Charlie Sheen has talked a lot about winning in the past few months. So I couldn’t help but think about the standards of winning in business, and how much they have changed. The truth is this: In this fragile economy, winning is essentially effective risk management. A definitive factor in business success and failure has always been the amount risk one is willing to take. While getting credit or capital is harder these days, that should not stop business owners and entrepreneurs — especially the little guys — from taking risks.
While our company, WDFA Marketing has faced challenges, there have been a few actions that we have taken to help us both manage risk and to take those risks necessary to keep our agency moving in a forward direction. Those actions include the following:
First, increase the level of communication with creditors and vendors.
There is nothing wrong with telling your key partners what’s going on with your company, especially how you plan on growing, when you expect things to get better and what you’re doing in the immediate future to keep things moving. If you’re behind on paying vendors, work with them to create a plan. Chances are you aren’t the only one that’s having cash flow issues.
Second, look at your product and service according to today’s economy.
We live in an on-demand society, so businesses have to be nimble. The consumer wants it and they want it as fast as they can get it. Spend some time looking at your operational processes and figure out ways you can be more efficient. Also, don’t be afraid of incorporating more technology into your day-to-day routines companywide. It’s not as difficult or as expensive as you may think.
Try out different pricing models. This is an economy in which you want to bet on consistent long-term gain rather than monumental short-term gains (though those are nice too).
Don’t be afraid of creating partnerships and be open to revenue-sharing models. You never know when that crazy idea that you drew on a bar napkin flourishes into the next great phenomena.
If you want to test out a new concept or service and can’t find the right amount of funding, downsize your idea and cut costs. Focus on creating a flawless execution that can be easily scaled up. Create results on your own and take those out to help get funding. Note results and numbers that showing potential.
Lastly, spend extra energy and resources on employee morale.
Never forget that the people who should believe in your vision as much as you do are your team. As a leader and visionary, you’re delegating while your team is executing. Without them you would just be talking to yourself.
Buy lunch once a week or bring in snacks and put them in the break room. Happy (and full) people are productive people.
You might not able to distribute the high bonuses or raises that you’re used to, or that your team expects. Instead, talk to them. Discuss your successes and address failures by sharing what you learned. Show them the road that you are walking down and the great potential that it holds.
As challenging as conducting business is today, with a little bit of smarts and effective risk management it’s still possible to move forward, even if it’s just one inch at a time.
Raj Prasad fulfilled a lifelong dream and founded his own agency, WDFA Marketing, at age 25, bringing on his two friends and former co-workers as managing partners. Because of his leadership, WDFA has earned accolades as Inc. magazine’s Fastest-Growing Marketing and Advertising Agency and San Francisco Business Times’ Tenth Fastest-Growing Private Company of 2010. Learn more at www.wdfamarketing.com.