REFLECTIONS FROM A SEASONED BUSINESS EXECUTIVE
Trends, Tips, and How To Thrive in a Challenging Economy
For the past 10 years Steve Larrick, a Mentor and Best Practice Chair with the organization Vistage International, has used his business expertise to help top executives grow personally and professionally in order to become better decision-makers and business leaders. Over the last nine months he and other Vistage leaders have taken their members through a rigorous analysis on how they are running their businesses. TTE recently caught up with Larrick to talk about trends, tips, and how to thrive during this challenging economy.
The Vistage members Larrick works with are CEOs of small- to mid-size businesses. According to Larrick, 80% of those businesses have been affected by the downturn in the economy. Sales and finances are two common areas where businesses have been impacted. As sales drop and it becomes more difficult to get those sales dollars back, "Businesses need to be much more tuned in to effective sales and marketing plans and techniques," Larrick says. Regarding financing he says, "It isn't like it used to be where you could walk into a bank and you'd get three or four banks competing for your business." Instead, companies find themselves having to focus on just one bank and go through that particular bank's multi-step process.
To survive and thrive, Larrick stresses the importance of cash flow and quality team players. "Number one, make sure you have a positive cash flow every month," he says. While Larrick recognizes decisions regarding staff can be difficult in entrepreneurial companies, he recommends making sure that you have top performers on your team. He believes that the tough decisions are necessary to keep businesses strong and viable, especially during a challenging economy.
Larrick also recommends companies persist in their marketing, advertising, and sales efforts. "Those are softer expenses that sometimes you do not see the value or benefit of directly or immediately, but by backing away from those efforts, you're basically reducing the chance you're going to do more business in the future," he says.
Keeping your eye out for business growth opportunities is another way to survive and thrive. As you maintain a healthy company balance sheet, keep costs under control, have a positive cash flow, and show a profit margin, you can be ready to take on business as other companies lose clients or go out of business.
While Larrick expects the economy to continue to be a challenge, he does feel there have been improvements over the last six months. And of the Vistage members he works with he says, "They've become stronger business people because they have been faced with challenges and overcome them. In the past, when the economy was roaring along, mediocre performance could produce good results. But now with businesses running much better, I think business people today are much sharper than they used to be."
Steve Larrick spent 25 years at Harris Chernin, a wholesale and retail shoe company, the last five as its CEO. Larrick has been with Vistage International for 15 years. He first came to Vistage International as a member when he was CEO of Harris Chernin, Inc., and then joined the Vistage International staff ten years ago. As a Mentor and Best Practice Chair, he currently runs two CEO groups and oversees the Chicago market.
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- TTE's CEO Terry Thompson recently joined the LinkedIn West Suburban Networking Group.
- The 23rd Annual Entrepreneurial Woman's Conference was held on September 16th in downtown Chicago at Navy Pier. Sponsored by Women's Business Development Center, the day-long conference included workshops, forums, and a vendor hall. TTE's CEO Terry Thompson spent the day walking the vendor hall and networking.
- Congratulations to Sue Rosenfeld on her published contribution to Quiet Reflections of Hope. Rosenfeld writes/edits the TTE newsletter, and has also worked on many other TTE writing projects.
- Books on Thompson's reading shelf currently include To Kill A Mockingbird, So What's the Difference?, and The Doomsday Key.
HAVE YOU WRITTEN YOUR LETTERS OF LOVE YET?Terry Thompson, CEO, TTE Transcripts Worldwide
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