By David Wright, BSA Marketing.
I was talking with one of our service partners the other day. They offer specialist creative/technical services – and they are good!
The business has become established and grown steadily (though unspectacularly) over the past few years. In the middle of last year, the owner decided he wanted to ‘go for it’.
He took on additional staff both in sales and technical/creative, he moved offices to central Manchester – and he went for it….
9 months later, things haven’t gone quite according to plan. The business did not take off like a rocket yet the overhead taken on to deliver the growth was still there month after month – something had to give. The decision was taken to restructure the business back to more like it was before. It was accepted that the plan hadn’t worked.
But that is business life. Things don’t always work – statistically they most commonly don’t work!
The important thing is that the business is still viable. Business is a process and it is important to try new things because this is how we learn. If a new plan succeeds, great. The business moves to the next level, ready for the next push.
If a new plan doesn’t succeed, it shouldn’t matter, it is just part of the ups and downs of business.
Remember Google Answers, Google Reader, iGoogle? All gone.
In the past 10 years, Google has closed or reintegrated over 100 different services
In business, we are always learning. It’s important to get something out of everything you do – even if it isn’t what you were hoping.
Don’t ignore the signs
In September 1989, BSA Marketing was going through a tough patch. Income wasn’t covering overheads and something needed to be done. That ‘something’ included redundancies but it was my job to make them and I tried to ignore it. I hung on for 3 months until I had to face up to things. I still had to make the redundancies and my procrastination cost me £30000 – over £50k in today’s money.
I’m glad to say we survived the experience, but I have never forgotten it.
I take my hat off to our service partner. They made a plan, implemented it, then took action when they saw things going off-track.
Have a written plan
Having your plan written down crystalizes your objectives. If you specify your expectations and what it is you are going to measure to control your plan, it is easier to avoid ‘specfication creep‘ where the plan adapts itself to fit the outcomes you achieve. If uncontrolled, this can be dangerous.
It doesn’t actually matter if you don’t match your targets. It does mean things aren’t going as planned and it is an opportunity to review your plan in the light of real experience. It could be that things are going better than expected though this can create it’s own problems! The important thing is that you learn and get better at what you do.
The reality is that most plans don’t work out as expected (some work out better!) so if you over-commit resources and don’t see the anticipated results, you can find yourself digging a financial hole. Planned holes are fine – arguably they are at the heart of entrepreneurship and business – but be careful not to let a hole get too deep. It will be difficult to fill in! In both of my real-world examples above, we lost money, we dug a hole. In both cases the hole was manageable and that’s the important thing.
And remember, the opposite of digging a hole is making a pile. Even if you are only making a small pile, it’s still a pile.
…and you are in business, ready for the next step – whatever it is.