Recessions are cyclical and many experts are saying in 2020 the election year we’re heading into a recession, just as many including our president say the economy is strong and we’re not.
It’s hard to tune out all the noise and know what to think. Most people were caught off guard during the last recession and some of the smartest guys on the planet lost their business.
Duke professor and economist, John Graham said in a recent interview “CFOs are growing more certain of a 2020 recession because of the paralyzing consequences of economic and political uncertainty — including trade wars — on business. Faced with uncertainty, companies may pause by holding off on spending and hiring. That can turn into a self-fulfilling prophesy.”
Regardless of what’s being said on either side what you can do is to prepare your business through planning to minimize the effects of a recession and to build on the inherent opportunities that arise in challenging times.
Dwight Eisenhower famously said, plans are useless, but planning is essential. Over the weekend I did some digging into our financials and realized some things I wasn’t aware of. Typically, we business owners are happy when there’s money in the bank and the company is in the black which can lull us into stopping short of further analysis.
Engaging in business planning forces us to confront every aspect of the business, what’s ahead and how we’re going to make that happen. We have to evaluate our market strategy in light of technology advances and disruption in every industry. From there we must determine our people strategy, succession planning and future team needs. Discern how we’ll measure our results against clearly defined targets. How we’ll fund growth and what our financial milestones including profit and cash need to be.
Since history tends to repeat itself our best defense is an offensive approach through thoughtful planning. We can help and now is the perfect time. Call us today at 305-285-9264 for a complimentary strategy session and get started on your Action Plan today!
It is frustrating to lose hardworking, high-performing employees. It can leave employers blindsided and wondering what went wrong. The best way to retain your key employees is by understanding what they’re looking for in their jobs and in their work environment and by prioritizing the things that are important to them.
Countless interviews with HR professionals show consistent findings. Nine important measures your small business can take to nurture your top talent include:
- Work/life balance: Satisfy your employees by accommodating their personal needs. Many employees appreciate the option to telecommute when they have a sick child or other urgent family matter to attend to. Big city employees may benefit from flexible commute hours to avoid rush hour traffic. Offering a fitness center pass is another way to show employees that you care about their overall wellbeing – not just their time in the office.
- Consistent workload: High-performing employees are easily overworked. Because they can be counted on to produce quality work in an efficient manner, managers often send them more tasks than they can comfortably manage during the workday. This easily leads to frustration and burnout. On the flipside, these same employees may start looking elsewhere if they feel like their skills are underutilized at their current job.
- Promotional opportunities/career pathing: While employees may be content for awhile in their current positions at their current pay scales, eventually most employees expect a raise and an opportunity to advance their careers. While it can be challenging for small businesses to outline a clear path for advancement, employees stay engaged within companies where they can identify internal opportunities that match their skill sets.
- Effective management: A lack of training in their positions or a fear of giving honest feedback are two main reasons managers fail to earn the respect of their teams. Invest in your managers with proper training that teaches effective interpersonal skills and conflict management and encourage your leaders to get to know each of their team members and their personal motivators. When managers earn the respect of their team members, these employees are motivated and loyal to their team and their company.
- Raises and recognition: Keep employees engaged and motivated by recognizing outstanding employees for their achievements. This can be in the form of verbal praise, an email you send out to everyone in the company highlighting their achievements, lunch on the company, a pay raise…Be sure your employees know that you value their hard work.
- Attractive benefits: Just as important as an attractive salary, benefits say a lot about how much you value your employees and an employee that feels valued is more likely to stick around. Offering fully funded professional development opportunities, plentiful sick days and vacation time, generous maternity and paternity leave…These benefits are just a few great ways to invest in your employees.
- Trust and autonomy: No one wants management looking over their shoulder but this is especially true of high-performing employees. They have worked hard to earn your trust. Give them the autonomy they deserve. If you do, they will continue to deliver quality work and reward you with their loyalty.
- Retaining other key employes: Like it or not, employee resignations can be contagious. Oftentimes when one good employee leaves, particularly one in a managerial position, team members will follow suit, often following that manager to the next company. Working hard to implement these steps to retain your key employees will help curb this trend.
- Aligned values: Ultimately, people want to work for a company that aligns with their core values, goals and objectives. When this is the case, employees tend to be more like-minded and develop an emotional connection with each other and with their jobs.
Want help attracting AND retaining your top talent? We can help! Give us a call at 305. 285.9264.
Chinedu Okoro started Continental Global Services in 2014 as a compliment to his father’s commercial janitorial service business. Consequently, his father was his largest client. His business was growing slowly and organically. When we first met Okoro, he had just completed the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program and he’d learned a lot; however, implementing all the new information was a whole other matter. Okoro had two employees and was working days, nights and weekends trying to grow his client base and move away from dependency on his father’s business. He was working hard to fulfill orders, invoice, collect, purchase products and run the business, all the while seeking government contract certifications. Shortly after we met, his office admin assistant – pregnant in her third trimester with her first child – broke her foot. All the things she was responsible for then fell onto his plate as well. The way things were operating was simply not sustainable.
We got clear on the processes for each of the different organizational functions and began systemizing the business. We set up financial tools to analyze the business and set profit margins and brought in professional help to get the books accurate, then outsourced the bookkeeping. We let go of a team member that wasn’t working out, or government contracting, we hired a new team member who was familiar with this type of business development and began training her to be an asset and free up Okoro’s time. We set sales targets and business goals and then we set up tools that allowed Okoro and his team to access company data remotely. Our coaching also provided a structure of accountability that helped move the business forward.
In December of 2018, Chinedu was called to Nigeria where his family was involved in a hotel development project. He remained in Nigeria until early June of this year. During his time in Nigeria, Chinedu ran his business remotely, growing revenue by 147.49% and gross profit by 107.42%! He attributes this success to the team and systems we put in place prior to his departure. Our actions granted him the freedom and flexibility to simultaneously pursue business endeavors in both countries and experience substantial growth.
Chinedu states, “Running a business is like having a child. If you let the child run wild, there’s chaos. Having a business coach is like the parent providing guidance – one who helps you by looking from the outside, one who is experienced at reducing the chaos. You stop running around doing this and that and formulate a clear vision and effective actions. Developing a clear vision and prioritizing what to do, when and how to do it, is the most valuable thing I’ve received from working with my ActionCOACH. Her guidance has been invaluable.”
It’s hard to believe that summer is already here! The kids are out of school and vacation season is in full swing. For business owners and their teams, it’s time for the mid-year course correction. June and July are the ideal time to review all your dreams, goals, plans, strategies, learnings and assumptions. It’s the time to take stock of what’s working and what’s not. Based on your findings, you can make course corrections to ensure that you and your team accomplish your goals and stay on track with your dreams. If you set aside the time and put in the effort for this process, it can make a difference this year and in the years to come. Here are seven things to consider and possibly modify mid-year.
- Review your budget and forecast. Are you on track to achieve your projections? If you are ahead of budget, you must determine if sales will continue to exceed expectations. If you do exceed your sales targets, what will you do with the extra revenue? Is production on track? If you’re falling short of budget projections, can you honestly create the additional revenue to make up the difference? If not, how will you bring your costs down to remain profitable?
- Review all expense categories. Are all your expenses in line? Are the programs and processes you put in place achieving their targets? Are there any that are just not working? If so, what’s the cause? Does the program or process simply need more resources, time or attention or has it totally missed the mark? If there’s no chance it will be effective and profitable, stopping will free up resources for other programs that will give you a return on your investment. Has an unexpected opportunity come up? What will it take to make that work and keep the business financial goals in line? What have you learned?
- Analyze your cash flow.
- Review all your product and/or service offerings. Is there an offering that needs to be dropped? If an offering isn’t performing, what’s the source of that? Would more sales and marketing attention make a difference? Has your offering become irrelevant in the marketplace?
- Have you identified new opportunities? What resources will be required? What’s the timeframe? What benefit do you expect? Will additional funds be required? Where will this money come from?
- Take a look at your competitors. Where do you stand in relation to your competitors? What can you do to become more competitive? What sets your business apart from the competition? Are you living your brand promise?
- Evaluate your marketing programs. Review and assess the effectiveness of your marketing strategies. Which programs and campaigns are working? Which ones aren’t? Is there sufficient time and money to be effective? Should you outsource implementation?
- Bonus question: What do you and your team need to learn to course-correct successfully?
When your review and analysis is complete, you will be in a position to make helpful mid-year course corrections. Doing this will limit the money you invest in unsuccessful efforts, help you keep your goals front and center, and allow you to build on accomplishments from the first half of the year.