Agility Training for Entrepreneurs

Today’s business section of the local Suburb paper I have delivered daily had me shaking my head.

The two main articles on the front of the Business Section spouted that Motorola executives think the “Worst (of the recession) is over”. The article under that was titled,
“Wall Street basks in glow of good reports”… But the “Biz beyond” column which saddled both articles to their left read like an obituary of big business.

The retailer Officemax reports a drop in sales, Brunswick (world’s largest recreational boat maker known for its bowling, billiard and fitness products) reported a 52% decrease in sales, Aon, (touted as the world’s largest insurance brokerage) saw an 11% profit decline, Tenneco (auto parts maker) reported a $33 million dollar loss (attributable to reduced vehicle production) and Caterpillar, who has laid off more than 30,000 workers during the recession laid off another 75 in it’s central Illinois foundry and is considering a two month shutdown.

If things are really looking up, why are so many huge companies finding it hard to stay in the positive column? All of you who jumped ship on a big corporate job to go out and become the master of your own domain know why…and the recession is only one part of the reason.

I just finished a book called Battling Big Box: How Nimble Niche Companies Can Outmaneuver Giant Competitors which succinctly explained the woe of the huge company- the behemoths that seem to loom large on streets globally and in the WSJ daily.

As small to mid size companies become “at one (ommmmm) ” with their agility and ability to be change agents, adaptability, customer service, and credibility without the trailer hitch loaded with executives and board members behind them, they can definitely win the battle against Big Box.

Whether the arena is business-to-business or business-to-consumer, retailing, manufacturing, or services, it's a battle of David vs. Goliath on steroids. The mega-sized competition has deep pockets, massive advertising budgets, and suppliers that court them every step of the way, while small companies operate on shoestrings and have to struggle every day just to survive. These same competitors are headlining in papers across the globe with reports of their losses, their cuts, their downsizing, their every attempt at being a shade of “agile” in response to the current downturned economy.

By empowering your people, building a powerful brand, managing your cash flow, innovating relentlessly with a vision for your business’s future in mind, and listening to the pulse of your strategic marketing and business plans, I dare say your agile small to mid-size business will not be another victim of the downturn obits. Be cautiously optimistic when you read the paper but rest in knowing if you employ these four key tactics to building and sustaining a successful niche company, you will be nimble enough to avoid the pitfalls of your largest (and I do mean largest) competitors.


teddy shapiro said...

I daresay I am cautiously optimistic regarding the "upturn" in the economy. My thoughts are that busines owners, as well as employees, are waiting for "things to get better" rather than having a pro active approach to "making things better". It's no secret that slimming things down will save companies money and result in bottom line figures, but sitting around and waiting for the miracle is not going to make it happen. Survival of the fittest is the rule and only the smartest will make that happen. The rest will be kicked to the curb. Don't be intimitated by the "times are tough" theory. Times have been tough in the past but somehow, someway, the smart people survive.

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