If you are concerned about the adverse effects of recession then the following parable is just for you:
There is an interesting story about the goddess of disease, who was went from village to village making people severely sick. However, in one village, the village goddess stopped her from entering since she was morally bound to protect them. The goddess of disease argued, “It is your Karma (virtue) as well as Dharma (Duty) to protect – it is mine to cause illness and death in order to balance the population on Mother Earth. We are part of the same creation. Therefore, you should allow me to enter and do my dharma.” The village goddess granted permission – reluctantly – on a condition that the goddess of disease would not take the lives of more than two people. However, after the stipulated time was over, just as goddess of disease was about to leave the village, the goddess of village called out to the her and asked “What did you do? I allowed you only to take the lives of two people – but so far ten have died!” The goddess of disease replied “I did exactly as you requested – but the others died (or are dying) out of fear of disease.”
The bad (or worst) thing about the recession is the fear it generates in the minds of people. Business people are worried about their profits, employees are concerned about their jobs and government is apprehensive about their political capital. As a result, they all curb their spending which makes the markets less lucrative and several businesses suffer.
But, is recession really as bad? Philosophically speaking, like life, the economy too is cyclical. Booms and busts are both phases of the economic cycle, it is irrefutable. Recessions are not predictors of doom. Some of the biggest and most successful companies in the world, including Microsoft, FedEx, GE, Revlon Cosmetics, and Hyatt, were started during the recession. From GE in the 1800s to FedEx in the 1970s, these businesses are still going strong.
All business leaders and managers must understand that during a recession panicking is the easiest thing to do. Panic, which is essentially a fear-driven and not fact-based emotion, has a significant negative impact. You don’t want to give into panic and throw your hands in the air and get into a self-destruction mode. So you’ve to take the alternate route; rather than giving yourself to fear and flowing with negative emotions you can consider the event as a change. By this, you’ll be able to see opportunities, make the right choices and realize the due positive results.
It doesn’t matter which business you own or run the following are 9 key points you’d need to adhere to:
- Eliminate debts: If your revenues are falling you’d have to balance by curbing your expenses. But more importantly, you’d have to make sure you aren’t running into more debts. Austerity is the key to survival during the recession.
- Right size your team: If there are unproductive, or even less productive, workers now is the time to make them perform or given them their marching orders.
- Track finances daily: You must take over the reign of financial control and know the financial status on a day to day business. In a recession, you’d have to rely less on your accountant and more on yourself.
- Reduce inventories: If you have inventory that has been rotting in your warehouse for more than a stipulated time get rid of it by either returning it to the supplier or selling it to the customer. Never stock too much of inventories in expectation for better margins albeit for extended repayment period.
- Upgrade your staff: See if you can get your staff to do more productive work. If possible train them or make them learn from each other. Having more skills is beneficial not just for organizations but also for staff.
- Focus on marketing: The significant focus must be laid on marketing. You got to find more clients while trying to make the best of existing clients. That’s the ultimate key to profitability during a recession.
- Focus on quality: When there are many suppliers the one with the best quality and price is often sought for. To ensure that you have the right (not cheap) price for your products/services and – more importantly – better quality than your competitors.
- Hold on to existing customers: Many studies have proved that when spending power diminishes existing frequent customers were highlighted as the most important source of revenue growth during the previous recession. Identifying new business opportunities amongst existing customers often led to successful organic growth and revenue.
- Deliver excellent customer service: At any rate quality of customer service of an organization will determine the longevity of any enterprise. Being flexible and reliable to meet their requirements were cited as important strategies in retaining existing loyal customers as many others tighten their belts.
Author is Founder & Director of Vedic Management Center.
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