MD2MD Founder, Bob Bradley, shares his four top tips on surviving and thriving in difficult times.
Build a business that can cope with whatever
Nassim Nicholas Taleb once said, “forecasting is absurd and folly.”
Basically, forget the forecast. You’re never going to be able to fully predict what’s going to happen in the economy, the weather etc. so just build a business that can cope with whatever comes your way.
Have a survive then thrive mindset
Following the survive then grow mindset – an interesting challenge to consider:
What if we spent nothing on marketing and sales for the next 3 months?
Could we survive just servicing existing customers?
Cutting our sales and marketing costs, could we instead focus on growing revenues with existing customers through delivery?
Reduce costs successfully and effectively
One of the things I learnt very early in my career was that the key to reducing costs successfully and effectively in a business is to really really understand the customer. It’s counter-intuitive. When people talk about cost reduction they think internally. But actually, with cost reduction you should begin externally with the customer. Try and really understand what the customer values and what they don’t value as much – what they don’t value are the things you can cut without them noticing.
Crumbs off the corporate table
If the economy is slowing down, a corporate can’t avoid it. They go and cut costs – focusing on the core business. Implicit in that is that they are exiting and not focusing on things they don’t perceive are core to them. As an SME, you can avoid the economy and you can in fact turn the economy to your advantage. Many corporates will be the ones suffering the pain and you can grab the crumbs off their table. They don’t want to do this bit of business anymore so you can go and grab it. They don’t want to treat their customers properly anymore as they are cutting back on staff so you can go and grab that opportunity there.