In the past 18 months I was involved in rescuing a business from voluntary administration and, in a separate situation, forcing a business to change its strategic direction before it went into an eventual (and steep) decline. Both were messy and desperate situations that could have ended badly if the wrong approach was adopted or if we moved too slowly.

When confronted with these problems it was difficult to know what to do first. The scale of the issues we faced seemed  overwhelming and the timeframe too short to get everything done that was needed. We had our backs to the wall and the clock was ticking fast. We needed to create some clarity and we figured that the only way to do that was to establish a set of business rules that would guide all the decisions that we would need to take. Without these rules we felt our progress would be slowed which, in view of the extreme circumstances, was something that we couldn’t tolerate.

To this end we deliberated and came up with 10 business rules that not only worked for us but have subsequently set both businesses up for very prosperous futures.

The business rules we used are listed below:

  • Understand your ultimate objective. That is, what needs to be achieved and by when.
  • Focus only on what can be controlled.
  • If it doesn’t make money, ditch it.
  • Challenge anything that makes no commercial sense.
  • Hold the team to high performance standards.
  • Insist on insights, not just information.
  • Don’t apologise for any tough (but necessary) decisions taken.
  • Move quickly.
  • Don’t screw-up. Get it right the first time.
  • Be prepared to work 24/7 until the crisis subsides.

Sometimes you have to move quickly. Quicker than might be comfortable. You know intuitively that if you don’t a significant opportunity  will vanish (or diminish) or a current problem might rapidly become something more serious if not acted on. Or, as in my case, two businesses will fail.

No business is bullet-proof and sooner or later every business-person will run into a crisis situation and be forced to deal with it. Time will be short and resources may be limited. Whether you come through the crisis intact will depend on two things – the quality of the decisions you take and how quickly you act. Hopefully the rules above (which are battle-tested) might be useful when that inevitable time comes…

Article By The Bull