People have been surprised to hear that most of my clients are still growing, and that almost all are remaining profitable in these challenging times. Obviously this is contrary to what you hear in the media. How are they beating the odds? They are doing the basics, and staying disciplined and logical (more on that in a minute).
Please understand that I am not oblivious to the challenges companies are facing. I have had some very difficult sessions helping some clients make very difficult decisions that are experiencing drops in revenue as much as 20%-30%.
My business mentor Sam Cupp used to say, "In a normal 10-year business cycle most businesses will have two great years, six good years, and two very difficult years that could potentially put you out of business, so always be prepared." These are those two tough years for many. My Dad also says that "good things happen and bad things happen and neither last."
It is important that we are strong leaders for our people and our companies. With that said, there are four critical disciplines that have been helping clients and will help keep you focused and doing the right things:
- Put the company first, stay logical, and set your ego aside. You must save the company first and foremost. One of the biggest mistakes leaders make in tough times is trying to hang on to everything, not letting go of the past, and getting way too emotional. Every decision has to be for the greater good. Your business has a purpose and vision that must lead your decisions. While this is not easy, it is vital.
- Reverse accountability chart. As you know, the accountability chart is one of the foundations of EOS and you must always be looking out 6-12 months and structure your organization the right way to manage growth. The same rule applies when things take a turn for the worst. Reverse accountability chart means you must look out 3-6 months, and if you anticipate revenues dropping, you must structure the company for that revenue drop, which means making tough decisions. Sometimes leaders have to fulfill roles that they used to fill for the greater good.
- Work twice as hard, stay disciplined, and do the basics. While the old mantra is to work smarter, not harder, unfortunately that's not always the case in hard times. While the pie is smaller, there is still business to be had. You just have to get a bigger piece of the smaller pie. Doing the basics means making sure the vision is right, that you have all of the right people in the right seats, that your meetings are at a level 10, that you have a pulse through good data, that you are maximizing sales efforts, taking good care of existing customers, and solving all problems fast and at their core.
- Be at your best-you owe it to your people. People are looking for a strong leader in these times, and that needs to be you. You have to be at your absolute best. You must keep yourself up. To do this you must stay realistic-not optimistic, not pessimistic. but realistic. A great read is chapter 4 of Good to Great, "Confront The Brutal Facts." Surround yourself with strong leaders, books, and resources.
As the saying goes, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." The leaders that embrace these basic business disciplines will endure and come out of these times better than ever. Many reading this message are doing just fine. If you know of someone who needs to hear this message, please pass it on.
"When the tide goes out, it reveals who has been swimming naked."