Business Perspectives

Take responsibility for turnaround

What happened? What happened to your confidence? What happened to your swagger? What happened to your income and your sales revenue? What happened to taking responsibility for the growth of our companies? What happened?

All along people told us that it was not their fault, that it was not your fault, just hang on. They said a new business reality was setting in, that profits were bad. Just hang on was the new mantra. Don't make any bold moves, just wait it out. The storm is bad! Hunker down!

Well, my friends, it is time to stop hunkering down. It is time to stop worrying about the storm and time to begin dancing in the rain. It is time that we took responsibility for our companies, our lack of sales revenue and our own personal incomes. No one, and I repeat no one, and nothing is responsible for your lack of sales revenue other than you.

In the past two years I have worked with company after company that is doing better than ever before. Several companies I work with had their best months ever in August. How did they do it? They took personal responsibility. They did not listen to the president or Congress; they did not listen to the media or their peers. They did not stick their head in the sand and just live by the mantra "just hang on!" Most followed the following formula:

1. Take responsibility: Stop blaming the economy, the past administration, your competition, the weatherman, your mother and father, your past spouse, your lack of height, whatever. Begin to take responsibility today and tell the world that you are beginning a new day.

2. Stop concentrating on results. To begin to turn things around you must get back to the very things that got you to where you were to begin with. Stop measuring what you cannot control — results. Instead begin to measure activities and key performance indicators. You cannot control how many people answer the phone, but you can control how many calls you make.

3. Get your hiring antennae up. There are great people available right now, many you might not have been able to afford in the past. As Jim Collins puts it, who is on your bus? It might be time to look at the depth chart and remove weaker performing members and replace them with available talent that can take you to new heights.

4. Argue with your mother. That's right, argue with your mother. She told you to play nice and to share. Well, Mom, if you continue to share you might not exist. You need to systematically understand your competition. Understand their strength and weaknesses. Then begin to go after their customers, one by one, two by two. The only growth right now is by scooping up customers that are dissatisfied with their current situation. They exist; figure out how to go get them.

5. Invest and train now. According to the pundits, the recession is over. Being prepared means that now is the time to invest and train. You must get better; the phone is not ringing, go find the guy in his office. Improve your selling skill sets. Increase your marketing; advertise more. My son has a T-shirt, on the back it has a saying: "The more you sweat in times of peace, the less you will sweat in times of war!" We are in a quiet time, my friends. It is going to begin heating up. Are you and your people trained and prepared?

The storm is subsiding, and the skies are beginning to clear. Those who have taken responsibility during this time are positioned best to take advantage of an expansion. You still have time; Wichita is always a year or two behind an expansion. What will you do? Continue to simply hang on? Or are you ready to dance?