Feb 27 2012

How Businesses Prepare Now for the Coming Economic Spring

Category: businessTom Shivers


An interview with Lee Huffman, CEO of Professional Development USA and The Business Catalyst

Lee has launched over a dozen successful businesses ranging from low tech to high tech. He has executive experience at the Fortune 100 company, Hewlett-Packard Company and lead several teams who launched businesses while at HP including the Electronic Commerce Operation. Lee sat on the Internet’s W3C committee. He has been a business coach and executive coach since 2003. He is a founding partner in the John Mawell Team of Leadership Coaches. He mentions these accomplishments not to “impress” but to “impress upon” that we can all architect the life.

What key actions have the business owners and leaders that you work with done to navigate this recession?

  • Get back to basics
  • Realize we are in the economic season of winter, but spring is coming
  • Trim back to maintain profitability even when revenues are down
  • Focus, focus, focus

What do you tell your clients who say, “I can’t cut back any more?”

  • Cut back even more
  • As businesses were being built, they were much leaner than they are today
  • There is typically more fat that can be cut

What are the “really lean” companies that you work with doing today?

The successful companies that I train and coach are already lean. So, we do several things to manage cashflow, develop sound systems, and get them ready for the economic spring that will always come after an economic winter.

What “things” do you do with your clients who are already as lean as they can be today?

First, I have leaders look at every project and expenditure and prioritize them based on several factors:

  • Will they generate more PROFIT, not just more revenue?
  • Will they create customers that will become Raving Fans, continue buying, and refer other high quality customers who will become Raving Fans?
  • Will they prepare our company for the coming economic summer that is coming in the next year or two?

Next, I make sure they follow through on the projects they start. With less staff and fewer financial resources, the business owners that have made it this far tend to start projects and then set them aside when they see something that “might be” better. This is not good because:

  • It defocuses and distracts the team members that need solid, and consistent, direction
  • It’s a huge form of waste because projects taht get started and then area put on the shelf typically die on the shelf
  • Even if you start the project back up again at a later date, it still has a massive drain on both the company’s resoures and the Team’s morale

Last, we need to ensure that they are getting the biggest bang for every dollar they are investing into their business.

How do you do that?

If a client is going to invest $5000 to $50,000 in a new website, they should plan on investing in the SEO marketing strategies that you and the people you work with put in place to maximize their return on investment. The same goes for investing in a marketing plan or management training. In today’s economy, it’s not worth investing in a marketing plan if you are not willing to execute on that plan… Or in sending executives or managers to a training and then not giving the time to implement what they learned while it is still fresh in their minds.

How do you get this point across to the business leaders that you invest your time into?

Would you purchase a car and not have the oil changed every 5000 miles? Of course not! You have to continue investing at some level in order to continue to see any real return on investment.

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