As an amateur chef, I often face an interesting challenge. Do I strictly follow the recipe or do I deviate? Early in my cooking tenure, I ambitiously tried a recipe for penne alla vodka. As the sauce began to cook, something told me that despite what the recipe said, I needed to add in more cream. The creamier the better, right? When I proudly placed the meal on the table, it was quickly greeted with looks of apprehension. In the end, my children refused to eat the concoction, which had the look and consistency of pink glue, and to add insult to injury, even my dog refused to eat it.
What I’ve learned over the years is that when you are first starting out, whether as a chef or CEO, you should resist the temptation to improvise. Stick to the plan. For small businesses in particular, other paths might look intriguing, but they can very quickly lead you off track. Over time, as your company matures and you learn the market, you can then make adjustments based on the knowledge you have gained. Running a company, which specializes in delivering quality employee benefits and services to the small business http://www.mainstreet.com/article/small-business/launching/8-free-resources-grow-your-small-biz market (i.e. 10-500 employees), presents a similar opportunity.
A precise recipe for effectively navigating through these challenging economic times, I do not have. However, I do have a few key ingredients that I picked up along my 30+ year career in business that are more relevant today than ever before.
Cut the Excess Calories
The biggest challenge facing CEOs these days is how to reduce expenses. Taking a red pen to the budget is not always easy and sometimes requires difficult decisions. I’ve found that employees can be very helpful in identifying cost-saving opportunities. I recently asked my employees to consider the following question: “If I owned this business, rather than worked for it, what would I do differently to help manage expenses?”