Do you know where your Business Plan is hiding? You know. That thing you used to get a loan, convince your wife and friends that you had a million dollar idea, and generally get into business for yourself. Where and when was the last time you looked at it?
I like to ask everyone I consult for a copy. I am shocked every now and then that someone has it readily available. Once I do get a copy, they rarely let me down with good information and a solid plan of operation. But then, there is actual execution of the plan that seems to be taken from a screen play for some kind of drama. So, where did things get off course?
There is a trend in small business that owners follow that is surprisingly bad for business. They get used to having a certain paycheck, they try to cut back, and then they slide like they are on a 45 degree angle on hard-packed snow. Sorry Gordon Gekko, but greed is bad. (I couldn’t resist a movie reference).
Usually the Business Plan has a system for handling all the chores at the business. From the simple to the tactical, they have people to get things done and the operation is good. What happens is someone tells them they need to cut back on salaries and drop more money to the bottom line quickly. This is step one to making a mess of things.
Once you lose the team that was going to bring in that first million dollars, you start to slide. There are people to help you – if you are willing to pay them for their help. If you slide too far, though, those good people are not going to want to help. It is the law of diminishing returns – too much effort for too little reward.
Just to contrast things on a bigger scale (much bigger), what are all these companies who have laid off thousands and thousands of workers going to have to pay to get the right people to come back and clean up the mess from the tired few who got to keep their jobs? Let’s just say it is going to be a shock to the spreadsheet.
I am the first person to tell you that you need to watch the checkbook and save where you can. This is mostly a caution for someone who may feel like a big spender and want to show off. Those types of people will lose anyway, but I tell them none the less. The difference between being cautious and being cutthroat is the cautious person will be in business where the cutthroat person is having a fire sale after their first down quarter.
You may have noticed that I haven’t talked about the jobs that need to be performed and have focused on the people. Recent trends in the hiring process of small businesses and the downsizing in bigger companies anyone can see the drain that is going to empty the business world any day now and how detrimental it is going to be for moving us out of this economy.
With Baby Boomers on the cusp of retirement, there was going to be a shift in resources anyway. Now, the shift is going to look like a roller coaster when retirees are looked at as “too expensive to hire back” and “too valuable to leave on the market”. This is a great time to bring in these well qualified people who can build your business like you wrote in your Business Plan.
Here’s the catch – you have to make them part of the plan, the business, and the profits. Don’t just hire in talent, hire in “partners” who can help you grow your business. Those people who are shocked and can’t imagine having a partner, you need to stop and think about this a little longer. If you have a manager, you essentially have a partner.
You need to bring in the talent you wrote about in your plan and reward them enough to give them a reason to join and a reason to stay. Bringing in someone who can compliment your talents is a wonderful way of helping someone and helping yourself.
Bulldog Rule #5 – Every business is a people business
The reason for the Business Plan is to give you a goal for getting into business. You looked for the right tools and the right talent to get things going. Now is a great time to grab the talent to fill the holes that cutting back caused (either by you or by another business). Dust off your Business Plan and start changing the parts that need updating and start dreaming again.
If you could get sales in _______market, you would increase your bottom line by $_______.
OK, now fill in the blanks and start looking for the talent to get you into where you want to be. The right people are out there and ready to work with you. Make them a part of the revised for 2009 Business Plan.