We are certainly living in interesting times. But while some things have changed dramatically, other things remain absolutely the same. The days of leveraging results through abundant credit are over. Results have to be about what value you can add to your business and achieve through real growth.Keep Your Expectations High
If you set your expectations high anything is possible. Don't fall into the trap of letting the broader economic situation be an excuse for under performing. I've heard of two businesses that have cut stock and staff numbers by 20 to 30% and then been satisfied that their results were exactly as forecast, 20 to 30% down! Instead keep your expectations high and look for every opportunity to try something new. Obviously your performance goals will vary by sector. If you're in construction or home furnishings things may be tough at the moment, but some sectors are doing surprisingly well.Review Everything
There is always room for improvement. Right now executional excellence is one of the most important things you can focus on. Businesses have to accept that what has worked before might not work in the new economy. Be prepared to try something new, to be agile and to adapt quickly. Recent research out of customerthink.com stated 58% of consumers will pay more for a better customer experience during a down economy. So get the team involved
and find half a dozen product or service improvements you can implement to ensure your business is the leader in your field.
In addition to improving product and service offerings, businesses also need to be reviewing costs. Current indications suggest that this is not going to be a short dip. It's going to take some time for the economy to get back to the top of the cycle. So smart businesses are reassessing everything. They're looking to create more value for their customers by looking for more value from their suppliers. The top three areas to consider are; review all non essential costs, don't drop your marketing spend instead look to optimise your marketing mix
and lastly negotiating with key suppliers to ensure you're getting the most value. Strategically reviewing your cost base is essential, nickle and diming won't help. Remember it will take time for cost savings to flow through to the bottom line so this needs to be a priority.Size Brings Opportunities
We're a small country full of small businesses with an enormous opportunity ahead of us if we choose to seize it. With a truly great product or service offering this is a good time to increase market share. It's also a good time to focus on export markets. In an international context our businesses are competing against much larger, less nimble international competitors and so have enormous opportunities to grow. These are tough times but they also present opportunities for businesses to set themselves up and position themselves well for the long term. While exchange rates are low, while major competitors are internally focused on cost cutting and layoffs, now is an excellent time for flexible businesses focused on delivering a truly great service.
Keep your performance expectations high!
Let me know what you expect in 2009.