Four Pillars Will Strengthen Your Business

By Mackie Gober

For the past couple years, our company, SEACAP Financial, has been invited to make presentations to various groups on the topic of “Managing Your Business Through Tough Times.” The list of things to do or not do has been lengthy. For many business owners, the days and nights have been challenging, depleting, debilitating and most any other derogatory adjective you chose to use. And the decisions and actions often became personal.

However, if indeed the economy is turning around, rather than dwell on more cost cutting, increased responsibilities for exhausted staffs and de-leveraging the balance sheet, let’s look ahead by analyzing what we’ve learned during the Great Recession. As the proprietor of your business, it is time to turn attention to the positives and re-instate confidence so that your company can accelerate growth and improve margins.

There are four pedestals necessary for the foundation of any business – employees, financing, vendors and customers. If any of these supports are out of balance, equilibrium can become unsustainable. Below are easy-to-follow initiatives to strengthen the platform for each of these pillars:

* Communicate with your Employees. Smile, exhibit enthusiasm and say “please” and “thank you.” Let your employees know that the business has not only endured the downturn (with their help!) but is ready to rock ‘n’ roll. Ask for their cooperation and suggestions one more time.

* Get Your Bank on Board. Make sure you have adequate working capital to grow the business. Do your own stress test. Then, share the results with your financing partner. If you sense the bank’s reluctance to underwrite your future needs, take time to communicate and request a prompt response.

* Visit your Primary Vendors. Thank them for supporting you during the tough times, get or stay current on account payables and make sure that your supply chain is anticipating your inventory needs when business picks up.

* Your Best Prospect for Success Resides in Your Existing Customers. Tell them that you appreciate their business. Ask for more business and referrals at the appropriate time.

Managing and growing a business is a lot tougher than going out of business. If you survived the Great Recession, then ask yourself … how? Whether you are preparing the business for prosperity or contemplating selling your company (now or later), reflecting on these four cornerstones will most likely put you in a better position to be more generous to your next generation.

Mackie Gober is a founding principal of SEACAP Financial.