24 Sep Now is time to face your fears and take action
In my last article, I mentioned the need to make key decisions. Some will be uncomfortable decisions. For many, redundancies have been an inevitability in order to keep businesses afloat. But, for how long?
Further challenges certainly await given the current landscape – the end of the furlough scheme, the impact on orders as a result of the likely upsurge in coronavirus cases and not forgetting payment of corporation tax for last year if your year end is December. On top of all that, there is the usual and predictable decrease in orders for part of December and then, to top it all, our final breakaway from the European Union. These are truly unprecedented times which will require a strong will and possibly, a fresh approach.
I attended the first BPMA virtual conference and one of the speakers was Peter Docker, who spoke about the need to move away from feelings of ‘fear’ and move towards feelings of ‘love’. He spoke in this context to the current situation and the need to change your mindset, which I talked about in my previous post. This is essential, although, I personally would substitute the word ‘love’ for ‘passion’. To me, this state of mind clarifies the feelings that are needed to move your business from just surviving to actually growing and of course, to becoming profitable.
Peter’s presenter session led to me reflect on my own business, this year is our 35th anniversary. Any business that has kept going for as long has had to adapt to changes along the way and where necessary, reinvent itself. I have done so on several occasions. Without a burning passion for the business you are in, ‘the uphill climb’ can be overwhelming at times. If the passion is there, then determination to keep climbing kicks in and the brain starts to think about the best way to get to the summit. To find the best way requires innovation; we have to work out if there is a better route than the one that is most familiar. Forgive me for using the analogy of climbing a mountain, but it brings together all the resources needed to achieve the ultimate goal, whatever that goal is. In brief, faith and belief in the chosen strategy and then a dogged determination and persistence to realise the desired outcome.
How businesses owners invest their time will determine the growth of the business; too much time focusing on activities that can be handled by someone else and not enough time on what will make an immediate difference is key. Anyone can be a busy fool but being intelligently busy has to be part of the strategy.
I started this post by saying that further uncomfortable decisions have to be made. A strategy that has been very successful for many companies is outsourcing, the practice of hiring an outside company to perform services that traditionally were performed in-house by the company’s own employees and staff.
Outsourcing is usually adopted by the larger companies but today smaller businesses are finding the benefits of choosing such a strategy. The idea of outsourcing aspects of your business may immediately spark a degree of discomfort but the benefits could well outweigh the initial discomfort. Interestingly, there are over 4,000 promotional product distributors in the USA, who do just that. The nature of our business lends itself perfectly to outsourcing some of the time-consuming tasks such as sourcing, quoting, order processing (artwork/delivery chasing), invoicing, chasing and making payments. Today is all about speed of response to customer enquiries and there are enough tasks that get in the way of getting a quotation to the customer that by the time it has been sent, the customer has already placed the order with someone else.
Outsourcing is a proven strategy but does require a shift in mindset. However, it can reap significant rewards for progressive business owners – a powerful impact on growth, productivity and your bottom line.
Now is the time for change. In the words of the inimitable Richard Branson “Rather than getting nostalgic, embrace the new opportunities and challenges available to you now”.