Practical Principles and Tactics for your Business
I’ve had the privilege of working with over 300 Entrepreneurs in small–to mid size companies for over 25 years while operating my own businesses in the process.
So some of what I share here are mistakes I’ve made or seen others get tripped on. So I will begin to share 24 tactical or practical ideas that you can use today.
But at the same time, as a Christian there are 7 Principles I’ve learned from researching the Bible and seen effectively used by some of the top executives in walking their talk
that really work. As the Bible says, “Love covers a multitude of sins.” I’ve heard Howard Schultz, Chairman of Starbucks, say, “Growth (or in our reference cash flow) covers a multitude of mistakes.”
So let’s get started with the tactical ideas…
1. Weekly tract your 5-6 key indicators such as cash, sales, new customers, returns, turnover of people, accountants payable. You already know what are the measures that can make or break your business. You don’t have to have a profit and loss statement every week; a “snap shot” is good instead. In fact, chart it because it will be easier to read.
2. Stay on top of receivables. Call customers after 30 days or less. Be friendly but keep yourself on their mind. The old expression, the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” still works. If necessary get an outsider to help. Part time.
3. Offer discounts or incentives to pay early.
4. Accept credit card payments. More and more businesses are paying big-ticket items on credit cards because of the travel or other incentives they get.
5. It’s still a good time to refinance equipment, sell off dead inventory or real estate…even E-Bay works for many businesses.
6. Create a Profit Improvement program (PIP) asking your staff for ideas. Don’t kid yourself they know if the business is doing well or not. I’ve seen business do this with very effective results. Make fun or contest for best ideas. The more you get them involved the more they feel they own the place. Yes, some might quit. But if they are marginal employees that’s good. Privately, give the best people a special reason to stay.
7. Offer time off for less pay especially around holidays. Offer to pay them back in six months as cash flow improves.
8. Lower your break even to improve your margins using new technology, products from overseas. Use consultants or other business executives to give you ideas.
9. What ever you measure and post for employees with improve. Chart it; create peer pressure to improve productivity or performance.
10. Raise your price. If you are a small business you should be offering your customer the Best Quality and Service and for that you should be selling for the highest price. People are willing to pay for quality and you can’t with the Wal-Mart’s. You don’t have the volume. You should be in niche that the Wal-Mart’s don’t offer.
11. Pay for performance. Try a new incentive program or contest to create enthusiasm. But get their ideas on what the incentive would be.
12. Project your cash flow needs for 3 months at a time.
13. Solicit customer feedback through an appreciation lunch at your offices, or a conference with a special speaker or consultant and then finish with their feedback on what you can do better.
14. Ask your supplier for better terms, payment plans. Always be honest with them about your ability to pay.
15. Reduce wages across the board for 3-6 months by 10% for hourly positions and 20% for management including you. Plan to pay them back at the end of the period. I’ve seen this used very effectively. It works if you communicate well.
16. Don’t borrow more capital from your bank. My banker turn me down once and told me to cut costs and then sent his VP to meet with me each month for 6 months to review our cash and account receivables.
It was one of my best and worst experiences at the same time, I was humbled but it worked very effectively. Get yourself a coach that will hold you accountable before the bank does.
17.Renegotiate your leases.
18.Set up a Quality Circle team to review return or warranty issues with services and products.
19. Develop a Plan B and Plan C should issues become worse
20.Outsource. The Internet gives you all kinds of opportunities here to part time people with quality abilities and experiences with many even working at home. www.guru.com or www.e-lance.com are a couple of sources.
21. Cross train people in-house to do 2-3 tasks for now or even long term
22. Lease your employees to save on health Insurance and/or improve benefits and reduce personnel costs.
23. Don’t price your product on your costs but on the perceived value to the customer. Ask people what they are willing to pay for the quality and services you provide. “What would that be worth to you?” This may be the biggest mistake for Small Business owners, under pricing their products.
24. Get Wise Counsel. Meet with other non-competing business owners you respect for lunch and review your numbers. Help them as well. Search the Internet for groups that can help you. God has a plan for you to help others and be helped yourself in the process.
Now, for the 7 Biblical Principles I mentioned before. First let me say that God is not trying to control our money supply. Christ said to give to Caesar what is Caesars. Currencies are created by man’s government and not Him. Money is amoral, neither moral nor immoral. The Lord can and will use your cash flow struggles to encourage you to turn to him for answers. I discovered over time that God Blesses by Grace, by following His Principles and be the leading of His Spirit.
1. Trust Him. Believe it or not you cannot control everything. Faith has to be practiced. “Pray like everything depends on God and work like everything depends on You,” is an old quote I learned years ago and it has a lot of truth to it. We are to “be in the world but not of the world.” Even if we believe and trust God we still have to make a profit to continue in business.
We are to be a Good Shepherd of our business, customers, employees, distributors, etc. and to treat everyone with integrity. Bribes, stealing, lying and jealousy will kill a company and even the economy of a nation.
The most profitable airline in the history of mankind is Southwest Airlines, 35 straight years. When Herb Kelleher, the founder was asked years ago, aren’t you growing to fast? Aren’t you afraid of losing control? Herb said he wasn’t in control in the first place but instead established a set of principles, almost a religious creed that he adopted for his employees. His stock ticker symbol is LUV on purpose. It’s very close to how the Bible describes Love and he sees his no. 1 customer as his employees.
2. Build your business on a Solid Foundation. Character, Moral and Spiritual are the cornerstones from which to develop a business that lasts and is fruitful for all it comes in contact with. If your mission is just to make money, the business won’t last. But if you know your strengths and talents and love you your employees, customers and seek your highest purpose, the business can survive and grow for a very long time. J C Penney said, “the very best management training course is found in the book of Matthew and it’s called the Sermon on the Mount.”
3. Become a Servant Leader. In years past, I worked with a number of clients who would advice one another when they had performance problems with individuals to “fire Him and yet another one.” Chick-fil-A may have the lowest turn over of employees in the restaurant industry, where the norm is 300% annually. They recently produced a video demonstrating the Biblical principle of “Going the extra Mile.” Its and attitude and heart about how you treat people through a “loving” or servant mindset. It’s the Golden Rule at work.
4.Giving vs. Taking. The popular worldview is to look out for no. 1 (That’s you). The Biblical perspective is to give and it’s a given on to you. Hugh Jones, a former bank CEO with productivity problems said everything turn around when he reluctantly got his people involved in Habit for Humanity, the United Way and Ronald Mc Donald house. The bitterness and jealousy in the office went away as they volunteered together and rolled up their sleeves to help others. They gained a respect for one another and learned
To be friends, serve others and one another.
The result, teamwork and compassion in the office emerged. Productivity problems went away and Hugh was touched and personally changed from the inside out.
5. Walk your talk of faith. While the worldview says, “don’t offend anyone, ” people are hungering for the right values to live by. Big companies like Coca Cola and Texas Instrument have struggled with allowing groups to meet together for Bible study and praying together, afraid they would offend others. Finally, they have decided to let every peaceful group to meet and embraced the diversity of values. The results are that Christians are working to share and pray for every one. The Bible calls us to pray for our
friends in need.
Employees bring their marriage, fear, addiction and financial issues to work and in a Christian business culture, healing can take place. People of faith create good companies and good companies make more money.
6. Get focused and become more effective with your long term Strategy. Get out of your office with your team to pray and think long term and develop your strategy. In the 1980s, Chick-fil-a sales when flat from an annual growth rate of 15%, so Truett Cathy took his board and key staff away for a 3 day planning session for the first time. The result was a clearer Mission and re-commitment to the Lord’s purpose.
Know your real mission and plan for both Eternal and current Economic success. I know a number of Entrepreneurs who are “deal maker junkies.” They don’t manage or lead their business, it leads them. Their cash flow plan is the next best idea or just to make another deal.
Get the Wise Counsel of other leaders, coaches and advisors that can pray and help you refine your plan from a
Objective perspective. Its lonely at the top and you need the wisdom and confirmation on your ideas and dreams.
7. “Pride comes before the fall” is a scripture from Proverbs that still applies today. We all have seen some prominent leaders fall from a lack of Character and Integrity. God calls us to be Humble before Him and our fellow man. A humble person is teachable, willing to learn and grow personally and professionally, willing to listen anyone. Our job is to be a “student teacher” who is willing to pray publicly and seeks God’s leading
The word says that “broad is the road to destruction but narrow is the road to righteousness.” “Every business is a ministry and every ministry is a business.”