The Chairmen’s RoundTable Shares Top Ten Tips for Doing Business in Tough Times
The Chairmen’s RoundTable (CRT), a San Diego-based, non profit volunteer organization that provides gratis mentoring and business advice to CEOs and presidents of local, private businesses, recently presented a panel on “Doing Business in Tough Times.” Keynote speaker Paul Brown, President of Expedia North America was joined by an executive panel featuring CRT mentors Holly Green, Bill Lofft and Bob McRann and CSUSM Professor Martin Gannon. The presentation resulted in these top ten tips.
This was the first CRT Executive Mentorship Series Event and was presented in partnership with California State University San Marcos College of Business Administration. Keynote speaker Paul Brown, President of Expedia North America was joined by an executive panel featuring CRT mentors Holly Green, Bill Lofft and Bob McRann and CSUSM Professor Martin Gannon.
The panel discussion produced these ten tips for “Doing Business in Tough Times”:
Stay true to your mission and core values: Brown was quick to point out that while these are indeed “tough” times, “it’s not new, it’s really just doing business.” He encouraged business owners to stay focused on their mission and to stick to their core values.
Face challenges with clarity: A key piece of advice that Brown delivered was to always face challenges in the same way – starting with clarity. He defined clarity as being highly specific on what you want to accomplish, on what is important.
Maintain creativity: Brown underscored the importance of maintaining creativity by saying “the most creative in solving a problem wins” and pointed out that while it is easy for creativity to die during tough times, it is during these times that you need it most.
Be decisive: Brown acknowledged that it is also easy to get into the trap of delaying your decisions, waiting for more data, but “you need to be decisive.”
Take action: “Don’t second guess yourself.” Don’t let key initiatives stall out.
Don’t panic: Perhaps the most encouraging statement Brown made was when he said, “This is not a time to panic. The return of the upswing Always happens.”
Assess your sensitivity to the recession: Panelist Bill Lofft, chief executive officer of ZuumCraft, Inc. and a CRT mentor, said each business must assess its sensitivity to the recession by looking at the nature of its products and customers, timing, and resources – and then take action accordingly. All businesses and profit centers are not created equal.
Keep everything in alignment: CSUSM Professor Martin Gannon provided a historical look at how companies have weathered tough times, and gave examples of how creativity has helped the competitiveness of companies facing tough times –for example, how Southwest airlines learned how to do the quickest turnaround of aircraft. He further stated that it is important to keep the strategy, structure, culture, performance and appraisal system all in alignment, especially in tough times.
Maximize your liquidity: Panelist Bob McRann, principal of RGM Consulting, Inc. and a CRT mentor, had one big piece of practical advice, “Liquidity.” He encouraged businesses to stock up on cash including drawing down on lines of credit and stashing it in a CD and making sure that inventory levels are not excessive. He also encouraged business owners to study product line profitability, and take proactive cost management measures like scrubbing the budgets and leasing versus buying equipment.
Maintain focus and determination: Panelist, Holly Green, chief executive officer and managing director of The Human Factor, Inc. and a CRT mentor, echoed Paul Brown’s message of staying focused. Her recommendations included making sure you are aligned internally – “running the same race with your employees”, focusing on the significant initiatives and stopping doing the other things, getting clear on what’s on the plate and what needs to fall off, communicating with calm confidence, defining excellence to the employees, and retaining key customers.
“Initial feedback on the event was very positive,” said Hus Tigli, Chairman of the CRT. “We are currently conducting a survey with attendees, but the buzz was that there was great value in the information that was presented. We’d like to thank CSUSM College of Business Administration for partnering with us to bring this important information to our local business community and Paul Brown for traveling to San Diego to share his insights and encouragement. These are indeed tough times, but the panel agreed that the small and medium-sized businesses are the lifeblood of the economy – and we have faith that San Diego businesses have what it takes to make it through.”
About Chairmen’s RoundTable
The Chairmen’s RoundTable is a non-profit volunteer organization comprised of 45 current and former Chief Executive Officers with extensive board of directors experience and diverse industry backgrounds. CRT mentors provide businesses in San Diego County priceless business advice and mentorship without compensation, as a way of giving back to the community. CRT’s well-defined mentoring program is ideal for small to mid-sized companies at a strategic crossroads that are looking to gain an outside perspective on key business issues. To date, over 200 local companies have benefited from CRT’s mentorship. For more information and to read about past client successes, please visit www.chairmensroundtable.com.