We hear a lot of news from different sources telling us what is bad, worse and terrible about the current economy. Although that there seem to be a more positive sentiment at the end of the second quarter than at the end of the first, there is still a lot of bad news coming at us. I am sure you have noticed that people talk about the bad economy and it’s a given that when we hear bad news we feel bad. It’s really hard to run a business of any kind when the news is always negative. Because it affects your spirit, your willingness to take risks and it affects your staff. Managing in tough times takes an extra effort, as if there wasn’t enough to deal with the poor economy. Here are some hints to help you manage during these challenging times.
Accept The Value of Work
It’s inevitable that people will adjust to having lower expectations about what they do and how they are remunerated for their work. This also means that we are going to see that people are happy and appreciative of “just having a job”. Furthermore, we’ll see people that find rewards in doing a good job. Efforts that are appreciated for its quality rather than how much money they generate. One can expect that the appreciation of having a job and of doing a good job will improve job satisfaction which then makes businesses better.
Company owners need to get the best out of their employees. Use this recession to challenge your work force and see who can help your business grow stronger. If you are forced to lay off people make sure you take good care of those who remain and who have to take on bigger responsibilities. Those who stay can’t feel punished because others left. Help employees understand what is expected of them, train them for their assignments and hold them accountable for their positions. Creating a team spirit is more important during challenging times than ever. The good people work because they feel rewarded by progress not necessarily by a pay check.
Be a Leader
When bad news hits, the business owner must demonstrate his leadership skills. Being an owner or “the boss” isn’t a guarantee that you are viewed as a strong leader. It must be earned by building trust and by making decisions that make meaningful changes. So leadership is something you need to work on. You can’t make critical decisions without having information, so be prepared for change. Communicate frequently with your staff so that you get honest feedback about what is working and what isn’t. Talk to people in other industries so that you have a better understanding of what is going on outside your sphere.
Look for opportunities to enter into business relationships with other companies that have a supplementing product. The classic alliances in the portable storage business are with fencing and port-a-potty companies. However, there are many more businesses that have products that can benefit from being delivered in, stored in or built into a container. There are different types of alliances. A sales alliance is when two companies agree to go to market together to sell complementary products and services. A solution-specific alliance is two companies agree to jointly develop and sell a specific marketplace solution. A geographic-specific alliance is when two companies agree to jointly market or co-brand their products and services in a specific geographic region.
Work on Personal Development
If business is slow and you have more time available than normal, look into the things you’d like to do for yourself and the things that can improve your business. Take a computer class, freshen up your high school Spanish or learn about new methods that can enhance your business. Don’t ignore the personal life. How may be the time to shorten the “to do” list for your home. Being active and having a sense of fulfillment makes it easier to have a positive outlook in life. The economic slowdown is after all a reflection of what people believe of the future.
Plan for a Brighter Future
Focus on the short term by dealing with the day to day and the impact of the current economic climate on your business. Then manage for the long term, short term you may need to cut cost but long term you should invest. Recession is a good time to invest, prices are low, sellers are pressed, creditors are cleaning out etc. Be prepared for the wave of positive news that can change the sentiment of your customers in a positive way. There is always a risk of being overly conservative so that when the tide turns one can’t deliver to the customers and they’ll end up going to the competition. Don’t let that happen, those customers are most likely gone forever. On the other hand, be prepared for another severe downturn. If we currently are in a so called “bear rally”, the stock market going up while the economy is continuing down, then times will be tougher before they get better.
So what does this all mean for a portable storage company? Well it is simple and most of it is common sense. Foremost, take good care of your customers and your employees. They are the most valuable personal relationships for your business. Look to yourself for ways to improve the business, as a small business owner you are “it”. You are the leader who will make it happen and the one everyone will look to for help when things don’t go well. You are the entrepreneur that built the business to what it is today by having the desire to succeed and grow. Now, more than ever, your management skills will be challenged to cope with the economic turmoil. Stay positive, keep your customers happy and look for new opportunities. The future is always bright.