In January, 2008, Mark Coudray purchased a beautiful new building for his business. Shortly after that, the recession hit, and Mark’s multi-million dollar business revenue dropped 62%. He and his wife almost lost their home, and all their savings were spent keeping the business afloat until he could turn things around. Following that harrowing experience, Mark took a deep dive into what he could have done differently to prevent or minimize the risk of such a disaster recurring.
Mark is a serial entrepreneur with over 5 decades of widely varied experience. His current business is Coudray Growth Technologies. He is recognized internationally as a premier thought leader & strategist who delivers proven net profit and gross margin gains, even in highly commoditized price-driven markets.
Recently, with so many businesses failing during the COVID quarantine, Mark has interviewed over 400 business owners to learn what they are doing to get through this crisis. Between his own experience and the interviews he conducted, he has identified several lessons learned that can help business owners not only survive but thrive, and he shared some of those tips in this month’s SkillBites Show.
- Use this time to build stronger relationships with your current clients and prospects. Reach out to them with the aim of providing support, not to sell them any services or products. Provide helpful guidance and refer them to others within your network who may be able to help them overcome their challenges.
- Think about the benefits your service or product provides to your customer and how you can provide that value virtually. For instance, beauty parlors help people feel better about themselves by bolstering their image consciousness. During the quarantine, since they weren’t able to provide haircuts, they could have offered tips on self-grooming, and on how to look good on virtual conference calls.
- Remain positive and optimistic. This is hard when things are going badly, but you can’t think creatively when you are thinking negatively or feeling anxious. Think of positive things in your life, such as your family or community, and all the things you have to be grateful for.
- Use common sense hygiene. Adhere to recommendations regarding hand-washing, wearing masks and social distancing.
- Think of the pandemic as an event: either things will get worse, things will stay the same, or things will get better. Don’t let the pandemic define you. Determine what you will do with your business in each of these scenarios. Use the pandemic as a catalyst to understand the weaknesses in your business and determine what you need to do to strengthen your business so it can thrive. Remember, you can be in control; and when you take control, your anxiety will dissipate and you’ll be better able to strengthen your business.
- Every business should have a Plan B, and the best businesses will also have Plans C, D and E, with check points to make sure things are going according to plan. One of those plans should be when to fold. When investing in a stock, you should identify a value that, if the stock falls below that value, you sell it. Likewise, with your business. When the cost you are incurring to run your business is impinging on the financial security of your family, for instance, it may be time to close the business.
- Understand the true value of each of your customers. If one or two of your customers make up a large portion of your business, your business is very vulnerable. If you are spending far more time on certain low value customers, figure out whether to terminate them, spend less time or charge more. Identify your high margin customers and focus on keeping them happy.
- Develop a profitability plan. As part of that plan, identify the ideal customers you want to get that will help you drive cash flow and profit.
- Develop the latent potential of your customer base. When you understand how the customer is using your products to benefit their business or what the customer hopes to gain from using your services, you will be better able to find opportunities to provide greater value and more services.
- Provide more value than you are charging. If I give you $10 for every $1 you give me, you’ll keep coming back. Similarly, if your product or service generates $10 of value for your customer for every $1 they pay you, they’ll keep coming back and refer you to others.
Mark has offered to provide a complimentary consultation to members of the SkillBites audience. To schedule a session with him, and obtain valuable insights from him, go to his website, catalystplan.com and choose a time convenient for you.