In the last few days I have heard a number of people talking about tightening their belts, cutting their cloth and battening down the hatches. Cliché overload it was but I was not convinced that the speakers were really addressing the economic realities of their businesses in 2012; the cliches replaced disciplined thinking; they were a nod to the need to change; but really were about what others should do rather than themselves.
My take on the present situation is that it is different to the downturns I weathered in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. This is going to be longer and it is against a background where businesses are commonly smaller and more technologically based. There aren’t swathes of extravagant overhead to take out, there aren’t big premises to sublet, there aren’t vast numbers of people to make redundant, put on to short time or turn into subcontractors. What we are left with is doing business more cleverly: finding new attractive ways to do what we do and pricing in a transparent way, becoming business partners rather than having a traditional relationship, making alliances with others to use resources effectively and profitably; and not just one of these approaches but all of them and many more.
So far all I have said sounds like motherhood and apple pie. We know it but are you doing it? Are you taking time to think rather than just putting your head down and hoping the storm will pass? I know that many of us do not know what we think until we put it into words; we need someone on our side to critique what we might be thinking; but we don’t need to share it with the person who goes into “I’ve thought of that and it won’t work” mode; you know the type, they have always, been there, done it and bought two T shirts! They won’t support you, encourage you or ask how it is going.
Stop now and think.
When did you last allow yourself to dream of a different way, to be brave and try something innovative or talk to someone about creating a new way? The old adage “If you always do what you have always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got” is a good one. Is today the day to think outside the box?
If it is then you need to find that trusted friend: on your side but also objective, creative and understanding; someone who really listens and gives you time and focus rather than turning it into an opportunity to tell you their story. Of course I would say “that could be me” but that isn’t the purpose of this post. My intention is to challenge you to consider rationally: if you continue as you are, will you stay as you are? Is that good enough for you? Do you want more than to survive? Do you want to grow, develop and profit?
Take that thinking time today! And be brave enough to change to stay ahead of the game.
Elizabeth Toogood Critical Friend
01234 273644 / 07968 822275
50 Byron Crescent, Bedford MK40 2BD