It's really easy to be a business leader when business is booming, but it's a whole other thing to lead your team when your business is in crisis. That said, here's a technique that I have taught thousands of business owners over the past 25 years to get their business out of a rut and moving in the right direction again.
Identify the Root Cause of the Issue
You know your business is in crisis, but you may not know exactly why. So identifying your business's number one limiting factor is going to be the first thing you do. What's the one major constraint to your growth right now? The more narrowly you can define your limiting factor, the easier it will be to resolve. Some examples might include labor shortages, increased production costs, or competition in the marketplace.
Let's say you aren't getting as many sales as you used to. Would your biggest constraint to growth be with the number of leads coming in? Or do you have plenty of leads, but you don't have solid lead conversion? Or, do you have plenty of leads and great lead conversion, but you lack sales capacity? Or is it not the sales side, but rather your operational capacity? Get to the specific problem so you can come up with a good solution.
Push the Limiting Factor Back
Once you identify what the issue is, it's time to brainstorm ways to either push that limiting factor back or eradicate it completely.
In the lack of sales example, think about what would make the most difference for your business. Is it the ability to do the work for new clients coming in for your product or service? Are you struggling with production and need to make changes there? Do you lack the capital to meet your orders and need an infusion of cash? Do you need to hire more salespeople? Do you need to spend more on marketing? Brainstorm all the ways that you could push your limiting factor back to grow your business.
All of these choices have very different solutions.
Find Your Low-Hanging Fruit
Once you have brainstormed 10, 15, or 20 different ideas, you want to put them through two filters. Filter one is the low-hanging-fruit filter. A solution is considered low-hanging fruit if it is easy to do with a high likelihood of producing a result. That result might be big. That result might be small, but it's relatively easy to do.
The second filter that you use in a separate pass is called the home-run filter. Go through every item on that list and ask, is this a home run? If this solution were to work, would it make a big impact on your business? Would it help you grow?
Putting It All Together
Once you have your filters in place, it's time to put it all together and look at the items that are both low-hanging fruit and home runs. Those are your sweet spots. The areas that are relatively easy to accomplish that will make the biggest impact on your business and help get your business out of its rut.
No matter what is happening with your business and its current crisis, there is always an opportunity for growth. Think about how you can take advantage of the opportunities inherent in a crisis to help people be much more open to changing their behaviors
There's nothing better to make change more palatable than a little bit of fear, anxiety, or uncertainty. It's one of the few benefits that you have during a crisis situation--an openness on the part of your team, or your vendors, or your marketplace, or your customers or your suppliers, or your lenders to be open to some change where they see that there's a demonstrable benefit back to them.