Go fast now

Mar 09, 2009

We’re in the middle of some tough, turbulent times. It seems like every market served by A/E/P and environmental firms is full of uncertainty. No one knows whether or not tomorrow will be harder than today. There just isn’t a lot good news to be heard. This is precisely the point in history that fortunes will be made. “Did Zweig make a mistake?” you might be thinking. He meant to write “fortunes will be lost,” not MADE. But I meant what I wrote. There are some amazing opportunities out there for those who have a little confidence and who can make a decision, FAST. That rules out about 95% of firms in our business— the preponderance of which are run by good, honest, hard-working people who simply cannot make a decision in a timely manner. That kind of conservative decision-making may work in good times but it is NOT a recipe for success today. Today you have to act fast if you want to cash in on the present circumstances. Here’s some of what I am talking about: Office buildings. There are some deals out there right now to buy office buildings if you have the nerve to make that kind of commitment. It’s been a classic wealth-building strategy of privately held business owners for years— buy a building and have the company pay it off over time. Right now, this may make more sense than ever. Prices are depressed. Your business, while possibly affected by the recession, is most likely going to be pretty steady going forward. Is it time to take the plunge and buy? You have to act fast— the prices won’t last. Inflation is around the corner and then you’ll be wishing you had bought. Hiring and firing. When great people come to your attention— can you hire quickly? You need to be able to because no doubt, some talented folks are now beginning to come into the job market due to concerns with their present employers. Not to mention the good people who have been let go due to no fault of their own (and we’re seeing more of these). Other firms are going to be taking the plunge and hiring real talent when they see it, even if there is not a tightly defined specific role for them to fill. You better go fast! And as for firing, now is the time to act. If you have marginal performers OR those with cancerous attitudes, you should act fast to move them out of the company. No one can afford cynics who cast doubts on your ability to survive and prosper in spite of obstacles— not in this climate. Move fast— be decisive— before the deadwood drags you down or the malcontent’s malaise spreads like a disease throughout your fragile company. Merger and acquisition opportunities. There are bargains NOW. Move fast or you won’t get them. I am talking about good companies that have hit hard times, good companies that are undercapitalized and cannot afford clients who aren’t paying, good companies whose owners have to get out and have no other options. You can acquire some of these firms for less now than ever before. But don’t think you are alone. Others will want them too! Client service. Any problem, any complaint, any concern that a client has must be addressed quickly. Act fast! Don’t let anything linger or fester or a competitor will take these clients from you. Time is the enemy. The more volatile the environment, the faster you are going to have to make decisions, act, and respond. Accept this as fact. Embrace it. Make this your new reality. Stop thinking you will ever have all the information you need and go fast. If you make a mistake, make a new decision— and go fast! Originally published 3/9/2009

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.