. Have a plan.
If you are looking at your business and are stuck on how to move forward, get in touch with me. You are not powerless. You can do something about it. Let’s get together and look at the strategies you can employ in your business to succeed today.
Remember, failing to learn is learning to fail.
Are we using probationary periods as a compensation scheme for bad recruitment?
I often ask my clients to consider: how long is too long for a probationary period and should you ever extend a probationary period?
A probationary period is a trial period of employment during which someone is employed, only subject to satisfactorily completing this period of time. They vary in length but typically last 3 months. The probationary period is almost a tradition, something we’ve always done when hiring people. However, just because we have always done something a certain way does not necessarily mean that we have to continue doing so. I believe in a 3 day probation period. I think a long probationary period can breed a lack of certainty, a lack of productivity and is not healthy for your business. It is not an effective way of recruiting.
The way we hire staff has changed in the last 30 years. Then, employee turnover was much higher. After getting hired in the 80’s, a 3 month probationary period was common, then you were either hired or let go. Interviewing wasn’t seen as a skill. If a new hire didn’t work out there was always someone to step into the role, there were more people in the job market. The cost of hiring people was far less expensive than it is today. The training needed to get staff up and running and able to do their job was minimal and there were no tech costs. Now it is not a viable option to adopt this kind of high turnover recruitment process. It is costly and detrimental to your business to constantly employ new people.
As business leaders and CEO’s we have a greater understanding of the psychology of people. We invest more in finding ways of ensuring individuals needs are met and in line with our business aims. Core values are a big part of an organization’s identity. Making sure that the whole workforce or team are aware and believe in a set of clearly defined core values within the organisation, sets a business apart from its competitors. Going one step further is ensuring you hire with these core values in mind. Core values should never be a tick box exercise. They must be lived by every member of the team. Do not hide them away in the drawer. Ensure they are used within your recruitment process. Hiring staff is no longer just a case of ascertaining the individual’s aptitude or skill set. Think about their attitude. Do they fit in with your organization’s culture – is there a chemistry between the two? Many businesses use the probationary period as the time to assess if the attitude of the employee and the culture of the company fits. In today’s business landscape this is not a cost effective method of hiring. The fit of the potential employee should be determined before the probationary period. The length of probation is essentially irrelevant.
When an individual starts a job they will show their best side within the first three weeks. If this doesn’t happen, consider if you have hired the right person. Sometimes examples of not attending work fully in the first few weeks can signal a person is not engaged. In this case some businesses may look to extend a probationary period. In reality, extending a probationary period often signals that you are unsure of your decision in the first place. Always think outside of the box. Bring any behaviours of staff in the probationary period back to your core values and assess if they are demonstrating them. That will help the success of your recruitment process. If you interview with core values in mind there is no reason to have a long probationary period. A 3 day probationary period should be sufficient. If they can demonstrate the core values of your organisation and give examples of how they do so during the recruitment process then the chances are you have hired the right person.
If you want more information on setting out the core values for your business, or you want to look at making your recruitment process more effective get in touch with me at Boolkah.com.
Remember, failing to learn is learning to fail.