Archive for September, 2009

How can I get more business? 2

You’ve stepped back and answered your own questions satisfactorily about what you offer, your differentiation and your market’s preparedness to pay.

Let’s stay with the fundamentals a little longer because I think I glossed over one:

“What excites ME about what I can do for people and what that helps them achieve – and do I know for certain that it’s the same thing that will excite them?”

This is the raison d’être of your business: You need to be able to clearly articulate it and transfer that enthusiasm to your audience.

A client came to us three months ago. He runs a successful recruitment business that has grown over the years yet he realised he’d lost interest in it and for some time had only been seeing the problems there. He’s now regained his focus, made it into a leaner operation, re-energised his staff and is actively looking for and creating opportunities and solutions.

Many businesses can and do fall into coasting along when the economy is buoyant. Sometimes radical changes need to be made when circumstances alter and the economy takes a drastic nose dive. Those changes, whatever they may be, start at the top: With YOU.

I posted here last week about how my cousin took the tough decision to reduce the size of his workforce.

He hadn’t lost focus but there simply wasn’t now enough work coming in to continue to support the business as it was. Unlike corporations that are making hundreds, if not thousands, of employees redundant, these weren’t faceless names on a payroll – they were people he had worked with for years. Yet he had to do it to ensure the survival of the company and job security for the rest of the staff.

The last thing I’m advocating is that you let people go whose skills you will need to help take advantage of the upturn when it comes. But if you go back to basics, your core business, and involve your key people to see how they can contribute to that, you might find you have a few nice surprises!

If you’re ‘too close to see the wood for the trees’ why not bring in someone you respect and trust to work with you? While you’re at it it’s worthwhile remembering that saving is the other side of the coin to making money by increasing profitable business. A packaging & design expert recently saved a company thousands of pounds. The first thing he did was to invest time talking to the people on the shop floor, something their management hadn’t done for years…

How can I get more business? 1

That, or a variation on it, is a question for which there are millions of results on Google, so I guess there’s a real need for useful answers…

Often when times are really tough we feel the need for action: To DO something – almost anything. But it may be worthwhile stepping back, taking several deep breaths and asking some different, really fundamental questions for starters, like:

Why would somebody WANT to do business with ME?

What do I offer that’s so terrific and better than anybody else who, on the face of it, does much the same thing?

What track record do I have – How can I demonstrate or prove that to my potential customers BEFORE they invest money with me?

What excites ME about what I can do for people and what that helps them achieve – and do I know for certain that it’s the same thing that will excite them?

Is there such a NEED for it that they will see the value and pay for it?

Drains and NHS Management Consultants

If you’re a management consultant with the NHS as your client we suggest you head for the hills or vote Tory at the next general election!

Frank Dobson, speaking a few minutes ago on The Politics Show referred to the hundreds of millions of pounds spent by the NHS on management consultants. He almost likened it to money going down the drain but said that would be unfair: Drains have a value…

He said he wouldn’t spend another halfpenny in this way.

We’d be interested to know whether you agree or disagree with him (and why).

Also, do you think this a warning shot across the bows to NHS management consultants OR a heads up to Andy Burnham, current Secretary of State for Health, that if Labour get back in, Frank wants his old job back? Or maybe both?

All sectors feeling the pinch

In case it makes you feel better…

It seems it doesn’t matter what line of business you’re in or what your role is in it.

Based on comparative figures available from ONS (the Office for National Statistics) between February 2008 and February 2009 on benefit claimants, the only categories that were actually showing fewer claims were Senior Officials in National Government and Medical Practitioners.

And the only ones ‘holding their own’ were Pharmacy Managers, Dental Practitioners and School Crossing Patrol Attendants, who were showing the same number of claims.

True, this information was gathered during the early days of this recession, but, with no obvious upturn in the economy in the intervening months, the figures on benefit claimants are only likely to have continued rising.

We’re obviously not saying that all trades, professions and occupations have been hit to the same extent – for instance, those associated with property in its widest sense have suffered across the board almost from the beginning. Manufacturing and retail has been hard hit with resultant high redundancies.

All we are saying is that, apart from literally a handful of exceptions, there are no recession-proof businesses or occupations.

Like my relative, you’ve probably already cut back on costs where you can. So your best bet is to rekindle the flame that got you into your business in the first place, listen to your customers’ needs, focus on fulfilling them to the best of your ability and do everything in your power to be their partner of choice in hard times.

You’ll then be best placed to reap the rewards of the good times when they come round again.

And they will!

Sometimes it’s tough at the top

I saw a relation of mine for the first time in ages yesterday who runs an office refurbishment/ moving company.

It became obvious earlier in the year that they would need to let some staff go. Some of them had been with the company for over 12 years and he said making them redundant was one of the hardest decisions he’d ever made and carried out yet he had no choice if the company was to survive.

The next thing he did was to assemble the remaining workforce and tell them that each of them had an essential role to play in the business and there would be no further rounds of culls.

Everyone had to be prepared to roll up their sleeves and muck in and that way they would emerge strong. And when enough money is made to ensure continued stability the profits over and above will be shared among all.

Since then he has a willing and committed team and the atmosphere has never been better.

Sometimes it’s tough at the top… effective leaders have to be able to take decisions that hurt.

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