How many CEOs and business owners out there have been feeling the truth and challenge in those words over the last few weeks? With so much changing week on week, so much uncertainty and so much fear sparking anxious, not always kindly, often public client feedback, how do you keep your head focused on good business management? Here, Fractional CMO Marion Weiler, shares her advice.
Focus on leadership skills
While it’s all too easy to feel rattled by everything that’s going on, try to focus on authentically caring about your customers, employees and you. Look to bring hope to each individual’s concerns instead of feeding the fears – of slowing business, losing jobs, not feeling understood or appreciated.
As a business leader, it’s your job to lead by example and inspire the people around you to trust in your ability to lead them through this. Don’t panic, but also don’t downplay people’s fears. Be the calm through the storm, people are watching you and your reaction, and in turn it will feed into how things play out.
While the natural inclination is to focus on customers, because they are your source of revenue, don’t fall into the trap of only focusing on their wellbeing at the expense of your team. Take care of your employees who are providing the service and help facilitate their wellbeing by adapting the way they work to help them now that they are at home. Perhaps they need to allocate their day differently for example, if they are at home with young children and no access to childcare.
Where there is crisis, there is opportunity. Become an agent of change and inspire agents to come together and do good for your community.
Streamline and set your organizational structure up for continued success
This needs to be done in phases depending on how the crisis is impacting your business. You may need to look at what you can do to stabilise first, but then start making plans for the future. Be realistic but be positive and look for solutions.
Focus your time, energy and resources on what’s critically important. Understanding the cost structure and impact of the line items (protect what’s critical and cut out what’s not). Look for cost savings that were flying under the radar and are irrelevant or redundant. Don’t forget to reach out to your partners or look at renegotiating existing contracts. Most people are understanding, especially at the moment, but you need to be upfront and communicate to help them feel reassured rather than taken advantage of.
Then, optimize your organisational structure and operational effectiveness. For example, build a structure that aligns with your needs, communicate expectations and company goals. As a rule of thumb always, keep management lean and dynamic, directly in line with operational effectiveness – it will generally help to reduce redundancies.
Identify what’s critical to future success, determine what your ongoing cost items are and how they relate to the identified success initiatives. It’s important to look at structure, for example, determine if you have the right balance between local support and corporate operations for consistency.
Determine effective marketing solutions and optimize marketing operations
It’s easy to think about halting all marketing, and you shouldn’t market for the sake of it, but then again, you should never do that. Once you have planned what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, identify fitting and cost-effective marketing solutions with lead generation in mind.
Digital solutions and virtual tools become more important at times like these. Guide your team and third parties to leverage the top tools that are relevant to them and make an impact on their particular role instead of asking everyone to use all the tools in the toolbox. Different tools work for different people depending on their audience, skills, time in the business and circumstances.
Last, but not least, work together with industry partners and strategic firms that offer solutions and value to where you have gaps.