When you first came up with the idea for your business, what you really did was make a hypothesis about what would be successful. You based this hypothesis on a number of factors, I’m sure, but ultimately it was a guess. Many of the things which you predicted to happen likely did, while others may not have happened as you expected. Through the trial and error of starting your business, you likely made a serious of changes, some significant, to account for things that didn’t go as you planned. However, at what point is a more significant change in direction required?
1. Growth has Slowed or Stopped – If you have seen a significant reduction in growth, it is time to look at why that is happening. If it is a timing issue and things will correct in a few months, that is one thing, but if your numbers are going down while the industry is going up, you may need to consider a bigger change.
2. Your Competitors are Beating You – There is nothing wrong with seeing your competitors do well. It is when they do well at your expense that you need to worry. If you find that your customers are leaving to go to a competitor, or that your competitors are outpacing you significantly when they weren’t in the past, it might be time to figure out why.
3. Your Customers are not Satisfied – If your customer base is shrinking and going to a competitor, you want to know why. Similarly, if your customers are looking for a product you don’t offer, you may want to consider expanding. Customer wants are constantly changing, and you need to keep up with them.
4. Your Employees are Telling You – Depending on the size of your business, you may not have direct contact with clients, distributors, or even analysts. But those in your company who do will often have great insights into what your business needs to do to remain competitive. If your sales team is clamoring for a new pricing option that the competition offers, then listen. It just might save your business.
Making a significant change to your business can be hard, but when done right it can be just the move to get you past a plateau and continue growth. Inflexibility is the quickest way to see a profitable business go under, but by looking for these warning signs you should be able to stay ahead of any needed changes.
For small business owners, negotiations are crucial to success in nearly every aspect of their business. Most only think of negotiations when talking about price with a client or salary with an employee, however nearly everything a small business owner does which involves an interaction with another person, is a negotiation on some level. Obviously everything doesn’t require a long, drawn-out negotiation, however having the skills to overcome objections and close on something that leaves all parties happy can be the difference between a thriving business and one that is out of business. And while every negotiation is unique, here are some techniques which are nearly universal to every negotiation.
1. Know What You Want – This may seem obvious, however one of the main reasons negotiations go south is that the parties are not really sure of what they want. Set a list of priorities and keep them in mind during the negotiation – otherwise you could lose a good deal over a trivial detail.
2. Know What They Want – Make sure to carefully listen to what the other party actually wants. Too often, people negotiate based upon preconceived notions, rather than what the other party actually wants. Many times a small concession can get a large deal done, but the parties involved are only looking at their own interests. By understanding what the other person wants, you put yourself into a better position to deliver that and, in turn, get what you want.
3. Know What You Can Give Up – Negotiating is about compromising. If you need to be flexible, be sure you know where your areas of flexibility are. Don’t get bogged down in fighting for everything, sometimes conceding a small point will get them to concede something important for you.
4. Focus on Common Ground – Generally, the majority of what is being discussed is in agreement. Focus on that when negotiating points of contention. Sometimes, by looking at everything that is already agreed upon, it can be easier to compromise on whatever is left.
5. Put it on Them – Make them the focus of the conversation. This way, you are constantly reinforcing their benefits, rather than yours. Though subtle, this places a constant reminder of the reason why they want this deal to work out, rather than constantly working through why you want it to. This can make them more eager to complete the deal.
6. Know When to Walk Away – Not all negotiations end well. Sometimes, there is simply no workable resolution. If they need something you are unwilling to give, then it is time to walk away. You don’t want to get bogged down in a negotiation that has no possible resolution.
No matter what you’re negotiating, by keeping these techniques in mind, you might be able to tip the scales in your favor and leave getting what you actually want without giving up anything you can’t afford to.
When establishing lockout tagout policies and procedures, it is important to account not just for the policies and procedures being created at that time, but also how these policies and procedures will be updated and monitored going forward. Unfortunately, this second portion can be even more difficult than simply creating accurate, compliant policies and procedures.
When creating lockout tagout policies and procedures, you need to consult OSHA Standard 1910.147. This standard is difficult to work with; it is complicated, convoluted, and has a number of variables which make it difficult to create accurate, specific policies and procedures. This standard also makes it hard to account for the variables which could change and require updates down the line.
As such, many companies hire third party lockout tagout auditing firms. Companies which do this, however, leave control of their lockout tagout policies and procedures in the hand of an external company. And as such, they need to consult with the third party every time they change personnel, machinery, equipment, floor layout, or the location of the facility. This creates needless consulting costs and the potential for errors, as the actual standards and procedures are not maintained by the company.
Instead, a better option is our Factory Solutions Software. This is a web-based program which allows you to update your lockout tagout procedures anywhere there is an internet connection. You maintain control of your policies and procedures, while getting the peace of mind of a leading third party lockout tagout auditing firm monitoring them.
If you have any questions about monitoring policies and procedures for lockout tagout or about our Factory Solutions Software, please contact us. If you have anything to add about the importance of accurately monitoring lockout tagout policies and procedures, please leave a comment.