Stiff Upper Lip – Strategic Networking
Over the past five months many have asked me how my clients are finding and coping with the credit crunch crisis. Almost without exception I firmly say positively.
That is not to say that all the people I work with have booming bank accounts – far from it. But many have been able to see ahead, recognise the need to consolidate. Some have decided to downsize so that when the economy turns the corner they are in a position of strength.
On the other hand there are others who are struggling with the upturn in their business. Suddenly the preparatory work they have done is paying dividends. They have niched their offering, honed their marketing and created a compelling customer care programme. I know of two or three who are considering acquiring competitors who have been unable to sustain their position. How great is that? (Ok! Not good for the competitors!!)
Whilst I would love to take the credit for this – I can’t. All those that I work with have an intimate and extended support network. Without a doubt, when things are tough business owners need to think objectively about where they are now and what needs to happen next. The support network helps them to do this.
There are many options; your family, friends and possibly employees could do that for you. Perhaps your bank manager, accountant or Business Link Adviser may be more objective. But what about other business owners, who are in the same place as you? Not only can they empathise but share their knowledge, experiences and expertise because they have been there, and done that.
There is no doubt that when you are a small business owner you need a kick up the backside sometimes, just as much as you need the supporting arm and a virtual hug. Ten years ago I was MD of a business that needed to shed four or five of its retail outlets. I knew it, but didn’t recognise it; I was much more intent on turning them around. How I needed someone to slap me round the face (metaphorically) and tell me to ditch the dogs. Had I done so that the business might well still be alive and licking today?
The beauty of hindsight is that you can share it. Whenever you get the opportunity to meet up with like-minded business folk – do it. Go with an open mind and a philanthropic heart. The more you share with others the more sharing you will receive.