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Research Triangle Business Advisors

February 2014 Newsletter

 

How to Survive a Down Economy

A couple of years ago many businesses were suffering under the pressures of the recession.  At that time research we did in an attempt to provide advice to our clients on how to “weather the storm” did not bear any innovative new solutions or advice.  That drove us back to basics and then the answer came into view.   As we start the new year, it occurred to me that a little reminder or review may help stimulate improved business success.

 

Bob De Contreras

919-280-1307

Bob@rt-ba.com

www.rt-ba.com


Back to Basics

It takes a lot of leadership, focus and skill to build and grow a strong business, division or department.  But, there is a reality that many entrepreneurs must face every day.  They don’t have all the skills and more important they don’t have the desire to do some of the things that are required to keep the business running efficiently.  This also applies to Presidents running a division or Managers running a department.  So, a discussion on Back to Basics is worthy of us taking a pause to consider.

“Back to basics” – definition: Return to basic instruction; start the learning process over again. “Class, you seem to have forgotten the simplest of facts, so it's back to basics for the first week of classes.”  (http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/)

That’s the meaning most of us think of when we hear, “Back to Basics.”  However, this is not what we mean when we use that phrase.  Let’s take a look.

No matter what your job description, there are naturally parts of the job you enjoy doing, and others that you don’t.  My observation is that if you cut your job description into the 10 items that make up the essence of your job, you probably only enjoy doing two or three.  These are the things you have skills to do, or the things you have the experience to do, or the things that are more like your hobby than work.  i.e., the fun things.   If you stop and think about it, you will come to the conclusion that if you are only focused on 3/10ths of your job, that behavior is NOT going to lead to a successful outcome.

Here are a couple of examples:

The CEO/Business Owner:  Joe is an expert software developer who used his talent to develop a unique software product and started a company to enhance, sell and support it. As the CEO of the company Joe’s job description cut into 10 items might look like:

  1. Sell the product

  2. Do product design

  3. Do product development

  4. Manage marketing

  5. Manage development

  6. Manage support

  7. Manage company operations

  8. Manage company financials (accounting)

  9. Assure availability of required cash (line of credit)

  10. Manage personnel and HR practices

But, Joe is a “geek” he enjoys telling people about his great software product (he thinks that is sales), he loves the feel of the creative juices as he does product design, and he doesn’t sleep for days as he buries himself in product development (I love this so much they don’t have to pay me).  Yes, those are Joe’s three things out of ten.  Joe is having so much fun that he does not realize the negative impact of his ignoring the other seven items that make up his job responsibility.  When I look at this situation I see clearly why Joe’s business is in financial trouble – Joe is not sufficiently focused on managing the business (items 4 to 10).

The Department Manager:  Sam is a software development manager who advanced to management after being the best software developer in the company.  As the development manager Sam’s job description cut into 10 items might look like:

  1. Help sell the product

  2. Validate product design

  3. Do product development

  4. Provide technical input to marketing

  5. Manage development

  6. Provide technical training to the support team

  7. Manage department operations

  8. Manage department financials (accounting)

  9. Manage spending within budget (conserve cash)

  10. Manage department personnel and HR practices

But, like Joe, Sam is a “geek” he enjoys telling people about his great software product (he thinks that is sales), he loves the feel of the creative juices as he works to uncover product design flaws, and he doesn’t sleep for days as he buries himself in product development.  Yes, those are Sam’s three things out of ten.  When I look at this situation I see clearly why Sam’s department is not meeting objectives – Sam is not adequately focused on managing the department (items 5 and 7 to 10).

This paradigm applies to any business in any industry.  For example: architectural firms marketing firms, manufacturing companies, bio-pharma companies, engineering firms, legal and accounting firms, etc.

The Bottom Line

To find success in your business, division or department go back to basics and focus on performing in every part of your job description every week and every month.  If you do, you’ll have a better chance at meeting goals and finding more success.  As in all my newsletters, don’t try and do it all at once.  If today you are focused on 3 of 10 items, tomorrow focus on 4 of 10.  Then when you have that working well, focus on 5 of 10 – and so on.


Cary | Raleigh | Research Triangle Park | Greensboro | North Carolina
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