For the past three years, a colleague and I have done a day long seminar on Leadership for a non-profit organization. We incorporated the latest thoughts on developing leaders within this group of folks and on how they can change this organization to be more effective in today’s world. We have done six of these seminars throughout the state. My assessment is that while we have reached a few people and got them thinking on the importance of leadership….for the most part they are focused primarily on maintaining the current system. And the current system is not in the best of shape.
With that in mind we have decided on an extreme makerover for our Leadership workshops. Leadership is still the main thrust of the day. Yet, we have to change what we are doing to make it better and effectively connect with the people who can have an impact in this group. We are doing this now so that we are ready for next year. We have to improve our offering/product.
Here are questions that we are asking:
- Who exactly do we want to attend?
- What do we need to say?
- How do we need to say it?
- When/Where do we need to do this?
- What outcomes should be expected?
- How do we make it work?
The same holds true for any business:
- Who exactly are your customers?
- What products/services do you need to provide?
- Where do you meet your customers?
- What do you expect to be the end result?
- How do you execute in your business?
I wrote last about the “auto bailout” and somehow or other that will be resolved. While watching the early morning news today….a segment came on about Toyota, Honda and other Japanese auto manufacturers. They obviously have more money than The Big 3 (Toyota will still have a $5 B profit in 2008)….they also are ready with the next generation of automobiles entering the market in 2010. In other words they are ready….and have been ready for the Next Years.
So what do we do as small businesses….We get ready for the next years!
- Get your business in order
- Define/Redefine your market
- Get the right products
- Know your customer
- Develop a competitive pricing strategy
- Plan with the next year(s) in mind
The next year will be challenging for business. The past few years have been overheated. Poor financial decisions by banks, people, businesses. I read about a family that bought an expensive SUV….because they looked good in it….poor decision!
Being in business may have been easy in the past….it’s not!
It takes a lot of effort and thought and willingness to be better.
Growing up in the automobile state (Michigan)….I have a fairly good picture of the auto industry. While we lived 180 miles from Detroit….there were many local plants that supplied parts, castings, tool and dies to the Big 3 automobile manufactures. They along with Ford, GM, Chrysler are facing some pretty significant issues now in terms of being viable….profitable businesses.
The Big 3 have not been able to compete with Toyota and Honda and a few other manufactures because their business model is no longer competitive. That’s why a bailout won’t solve the fundamental problems of cost and market adaptability. The market of the past no longer belongs to Ford, GM, Chrysler.
I suspect that they will get a bailout of some sort….they are near the head of the line. However, unless the Big 3 change dramatically….it’s wasted money. The free enterprise systems rewards companies that do things right and penalizes those that can’t compete.
Lesson Learned: Redefine your business model quickly not incrementally.
This mornings news:
- DHL ceases operations in America, cuts 9500
- Circuit City files Chp 11
- Nortel cuts 1300, largest loss
- Deutsche Bank: GM is worth nothing
What is happening is that past business models are not working. While encountering business disruptions in the late 70’s and early 80’s of similar nature….. today’s changes are taking place at faster rate. Transport aviation after World War ll was centered around aircraft such as the Douglas DC-6. However, the 4-engine reciprocating aircraft gave way to the jet engined Boeing 707.
As aviation technology accelerated, a new air transport aircraft came into existence….the SST or Concorde. Here the business model changed also….while great technology, the Concorde could not make a profit.
What is occurring is that marginal, poorly managed companies are now disappearing. It’s the failure to understand an enterprises fundamental business model, the market, and competitors.
Lesson Learned:Examine every aspect of the business….accept that change is critical to meet today’s challenges….it’s time to create a new model!
Moving Down-Moving Up
Several months ago, I came upon a $5 Million dollar business. It was in a highly competitive industry. I asked a few questions. What made these guys different from their competitors? While they had some of the best equipment in the industry….their competitors had or could get the same. They tried to have excellent customer service….so did some of their competitors.
Finally I said: “How do you gain new business?” The answer was revealing:
“We lower our prices 30% to undercut our competitors!”
Since their products can easily be made by others….the only way to gain business was by price cuts.
I wonder how long that can last….especially in these times. Moving down the food chain (cutting prices) can’t last forever.
Making a Point: Compete/Survive
The last two seminars of this year have been on:
Competing/Surviving: BasicBusiness in Challenging Times
Here are two “action photos”…..
“You do not merely want to be the best of the best….You want to be considered the only only ones who do what you do.” Jerry Garcia-The Grateful Dead
“If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.” – Gen. Eric Shimenski
Brand= A guarantee of a very positive experience when we use a product or service.
The best seminars are when folks like to interact. By interacting, I believe that ‘s when all this “stuff” really sinks in.
While times are challenging-they also are a time when our businesses/organizations move forward.