How To Invest Time & Energy For Business Success

Those that don’t continue to innovate likely won’t be around long enough to worry about it. Pause to ponder and think – you’ll be amazed at how much faster you can go if you slow down up front and use the power of your brain!

Investing Time & Energy For Business Success

The global business community definitely experienced drastic changes during 2008. As we enter 2009, businesses and leaders are left wondering what storms are brewing that might surprise them even further, and giving thought as to the best route to follow in order to successfully navigate through whatever uncertainty lies ahead. However, something that everyone should keep in the forefront of their mind is that often uncertainty brings with it opportunity – chances to learn (and unlearn), to think more creatively or outside the box, to take on a bigger leadership role, to deepen relationships with customers, and to seize the opportunities that present themselves. The key is to be prepared to capitalize on the right opportunities.

Prospering in 2009 will require a delicate balance between investing in growth, controlling costs and managing and leading to a plan. Only those companies with an ongoing focus and commitment to their clients, their talented and loyal employees, and to the fundamentals of their core business will not only survive but prosper in 2009.

While it is difficult to ignore all of the gloomy news, the best advice for this year is to focus, keep a positive attitude and put on your thinking cap. Set aside the time to determine where, when and how you will achieve success. And then spend the time working on it instead of all the other things that distract you. That email can probably wait. Do you really need to attend all those internal meetings on your calendar?

Identify what your company does best.

What should you continue to focus on, stop doing and what few, very targeted new things should you start? A real issue facing most organizations today is that resources are spread too thin chasing too many opportunities or initiatives. Things have changed, so make sure your significant initiatives and employee time are still mapped to what is most important for your success. Pause or stop doing those things that should no longer be a part of the equation even though they seemed like a great idea at the time and you have already invested in them.

Target areas (clients, geographies, etc.) where you can capture market share by promoting what your company does best, and redirect your focus, energy and resources toward these growth sectors. Even during tough times, there are whole industries that tend to grow or at least maintain. Think about health care, security, fast food, do it yourself products, outsourcing, etc.

Seek out the strategic talent (both inside and outside the company) that will help you successfully achieve your goals.

This is the best time to tap into the pool of talent that is available in the market today. The good news is, employee satisfaction is on the rise (according to a recent Randstad study) as power has shifted back to employers. The challenge is to keep your best employees engaged and aligned on the right things.

Give thought to how you can create more energy in reaching your destination by involving and engaging others in your objectives.

Constantly communicate what excellence looks like.

Define where the company is going and why, despite everything, you are still positioned to win. Do not leave employees wondering whether or not leaders are clued in to what is going on or if their project and/or job is at risk. You can build enormous loyalty and commitment during tough times if you communicate candidly and openly, engaging employees in being a part of addressing the challenges you are facing. Be sure to communicate what is staying the same as well. Employees are almost always looking for some sense of stability and people tend to find comfort in knowing what will remain the same.

Eliminate obstacles.

Is there anything in your way that needs to be moved or minimized? Name it and then put some energy into getting it out of the way.

Spend smartly to gain market share.

A McGraw-Hill Research study looking at 600 companies from 1980 to 1985 found that those businesses which chose to maintain or raise their level of advertising expenditures during the 1981 and 1982 recession had significantly higher sales after the economy recovered. Specifically, companies that advertised aggressively during the recession had sales 256% higher than those that did not continue to advertise. (The Economist, December 2, 2008, Executive Briefing)

Focus on your best clients.

Identify the services and/or cross selling opportunities you can provide to help them be successful. Assign a senior level team member to nurture these relationships. Listen more and contact clients more often.

Monitor your competition.

What are they doing and not doing? Have they overprotected themselves and is there an opportunity for you to take market share? What do you need to do to claim and/or ensure that you maintain a leadership role?

Finally, be proactive.

Prepare a strategic plan and reevaluate it often so that you can remain focused and aligned. Don’t wait around for the market, the media and/or your clients to tell you what to do. Get clear on excellence. Define it, communicate it, and allocate time to achieving it! The investment of your energy on the right things is what will really make the difference.

Leaving culture changes to chance is like abandoning one half of your strategic planning framework. It is like pretending that those darn employees and the way they get things done do not really matter to achieving success. There are five core practices and beliefs driving high performance cultures today:

  1. Clearly define what winning looks like
  2. Measure what matters and what employees can relate to
  3. Develop an ownership mentality and enable educated risk taking
  4. Keep an eye on the external environment
  5. Set up people to succeed and nurture trust


  • Assume employees understand why or how your organization can succeed when they see a lot of ‘news’ about failing companies all around them
  • Make promises you can’t keep (i.e. there will be no layoffs)
  • Ignore the confusion or frustration that initiatives or projects have been scaled back – talk about the why and the new how it will get done
  • Assume a one-time, feel good meeting can fix things or that employees won’t see through it if there is no new strategy behind the changes. (Wasting time in a cheerleading session creates even more employee frustration if the content is not very focused on their situation and if it does not provide real ‘meat’ specifically about why the company can now win).


Get as clear a picture in your head as you can.

If you are creating a destination for a team or company, think through all the details of what excellence looks like when you get to where you want to go: what is the culture, what products are in market and in development, what tools and systems are in use, who are your customers and how many do you have, what abilities and skills are in use, how are you known, what is your greatest competitive threat and advantage and what are the big operating achievements you have reached (i.e. revenue, margin, etc.)? Now write it down.

Then consider what big steps you have to take to get there. Write down the big steps considering both the time it will take and other resources required. Also note how you will know if you are making progress.

Posted by on January 1, 2009