WPP’s CEO Mark Read has moved fast, leveraging adversity to create a more dynamic business. Often attacked as an irrelevant company of the advertising old school, assets have been shed and debt reduced. The company appears on the front foot. Dividends are back and the board is on the hunt for scalable businesses to buy.
What can we learn?
You don’t need to wait for a crisis to hit your business to change it for the better. If you’re not in a crisis, invent one. Take a dispassionate look and identify what you should do.Recommended Revolutionary Reading: Only the Paranoid Survive (two minute read)
Navigating challenging times requires clear thinking and a developed sense of purpose. Waiting for normality to resurface is not the best option. The survivors and winners in this unprecedented moment will be those that recognise the need to change. Reassuringly, there are early examples of businesses re-purposing their capabilities and creating different routes to market. Innovative leadership seeing opportunity beyond survival, or adversity kick starting actions that have laid in waiting – often for too long.
There are endless stories of hardship and loss. Whether corporate leaders, business owners or sole traders it is our duty to help, support and protect our colleagues and workers wherever we can. Society will review the responsibility of businesses, setting new expectations and priorities. We will be held to account. Our companies need to reflect and embrace this new paradigm.
Our customers are expecting a response from us beyond the well intentioned, but cynically viewed email shot of “we’re there for you”. Practical advice and thought through questions are a much better order of the day.
Stronger organisations and new opportunities will surface from this unplanned, left field moment. Now, not later, is the time to act.
Business is hard work. Anything that makes it quicker and simpler, is generally a good thing. When Booker T and the MGs sang Time is Tight, they were right. And it doesn’t seem to matter where you are in business. The sales KPI is never far away. Not surprising. No sales no business.
When it comes to new business, we often we make it hard for ourselves. The first place to start is with who we know and who they know. Not cold calls or emails. Successful companies who fast track sales know it’s their network that can open doors to buyers. Building out a cohort of potential clients through introductions works.
Don’t be afraid to ask. Get out there.
The art of failure is alive and well. When you say you’ve tried, what sort of ‘try’ was that? Anybody who takes up running will tell you the only way to hit 10K is to build up gradually. It’s just not possible from a standing start.
I reflected on this with a CEO struggling with finding new clients. Like the runner, she was trying to do too much too quickly. And morale was sinking.
I advised her that she should apply herself daily to short periods of focussed activity. She did and good progress was made. Taking just a few minutes a day became a winning habit.
If you want to succeed, find better ways.
“There’s someone you should meet, I’ll introduce you.” Familiar words, I hope. Because you want to be that person. “That person” your friend wants to introduce to their contacts because they think both will benefit.
So, if you’re always too busy, hiding behind a cluttered diary or wanting a written proposal before agreeing, forget it. Your response should always be “of course”. Always.
Once in touch you can exercise judgement on whether it’s simply an initial call, to establish common ground. You don’t have to have high tea at the Ritz. Although in certain circumstances you might.
Good things happen when you meet people you don’t know. Serendipity. It’s time spent wisely.