There’s no playbook for solving today’s crisis. However, there is a game plan for how business owners can adjust their business strategy quickly. Organizations who take strategic action and are dynamic in how they mitigate threats and seize opportunities will be the difference between surviving or thriving.
This is a defining moment for business owners. B2B CFO® is here to help your organization take the right steps and provide strategic business and financial guidance as we weather this storm. These strategies will help you and your team respond to these critical times with excellence and action:
1. Revamp your 2020 strategic plan. Your 2020 strategic business plan is now obsolete. The next 90 days will be critical to the future of your business and will set the course of how you operate and achieve goals for 2020. Your plan should hit fast forward to where your company should go. Look at new product and services opportunities and how your company can leverage disruption that is impacting other markets and industries. Where and how can you better serve them? Where is there a need for fractional outsourcing of your product or service? There’s a wealth of innovation that can be created. Your strategic plan needs to guide you to follow that path.
2. Create aggressive goals that promote action, focus, and growth. These might include ambitious goals of 3X growth, and winning market share in a never-touched market. Choose strategic goals that are outside of your comfort zone. How do you lead your company, your teams, your supply chains with excellence and innovation? How can you improve relationships with your key customers or deter cash flow issues?
3. Conduct strategy discussions and performance assessments. What are your strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, and threats as we enter this new reality of business? How you will respond to these immediate threats? Assess what you need to do for the business right now to serve your customers and employees. Secondly, assess what should the company invest in and focus on to create growth. What initiatives did you put on the back burner that need to be put in place right away to generate additional revenue?
4. Think lean and evaluate variable costs. Evaluate expenses of non-essential operations. Put a system in place of how to satisfy the customer better, faster, and at a lower cost. What non-value-added processes can be cut? What competitive advantage or new marketing possibilities would open if you cut your customer delivery times in half? Cutting expenses during bad times is crucial, but cutting expenses the wrong way can be devastating for growth and survival. Where specifically can you begin to remove limitations or interruptions to the continuous flow of work through your company? The ideal state for any business system includes organizing and managing product development, operations, suppliers, and customer relations in a manner that requires less payroll, less inventory, less expense, and less time.
5. Rely on data analytics to assess all areas of the business. Managing business risks and threats is essential to survive today’s economic storm. Data analytics lets you take an in-depth look at a company’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities with data-backed insights. With data analytics, companies can identify those areas quickly and with great accuracy to create more effective plans for averting and responding to disasters. Your data will help clear the fog so you have realistic, financial and data-driven analyses that removes the guesswork from taking immediate action.
6. Create a culture of realistic optimism. Create a workplace culture that lives by your company mission, vision and values, and that prides itself on winning and thriving during this crisis. A business culture that surrounds your organization’s transition to remote working is also critical to thrive during this pivotal time. Ultimately, what holds a distributed and virtual workplace together is the trust, patience and support employees receive from leadership and from one another.
7. Be observant to fraud. Fraudsters take advantage of fear around big headline news, like the coronavirus, to steal money from unsuspecting consumers and businesses. Ramp up your internal controls to deter fraud. Segment accounting duties, set up rigorous internal controls, audit the books regularly, train employees on how to spot and mitigate fraud, and seek experts that can help you establish policies and procedures to reduce your exposure to fraud.
8. Encourage quick payment. If you got paid for sales the instant you made them, you would never have a cash flow problem. Slow payments can impact your business and its ability to pay bills and meet payroll, therefore make sure you’re implementing tactics to encourage quick payment times. Specify the due date on your invoices, as well as payment terms. An important part of a professional invoice is a clear, polite statement about your payment period and what will happen if the customer doesn’t pay on time. Make it easy for your customers to pay you online. Have a professional way to follow up on all invoices that are 30+ days past due. Offer discounts to customers who pay their bills rapidly. Ask customers to make deposit payments at the time orders are taken.
9. Become a safe haven for your employees and customers. Now more than ever, employees and your customers want to know where they stand. To do this, they need the right direction and information from their leaders and service providers. Communicate often. Anticipate and address their needs and potential risks and disruptions they may face, and respond with data-driven solutions. Drive a brand message based on safety, empathy and action.
10. Learn from experience and rely on experts. Most business owners are really good at beating themselves up for things that go wrong, but this situation is far beyond what anyone has experienced. Business owners need strategy, fiscal discipline, innovative ideas, a sounding board, and proactive steps to weather this storm. An expert like B2B CFO® can provide tactical steps to help with financing, cash flow needs and other financial safeguards. Someone who has been through other crises and came out thriving on the other side will be an invaluable asset to you and your business. Not all companies excel during tough times, but yours can with proactive strategies, laser focus and actions plans. The stakes are too high to punt!
B2B CFO® is here to help your company assess risks and opportunities and establish plans to flourish! Contact me today: ArtBottoms@B2BCFO.com