Maintaining Business Stability Amid Political Turbulence
By: Jeff Bush
Have there been times during your career where you felt like you lost focus in your business? Outside influences may have affected the course you had set, tossing your business plan into a turbulent storm of chaos. Perhaps these powers emanating from Washington D.C. left you scratching your head as to directional control of your business. You may have been elated during a recent election, or perhaps dismayed.
Tax reform, healthcare, immigration, and trade are all major issues as the new administration tries to find its governing legs. These pending shifts in policy can cause headaches for business owners.
Many employees, customers, and suppliers look to their manager as that grey-haired, seasoned hand at the controls, steady as she goes leader to guide them safely through the unsettled air. What happens when all you see around you are ominous clouds of change with no clear path to predictability? Uncertainty is where many leaders have been flying at one point or another. Optimistic they are heading towards a destination, but not seeing the safest route to follow.
Envision yourself as a pilot, navigating your plane through some particularly rough weather. You’re at 10,000 feet, making moment-to-moment decisions. You’re maintaining all of the proper protocols, minding all of the necessary instrumentation—when suddenly your panel lights up like a Christmas tree and gauges start fluttering wildly. Alerts begin to chirp throughout the cabin. There’s a problem—and it’s up to you to rectify it, or mitigate the issue as best you can to ensure a safe landing.
After some clear-headed evaluation under pressure—and following what you’ve been taught—you identify the source of the problem and make the educated decision to continue your flight until its final destination. You land safely, a bit shaken but relieved that proper training allowed you to make the right decisions to ensure the safety of those aboard.
Leading a business through a turbulent political climate can feel a bit like a pilot making snap decisions when the norms go awry. It’s important to know that there will be confusion and challenges, and it is your preparation, experience, and trust in your training that will see you through. These four action steps can keep your company flying high and stable when the political winds begin to shift.
1. In your businesses, you have to do the most important things first and keep doing them while dealing with problems that will inevitably arise.
So what are your business’s core elements for success? Can your employees list them? Many business owners or leaders would report that “customer service” is one of their core elements. But what are the three most impactful drivers of excellent customer service unique to your business? Ask yourself, and your team, to excel at those three things. If you don’t know what your essential elements of success are, you better figure them out quickly. The turbulent times start when clients go looking.
2. Not unlike identifying where you are going to execute an off-airport landing, you need to have an honest discussion with yourself about the situation and your capabilities.
In the context of business, you need to be honest with yourself about what you’re struggling with and find a better way of getting the job done. Perhaps in your business, it means outsourcing HR to an employment agency, switching suppliers or firing a problem client. But be honest with yourself about the weaknesses in your operation and commit to addressing them.
3. Are you communicating with everyone vital in your business success, from customers to suppliers, vendors, and financial advisors?
Do you have a communication plan for each of these critical constituents and who owns that plan? To whom is the plan owner accountable?
Sit down with a blank piece of paper. Draw a circle in the middle and, inside the circle, write the name of your business. Take 10 minutes of uninterrupted time to write down all the key connections/relationships you need to maintain your business’s success. Next, write down who in your organization should own that relationship. Meet with those persons and be clear as to the importance of that responsibility.
4. Finally: work the problems.
How many times have you seen people work hard without ever really taking on the core issue? You are the pilot of your business. It is up to you to take control and keep your team focused. Many companies have vast institutional knowledge within the organization. Trust that experience to solve the problems. If they know what’s core to your business success, they will likely solve the problem with little input needed from you.
Good times are just that, easy. It’s the challenging times where you need to expand your confidence and wisdom. Confidence and wisdom that you will need as we receive additional details on the political issues that impact every business, such as tax reform, healthcare options, or any changes in US trade policy. The business climate may be turbulent, but if you follow your training, trust your experience and decision-making ability, your steady hand at the helm can guide your team through the most adverse landscapes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jeff Bush, Wall Street’s Washington insider, is a dynamic and insightful speaker on tax and fiscal topics, and the author of American Cornerstones: History’s Insights on Today’s Issues. A 28-year veteran of the financial industry, Jeff works with executive teams, business owners, and high income individuals to proactively prepare their organizations to succeed in an ever evolving-market place. For more information on Jeff Bush, please visit www.JeffBush.net.