When The Going Gets Tough – 1

(Image used for illustrative purpose only)
It may not be the most politically correct statement to make, but sentiments are down in many businesses currently. The businesses are feeling the pressure of lower offtake. While the biggest buying season just ending, we have witnessed lower demand than expected in real estate, automobiles, retail, and all their ancillary businesses while the Diwali Sale in Stock Markets is likely to continue. The impact noticed is inversely proportional to the size of business, generally speaking. And it is expected that these tough times would last for atleast 6-7 more months till domestic political headwinds subside and global macros improve. Most interesting times for an entrepreneur to display the skills.

Two of the most common reactions by businesses is to control all costs and postpone all developmental investments. Cannot blame the entrepreneur to think this way because money in hand becomes the most potent gunpowder in fighting future battles. With funding pipelines almost drying up, downturn in demand and hazy horizons, it makes sense to keep the gunpowder dry. Sustenance, not growth, becomes the priority in thinking. No business school teaches the sustenance thinking well. Every experience is unique.

Ultimately, a business would be judged by the level of customer service. Getting more customers is a more profitable thought but serving existing customers well makes more sense, particularly during tough times. Customers must to be retained. Each customer retained is a base that will help when the tide changes.

Retaining customers essentially means retaining talent in the team. The HR issues becomes more important during tougher times. An entrepreneur has profit has his motivation, but an employee has job security as the prime motivation. There are commitments to fulfil. The bills need to be paid, the EMI cheques need to be honoured, children need to go to school, the lifestyle needs to be maintained, etc. No amount of convincing will work with an employee, if she/he feels threatened on basics. For her/him, the size of business is less important if the basic insecurities are addressed. Every team member is aware that her/his growth also depends on how smartly one contributes to organizational growth. The customer service, product quality, marketing aggression, innovations, will come when the sense of pride is maintained in the team. Sense of pride comes after sense of security. These things are important for enterprises’ success, particularly during tougher times.

Maslow’s pyramid of human needs or Steve Jobs’ importance to employees when compared to customers also point to the same thing.

So, one of the key mantras is to maintain a sense of pride in your team. For, your team members will ensure that you succeed even when the going gets tough.