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The Survival Checklist

Paul Kennedy, a chartered accountant and business consultant, provides a useful checklist for businesses and entrapenurs alike. Helping you deal with customers, markets, management, budgets and more.

Customers

  • Listens to customers
  • New market segmentation needed: reinvent marketing strategy
  • Understand shifting price sensitivities (BMW 5 series gains at expense of 7 Series)
  • Simplified advertising, emphasis on reasons, core benefits but keep on advertising
  • Customer needs uplifting (fear appeals – counterproductive)
  • Innovation, best antidote to margin degradation
  • Recession , no time to hunker down, question-non core assets
  • Challenge fundamental assumptions of company business model
  • Recessions accelerate underlying consumer trends
  • Consider Internet advertising, digital media
  • Plan for recovery, have capacity and (HR) resource
  • Trend is towards lifestyle simplification , we own too much “stuff”

Dealing with uncertainty

  • Uncertainty a threat or an opportunity?
  • Presents opportunity to push through reforms especially in managing cash and working capital
  • In short / medium term concentrate on cash not profit
  • Attract and keep talented employees
  • How to create a culture that thrives on uncertainty?
  • Clear consistent and honest communication the key
  • Have a crisis plan in place
  • Flexibility essential
  • Uncertainty stressful, have social support systems in place
  • Fire fairly, openly and consistently

Management

  • Abandon outdated management practices
  • Identify early where fissures will emerge
  • End of command and control leadership, too much power in hands of the few
  • Embrace the “intelligent crowd”
  • Bring diversity into the team
  • Create flexible virtual teams through technology and mindset
  • Working from home, abandon old team habits
  • Create space, loose what’s not needed, experiment with new practices
  • How many face to face meetings are actually needed?
  • Strategy formation from the bottom up, trust the team

People

  • The lifeblood of business will be the motivation of remaining employees
  • Downsizing (loosing staff ) based upon fair, transparent and consistent decisions
  • Get employee input
  • Treat employees (and ex employees) with dignity and respect
  • Remaining employees are more committed and motivated
  • Refocus remaining employees on goals and purpose
  • “Mobilise” employees by embracing IT to stay connected and
  • Make work practices flexible
  • Use current market conditions to recruit high quality candidates
  • Consider contract workers

Cash and Treasury Management

  • Financial re-engineering (use reverse engineering!)
  • “Cash is King” centric. Ingrain a cash culture within company
  • All critical time lines are cash based
  • Return on Capital replaced by Cash realisation
  • Think beyond working capital initiatives involving restructuring the Balance Sheet, sale leaseback etc.
  • Get rid of non-core assets
  • Redefine profit and replace by cash generation
  • Link bonuses to cash collection not sales targets
  • Cash based targets and incentives aligned across all departments
  • All Business decisions considered in cash terms

Strategic

  • Good Governance and Transparency the hallmark
  • Keep Auditors on board
  • New financial relationships based upon Partnerships, banks customers, suppliers based upon common vested interests
  • Communication!
  • Think wholelistically, consider “Balanced Scorecard”
  • Know everything about your competitors
  • In short decide on a strategy for survival
  • Use strategic partnering with “competitors”, i.e. joint ventures sharing costs into new markets
  • Continue to build the brand
  • When credit crunch is over, don’t revert to bad old habits!

Budgeting

  • Strategic cost reduction rather than indiscriminate, think beyond the short-term
  • Understand your value added chain. Get rid of unnecessary links. Think Ryanair
  • All budgeting re based. (Zero based budgeting)
  • Regard all costs as variable
  • Cash centric, cash flow driven decision making
  • Accuracy, relevancy and timeliness of Cash Flows vital
  • Cost reduction not always the appropriate goal, Lada v Audi?
  • Sell, loose redundant / surplus assets
  • Reconfigure production/sales/finance cycle
  • Grab easy marginal profit and simplify. E.g. popcorn!

Paul Kennedy
Chartered Accountant & Business Consultant
jpaulkennedy@hotmail.com

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