In response to an article I published earlier, I received an interesting query. Jim, who is the owner-manager of a wholefoods distribution business based in Denver, Colorado, and who employs 20 people across two states, asks what changes I might make to his business if I took it over, sight unseen.
Before I thought “sight unseen” was a bit unfair, Jim explained that he felt his business performance was starting to plateau and wondered if there were any common changes he could put into place in order to shake it up.
This question raised issues about business growth as well as about efficiency, so it made me think of the key aspects of a business that any business should think about changing today. So, sight unseen, here is what I might do.
First, I would spend some time every day seeing customers, suppliers, staff and other key stakeholders, either one on one or in groups, or at least talk to them on the telephone. I believe business today needs to maintain good relationships with key stakeholders, especially customers, staff and suppliers. If you do business with friends, it is hard for friends to stop doing business with you. As well, you can get great feedback to your face – that’s always a catalyst for change especially if the feedback is (constructive) criticism! The topics for discussion would be how we are doing business together, could I help them more, and how we might be supportive of each other if times got bad. Added to that would be more personal topics if you feel this is appropriate, such as how their businesses were syncing with their personal goals. This type of personal information can help you both in designing different business models.