Sunday, January 11, 2009

For Business Executives & Owners, Tips from Al Walsh

A Primer for Business Owners Facing Hard Times

Time to dust off your business and take a fresh look.

The thoughts I’m about to share really apply at all times - but given the economic mess our Financial Houses and Government have created, these thoughts are particularly poignant.

Mr/Ms. Strategic Leader:• Is your vision still valid? Remember that vision that used to get you so excited when you started out? Is it still valid, or is there a better direction to pursue?
• Get rid of the Banker. The banker is your partner, whether you realize it or not. They’re a partner that does not have your best interests at heart. They act exclusively for their own self-interest. They serve their purpose, but should be used sparingly. I always encourage business owners to run their businesses like “Rug Merchants” - squeezing every penny, and financing growth from profits.
• Are your Strategic & Operational Plans still valid? Those of you who don’t even have them - God Help You! If you do, are they still on-point?
• Are you living too Richly? Your business is the engine that drives your wealth. Money removed is lost capital. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by being too greedy. A small sacrifice now can reap rich rewards down the line.
• Is your advertising message still on point? Or are you advertising “alcohol to tea-drinkers”?
• Are you using the most effective and cost-efficient advertising & distribution channels to reach your market(s)?
• Do you still have a clear understanding of what your markets are?
• Are you missing product/market opportunities?
• Are your salesmen prospecting, or just serving accounts, or maybe neither?
• Are you taking advantage of every opportunity to steal market-share from your competition? In a declining economy, the most pragmatic way to maintain your revenue-stream is to steal from your competitors. Be bold, be innovative, and be sneaky.
• Is Procurement getting the best deals, or just repeating orders?
• Are you collecting your receivables? If accounts aren’t paying, why are you so concerned with hurting their feelings? All you’ve done is provide them very expensive charity. You don’t have to yell & scream. Just ask for the money - calmly, professionally, and firmly. And for God’s sake, don’t ship anything else to them until they pay. We’ve all taken on a charity case now & then because we know they’re good for it or because we see big benefits down the line. That’s fine - just make sure they’re in the rare minority.

Mr/Ms. Operational Leader:
Do you have the appropriate facilities? Can you consolidate?
• Got unused equipment or tooling laying around?
• Got unused employees laying around? Got marginal employees, or too many employees, who need to go?
• Got dead inventory sitting around?
• Are employees stocking their offices out of your supply closet? Or their tool chests out of your inventory, or their kitchens out of yours, or… on, and on, and on?
The possibilities here are almost endless, but the idea is to lean down -and- turn idle assets into capital for the company.

I could write chapters about all the ways business owners unintentionally shoot themselves in the foot.

Go to the office tomorrow and take a fresh look at your company - top to bottom - and back up again. Engage your employees, and instill a fresh sense of urgency in them to produce & be efficient. You set the tone of the company culture, so it all starts with you. Listen; maybe some “little bird” has a good idea they’re trying to get out. You’ve got people with common-sense in your operation who don’t speak up because of cultural or other reasons. Draw them out a bit. I bet they’ll surprise you.
I think this economic mess is much broader and deeper than our Dear Government would have us believe. I think lots of surprises are coming. Blow the dust off your business and get ready. If an employee bitches, tell them you’re just trying to ensure they still have a job - but maybe you’ll just want to fire them.
Good Luck,
Al Walsh - CEO/Founder, Walsh Enterprises - Business Advisory ServicesUNREPENTANT CAPITALIST

1 comment:

Gene Sinser said...

Looks like more good advice from Al Walsh