Last week, I talked with several lenders, investors, and entrepreneurs. One of the topics that kept coming up was their client’s problems wasn’t cash – even though their clients tried to convince them of it. While cash was an issue that needed to be addressed, the problem instead lies in the leadership. A few weeks ago, we discussed how zombie employees are destroying your company. But those zombie employees have developed a zombie culture! Here’s how to spot a zombie company and identify if you are one of them.
In any type of therapy group, the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. Identification is crucial if you want to change. Therefore, we are walking through how to spot a zombie company. As it is so prevalent in our business society, it’s becoming more and more difficult to disguise.
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Have you ever seen a company that boast it’s #1 and everyone around knows it? These companies get to the top, become prideful, and then eventually, they are overrun by zombie employees. If every single person in your company says the exact same thing, then you’re in big trouble. In order to be successful, you need people to go against the grain. That’s how innovation happens.
Enron, for example, was Fortune Magazine’s “America’s Most Innovative Company.” But nearing the collapse of their empire, innovation came to a halt as the executives became more greedy and created a culture of secrecy. They knew they were #1. So, the executives challenged anyone trying to innovate or make changes to the company. Both employers and employees lost sight of the mission and vision of their company. As a result, both parties caused (or would have caused) the death of the company.
“Do you know what it takes to make an ethical decision in the face of a group of people who are willing to go the other direction? It’s one of the most single vulnerable acts of our lives.” – Brené Brown
Happy go lucky is a term that means that people are cheerfully willing to have no concern for the future. Many can easily identify the difference between authentic happiness and fabricated happiness. The later wreaks of inauthenticity and feels gross. When a company culture is always happy, it may be an indicator that it’s a zombie company. In this case, you may find that both employees and employers are:
There’s a huge difference between a company that everyone loves working for and a company where everyone is happy. You cannot expect your employees to be happy every single day. Life happens. So if it seems like life isn’t happening at a company, then it could mean bad news.
Zombie companies simply don’t change or allow for change to happen. Because they are so laser-focused on their vision and mission, they neglect the changing world around them. Technology is changed every single day. What worked a month ago may not work today. Remember Borders? It was a popular bookstore. But while Barnes & Noble and Amazon were taking advantage of new technology (Nook, Kindle, etc.) and building an e-commerce platform, Borders did not at first. By the time they did start to change, it was already too late. While there were many other financial issues that needed to be addressed in Borders for it to survive, the key is that zombie companies don’t want to change.
Look around in your community. It’s relatively easy to spot a zombie company as the demand for change is becoming increasingly prevalent. Many leaders get overwhelmed by change, so they simply stop changing. But they are also killing their company. As the financial leader of your company, you must be willing to allow change and create change in your company.
Zombie companies are comprised of “know-it-alls.” Whether it be the employers or the employees, they think they have everything under control, know everything, and don’t want to learn. What do your customers want? If the response is “we know everything already”, start running. Truth is… You don’t know your customers. They are changing every single day. Like I said before, technology is changing constantly. As a result, your customers are too. Businesses aren’t in business without your customers. So you need to be talking with your customers daily.
A couple years ago, news spread eventually but it took time to spread. Now, news spreads like wildfire and at times, it can be very overwhelming. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, online news sources (NY Times, Wall Street Journal, etc.) force feed you content every second of the day. While you may know a lot of things, you don’t know everything. But zombie company’s think they know everything. And that’s a problem.
Challenge each of your team members to question everything you do and why you do it. Call up your customers. Learn how to improve productivity or improve cash flow. Innovate you finance, operations, and sales departments.
The biggest question of the hour… Is your company a zombie company? Have we described you in the above paragraphs? We have good news… You have identified that you have a problem. And there’s a solution to reverse the effects of being overwhelmed by zombies.
The best way is to be an effective financial leader. At The Strategic CFO, we pride ourselves in developing financial leadership in our clients as we consult with them and coach them. Like we said before, some companies think they have a cash problem or inventory problem or economic problem… But in reality, it starts with the leadership. A fish rots from the head down, so therefore, you as the financial leader need to be a more effective leader, improve profitability, and improve cash flow.
You have set your prices, have your costs, and out comes profit. But to not slip back into old habits, you need to think of profitability improvement strategies. Click here to access one of our 3 Best Tools includes our Pricing for Profit Inspection Guide. Improve profitability by shaping your prices (and economics) to result in profits.
We say it frequently because it’s true… Cash is king. As a leader, you need to have your finger on cash at all times. The worst thing (and unfortunately, a common issue) is that the executive team expects cash to be there because they made their sales mark. But if someone is not watching it, it could end badly. Click here to download our 25 Ways to Improve Cash Flow whitepaper, along with our other 2 most powerful tools, to learn about cash flow improvement strategies.
Zombie companies lack effective leadership. You can create success through financial leadership. That’s what we as a company lives and breathes everyday. Be a more effective leader and access our 3 best tools to start growing your company.
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