Nobody gives a $%#& until the numbers slip…

I recently had a conversation with a small business owner whom I have known for a while. He owned a local business D3 Partners numbersto follow his passion and hoped to work for himself into his retirement years.  But now, he was on the verge of having to sell that dream business because of some poor decisions he made.  He told me he wished that he would have been more on top of issues when money was flowing and times were good.  It was painful for me to hear – this situation could have been avoided through proper planning.  How does your business handle the “good” times?

Everything in business lives and dies by the numbers.  Revenue needs to grow at a good pace and expenses need to stay in check.  When the numbers are good it can be an excuse for managers not to have to actively manage.  After all, the numbers are good, why rock the boat?

Hopefully, you’re not one of these managers who hide behind good numbers.  I challenge you to answer the following questions:

  • Do you make tough decisions only when you must make them?
  • Do you sit in your office with your door closed and rarely engage with your team when you feel business is good
  • Do you lessen the focus on coaching and leading by example when the numbers are good?
  • Do you and your managers spend company money as if it is a gift and not as if it were your own?  Fancy hotels, expensive meals and first-class plane tickets?
  • Do you and your managers have difficulty explaining the numbers?

If any of these questions make you uncomfortable, or you’ve answered “yes”, it may be time to change your ways.

Because if you don’t focus on these basics, a day will come when the rate of growth decreases or goals aren’t hit.  Suddenly, the pendulum swings the other way.    You and your managers don’t look so smart anymore. Tough conversations are now had throughout the organization.    The screws are tightened and some people lose their jobs. The culprits, of course, place blame elsewhere.

This doesn’t need to play out this way.  Here are some ideas to help make sure this doesn’t happen to your teams.

  • Lead by example.  Constantly engage with your team.  Not just when times are bad. You’ll gain a better understanding of what is happening.
  • Spend company money as if it is your own.  How about using some of the money to invest back into the business when times are good rather than treat yourself to First Class on the Firm?
  • Make tough personnel decisions when you should, not when you must.  You will limit your down side risk.  Don’t let numbers hide bad behaviors.
  • Hold your managers accountable to building a coaching and mentoring culture.  Not just for their directs but everyone.  Just because numbers are good, doesn’t mean coaching stops.
  • Get into the numbers.  Are you having a good year because of a big deal or two?  Is most of your team underperforming but is being carried by a few outliers?

If some of my thoughts above resonate with you, it’s not too late to fix it.  Acknowledge it and start now.  Your actions as a manager affect many others, not just you.  Take advantage of the good times to prepare for the bad.  You will be found out eventually. Then you’ll care.  The time to give a $%#& is now, or you may suffer the same fate as the small business owner I spoke about…  He had to sell his dream to survive.