Stuart Margolis, a financial expert in the printing industry, has a worthwhile piece in Printing News where he notes that, inherently, owners learn to watch out for signs of trouble before that can impact business and many times the school of hard knocks actually pays off.
Constant control to correct financial trouble spots before they turn into a big mess is a common denominator. Keys to success seem to be: keeping an objective viewpoint, understanding the key indicators that trouble could be on the way, surrounding yourself with a loyal team that isn’t afraid to tell you the truth (good or bad), and having a commitment to accept the challenge to deal with the sea of changes to operations, technology and customers that are in front of you.
As a successful leader you understand that when everything’s going great you must keep up the momentum and optimism but don’t let rose colored glasses blind you. To have success after weathering storms of recessions, technological overhauls, and resignation of key staff members is a great achievement. You believe in your product and so do your customers. Your business model is sound. You’re convinced that your business will succeed. You also realize that it’s important to regularly step back and take an objective look at how your business is doing financially.
Otherwise, why would you keep trying so hard? Most successful business owners measure their accomplishments based on beating the competition by earning higher profits. It’s not that their money grubbers, it’s because their competitive and they want to win the race.
We recommend taking a big picture strategic view quarterly. Successful owners follow suit by looking at performance, weaknesses and trouble areas as well as potential financial challenges. Look at your financial standing compared to previous quarters, for the same time frame year-to-year, to the profit leaders in the industry, and most importantly to your budget and expectation. Paying attention to how your sales, profit margins, growth and cost structure changed in those time frames will tell you a lot about where your business is headed financially.
View your business as it is. Then, plan or reinvent it for what you want it to be. Don’t ignore the small stuff. Little “glitches” like exceeding costs on the cost sheet a few times, reducing customer markups, letting accounts slip in the aging cycle can all work against you to put you in a real jam. They add up. Be honest among your management team and hold each other collectively and individually accountable.
Once you’ve finished your next plan, focus on accomplishing your goals and implementing the changes needed. Even little improvements like cleaning the floors, or contacting a certain customer that we’re waiting for their approval, staying on top of a customer accounts receivable balance and calling key customers to “check in” all add up to keeping your success alive and well.
Read more here.