It’s Time to Revitalize Your Company

Posted by michael | February 3, 2012

For some people, January 1 is a time of renewal and beginning, and thus is a clean slate that should be embraced. To a business owner it’s the complete opposite; it’s incredibly discouraging to realize that we have to start over because the calendar switched days.  As such, the dawn of a new year has an incredibly unnerving ability to remind us all that the past is farther away than ever. Coming into year four or five of a major recession will also do the same, leaving us longing for the good old days of 2005–a time that, in hindsight, was a little simpler.

Of course, it’s been more than a dragged out recession that stresses us all out and leaves us longing for the optimism of the quixotic Bush administration days. Back then at least the enemy was clearly defined.  In 2012 we have no idea who our enemy is; it could be a new era terror like Amazon, an old school behemoth like General Electric or it could be the next big thing that was created by a college kid in his dorm room.  In today’s world, businesses have no idea where the next threat is coming from which makes preparing for the worst a near impossibility.

Making matters worse is that not only is this competition coming from out of nowhere, but it’s being accelerated by two conjoining forces: the adaption rates of technology and the negative business conditions of these recession years.  In short, businesses of all types and sizes are under attack from all directions and are ill prepared to either defend their positions or to launch a counterattack.  The only thing we know is that disruption to our status quo has either arrived or is loudly banging on the front door.

For any company to survive the disruption they are facing, they are going to need to revitalize their business and their business model.  Doing so is easier said than done and for many companies it’s not going to just be tweaks to the way they do business, but it will mean fundamental changes that may leave their business unrecognizable when all is said and done.

The steps to revitalizing a company are as unique as a company itself, but there are some general guidelines that a business should keep in mind if it decides to undertake the exercise.

  • Start from the worst place possible – you need to assume that there is nothing right with your business and then prove to yourself otherwise.  That means looking at every single activity and function of your business as well as everything you believe about your people, your industry and your reality.   Everything must be challenged.
  • Think outside the box – there is a level of creativity required to look at your business in an entirely different light; as such, don’t throw out or discredit any idea, no matter how crazy it is until it has been fully vetted.
  • Make yourself uncomfortable – we all have comfort levels with our businesses and that is why they have been as successful as they have.  However, in starting the process of revitalizing your business, you are making a tacit acknowledgement that the status quo is broken.  Fixing it will likely require you to consider changes that will fundamentally change your status quo, and that needs to be embraced.
  • Nothing is sacred – every business has customers, employees, vendors, attitudes, and processes that have been a part of getting the company to the current point.  Unfortunately, they may be holding you back and dragging down the business or they will prevent you from making changes you need to make.  If they don’t add value you must be willing to make that break, no matter how personal a decision it is.

I know it sounds scary to do this, but it’s much better than the alternative and the result of becoming a renaissance company is that you will be better positioned to succeed in the competitive world of business.  If you are really good, you may even be the one disrupting somebody else’s business.  Wouldn’t that be a nice change!