by Jeff Bush, author and fiscal authority
Have there been times during your career when outside influences affected the course you had set, tossing your business plan into a turbulent storm of chaos? You may have been elated – or dismayed – during the recent election, but in either case, the powers that be in Washington, D.C., likely have you scrambling for directional control of your business.
Tax reform, health care, immigration and trade are all major issues as the new administration tries to find its governing legs. These pending shifts in policy can cause headaches for business owners.
Many employees, customers and suppliers look to their manager as that grey-haired, seasoned hand at the controls, steady to guide them safely through the unsettled air. What happens when all you see around you are ominous clouds of change with no clear path to predictability?
Envision yourself as a pilot, navigating your plane through some particularly rough weather. You’re at 10,000 feet, making moment-to-moment decisions. You’re maintaining all of the proper protocols, minding all of the necessary instrumentation – when suddenly your panel lights up like a Christmas tree and gauges start fluttering wildly. Alerts begin to chirp throughout the cabin. There’s a problem – and it’s up to you to rectify it, or mitigate the issue as best you can to ensure a safe landing.
Leading a business through a turbulent political climate can feel a bit like a pilot making snap decisions when the norms go awry. It’s important to know that there will be confusion and challenges, and it is your preparation, experience and trust in your training that will see you through. These four action steps can keep your company flying high and stable when the political winds begin to shift.
1. Do the most important things first – and keep doing them.
What are your business’s core elements for success? Can your employees list them? Many business owners or leaders would report that “customer service” is one of their core elements. But, what are the three most impactful drivers of excellent customer service unique to your business? Ask yourself, and your team, to excel at those three things. If you dont know what your essential elements of success are, you’d better figure them out quickly.
2. Have an honest discussion with yourself about the situation and your capabilities.
In the context of business, you need to be honest about what you’re struggling with and find a better way of getting the job done. Perhaps in your business, it means outsourcing HR to an employment agency, switching suppliers or firing a problem client. But, be honest with yourself about the weaknesses in your operation, and commit to addressing them.
3. Communicate with everyone vital to your business success, from customers to suppliers, vendors and financial advisers.
Do you have a communication plan for each of these critical constituents? Who owns that plan? To whom is the plan owner accountable?
Sit down with a blank piece of paper. Draw a circle in the middle and, inside the circle, write the name of your business. Take 10 minutes of uninterrupted time to write down all the key connections and relationships you need to maintain your business’s success. Next, write down who in your organization should own that relationship. Meet with those persons and be clear as to the importance of that responsibility.
4. Work the problems.
How many times have you seen people work hard without ever really taking on the core issue? You are the pilot of your business. It is up to you to take control and keep your team focused. Many companies have vast institutional knowledge within the organization. Trust that experience to solve the problems. If they know what’s core to your business success, they will likely solve the problem with little input needed from you. Good times are just that – good and easy. It’s the challenging times when you need to expand the confidence and wisdom that are needed as we receive additional details on the political issues that impact every business, such as tax reform, health care options or changes in US trade policy. The business climate may be turbulent, but if you follow your training, trust your experience and decision-making ability, your steady hand at the helm can guide your team through the most adverse landscapes.
Jeff Bush, Washington’s Wall Street insider, is a dynamic and insightful speaker on tax and fiscal topics and the author of “American Cornerstones: History’s Insights on Today’s Issues.” A 28-year veteran of the financial industry, Bush works with executive teams, business owners and high-income individuals to proactively prepare their organizations to succeed in an ever evolving-marketplace. For more information, visit www.JeffBush.net.