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What Keeps You Up at Night?

What Keeps You Up at Night?

Related stressors of a business owner begin at dawn, waking with concerns about receiving a shipment of urgently needed material or dealing with a struggling employee. As the day progresses, company leaders fret over long term inquiries: how do they grow their business? How do they meet performance goals? How should they create a balance, rewarding work environment for their staff?

What do business leaders really worry about?  Is it macro issues, like world economics, or micro issues, like On-Time Delivery in the factory?  Of course it is both, but what really keeps people up at night?  According to recent polls here are some of the biggest concerns:

Competition: The “pie” isn’t getting bigger, and we all worry about getting a bigger piece of the same pie.  Many companies who relied on legacy products for a long time have found themselves unable to respond quickly enough to build a better mousetrap. 

Cash Flow: Any business owner or senior company leader has felt the pain of meeting payroll or pushing out vendors when cash is tight.  Most businesses experience the crunch at one time or another.  

The Unknown:  Catastrophic events, terrorism, social unrest, global volatility – all unknowns.  A-Type personality leaders like to control their environments, but there are many things beyond our control. The anxiety of awakening to a crisis is a constant. Globalization has gained momentum and information can be acquired instantaneously.

Regulations: Whether warranted or overblown, executives report that fear of the impact of current and future regulation often seriously affects business decisions. Healthcare has become an increasing cost for small companies. Managing these increases while maintaining a supportive environment for the employee is a continuous challenge.

Governmental Action/Inaction: Business leaders never know what is coming out of DC or State Houses, but the rhetoric keeps fueling fears. As recent news has illustrated, discord in the government can have significant impact on business operations.

Economics: Global companies concerns stretch across multiple economies.  Monetary policies abroad, and volatility in any area of the world that can impact sales, production, etc.

Talent: There is a growing shortage of skilled workers and managers as Baby Boomers begin to retire.  The gap between now and 2030 could be as much as 20 million people who will be less skilled than the generation that preceded them.  This will cause a mad scramble for talent, and some companies are already beginning to experience this in key areas like engineering.

In addition, how do companies continue to be competitive in hiring? As the unemployment rate stabilizes at 3.9%, company leaders must build an attractive working environment to retain talent. Benefits and healthcare have become key components during the hiring process.

We write a lot about talent management and employee engagement. These are both issues that can be a silent concern among a diverse group of possible issues. However, meeting targets and creating a collaborative company culture largely contributes to the bottom line. Through honesty, transparency, and quick resolution of issues, a company culture built around mutual respect between the employee and executive team lends to positive employee engagement.

What is the key to surviving these threats, and being able to sleep at night? Agility and adaptability.  Companies that can move quickly, get new products in the market, beat the competition with true differentiation, and scale talent (both down and up), will stand a greater chance.  Preparation for the unknown can be a challenge. However, a complete assessment and preparation for unexpected issues can lead to solace, including the company executive sleeping a little bit better at night!