Strive for perfection…especially during a recession. Now that’s a novel idea!
When the world economy is in the pits, most people think about hunkering down, laying off their expensive (and often most talented) workers, cutting costs to the bone (including customer service and innovation)—and just trying to survive. Then, wait for the next recovery, when and if it ever comes. And unfortunately, banks usually aren’t much help during difficult economic times as they tighten their belts and only offer lending to those that really don’t need it.
Sounds pretty much like what we are all witnessing today: hunker down and wait and hope for the best.
What most of us forget is that the economy has always performed in cycles. When the economy is rosy, business practices slip, waste is tolerated, innovation may not seem necessary and customers may sometimes be taken for granted. These poor practices don’t seem to matter though, as the money just keeps rolling in!
Wise business people, especially those who have experienced the variability of past business cycles and their effects, realize that each economic downturn is followed by a rebound—often sooner than the naysayers predict. Positioning your company to prosper in an economic recovery takes foresight, vision and guts!
Here’s an example of someone I know who saw tremendous opportunity during the recession of the early 1990s and had the foresight, vision and guts to capitalize on this opportunity—our most successful local optometrist.
Let’s call him Dr. Jones. In the early 1990s, Dr. Jones, a young, ambitious optometrist, decided to set up his own practice. Having studied for a while in the USA, he knew about some of the new technology developed for ophthalmologists and optometrists to provide Retinopathy Screening for patients. Employing digital photography, Retinopathy Screening can monitor changes at the back of the eye and is essential for tracking progression of eye disease in diabetics. Back in 1990, this technology wasn’t yet available in our area—but was sorely needed.
Dr. Jones required money to set up his high tech practice, and lots of it. Banks were unwilling to lend to him, so he went to other sources—family, friends, friends of friends—and he secured the funding to set up the most technologically advanced optometric practice in the area. Some people thought he was unwise to invest so much money in a new and unproven venture, especially in the depths of the recession. However, Dr. Jones knew better. Having both outstanding professional and business skills, he set up not only the most sophisticated practice of its kind, but one which focused on outstanding patient service, efficient operations and low overhead. Without knowing the term “lean”, Dr. Jones employed LEAN principals with PERFECTION—and won!
THE RESULT: Clients flocked to Dr. Jones’ practice, including the local National Health Service (NHS) Primary Care Trust. Today, he is the most successful optometrist in the area. His technology is superior, but Dr. Jones’ success is based primarily on his devotion to superb patient care and employing LEAN business practices to eliminate waste.
CONCLUSION: If you have foresight, vision and guts, anyone can prosper at any point in the business cycle. Employing LEAN principals and tools will help you achieve PERFECTION and will greatly reduce your risk, especially during economic recessions when it is needed the most.
About the Author
David Willour, Chairman & Director, Sagitta, Inc.
Mr. David Wilour is a seasoned Financial Executive with proven experience in increasing profitability while streamlining operational expenses during financial downturns. Over thirty years of management experience facing all market conditions. He Pioneered and launched Mellon’s (now BNY Mellon) Master Trust/Master Custody program nurturing it to become one of the fastest growing and profitable fee producing products offered by Mellon within 4 years of its inception.