I am honoured to be chosen as one of the twenty Business in Calgary (BIC) Leaders for 2018.
The BIC Award event took place June 27th, 2018; exactly 5 years after the 100-year flood hit Calgary and Southern Alberta unbearably hard, including my business About Staffing. With no office to work from, no acceptable insurance, no phones and mail, my business dropped 65% over that next year. This downfall continued into the next two years due to economic uncertainty.
Thankfully, after celebrating our 22nd year in business this year, we are experiencing rapid growth. I look back on these challenging years and can pinpoint five key lessons that have helped bring me here to today.
Cut costs quickly on every line item on the income statement. Every penny counts but do not loose key staff, as you will need them later. Be honest and cut base wages, expenses, bonuses, and benefits. Make promises to bring those employees back up to par later, when you can. In order for that to work, they have to trust you to honour your promises, because you always do.
Choose your battles
Fighting is tiring and not every fight is worth it. Sometimes, you may have to ask for forgiveness rather than permission. Sometimes, you may have to have a calm and rational conversation to compromise and come to an agreement. Sometimes, you have to cut ties and walk away. And sometimes, you have to stand your ground, make your points, escalate, go up the chain and stay the fight.
Keep good business relationships intact.
Maintain key accounts by doing whatever to you have to do. Offer value, give and take, don’t give away the farm out of desperation, but allow for flexibility and good deals for all. When overall businesses are suffering, your competition may not spend money on client retention, so spend less than your normal, but continue to do something. Throw in some prospecting or networking while working those good business relationships and continue to give back and volunteer in the community. I devoted myself to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay on the Board of Directors.
Start fulfilling staff promises, slowly and carefully
When revenue begins stabilizing start fulfilling staff promises slowly and carefully. Tie everything to an incentive goal! We found that a company-wide goal is the best kind. Don’t over spend as incentives need to be attainable and a bit of a stretch but will take everyone back up to or better than market. Enthusiastic, stable and loyal staff is all that matters as you grow.
Do not be afraid to learn and change policies and procedures, no matter how long it worked for your business before. Pay attention to how the world of work is shifting, and consider trying new ideas, then tweak them, shift again, and continue to tweak throughout difficult times. Many small wins amount to one big win at the end.
During times of struggle, everything seems overwhelming. Sometimes, just setting the goal of getting to 0 is enough. But time moves quickly and before you know it your business, like mine, is doing record numbers, achieving manageable but exciting growth, and those key staff are flourishing once again.
Winning the BIC Leadership award certainly feels like a big win to me!