Nobody likes change, but some owners overcome their fear, uncertainty and doubt to make moves before it's too late. They watch, listen and analyze their world.
Smart owners recognize that 20 years of industry experience is not enough to succeed in a changing environment. They accept and value lessons learned in other industries.
And owners who personally call on customers, fiddle with their machines, know their employees and monitor their daily revenue and expenditures do better. One of my mentors, Wayne Willis, says, "Until a company grows to $100 million, the CEO can still make time to review all expenditures over $1,000."
Proactive owners invest in critical initiatives when they need to instead of when they feel they can afford to. They respond to the messages and demands of their marketplaces and other stakeholders, particularly investors.
They accept that they must modify and improve on their best and highest uses to remain in business. And they create new and efficient ways of delivering value to customers. They do not lie low and wait for things to improve.
The results are significant. The owners are working harder in the short term as an investment for long-term payoff, while their inactive counterparts ignore the inevitable while it gets worse. They take more control over what they thought was not controllable. And they feel more confident in knowing what they don't know.
So what happens to owners who sit back and wait to be forced to react?
Owners who neglect building a strong foundation for the long term end up making painful and usually destructive last ditch efforts. One option is to engage a turnaround firm. These consultants are often seen as the cavalry coming over the hill, but more often than not, the owner loses his battle.
To avoid this, address the problems uncovered by the experts you hire. Nothing is more dismaying than pointing out a problem and being ignored.
In the final analysis, business problems are just like the ones in the old Fram oil filter commercial.You can pay a small amount for the oil filter now or you can pay a lot for a whole new engine later. Andrew Birol is president of Birol Growth Consulting, a Solon-based firm that helps grow businesses by growing their best and highest uses. He can be reached at (440) 349-1970 or at www.andybirol.com.