Killing your business

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Here is what I would like all CEO’s to do in the near future.

Gather your direct reports, senior management, and any other enterprising young talent in your organisation, book a day away from the office and sit down with one objective in mind – how to kill your business.

That’s right, brainstorm all day on what it would take to destroy all the value in your business. On how many different ways your business could be struggling sooner rather than later – new competitors, older but smarter competitors, new products/services, remodified products/services, clever marketing/digital/social media campaigns to bring new awareness to a client/product/service, price differential strategy, new market strategy and the list goes on.

Spend all day extending your brain cells to think of ways that you could be out of business within a month.

What is the point of this you ask? Quite simply, it will give you the impetuous to ensure that your business survives not only tomorrow but also into the foreseeable future.

It was a strategy that legendary ex-CEO and Chairman Jack Welch regularly undertook with his senior management. Welch, as we all know from his time as CEO and Chairman of GE, took the company through a 4000% growth phase between 1981 and 2001. Welch has now founded the Jack Welch Management Institute at Chancellor University in the US that offers an online MBA. Welch was known for creating an innovative culture, which symbolises GE today, and that is imperative for all small, medium and big businesses if they want to survive.

It is very easy for a business to get complacent, especially if you are doing well. In fact, one of the biggest killers of business is success because people become complacent. They stop looking over their shoulder and start looking in the mirror. While it is good to have a healthy ego, it also needs to be curtailed.

 By gathering all the talent in the company into one room it focuses their one mind on the one key principle of the day – looking at ways your business could be infiltrated.

It also creates a sense of unity and a common goal. By focusing all your attention on the one task everyone feels a sense of purpose and can put aside their daily roles for one day. The outcome of the day should result in you identifying what within your business needs to change or at the very least, improved.

There is no need to be daunted by the challenges out there, in fact you should embrace new and existing competition and continue to align your staff with the common goals of the business.

For starters, you can look at your internal structure to see if you have the right people in the right positions or if you even need to create and/or expand a division. This will give you the chance to see employees in a different light and understand their strengths and weaknesses. There may be some senior staff who are capable of more there may be some for whom it is time to walk out the door.

Welch created a Vitality Model consisting of a ‘20-70-10’ system, where you categorize the top 20 per cent of employees, who are the most productive, the 70 per cent that work adequately, and are considered vital to the organization, and the remaining 10 per cent as, well, the non-producers. They should be fired immediately. This may seem harsh but it actually might be what your business needs to stay ahead of the competition.

Even if you don’t have the marketing spend to match a new competitor, you can always review your business processes, internal communications and even your business model. There may be markets you are not fully servicing or even some that you are ignoring completely. There may even be social media channels that could be creating awareness of your product or service that you aren’t capitalizing on yet.

Looking forward and thinking about the future is important. Anticipating what’s coming around the corner in integral. If you prepare for the worst-case scenario of a competitor starting to rise to the top, you will be ahead of them immediately. By looking inward at your management set-up, your operating systems, your reporting divisions and lines, along with your business processes, you are actually reviewing your business as a management consultant would – without the fees.

Killing your business is actually saving your business and creating a more profitable business model for the future.

The competitor of tomorrow is already here, it is just that they are not in the office next to you, or in the building down the road, but rather in a mobile location planning their strategy to take you on and ultimately surpass you.

Are you ready for that challenge?

InnovationSamuel KohComment