By Rick McPartlin
The real estate crash. Obama Care. The Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, the bank collapse, the Greek banking crisis, high employment, off-shoring, GM’s bankruptcy. Libya, Egypt, inflation, nuclear meltdown, Generation X, Generation Y, the Baby Boomers, call centers in India, tsunamis, Hurricane Katrina, the stock market drop, and my EBITDA is way down.
No matter how well your business is going, nothing is the same as yesterday. Even if it feels like you have everything going your way at the moment, the truth is that the world is continuously transitioning at high speed.
And you’d better learn how to take advantage of that.
Many companies with long histories of growth and financial success get really good at doing something very well. They focused on their mission, improved their process, trained their team and aligned their resources to improve traditional operations. That is exactly what GM, TWA, Montgomery Wards, McDonnell Douglas, WorldCom, and AOL were doing just before the real trouble started.
So, in this new century of rapid change, how do you make transitions an advantage?
The core competencies for every company need to include the growth of profitable revenue now and for the future. Few companies have any executable revenue strategy, and fewer still have a revenue strategy they enhance based on transitions. Most companies have learned how to tweak current operating efficiencies to achieve a small percent return or to reduce the cost of materials by a few cents per unit.
The Navy SEALs have got this figured out. They have learned to “Adapt, Improvise and Overcome.” The SEALs figured out that when you get into the field, things seldom work out exactly as planned. Success requires a proactive leader with a disciplined team ready to respond within engagement guidelines — regardless of those unexpected transitions.
Here’s another important revenue generation” principle: Success requires identifying, challenging and testing all critical assumptions. Transitions demand the review of the current strategy, structure and execution against current assumptions. This is your chance to “Adapt, Improvise and Overcome” to win today and reposition for the long term.
Don’t let transitions surprise you! Set regular points to review what the market is telling you — at least every quarter, and whenever weekly or monthly metrics start to indicate a transition trend. The review process compares the market and industry trends to your current strategic assumptions based on the 5 key strategy elements:
- Your brand promise as experienced by your staff, partners and customers;
- The client problem you solve for your clients that NO one else solves;
- The niche you dominate;
- The offers you make to this niche to extend or maintain domination; and
- Your Ideal Customer profile and current response to your offer(s).
No strategy or execution plan optimizes you forever. A regular review process gives you the discipline to spot the trends early and take advantage by making changes to what you are doing, making additional investments, or starting to change direction.
Reviewing the five questions will often show you that you need to make process changes in your revenue roadmap to increase short-term growth and profits. At the same time, ask your team what they would do differently if they started the business today, and what they would not do that they are doing now. Ask them, if they had additional resources to invest, what would they invest in? By reviewing assumptions, tracking trends and engaging your team, you will have more accurate assumptions about the risks and opportunities you’re really facing.
Try to always keep current goals on track while adjusting your long-term strategy and investments to take advantage of the emerging trends for future periods.
Most organizations review monthly numbers to focus their team on working harder and smarter, but they almost never review their results, the trends, the assumptions or the strategy for what has changed. When the reviews are only about your team working harder and smarter, the changes in trends and assumptions can go for years without notice or adjustment.
Companies with cultures focused on the discipline to listen to the market, review trends, and test assumptions will make changes to stay on track for the short term. Based on the market transitions, these companies will successfully lay new tracks to dominate their niche for the long term.
Transitions are the one thing you can count on. So you MUST learn to turn them into your unfair advantage in the market. When you see the transitions early, you can make the changes to your strategy and execution to dominate your niche.
Make sure you:
- Have an intentional revenue strategy and execution plan that you can grow from.
- Are clear about what assumptions you hold that justify the strategy and execution plan.
- Develop the discipline and metrics to track transitions in real time and predict trends.
- Get your team ready to “Adapt, Improvise and Overcome” in the short term.
- Change your long-term strategy to reflect the trends.
- Enjoy your success that results from managing transitions.
Rick McPartlin is the CEO of The Revenue Game and is a revenue generation consultant and Vistage speaker. McPartlin was a Vistage member development chair from 2002 to 2009.
Originally published: Nov 21, 2011