6. Get bartering. More small businesses, squeezed for cash from slow-payers and unable to acquire a loan from tight bankers, are turning to the very simple ancient exchange system known as barter. In 2008 about 250,000 North American companies conducted barter transactions worth more than $16 billion – a 15 percent gain is expected in 2009. Organizations use bartering in many different ways including arranging for professional business advice, ad agency services, Web site designers, graphic artists and access to experienced accounting, tax and financial support, among other things. In many cases with budgets so tight, these projects that truly do wonders in keeping a company in the public eye, would probably have been incorrectly viewed as unnecessary and abandoned. Bartering can also be used for erasing delinquent receivables. This important survival method is a distinct competitive advantage for smaller businesses over larger ones. It also provides an outlet for the more creative small company over their less flexible same-size competitors.
7. Get learning. Invest in practical education and training for yourself and other key personnel. Simple learning can sometimes solve complex problems. No matter how much experience you have in the world of business, I would bet there are still some very important skills for which you have never received formal (or updated) professional training. Are there some real world skills that you should master in order to help you create direct income (or direct savings)? Have you been properly taught business accounting, business law, modern negotiation, the art of persuasion, advanced spreadsheet techniques, interpersonal communication, HR laws, asset/risk management, implementing financial measurements, etc.? All of these skills, when learned and then optimized within your business, have the power to pay handsome and quick returns back to your company – all at the very best possible time.
8. Get obsessed with simplicity. Immerse yourself in the art of simplification and bring that obsession out to the people that surround you. Don’t just simplify your business . . . see if you can bring the same skills to your personal life as well. Explore what it is you do with your days and nights and see what, if anything, can be reduced or perhaps eliminated from your daily routine. Make it a game if that helps. Create new rules to guide you. You just might find some new and very powerful perspective that’s been missing entirely or skewed in a way that kept you off balance. Try new ways to “spend” time (because we do spend it and we can’t get it back – ever).
The 21st Century is a complicated time for us all. While streamlining your business might be not the proper prescription for every single company out there, where introduced it will offer tangible value for many owners of smaller businesses. It’s safe to say that the simplification discussed in this article (i.e. a refocusing of your company’s essence and core offering to best demonstrate its purpose and magnetism n the marketplace) is, under most circumstances, a truly good thing for just about any business. Before introducing intricate or elaborate new policies, promotions or pricing in an effort to match or outwit the complexities already embedded in 2009, I would urge you to embrace this simple response. With all apologies to the English pop tunesmiths known as XTC, I urge you to consider a campaign to become The Mayor of Simpleton before you allow personal ambition to propel you toward a self-proclamation as the new King of Complications.
About the author: Chris Traynor, Surface Fabrication magazine’s senior business columnist, is the director and knowledge scout for Whip-Smart Management Consulting LLC., Wayne, N.J. (www.whip-smart.com), as well as a board-certified senior professional in human resources (SPHR). Traynor has 25 years of experience in the solid surface industry as a consultant to fabricators, distributors, manufacturers and associated firms. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.