Ironically, many organisations use a tough economic environment to drive out changes that are often difficult to achieve when things are buoyant. This means that a recession can be one of the best times to embark upon a continuous improvement programme.

During a recession it is inevitable that businesses find it more difficult to make a profit and public sector organisations are asked to deliver more service for less money.

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Successful businesses invariably have a good business strategy. They understand their market and they work out the best way in which they can serve this market profitably. When they do that, everything else falls into place, including marketing, sales and profit.

Conversely, businesses that have yet to tap into their full potential invariably have no viable business strategy.

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Every business should go through the process of change management. It is inconceivable for any business to go too long without changing some aspects of the way that it works, simply because things change all around them.

The main things that change fall into one of four categories:

Therefore, change management should be the norm in any business, providing you follow the golden rule of change management, which is:

“Never change for the sake of it; only change for real, operational benefits”

The difference between change management and business transformation is one of degree. If your business needs a major overhaul it will no longer be enough for you to carry out a process of continuous improvement of the type that you can deliver through a change management process. You may need to carry out some substantial “root and branch” changes to your business, even if it causes some short term disruption. Such changes come under the heading of Business Transformation.

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Every business needs written procedures which define how business is conducted day to day.

Every business regardless of their size or complexity has a set of procedures (written or just by custom and practice), whether they are formally recognised or operated by people on “autopilot”. The purpose of business processes and quality management is to ensure that things are done well and consistently, regardless of which person carries out the task.

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Too many businesses make managing people too complex. The process of so-called “HR” is full of jargon confusion, which often puts a barrier between people that work in the business and those responsible for managing them.

Even the name of the department HR – Human Resources – is wrong. Nobody ever refers to themselves as a human resource; they are people! It is well to keep this simple thought in mind when you are involved in the day to day management of a business.

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If you want your business to be successful, it is clear that you need to have a good strategy for technology and that you implement it properly. All successful businesses have a very intelligent approach to the use of technology because they follow four, simple, golden rules.

  1. Never rush a decision on business technology

    You will live with the consequences of a bad decision for some time, so it pays to take the time to get the right decision.

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The bad news is that the majority of businesses are not making the best use of all the marketing and sales channels that exist to help them. This means that they are not winning as much business as they should.

The good news is that it is not very difficult to put that right and the impact when you do so is to dramatically increase your sales. If you don’t think you have set things up correctly yet, the opportunities to boost your sales can be very exciting.

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For the unenlightened, administration does not have a good press. For those who do not understand the importance or benefit of good, straightforward admin it is seen as a function which slows things down, introduces a layer of bureaucracy and increases the overheads.

In reality, however, administration is the function which makes the difference between an average business and an excellent one. As exciting as it might be to develop new products and services or meet people as part of the marketing and sales effort, this amounts to nothing if the day to day running of the business is mired in confusion and disorganisation.

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Every business needs a certain amount of financial information by law, but successful businesses always produce more information than is required because they want to ensure that they use financial data to the full in order that they can maximise their profit.

The majority of business owners and managers do not receive any formal training in finance, which means that for much of the time they are unable to harness the power of their information to take day to day decisions that lead to better business management and higher profits.

There are four main types of financial information.

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A business strategy should be brief and to the point. The whole purpose of it is to give you the opportunity to set the overall direction of your business. This means that you need to be able to see the wood for the trees, so the last thing you need is a lot of detail.

A business plan, however, is a good place to think through some of the detail of your strategy and check that it is feasible. Although brevity is always the favoured option when it comes to managing a business you should not shy away from fleshing out some of the detail in your business plan.

A business plan is necessary whether you are a start-up business or an established business, although the reasons for producing them are different.

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Running a business is one of the most fulfilling and important jobs in the world. Your customers depend on you; your people and their families rely upon you and your suppliers look to you for more business.

If you get it right, you will generate profits which lead to personal wealth and job satisfaction. If you get it wrong, you risk losses or, at worst, the collapse of the business.

That is why it is so important to have a strategy. A strategy is a plan for the general direction of your business. You might think of it as the same way as planning a holiday; the first thing to decide is where you want to go. You then find out what dates are suitable, decide whether you can afford it and agree the finer details.

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