Running a business today is incredibly difficult. Competition is intense. Customers are tough to please. The economy is volatile.
Though as true as those statements may be, that doesn’t justify them as excuses for struggles you may have in your business, says Stan Slap, CEO at Slap Company.
Running a business today is difficult no matter what’s happening outside your walls, Slap says. If you’re willing to let those factors start determining how you operate things inside, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
During an exciting presentation Monday at the PPG MVP Business Solutions Conference in Palm Desert, Calif., Slap spoke candidly about how exterior excuses can derail the interior operating structure of a business.
“The problems that baffle owners in every company in every industry today are not really new problems,” says Slap. “Are you operating in difficult times? Of course you are.
“What matters is how you deal with it … how you remain standing when everyone else is falling down.”
Slap notes four popular excuses – “the economy is in ruins,” “the competition is killing us,” “we have to do more with fewer people,” “our customers have changed” – as the most toxic in business today.
Slap notes the third excuse in particular as incredibly damaging. He says a company’s desire to do more with less usually can be traced back to leadership and management failures, not the failures of an employee base.
A business that does not support its employee culture will never reach its full potential, Slap says.
And he says culture isn’t something to take lightly.
Employee culture is a living thing. It changes and adapts to what happens in your business every day.
“Culture is an information gathering organism designed to ensure its own survival,” Slap says. “You cannot bribe, bluff or bully your culture into anything. You can’t tell it what to do or how to act.”
If you want your employee culture to lead to business success, Slap says you have to be honest and open with its members.
Tell them why you’re debuting a new business strategy. Why you’ve ended, or altered, the last plan. When you ask them to change their day-to-day responsibilities, tell them how it’s going to positively impact their job and your business.
He says the same openness must be shown in customer-facing processes.
Values you hold dear in your personal life should be visible to your employees and your customers.
When people see your decisions are rooting to who you are, and to more than just the bottom line, they’re more responsive, Slap says.
“Be a human first, and a manager second,” he says.
And when things don’t work out quite right, own it.
Every second you spend passing the buck on your failures is time you lose where you could make your business better, Slap says.