Or Just Smarter?
The answer about working harder is a definite “Maybe”, but working smarter is an even better way to prove you’re as capable as your male counterparts – if not more so.
Yet according to this Forbes article, women business owners face hurdles their male counterparts do not.
These include being roughly a third more likely to be in retail businesses – which makes debt financing tougher due to higher costs and lower margins – and discomfort with negotiating prices with vendors and suppliers.
And while women owners of traditionally male businesses such as construction and transportation perform as well or better than their male counterparts, women-owned businesses average 80% less start-up capital from banks and other traditional funding sources.
Women in management face similar challenges. This FastCompany article found that – as few women as there are in CEO roles – they’re often chosen in dire circumstances when “the deck was stacked against them”. These turnaround situations replace the “glass ceiling” with a “glass cliff”.
With such uphill struggles, “working smarter” isn’t just catchy nomenclature – it’s an absolute necessity for business survival and success.
What Does “Working Smarter” Mean?
Working smarter means being proactive about every aspect of your business or organization…
- Constantly improving business processes,
- Eliminating redundancies,
- Streamlining supply chains for best value and risk reduction (both disruption and compliance risks),
- Closing skill and leadership gaps with training customized to your needs,
- Developing high-ROI marketing and sales programs that are trackable and accountable,
- Nurturing relationships – both personally and with complementary automation– that are the lifeblood of your business and your highest ROI customers, clients, and referral sources, and
- Finding cost reductions that won’t disrupt operations – with layoffs or otherwise – because you recognize that, unlike sales, every dollar saved falls straight to your bottom line.
But that’s an awful lot of work and risks diluting your core competencies. This is where strategic outsourcing comes into play by enabling some of these activities to be performed by outside experts in each field.
Not only can you offload 99% of the work, but you also gain access to specialized experience and expertise you’re not likely to have in-house – including not just better procurement pricing from vendors and suppliers, but a lower-risk and fully optimized supply chain strategically aligned with your business objectives.
Some can even provide access to capital from non-traditional sources, which was one of the recommendations cited in the Forbes article – along with finding partners to help you overcome your business challenges.
The trick is finding partners who are the best-of-breed providers that you’re certain will produce results and guarantee a positive ROI rather than add another expense. The historic default of hiring big consulting firms that require large upfront payments doesn’t fit that profile, which is why so many are downsizing these functions in the face of client discontent.
Fortunately, a cottage industry of outsourcing professionals willing to assume risk by deferring their fees – or waiving them altogether if they fail to produce results – has emerged to fill this need in the marketplace.
But Skip the Long-Term Contracts
But just as the lowest-priced supplier isn’t always your best value, not everyone willing to put their fees at risk is appropriate for you. Because when they assume this risk, they’re effectively partnering with you by taking even more risk than you, since you pay nothing if they don’t produce results.
The reason this may not be your best value – or your best partner – is that some of them demand long-term contracts in return. In my former MRI business – which we took public and Business Week named a top ten “Best Small Business” in America – we also required long-term, 5-year contracts with our host hospitals.
But there was a compelling economic reason for that. With that high fixed cost business, 5 years was the term of the equipment financings we assumed so the hospitals didn’t have to. Lenders would never have financed our expensive MRI equipment if our hospital contracts didn’t cover the full 5 years.
With a few exceptions, there’s no such compelling reason for your outsourcers to require long-term contracts. That doesn’t mean you won’t decide to continue their services if they’re producing the results you need, but there’s no reason to lock yourself into that and thereby limit your future flexibility if you’re dissatisfied for any reason.
Include TRAINING For
Ideally, you want outsourced experts who’ll also train your own personnel so you have the option over time to replace or curtail your reliance on these outside resources. This takes providers supremely confident in their ability to produce results – and to continue to prove themselves in other regards to remain worthy of remaining your strategic partner – without locking you in before they’ve actually proven themselves.
This article – “3 Degrees of Cost Reduction” – elaborates on this, while this brief white paper on the “Ten Advantages of Face-to-Face Instructor-Led Training” can help you balance online e-learning with face-to-face training that often yields more actionable and immediate benefits.
Our global team of procurement and training experts has been able to achieve 28.2% average savings over several decades – a high percentage for an average (and not an “up to” percentage savings) – and assure they’re sustainable precisely because of training that empowers you to replace them if you choose.
TRUE Strategic Partners Add Continuing Value
However, most of our clients choose to keep us around as strategic partners even when they partake of the training because of the sheer breadth and depth of what we’re able to offer them.
We’ve had as much success helping clients boost sales as reduce costs, though cost reduction is the logical place to start – since your savings can be redeployed to meet your other pressing needs. This makes them self-funded instead of a drain on your budget.
And if no savings are found, there’s no fee – so there’s no drain on your budget either way.
If cash flow‘s a problem that exceeds your projected savings, we can help you secure capital to bridge the gap.
This risk-free approach also augments your internal capabilities and keeps you focused on optimizing your core competences while we optimize your ancillary needs so your problems become a thing of the past.
But you decide whether or not to continue – unencumbered by long-term contracts that tie your hands and dilute your savings.
Because we’re confident we can help your business or organization reach its financial and strategic goals better and faster – and only wish to be your partner as long as we continue to produce results for you.