BREXIT: THREE KEY LESSONS ON HOW NOT TO RUN A BUSINESS
Firstly, a disclaimer – I am not a political analyst, but I am an accountant and business advisor working with small businesses up and down the country and there are lots of lessons to be learnt from the way Brexit is being managed that apply to the running of your business. I am writing this the day before it will be published, so anything could happen with Brexit in the meantime but hopefully this will remain valid (I can’t keep up with it all anymore, can you?).
I think there are three key lessons to take from Brexit about how not to run a business:
FACTS FIRST, DECISIONS SECOND
Business decisions are always based on facts, some people will say that they go with their gut instinct, but the reality is that the facts will be there in the background that have led to that gut instinct decision. Having the information to hand to base your decisions on is vital, this information could be financial (cash position, margins, stock levels) or it could be performance metrics (social media statistics, website feedback and reviews, staff appraisals) but without this information it is a lot harder to make a justifiable decision.
If you are a one-person business then you may think you don’t need to justify your decisions, but your decisions will impact others regardless: others you work with i.e. suppliers, freelancers, etc and some of those may be fellow small businesses. Being able to say to someone “I am bringing this work back in-house because of reasons a, b, c” can mean that you still have a working relationship with them in case you want to use them and work with them again. It could also impact on family and your own personal finances too. So, remember to look at the bigger picture.
Facts also help with the hard decisions, if you can see that you are losing money on a particular service or product line then you can make an informed decision to either increase prices or stop that offering, unless you are the Tesco’s of the world then running with a loss-leader isn’t a sound long term business decision.
BE FLEXIBLE, ADAPT TO CHANGE
Accept that nothing is set in stone, plans will need to change. If you are a product-based business, then trends come and go and what was once the “in-thing” may no longer be so. Or if it was an amazing and revolutionary idea when you started, then the chances are that others will now be doing the same and it becomes a crowded market place meaning you may need to look at how to differentiate what you do and how you do it to stay as the leader.
It could be that you do everything within your business but that you are now so stretched that something is going to give and fall over, we don’t want that to be you. Making changes to the way you work, getting help etc is a good thing – it’s progress and will lead to a better, stronger business that is more sustainable in the long run.
Change doesn’t have to be bad, most of us are reluctant to make changes in our businesses but it can be a good and positive thing.
LEAD WITH COMPASSION
This is applicable to you whether you are a one-person band or have a team around you, you are still the leader of your business and will impact those who buy from you, who follow your social media, who listen to what you have to say.
Leading with conviction is not the same as leading with compassion. Leading with conviction can be perceived as stubbornness, a lack of willingness to listen to others and flex what we do. Leading with compassion means we listen, we acknowledge the views and thoughts of others. We won’t necessarily change our plans, but we are able to explain why we are doing what we are doing and the benefits of it and that leads to support, to understanding and us being stronger as a result.