Get back to the basics

The papers and broadcast news can’t seem to say enough about a recession and what it may mean for small businesses.

If we are in a recession, business owners and managers should act and react much as they should when things get tough in many areas of life – get back to the basics and do them well.

In this case, those basics mean having a plan, hiring right and taking care of human resources.

Have a plan

This is basic to business. Whether it is an elaborate business plan or a one-page strategic plan, every business must have a road map to be successful. Sometimes a slow period in business allows us the opportunity to focus on key business priorities.

Some goals in a down economy may revolve around new business development or better managing your cash flows. Whatever your goals, be specific – have a number of goals, write them down and track them on a daily, weekly and/or monthly basis.

What is measured improves

Measure and communicate goals that are critical to the business to focus your team on the top priorities. Generate ideas together to develop methods for achieving goals and clarify how each team member can contribute to goal achievement.

If we all have a role in the business plan, we all feel like part of the same team.

Hire right the first time

This process means:

• Being deliberate

•Documenting what you are looking for in your next employee

•Practicing patience until you find the skill set and cultural fit that leads to hiring the best-qualified candidate who will be a strong contributor to the success of your business

Too many times companies hire because someone they know is looking for work. If that person has exactly what you need at the exactly the right time, please hire them – and buy a Lotto ticket while you’re at it because your stars are lining up.

In a recession economy, you want to make every hire count, because in the future, you may not be able to fill as many positions.

Take care of your people

It is common sense to realize you cannot do everything yourself. If you hire and retain employees who share your company’s common values and act in the company’s best interests, you will be ahead of the recession curve ball.

One way to reinforce the company’s common values, including trust, is to define and positively reinforce your company’s culture and values. If you do not have a written set of well communicated values, take advantage of this time to develop and communicate them with your team now.

Tony Johnson is president of TJ & Assoc., a small business in La Center offering custom services in recruiting, business and human resource consulting. He can be reached at 360-263-2676 or