When driving in Australia you frequently see signs encouraging drivers to “stop revive and survive”. It is part of a road safety campaign aimed at reducing the number of crashes caused by driver fatigue. It highlights the early signs of fatigue and advises drivers on what to do as soon as they spot them. It’s very good advice for businesses as well.
I recently read an article about a writer’s holiday in France. His family stayed in a furnished cottage in Brittany. It was one of six that had been created from old barns and farm buildings. The owners had turned rundown and disused wrecks into a thriving business around 20 years ago. The cottages shared a swimming pool and were set in beautiful countryside only 1.5 kilometres from the nearest beach. Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it?
It turns out that the place was very tired; no refurbishment or updating had been carried out since the initial restoration had taken place and business was dropping off as a result. The owners’ response to the decline in bookings and hence revenue was to cut-back. By reducing some of the services and extras they were offering he made an attempt to reduce costs. Their prices however, were still at the high-end for the area. Not surprisingly their occupancy levels had continued to slide and they were being forced into offering significant discounts for last minute bookings.
The Car Crash
The cottage owners had clearly lost their way! They had no vision for their business, where it sat in the market, what it was offering or what made it stand out from the competition. Instead of taking a step back and restating or redefining their vision they were stuck in a downward cycle of cost reduction and falling demand. They were heading for a crash. Meanwhile their competitors, who had a clear vision and proposition, were thriving.
Stop Revive and Survive
Stop revive and survive in a business context is about spotting the early signs that the business may be losing its direction. Taking a step back, lifting yourself out of the day-to-day operations to clarify or update your businesses direction is important. It will help you identify the changes necessary to put things back on track.
Can you Fix it
That’s not to say that this is an easy thing to do. Some business owners can’t always see what really needs to be done to address a dip in performance. They are either too close or unable to make time to deal with the real issues. This is often a problem in businesses with very low staff turnover. Some turnover is healthy in any organisation and can guard against this cycle by providing a different perspective. Fresh thinking and new ideas provided they are involved in a strategic review can be a good thing.
Ensuring the leadership team continue to develop themselves. Keeping up-to-date with trends and new developments across different industries is also important, regardless of how long you have been with the organisation. Time spent on personal development tends to reduce with seniority yet it is no less important. Networking with peers in other companies, coaching and the use of critical friends and advisers will all help business owners and the business to stay on track.
A well-run business needs an owner that will proactively review, refocus and refine its vision and strategy. They’ll make the necessary changes, ensures it remains relevant before the signs of fatigue set in. They will stop revive and survive. Some will go further and seek to disrupt their business model to create market leading positions even though things are going well. But those businesses that don’t take time to stop revive and survive will eventually crash.
Make this Christmas break one where you take the opportunity to reflect and reassess. Wishing everyone a very Happy Christmas and successful 2019.