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The top 10 Issues amongst Business Owners and CEO’s in July 09

Message from Chris Barton – CEO Institute

Date: 8/05/2009

Subject: The top 10 Issues amongst Business Owners and CEO’s in July 09, reg Chris

The CEO Institute recently produced our report on The top 10 Issues discussed amongst the member base in July 09

I thought you might find value in the information

1. Facing leadership challenges

* Changing your leadership style in difficult times
* Challenges of leadership communication in smaller businesses
* Leading teams – how managing culture impacts on leadership,
recruitment, the induction process (both formal and informal), method of
dealing with exits. An open dialogue leads to trust and respect
* Power-hungry managers can be very disruptive and upset other
executives. Their positives and negatives should be carefully assessed to
ascertain their overall worth to the organisation
* Value of management development plans
* What is the psyche of successful CEOs?

2. To grow or not to grow

* Moving your business from small, with numerous customers, to the top
end of town. What does it cost? Can it be done?
* Most businesses looking to consolidate, rather than grow
substantially in the year ahead
* Markets in general not growing – any growth that is happening, is
via increased market share
* Beefing-up systems and procedures to cope with rapid growth
* Eliminating waste and non-value-adding activities from systems and
* Growth versus sustainability – the environment is still a priority
* Is business growth essential – and why? How to grow your business
and manage complexity
* KPIs for growth objectives – organic growth, new business, increased
revenue per sales
* How to prepare submissions for Governement grants – should you hire
expert submission writers or use your own resources?
* Adjusting growth expectations to reduce stress

3. Increased sales and marketing efforts

* Increased focus on business development and marketing
* Mixed view on the value of offline directories as a form of
advertising. More benefit seen in online versions
* The need to have a strong brand in this market
* Use of third party sales representatives to service capital cities –
does it work?
* The cost of unsuccessful tendering can be significant in the current
competitive environment. Targeting potentially successful tenders is
essential to avoid the waste of time and expense
* Marketing and sales effort in the current economic conditions is
paramount – as is good communication – to retain existing customers
* Pros and cons of using purchasing agents to represent you

4. Staff recruitment and boosting performance

* Trying to find good / the right people – there’s not a lot of
quality on the market
* Trends in outsourcing have shifted
* Managing the knowledge in your business
* The implications of the new IR environment on wage costs and
* Recruitment and performance management best practice – reference
checking, psychometric testing strongly advised, induction to include
time-frame before appointing to permanency
* Staff morale high – psychometric testing has been crucial
* Dealing with negative staff who ‘bad mouth’ the company
* Training staff to improve co-operation and effectiveness
* Assisting redundant staff secure employment elsewhere

5. Controlling debtors and cash flow management

* Restraint of trade – what are the boundaries and what power do
suppliers have in respect to the rights of the business?
* Frustration at debtors extending terms of trade without consultation
* Businesses going well are taking the opportunity to reduce debt
* Dealing with large debtors can be difficult – prompt decisive action
to collect debts is usually the best strategy
* Debt collection problems in smaller customers – don’t push into
bankruptcy, as you may be worse off, limit the amount spent on lawyers, try
to get payment on drip-feed

6. Boards and shareholders

* Delegation issues from Board to CEO
* The importance of trust between CEO and key stakeholders
* Establishing Board sub-committees – what roles would they cover and
should their membership be broadedned to include non-directors?
* Issues when dis-engaging a shareholder
* Dealing with clashes between CEO and a major shareholder
* Issues arising when Board and management expectations aren’t aligned

7. Business structure and performance

* Finding new ways to rescue a previously successful business that is
now struggling
* The value of business coaches – what can they bring? What is the
* The need to have an organisational structure that supports the
business and its performance going forward
* Aligning departmental balanced scorecards with those of the

8. Salaries

* Reduced working hours, wage freezes or minimal increases
* Package reductions and realigning salaries – getting rid of
employees and re-employing others at greatly reduced salaries
* Salary reviews – range from pay cuts, frozen, 3-5% depending on
merit, promotions kept separate, some cash bonuses

9. Technology

* Use of electronic tools – relevance to business / personal use
* IT security – data backup, disaster recovery plans, physical
security, communications
* Website redevelopment – importance of getting the structure right
before focusing on content
* Developing an online shop – ideas and experience

10. Succession planning

* Introspection and self-awareness are important first steps in
developing and implementing a succession plan
* Taking your business back after putting it in other hands

Posted on August 5, 2009

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