I have no sympathy if you’re going bust.
Seriously, I haven’t. Why should I? I don’t mean to be rude, but being rude, if you’re business is in trouble it’s for one reason and one reason only. I shouldn’t need to spell out that reason but I will:
You’re not selling enough stuff.
We can’t blame the economic situation. We can’t blame the government. If we’re not selling it’s because of only two reasons:
1. People don’t want what you’ve got.
2. You’re not good enough at selling.
That’s it. And both of those are no-one’s responsibility but your own.
Once we accept that, perhaps we can do something about it. We’re living in unusual times that call for unusual ideas to combat these two issues. We need to be doing ‘Business as Unusual’.
That’s why I have little sympathy for struggling businesses who haven’t grasped that. I’ve presented to quite a few small-medium business leaders over the past few months and am often quite dismayed and sad that some of these companies will soon no longer be with us. I talk about how we can be more creative in business, to generate killer ideas to solve problems and improve (i.e. innovate) business processes such as sales, marketing and service. But many just don’t listen.
For example, as a matter of course I have a look at the websites of the companies I’m speaking to beforehand. What horrible sights I see. Clutter and slop, lack of information for potential customers, nasty images and confusing navigation topped off with antiquarian logos. But that’s not the problem. The problem is that when I say that I’ve had a look at their websites, they say, “We know about that. We’ve had a web expert in and we know about that”. “When did you see this expert?” I ask and the answer is, “9 months ago.” 9 months and they’ve done nothing about it.
If they haven’t the facilities, the time or the inclination to sort out something as simple as the errors I see on those websites, there’s little hope they can satisfy the basic needs of a cautious customer who has plenty of options.
‘Business as Unusual’ is about looking at your business in a different way. Perhaps as the customer looks at it. To me these tiny, almost insignificant problems are the tip of the iceberg of a lack of focus, due diligence, quality and customer focus. Having dirty offices, a rusty sign and bad telephone manners are signals that something is very wrong. So too is an out-of-date looking logo, bland business cards and a website from 1996. It’s as if these businesses have been sleepwalking for the past 12 years or so.
‘Business as Unusual’ is about allowing yourself to think differently. To consider other ways of doing things. It’s about considering possibilities and working out where your boundaries and restrictions really are, not where you think they are. It’s about making new connections and taking risks, knowing that standing still will mean losing ground. It’s about doing all you can.
Business as usual has come to an end. To survive we need to realise that and embrace the scary prospect of change: Business as Unusual. Be ready.
(Actually I do have sympathy for those businesses, especially in manufacturing, who find themselves caught out because of extraneous pressures out of their control. Van manufacturer LDV comes to mind. A small loan would save this UK company, and we’d get to keep a great brand with a long history and have it back in UK ownership, but it seems our government will only ‘save’ banks or foreign owned businesses.)