Most businesses have been running lean for a number of years now. But running lean is a lightweight term for what most of us did last year. How many hats do you wear nowadays, hours do you work, resources do you have to do what needs doing? As the revenue trickled off we heard statements like: 'well we're doing less business,' 'so we're not as busy,' 'so we don't need this or that right now,' and 'it's just until.' Perhaps billing and receiving weren't as busy but in my eyes the rest of us ramped up. Sales people worked harder, made more calls with fewer results than ever before. And managers scurried from meeting to meeting where rather passionate discussions were held on what to do about balancing expenses, managing losses and finding new channels and new sales. And, how many times did we rework the numbers last year?
In 2009 and up until now, more effort was put into developing new ideas, new accounts, new business strategies and reorganizing growth plans than ever before. We expended more energy on our business tasks, had more tasks on our plates, got the least results from all the work done with the fewest resources we've ever had. Okay, we're tired and justifiably so.
And the results are in
It was not for nothing, although it may have felt that way or even still feels this way in some cases. The intellectual exercise was good for all of us, we who stepped back and thought long and hard about the way we do things and what changes would bring better results for the long haul. We examined the day-to-day details, looking at who our best players and our best resources are and who was not a good asset and why. We looked at what we needed to do according to our short-term strategies and long-term goals.
In some cases, it was just to hold steady, in other cases it was to start anew and of course everything in between. 'What to do' depended on so many things. The last year or two have been very demanding with a good deal of emotional disruption to boot. Yup, it's been exhausting indeed.
Drum roll please, as now is when the results of all that hard work or not enough work and the emotional consternation felt will show its pretty little head. Did we fix it or break it or do nothing at all and was that good or was that bad for our businesses? The voters on these matters are your customers, your employees, your board of directors, your managers or your team. What we did or did not do has been measured now and the results are about to unfold as the "green shoots" (America's newest favorite term) begin to grow.
Things are growing, albeit slowly, in terms of revenue results but in terms of RFPs and the needed work to close real sales is up and in some cases, way up. But what is not way up are the resources needed to meet the increasing demand. Revenue in and out is a tough one, but burning out your best resources is a dangerous game to play in these times, especially after so many hard months.
As we embark upon the next business era make sure that the good people in every part of our businesses, be they employees or service providers, know exactly how much you value them. Look at how you can support them and reward them as things continue to get better. Good companies are already looking for good people and good resources. Happy people and good resources don't move unless you let them.