The focus of this edition’s column is not primarily based on my background as a lawyer and my position as General Counsel to The Business Council of Westchester but rather on my expertise as the founder and manager of a small business.
As we embark on a new year and experience the inauguration of a new president, the business community is confronted with enormous challenges. Businesses that successfully navigate the turbulent environment will have the opportunity to reap great rewards. Business success will be based on leadership—and leadership is elementally predicated on learning from the past, effectively acting in the present, and building toward the future goals of the business.
I offer these points to help you reinforce and revitalize your business:
A business organization is only as good as the sum of its parts. As such, engineering, or re-engineering, a work environment that motivates and rewards your employees is critical. Setting clear goals and objectives for employees is equally as important. Employees cannot and should not have to guess the objectives of the business’s leadership particularly in these transcendent times.
Network, Network, Network
As a leader of a business, I can tell you with all certainty, this is not the time to put your head in the sand. Be proactive! In fact, this is the time to step up and stand out. Organizations like The Business Council of Westchester are incredibly powerful vehicles to let the community know not only who you are but also what goods and services your business provides. Take advantage of this valuable resource.
Be “Clientcentric” and “Customercentric”
As a general rule, most of your business’s growth is going to come from customer or client referrals. This is known as organic growth. As such, focus like a laser beam on your clients’ or customers’ needs. Share with them, as I am sharing with you in this column, your perspective on how you believe your client or customer can navigate through these trying times. Be responsive to your clients’ needs and without asking, your client or customer will reward you with referrals.
Don’t be Afraid to Hire New Talent
With the downsizing of businesses throughout the region, the available talent in the labor pool is incredible. While hiring in this environment seems counter intuitive, smart hiring choices can lead to long-term opportunity. Perhaps in 2007 and 2008, there were areas that you were interested in driving your business, but the labor costs for doing so created an obstacle. Today, that obstacle may very well not exist. Evaluate where you desire to take your business and who else you might need to add to your team so that you can exploit these targeted opportunities. The time may be now for you to build your team up while others are taking their teams apart.
Explore Potential Business Synergies and New Business Opportunities
Perhaps there are business relationships including, but not limited to, the following: a joint venture, a partnership, a licensing arrangement that was not feasible in years past, but because of present market conditions, is feasible today. Now may very well be the time to explore such opportunities. Moreover, if you find yourself unemployed, turn adversity into a positive opportunity to prosper! Get organized; focus on your skill set; then get started by writing a thorough business plan. Before jumping in, do industry research. Pinpoint what you can do to rise above your competition and make people choose your concept over other concepts. And even though advertising dollars are hard to come by, market aggressively so consumers want and think they need your products or services.
Achieving all of the above bullet points will not be manageable unless, as a business leader, you successfully manage your own time. At the beginning of each work week, or at the end of the work week, set aside a few moments to be reflective and introspective. Chart out a course for the week ahead. Interestingly enough, we schedule meetings with clients or customers but often do not set time aside for ourselves. This is a mistake! There are only so many hours in the day and so many days in the week, and as a business leader, you want to be as effective and efficient with this time as possible. To that end, calendar your time carefully as a business leader. For example, dedicate the appropriate amount of time to marketing, administration, and production, as well as setting specific times to meet with key personnel. It is very easy to be distracted and veer away from your schedule. Make every effort to avoid doing so.
Make it routine to have weekly, or at least bi-monthly, company-wide meetings. This is good for morale and for productivity. Meetings should generally be no more than one hour and should be used to reflect on the period prior to the meeting and to set goals and objectives for the weeks ahead.
I believe that the glass is “half full, not half empty.” If you think that your business glass is “half empty,” try following the above advice and keep an optimistic attitude and nimble approach to your business marketplace. Hopefully, you will soon witness the filling of your business glass.
In his inaugural address, President Obama encouraged us to rally against tough times saying, “In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted—for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things…Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”
It is in that spirit that I urge you to stay strong, stay positive, work hard, and forge onward!
If you have any issues that you would like addressed in future articles, please e-mail Jon A. Dorf at JAD@Dorflaw.com.
Jon A. Dorf, Esq. is general counsel of The Business Council of Westchester and founder of and managing partner to The Dorf Law Firm, LLP with offices in Mamaroneck and Manhattan. He represents a wide range of established and emerging businesses and their owners.