Even though many organizations are tightening their belts, others are moving forward with previously budgeted projects and with new opportunities, thanks to the new Recovery/Stimulus funding recently approved by congress. What can you do to capitalize on these opportunities? Get ready to do business with large organizations by joining us for the webinar The Real Truth About Landing Large Accounts. We are still taking registrations for our March 4th and March 5th presentations.
The president unveiled his budget this week. Like so many others, he has acknowledged the need for shrewd management and growing efficiencies. Small businesses are rethinking both strategy and execution so that they can continue to move forward at a time when so many competitors are shuttering their doors. Local and state governments are streamlining services and consolidating functions to provide more services with less revenue. What can you do to be more efficient in this narrowing economy?
Update your strategic plan. Many of organizations create a plan, only to let it collect dust when times are good. Or, even worse, some organizations don't have a plan. Revisiting your strategic plan is vital to take advantage of market forces. We took a look at capturing market forces in our February 11th and 12th webinars, The Strategy String. With the right strategic components in place, your organization will be creative and flexible in times of market changes. This will allow you to be more efficient with all of your business areas: marketing, operations, finance, technology, research and development, and sales. Ask your team: What parts of our strategic message are unclear? What information do you need to ensure that everyone is moving towards our company vision in the most efficient way possible? How can we make the changes needed to our strategy and how we communicate that strategy with minimal capital investment, yet encouraging an increase in productivity and focus on cost savings from the entire team?
Leverage new technology. Technology is constantly changing and evolving. The tools that your organization might have put in place two or three years ago have most likely evolved. Innovative developers -- individuals and long-term corporate players -- have made it possible for organizations of all sizes to automate routine business processes and streamline IT needs with the growing availability of inexpensive, and even free, technology tools. Some tools require installation on your systems. Others can be leveraged with the rise of cloud computing to minimize your need for investing in expensive network and hardware upgrades. Ask your team: Are we using technology in the most efficient way possible? Should we re-evaluate our technology policies to be more responsive to new technologies or look at making an incremental change to capitalize on recent market forces? What new technologies exist that we can leverage with minimal capital investment, yet with maximum return on productivity and cost savings?
Revise clunky processes. One of our local organizations is recognizing how much cash it's hemorrhaging thanks to clunky processes. IT systems don't talk to one another, and interdepartmental communications are non-existent. As a result, each process takes four times as many steps as some of their competitors' process to achieve the same results. Ask your team: Are there areas where departments are duplicating efforts or not talking to one another? Are we wasting valuable resources due to IT and other systems that have been cobbled together without thought to an integrated strategy and rollout plan? How can we update these processes with minimal capital investment, while maximizing our return on productivity and cost savings?
Minimize wasted resources. The city of Bolinas, California has realized what it means to conserve resources. The city imposed a 150-gallon water limit on each household (yes, household, not person). That's the equivalent of a 15 minute shower. Yet, the folks of Bolinas understand that running out of water is more critical than making drastic changes to bathing, laundry, and drinking habits. People are dealing with one of the areas worst droughts in a self-sufficient, conscientious way. Organizations have already started conserving resources, like minimizing printing and turning out lights when folks leave the room. Have you approached this recession like the city of Bolinas has approached its drought? Ask your team: What resources can we modify drastically to encourage long-term conservation of resources? How can we look at inexpensive or free alternatives to some of the materials and services available in the market? What can we do to go beyond environmental savings and look at all of our daily activities to maximize our return on productivity and cost savings?
Increasing efficiency should be the goal of any organization, regardless of economic climates. Embracing efficiency does not have to be painful. Updating your strategic plan, leveraging new technology, revising clunky processes, and minimizing wasted resources are all areas that TsuluWerks helps it clients to achieve through its consulting and ConsulCoaching services. If your organization would like to increase efficiency to thrive in this narrowing economy, give Tracy Corley, the Empress of Efficiency, a call at 206-782-4040 x4.
If you grew up in the 80's and 90's, you might recall the book series, Choose Your Own Adventure. These interactive, engaging novels allowed young readers to make choices at critical points in the story line and change the outcome of the story. The series was re-released in 2005 for a new generation of young readers.
We are enduring a tough recession. Like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel, each company is being presented with a break in the story line where critical choices can be made. If sales and cash flow are down for your organization, I invite you to make different choices to change your company's outcome and respond to this jarring adventure of an economic downturn.
What kinds of choices can you make to choose your own adventure? One of the topics that we discussed in last Friday's AAPP meeting was Wrangling New Profits from Existing Assets. In the presentation, I shared the five golden nuggets that companies can make to initiate strategic changes and create new income streams:
Outsource your secret sauce. Another company, like a competitor, customer, or industry leaders, might be willing to pay you a substantial fee to use your processes or technology. It cuts down on overhead for you, and brings in a regular income stream when done right.
Find new uses for your product or service. How many of us remember ads in the 70's and 80's reminding folks to take aspirin every day to prevent heart attacks? The surge in aspirin use is a result of recent medical research that has been a windfall for aspirin manufacturers -- they now have a new sales channel for their product. Can you do the same with yours?
Enter a new market. If you have a highly specialized or niche product or service, can it be relevant to another market or industry? For example, can your automobile accessories be introduced into the growing car industry in China? Or can your technology-industry human resources company offer services to benefit the health care industry?
Develop new products with minimal re-tooling. For manufacturers, staying relevant can mean the difference between survival and descent. What updates can you make to your manufacturing line to serve new market needs? If the marketplace is spending more money on signage and less on memorials, what can your company do to re-tool its bronze and granite products to offer more sign options?
Repackage existing intellectual property. If you're a service-based business or have patents and copyrights on juicy content, you can repurpose that content to deliver it in new ways. This is how Oprah has built her empire. She delivers the same interview with Tina Fey on her television show, in her magazine, on her web site, and on her radio show. One interview, four different channels with different advertising dollars. You do the math.
Some or all of these golden nuggets might be relevant to you and your ventures. Whatever you choose to do to wrangle new profits from your existing assets, remember to ask your stakeholders for input.
If you are interested in scheduling a Profit Wrangler workshop for your organization, contact me at 206-782-4040 ext. 4.
I have just completed Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers: The Story of Success. In the book, he outlines why intelligence and ambition are only a minute part of the story of extremely successful people. In the book, he illustrates how two different economic downturns (one a recession and the other a depression) spawned a historical opportunity gap, fueling the rise of our nation's most prominent and wealthy citizens.
As I survey today's business climate, I see another large window of opportunity. "Stimulus packages" similar to those instituted during the economic transformation of the 1860's and 1870's that brought about industrial age icons like Carnegie, Morgan, and Rockefeller. A tightening of economic resources is leading to greater efficiencies, innovative thinking, and a rise in the number of small businesses, not much unlike the Great Depression of the 1930's and the decade following. Each great trial of societal and economic resources brings with it an innovative set of opportunities.
What do you have planned for your business for the upcoming years? Have market forces brought new opportunities and visions for added success? I invite you to comment on this post and to join us for some strategic thinking on Wednesday or Thursday for The Strategy String. The free webinar will review strategy and how to measure its effectiveness. If you have a new direction that you might want to take on for your business, get a head start and join us for this webinar on February 11th at 10am Pacific or on February 12th at 7:30 am Pacific.