Dear Manager,

In last month’s issue we discussed sustained profitability and its singular priority in American Business. As a “sales guy” most of my life, this shift in measuring performance challenged me greatly, and continues to rattle the cages of businesses both small and large.

I’m a big believer in the ability of business to make strategic decisions based on “their” time line, as compared to the defensive position created in times of “down cycle.” A position of strength and profitability go hand-in-hand with effective strategic planning.

Yet, many of the most difficult and soul-searching decisions that management must make are made in times of diminishing cash in the cookie jar. Why is “panic” the catalyst in motivating us to take actions we already knew were needed, even inevitable? Could it be that while we had the instincts, we lacked “the justification?” If this is true, to whom do we owe this justification?

We’ve all been faced with this scenario; hopefully we’ve successfully tackled its problematic alternatives. I’ve worked with many companies who can see the undertakers shadow at the door. It’s a time of tough decisions; for them the pretending is truly over. Staying ahead of the undertaker is always a worthwhile objective! At the very least, it should be our goal to lengthen that lead as we mature as managers.

Downsizing Is Not A Dirty Word

Why is it that downsizing occurs most often when there seems to be no alternative? Business 101 taught us that bigger is better; it’s so much “sexier” than being a company that can only provide significant revenue and profitability. Sales might be sexy, but profitability makes your company truly attractive! Why not consider downsizing, not only to strengthen the company as a whole, but also to better fulfill its objectives and responsibilities to the whole?

If profit is our new best friend, is there a model that would create equal or enhanced profit on a more limited and streamlined scale? Is there a model that would enhance the quality of life for both you and the most capable members of your staff? If so, it would seem to be worth (at the very least) your evaluation.

Downsizing Has Significant Advantages

A mature company can fully quantify and evaluate its position of strength in the marketplace. Strategic alliances with vendors, customers, products, and staff have been developed. For every two of these quality relationships/assets, I’d suggest there’s one that simply can’t carry its own weight. The opportunity and objective is to retain the cream that rises at all costs. Approached dispassionately, the value of each of these alliances will become very clear.

What is left – the pitcher of cream you hold in your hand – contains the greatest assets of your company. Once again, you must protect these fortified assets in addition to providing newly available enhanced capacity. Attack with your best and brightest instead of being a fire fighter. You now have the quality and expanded resources to bring focus and true professionalism to the equation. How much better could you be, how much stronger and more profitable could these strategic alliances be, with this enhanced focus? Finally, how much more professional satisfaction might you find in this new model?

Shifting of Strategy

Ironically, you may find that this downsizing isn’t downsizing after all; it’s more likely an orchestrated “right sizing.” I’ve witnessed an expansion of profits and sales in this scenario. You’ve simply evaluated and eliminated areas that haven’t provided you the return on investment that’s essential to all relationships, products, and services.

How does it feel to be free of those aspects of your business that were the least profitable, the most time consuming, and the least pleasurable alliances you’d previously retained? Lean back in that office chair and tell me why this reinvented business plan isn’t anything but appealing. Maybe it sounds like a fairytale, but there are aspects of this strategy that can, in fact, be quantified and implemented for your company, guaranteed.

Could It Be Time To Expand?

Now that the profitability benchmark of performance has truly been established, you’re in a much better and knowledgeable position to truly evaluate future opportunities as they present themselves. Certainly, you wouldn’t consider reverting back to accepting alliances that can’t produce levels of profitability equal to the standards you’ve now established.

This scenario very certainly puts you in a buyer’s market. I’m a big believer that to accept additional responsibility in my already challenged day, it must be a clearly outrageous sweetheart of a deal! I’d encourage you to adopt this mindset, as it’s only then that you can truly and effectively define this type of opportunity. Not only that, why would you want to consider anything less? You’ve streamlined your costs, vendors, products, customers and staff; it can also be time to get back to enjoying your role as a business owner.

There will always be opportunities to expand; you simply have to approach each one with a strategic eye, commitment to enhanced profitability, and a firm hand on your wallet. Yes, in the vast majority of cases these “opportunities,” in tandem with your new standards, will breathlessly whisper in your ear, “You don’t need me, pass me on to your competition!”

I encourage you to review your current operation as compared to your original objectives, business plan, and mission statement. In addition, review what you may have anticipated five and ten years ago. Has your model lived up to, or exceeded, your expectations?

If today were your final day with your company, would the current model – your offspring – live up to that which you initially envisioned? Was it your primary objective to build a large company, or one that brought you fulfillment, inspiration, personal and professional balance, and a significant quality of life for both you and your team?

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2012. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM