Winning in the Recession was published by Canadian Vet – July / August 2009.
Nobody knows exactly how long it will endure, but one thing is for certain, a number of Canadian professional practices will emerge as winners in the recession.
The question is, which ones?
What distinguishes these Architects, Engineers, Interior Designers, Dentists, Veterinarians, Optometrists, Naturopaths, Chiropractors, Accountants, Lawyers and other professional practices from their peers?
Candid insight, nimble attitude and creative vision that enables successful adaptation to a changed and ever-changing marketplace.
This select group of professionals will have a profound understanding of the behaviours, skill sets and systems necessary to navigate their new reality. They will win in the recession because they will have honed in the following abilities.
10 Essentials to Win in the Recession:
- Run a professional practice like a business. The good news about watching cash flow and profit during a recession is that after the recession you will know how to watch cash flow and profit. You will have experienced the benefits of ensuring your time and money are spent where they generate a return and will be motivated to continue to do so.
- Employ new structures to replace the partnership model when it doesn’t work. When structure doesn’t work it can cause debilitating strife, which supersedes any other opportunities or issues that face a professional practice. A number of my clients are considering newer models for the structure of their practices, including looser association arrangements.
- Focus on creating and delivering value for others. Adding value involves introspection about service gaps that may be lurking under the surface, along with the courage and creativity to overcome them.
- Establish a unified, authentic identity that resonates emotionally. It is no longer viable for a group of professionals to come together under one roof and share a business name without a concerted effort at defining a common and powerful voice. To do otherwise, would simply be to splinter the practice’s potential to deliver consistent, meaningful and emotional resonance with both clients and employees.
- Evaluate and learn to work with a marketing professional. The opportunity to develop a winning practice will depend on understanding the difference between just putting up a website and developing a compelling communication strategy poised to deliver impact with the desired audience. To do so, presumes the ability to identify and assess the qualifications of a marketing professional.
- Maximize the return on investment of a marketing budget. Professional associations in the building, healthcare and financial sectors have recently begun to place an emphasis on offering business planning and marketing courses and tools to their members. These resources give professionals the foundation to navigate appropriate, traditional and non-traditional marketing opportunities while also optimizing their marketing budgets.
- Use market research. Contrary to popular belief, market research is not just for large corporations. It is highly relevant to the ongoing success of a small to mid-sized professional practice and critical to minimize the risk of a start-up practice. See our article, Cost Effective Market Research Tips for Small Businesses – Q & A for suggestions on how to generate insight about your client base and competitive set by tapping into existing market research data or designing a cost effective study that will support your practice building goals.
- Leverage technology and build reliable systems. The right technology can often make all the difference for a small to mid-sized practice trying to do it all. Professionals that are able to identify and leverage technology to streamline processes as well as to bolster resources and infrastructure will have a critical advantage over their peers. Our article, The Ultimate List of Technology Tools for Small to Mid-Sized Businesses introduces some of these tools.
- Nurture creativity and vision. The ability to identify, recruit and foster creativity and vision in business will become a powerful differentiator in our time. Enterprising businesses are paying attention to this opportunity. The point of unharnessing creativity in business is not to send all your employees to art class but rather to gain insight as to how we can invite right brain thinking into a left brain world. See our article, Unharnessing Creativity in Business for a few ideas to get you started on this adventure.
- Employ new leadership models that nurture talent, not seniority. The professionals that will thrive after this recession will balance an ability to lead with an ability to listen, to employees, clients, advisors and vendors. They will study and apply new leadership models that invite collective, transformative, creative and ethical leadership styles, building trust and strength throughout their organizations.
Attitude matters. Those who get swallowed up in pessimism, doubt and worry will find it difficult to focus on solutions.
A very astute Doctor, when speaking to a patient with a distressing diagnosis, made the point better than I can. He sat down on the floor of the waiting room, made eye contact with his patient and told her to start making plans for when she would be well: ‘Plan a vacation, think about tomorrow and fill your life again’.
Winning professional practices, too, will think about the opportunity to prosper tomorrow.
What are your plans for your professional practice after the recession?
Why not begin the work to position your practice to emerge as a winner in the recession, starting now?
Update: Our Winning in the Recession series continues with: Winning in the Recession – Run a Professional Practice Like a Business, Winning in the Recession – Maximize the Return on Investment of a Marketing Budget, Winning in the Recession – Learn to Work With a Marketing Professional and Winning in the Recession – Employ New Leadership Models.
Related articles: Recession-Proof Your Professional Practice, Opportunity That is Exclusive to a Recession, Continue Marketing During a Recession, Weather the Recession and Leadership in a Recession
Photo credit: BenGoode