In their large majority human beings are logical creatures. Sooner or later they find most of the answers to their problems. The key is to ask ourselves the right questions, the tough ones, those that really matter so we can give honest and thorough answers.
Just over a month ago a dear friend from Cyprus asked me for a favor. His family business had tough times, mostly depending of the crisis in the country and he wanted to have a different perspective from someone he trusted. He wanted help to think differently, he wanted someone to ask the right questions.
So I prepared a couple of questions for him to answer. Below is my email to him.
Actually, I don’t have any recipe to success;
I don’t have a big secret. For me it has always been about working with the right people, passion for what I’m doing and dedication to one thing at a time.
But if you want to read further, I can share my thoughts.
The best decisions I’ve taken in my business life have almost always been when I’m under a lot of pressure and some kind of crisis. I’ve asked myself why is it so? Why can’t I see everything before I forced to change?
Humans are lazy creatures, we don’t make changes willingly, our brain is taking shortcuts constantly (generalizing, try to find patterns from previous experiences) for not be required to manage all inputs around us and unnecessarily consume energy.
When we are forced to make changes, like in a crisis, and if you are open to take the challenge to make something different, something better, then you are more certain going to succeed. Nowadays I force myself from time to time to change cause I know that I will learn from that and the change is going to lead me to something new and hopefully better. If not, I have to change again until I succeed with my goals.
My advice to you (with the respect that I don’t know anything about your business and industry) is to be open minded and ask yourself some questions:
- Are you the right people to run the company? Do you want to run the company? Are you passionate about it? Be honest, I know it’s a tough question, but you have to ask yourself that.
- Have other companies in your industry taking over or is everyone in a recession? If not, then the problem isn’t the market. Found out what the problem really is.
- Do you have the right employees? If yes, have you involved them in the work of coming out from the crisis or are you trying to do everything on the management level? Sometimes the answers are more near than we thought.
- What is the problem, really? Is it the crisis? Or is it something else? Have the market changed and have you followed? Do you have to diversify/increase your offering on the market, with more or different products? Do you have to change your offering? Have you updated your business plan, is it still relevant or do you have to updated it? How is your marketing, have you convert to digital?
- Have you asked your customers, face to face. What you can do so you can buy more/often from us? Do you need anything else except from what we are offering? Customers generally don’t like to have many suppliers, the fewer the better. So do more for your customers.
- Do you have the right tools? CRM system and other IT systems. Do you work effectively? Can you automate? Can you be more effective in your production?
- How has other companies in the same industry (and other countries) tackled any crisis? Can you learn something from them? Copy with pride! Do you have a competitor that actually growing right now in Cyprus? Or is everyone have rough times?
- If you have tough times and the problem applies to all of your competitors, then all of them have it tough too. Is it maybe time to attack? Buy out someone maybe so you can reduce the competition on the market? Or can you maybe merge with someone, so you can become stronger and dominate the market instead.
- Can you ride out the crisis? Do you have enough founds to just ride it out? Reduce all the costs, and hope that the market will change in the future. How long can you be in survival mode?
I don’t know what the outcome was just yet, it’s too early to answer. But they did ask themselves those questions and they got a lot of answers. Now the most important and hardest part is left; to change…