Thursday, 18 June 2009

Managing Your Business Environment

The 6C's of Success - a Road Map to Successful Business in Challenging Times

© Se├ín Weafer 2008 all rights reserved

As entrepreneurs and sales people, success is something we strive for everyday, so here is a simple model for business success that should help to serve as a ‘road map' in the current challenging times.

I call it the 6C Model and it is comprised of the following: CONTEXT, CLARITY, CONTROL, CONFIDENCE, COMMUNICATION AND COMPETENCE.

CONTEXT: The first part of the model deals with Context or, to be more specific, the environment in which we find ourselves working.

In recent months that environment has changed beyond recognition. Not only have world economies moved officially into recession but the global banking crisis has impacted on what liquidity there might have been in the markets - causing a credit squeeze on businesses looking to ‘gear up' while ‘scaling down' to face the worst of what is yet to come.

All of this we know from the constant bombardment of the media - a key factor of our context or environment. We have come to live in the ‘sound byte' world where sensationalism and instant gratification for news become the rules by which we are delivered information. Yet at what cost?

This form of information can cause many of us to react to our environment by making rash or wrong decisions. We quickly find ourselves working in constant fire-fighting mode, simply holding the line against the rapidly changing world and working at such a pace of change that we find ourselves reacting to the changes rather than being proactive.

Fear can start to take hold. We start to believe what others would have us believe. Nervousness dictates our decisions and eats at our confidence - at the precise time when we need to take very rational decisions in order to stay on top of the situation.

When pressurised we often tend to "Reflex", or simply unconsciously respond to stimuli, when we should "Reflect", or consciously choose the course of action that is most beneficial.

It is at times like these, more than at any other time, that we need to be creating the environment in which we work. We have to take control of our context by determining what we allow to colour our perceptions, who we choose to associate with or listen to, to take the time to review our needs and to define our objectives and our wants.

It is also at times like these when we need to review the other factors that make up our business environment.

The markets we are working in - are they too narrow or too broad, are we developing effective pricing strategies, effective cost reduction strategies, where do we shift our spend, do we decide to ‘hunker down' and ride out the storm or do we develop aggressive sales strategies now that everyone else is retrenching?

What about our staff and our teams? Do we have the right mix of people? Are we carrying people we know we should have let go long before this? What are the hard decisions that we need to be making? Are we investing in the skills that they will need to be productive or cutting back on that as an unnecessary expense?

Our business systems and our office environment - what are we doing here?

One final key area that we need to reflect upon is the future context that we may find ourselves operating in. Are we simply relying on what the media and market pundits are telling us or are we engaged in researching our customers and our markets? Are we asking the people who matter to our business the kinds of questions that allow us to start to build forecasting models and sales funnels as to what business is likely to be there in the next 3-6-9-12 months? Are we taking control of our own destiny?

Being aware of the dynamics of what creates the environment allows us to take control of that environment. A critical part of that taking control is making the time for effective reflection so that we do not simply respond on reflex.

Once the environment has been assessed we now move to the next level which is Clarity which we will look at in next week's blog.

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