If you have not figured it out yet, things are tough out there. Some say we may see a bottom during the second half of 2009. Others say we are entering what is called a "secular bear market" that could last for 10 to 15 years. I say that nobody owns a crystal ball that works right now, so stop wasting your time guessing. The only thing that is certain is that you must adjust to the market. Once you have adjusted, then watch things carefully and be ready to adjust again.
The past is usually a good place to look for lessons. Here is one to heed. Marshall Petain was a famous leader of the French Army during World War I. He was know for saying, "A plan is always perfect until the battle begins." Unfortunately he fell victim to his own mantra. During the 1920's and 30's while acting as the highest military official for the country, he neglected to modernize French military capability with the exception of the Maginot Line. Unfortunately the Maginot Line proved useless against the Germans, and the rest was history.
So, it's safe to say that there is one additional lesson from this story. Don't bank on one thing to save your company or your country. To that end, over the coming days and weeks I will be providing you with more than one piece of advice to get you through these tough times.
The first point you have to burn into your brain is that this is about survival. This is not about getting ahead. The sooner you realize this, the better. This is about making it through the night in order to see the sun rise. Translation: if you are not cash flow positive right now, you better get there darn quick.
You need to determine what is in your control and what is out of your control. Here is one hint - you are not in control of the economy. That train has left the station. But, you can control almost everything else in your business. So what next?
Take every model and hypothesis that still lingers from early 2008 and flush them down the toilet. The assumptions they were built on are worthless. Next, put your list of "cuts" and "keeps" together. Cut the fat. Preserve what generates revenue. This is about quality over quantity. It's about rewards with minimal risk.
I tend to gravitate to quotes to galvanize a message, so I will leave you with one from Wyatt Earp. "Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything." Don't panic. There is still time if you have not started to make changes. But, make them swiftly and use logic and reality to guide the decisions.
Next up - what do you do with your marketing, products, and people.