Business turnaround experts – what can they teach us

Turnaround experts are business professionals at their best. They haven’t the luxury of time on their side. They sink or swim on their results now.

James Hurley in his Telegraph online article Revive your business with the 6 Cs quotes Charles Wilson’s turnaround successes at cash and carry wholesaler Booker Group, as well as Marks & Spencer and Arcadia. Hurley brings our attention to Wilson’s recovery blueprint – namely Wilson’s 6 Cs.

The 6 C’s plan is built around addressing

cash, costs, customer, concept, culture and [watching out for] crises

Wilson focuses on making a difference on cash flow rightaway.  He does this by a strong focus on costs reduction. Wilson says he affects change within about three weeks. With sales revenue and debtors (customers) he aims to get a handle on things within about three months.

The C for Concept takes more time, and the C for culture seems to takes forever.

Preparation for C for Crises has to be put in place from day one, Mr Wilson confesses.

Can this work for the small business, as well as big? Robert Craven, the Business MasterMind Group guru,  is perhaps one of the best ‘front lining experts to ask? But what do you think? I say why not?

From my experience, business is all about the cash. Robert Craven famously begins (or near the beginning) one of his excellent workshops Let’s Talk More Profit (great concept) reminding us of the following truth in business, with the statement:

It is illegal to trade without profit, but it is impossible to trade without cash!

There’s the problem in a nutshell. What do I do, as a business consultant that works with small and medium sized businesses who want to grow?  I quote my first boss, Neil Scott, Owners Abroad plc (later to become First Choice plc) –  a real Alan Sugar type, who used to say (all the time):

SELL, SELL, SELL

Sounds great doesn’t it? Not always that easy in my experience. Often there is work to do on the Value Proposition (the reason why people would buy from us). In the meantime, Charles Wilson is right - stop heamoragging cash. So firstly a strong focus on costs (whilst you’re beavering away on the deliverables – improving value creation for clients and non-customers.  Most importantly of all, and it’s back to Robert Craven again. Craven reminds business owners:

Financial performance is a consequence of selling (marketing) and doing (operations). It is like juggling 3 balls in the air

  • SELL
  • MAKE
  • COLLECT

However, despite Craven recommending to all us entrepreneurs to learn how to sell more of ‘it’, whatever that might be, he strongly suggests firstly that we need to

sort out the ‘financials’ first

(the business model) get that right, so that when we can sell more (stuff) we can also make more money (yahoo! ), is it not after all the reason why most of us are in business in the first place.

Julian Rowe, Business Correspondent, Business Service Finder.

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