Yesterday, I spoke at the Women Business Owner’s monthly luncheon for a panel focused on driving a growth oriented business in a difficult economy. The Women Business Owner’s group meets at the Washington Athletic Club in Seattle on the last Thursday of the month and exists to “propel resolute women entrepreneurs to embrace their fullest vision of success”
The panel primarily focused on the realities of doing business in an economy with sticky credit markets (banks aren’t lending without lots of hoop jumping), scared customers (people aren’t spending money because they’re worried about stability), and jumpy vendors (vendors are requesting pre-payment for orders when typically Net 90 would have sufficed).
Some really great advice came out of the panel discussion:
1. Run the numbers – Assuming you can find a bank to lend to you, don’t take money that you’re not 100% sure you can pay back. Funding losses through a credit line has never been wise and it’s especially unfortunate in our current economy.
2. Keep an eye on the Cost of Goods Sold – Watch your margins. Don’t sell for a loss. You’re not Wal-Mart and can’t afford to have loss leaders.
3. Marketing matters – Ignore social media at your peril. Reach out to customers any and every way that they will have you.
4. Don’t cut across the board – Foolish companies cut across the board. Really foolish companies cut where their customers notice. Be strategic with your cuts thinking 2 to 4 years ahead of time.
5. No one is going to save you – If you’re waiting for your white horse & handsome prince to come in and look at your books, tell you what to do and hold your hand through the whole business process, Dede Henley told us, ‘Don’t hold your breath. He’s not coming.’ Take charge of your destiny. Learn how to run your company. Do the stuff you don’t want to do. Find a mentor to guide you through the rest.
6. Action Matters – My strong belief and the message I tried to convey is that action – any action – is better than no action. Do not look out into the world at large and fret about things that you cannot control (the economy, peak oil, rising sea levels etc…). Focus on the things you can control in your sphere of influence.
You can take charge of your destiny by creating a small business that you build one customer at a time. You can take charge of your quality of life by committing to a fitness routine. You can take charge of the depth of your relationships by committing to authenticity and deep connection with your family and friends. You can take charge of how you react to outwardly disappointing circumstances.
If you want to have a great business in two years, what steps do you need to start taking right now to create a stable and predictable sales cycle? Do you have your Big Hairy Audacious Goal (a la Jim Collins)? Have you broken it down? What are you doing right now, today, to make sure that you’re successful and rising above the rest in the future. Don’t be frozen with indecision. Take small baby steps until you reach your first workable goal. Then, just like a mountain climber going from camp to camp, start putting one foot in front of the other until your next goal is achieved. You can do it. The secret to success isn’t a secret at all – it’s try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try again. And then, try some more.
Don’t be a time manager, be a priority manager. Cut your major goals into bite-sized pieces. Each small priority or requirement on the way to ultimate goal become a mini goal in itself.
I’ve posted many blogs on setting and achieving goals. You can review them all here.