I hate smart Alecs. I really don’t like the idea of being patronised by people wanting to sell me their services. I have run businesses and am pretty confident in my own abilities.
And yet, and yet, I am clever enough to know I don’t know it all. I am curious and I do like good ideas.
So, if that sounds like you. Here are 7 things I have learned when turning businesses around. Especially when it comes to an urgent need to cut costs.
- It’s all about your people
You cannot know everything about what goes on in your business. The people at the coal face will always know more. Better still they will see, daily, opportunities to create efficiency, avoid waste and streamline. So, engage them in the process. Set up small groups to focus on key costs and operations and challenge them to cut costs – sharply. Empower them to act to save time.
- Be Brave
Deep cost cutting is not easy. If it was you would already have done it. There is likely to be significant risk to some of the ways to cut cost. In normal circumstances you might balance that against the upside of the benefit. Unfortunately we are not in normal circumstances. You have to weight it up against the downside of not doing it – and not doing it quickly.
- Spending might be the answer
Bizarrely to get more out you might have to put more in! This might be investment in equipment or systems, it might be a new layout or even hiring somebody who can do something that you can’t. Again, this can be very counter intuitive when you are cutting back everywhere else. But if you know it’s right or, at worst, an affordable risk you probably should take that step.
- Teams are formed from sharing common experience
Good or bad, going through things together is what creates a team. This is not a judgement of effectiveness it is rather a statement of fact. Coming out of Covid19, turning a failing business around or being part of a rapidly growing organisation is a shared, common, experience. These are moments of great change – whether that is for good or ill. This matters. Because people like to belong, be part of something. At this point they will go the extra mile, take a pay cut, you name it. Foster their sense of team and get the very best they can offer you.
- Trading Partners Might Surprise You
All organisations have suppliers and customers. They might take different forms and they might be large in number or a very small list. One thing is common. They can help you. If you ask them. You might be embarrassed, you might feel they do not need to be this close to your secrets or personal affairs. You might fear an adverse reaction from hearing you need help. On the other hand they just might help. Be clear about the help you want. Ask them
- No Silver Bullet
I have looked for one. I have really wanted one. The single thing that will transform the business and solve the problem. Truth is cost cutting, turning businesses around and coping with large scale change is made up of lots of different things. Some small, some bigger but the cumulative effect is what counts. In other words – hard work, and lots of it, preferably at full speed.
- Keep an open mind
This may be your first time in large scale cost cutting. You may have done it numerous times. But the fact is, this is now. It is happening in real time. If you meet people, read something, hear about somebody that you think can help. Get in touch. Remember they don’t have a silver bullet but they may have ideas, techniques, experience you don’t and every little helps.
I hope at least 1 of my 7 has sponsored some positive thought for you.
Leading an organisation in time of pressured change is not easy. If it was they wouldn’t need you.