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Let’s Talk: Making the hard business choices – admitting & cracking down on what doesn’t work

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It can be a challenge to admit when something isn’t working, particularly when it’s something that we’ve put our blood, sweat and tears into. But, prolonging the hard choices because they’re hard, simply make them harder down the track. And worse, it may be too late by the time you come around.

Let’s talk…

Ian Jensen-Muir, CEO, Genesis Health + Fitness

“It can be incredibly hard to change processes and cut loose elements of your business that aren’t working – be that products, people, branding or structure. Doing so, however, creates a finely tuned and efficient business that will be strong and have longevity.

“It’s one of the founding principles of the franchising model, for example. Tried, tested and refined businesses processes are one of the biggest franchise selling points – and that ultimately involved the franchisor making difficult decisions along the way for the greater good of the network.

“The first step is being able to identify what’s not working and the best way to do that is through proactive and regular internal reviews and listening to your people and your customers – their feedback will tell you almost everything you need to know about the weak points in your business. From there, ensure someone is responsible for driving the adoption and implementation of a new solution.”

Kris Grant, CEO, ASPL Group

“You have to make hard choices all the time. But the sooner you make them, the more effective you are as a leader. Particularly when it comes to making hard choices about your staff members, trust your instincts and don’t overthink. Not making decisions causes a greater impact to the business.”

Dave Chapman, CTO, WLTH

“Fixing broken business processes is very important for a company to be successful, as these problems can ultimately affect every area of a business. Staff morale is crucial as it’s intimately linked to productivity, and dramatically improves when working with effective operational processes, compared to dealing with daily issues that obstruct success. Consequently, if your staff are happy and working effectively, your customers will have a much better experience. Overall, this will make a huge difference for your business as these customers will talk your company up, rather than hold it in a negative light and beat it down through bad reviews and feedback that can influence the decisions of potential new clients. The total cost of ownership (TCO) will trend down rather than up too, driving profit conversely. Compliance ends up becoming the standard and not the exception.

“Overall, if there are elements of a business that aren’t working, there needs to be action taken. This ensures that through incident management these problems won’t turn from an internal issue to an external problem, and start affecting the overall customer experience and bottom line.”

Rob Smith, Partner at McGrathNicol, & Nicole Jackson, Senior Manager at McGrathNicol

“COVID-19 has imposed significant changes on many businesses and their markets – some temporary and others permanent. Management teams are being presented with hard choices on elements of their business – retain and transform; divest and redeploy; or close and restructure.

“Businesses run the risk of “flogging a dead horse” if they don’t identify and act on unprofitable divisions, regions, products, or customers, and instead rely on hope.

“Understanding value drivers is crucial in identifying under-performing elements of a business. This should be done based on fact and data, not fiction or feeling. The business then needs to ask the questions “can I turn this around?”, “can I redeploy my resources and create value elsewhere?”, or “must I decisively stop the bleeding?” Each strategy has various implementation options.

“Now more than ever businesses need to recalibrate. We advise early and decisive action to limit the burning through of cash reserves, which reduces options later.”

Andrew Cornale, Co-Founder and Digital Experience Director, UnDigital

“Sometimes the hard decisions are the best ones. A few years ago, I ran a business and was working for huge brands, but something was off. Despite working in a field I’d always chased, I didn’t enjoy being at work. I realised the problem was the culture of the business didn’t foster positivity or excitement. So, what happens when the element of your business that just doesn’t work is the culture? My hard decision was the choice to start afresh.

“In 2019, I opened a new company and threw all of my energy into creating a positive culture that fostered personal and professional growth. Eighteen months later and we’ve seen success like never before. Our three-man team has expanded into a team of 15, one international office and countless opportunities, learnings and smiles.

“Sometimes copping a loss is just a means of making room for bigger and better things.”

Keith Davison, Partner, Dovetail

“It can be hard to admit when elements of your business aren’t working, however, it’s crucial to success. One example, typically within B2B companies, is that businesses don’t always suit the customers they choose to serve.

“A Software as a Service (SaaS) startup, for example, can want big enterprise clients but struggle to build an experienced enterprise sales team. On the flip side, a different SaaS company might find that the effort in trying to service smaller customers isn’t supporting their revenue, growth or ROI. This is typically when companies with a freemium model, which allows users to utilise basic features of software for free and charge for “add ons” to the basic package, may choose to abandon this model and implement one with greater returns. In order for a business to be successful based upon this example, one must ensure that the software offering is top-notch and that the sales team are skilled in selling to enterprise customers.”


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Guillermo Troncoso
Guillermo is the Editor of Dynamic Business and Manager of film & television entertainment site ScreenRealm.com. Follow him on Twitter.