Turn Around
October 2, 2023

Need to Turn Your Business Around? Here’s What to Do in Your First 100 Days.

by Bill Canady in Management Practices0 Comments

Need to Turn Your Business Around? Here’s What to Do in Your First 100 Days.

written by Bill Canady | Management Practices

October 2, 2023

When Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president of the United States and took office in March 1933, he led an extraordinary three months-plus program of new legislation to turn Depression-plagued America around in his administration’s First 100 Days.

Your mission? Turn your business around. As with FDR, your success depends heavily on what you do during your First 100 Days.

What can you do in 100 days? A lot, as it turns out.

To turn a business around you need to grow your business. Before you can grow your business, you must earn the right to grow. Do it by the numbers. Apply the 80/20 Principle to simplify your business by focusing it on the roughly 20 percent of inputs (products, customers, personnel, actions, initiatives) that produce roughly 80 percent of your profit.

Critical Few

Your opportunity in the First 100 Days is to create the embryo—the potential—of profitable growth, whether your company is a brand new startup or a business in dire need of serious redemption, recovery, reform, or even rebirth. Within the First 100 Days, you can identify the critical few products and customers that generate most of your profit, and you can create an executable strategy that focuses on the critical few to the exclusion of the trivial many that cost your business in overhead and misallocated resources.

The four steps that follow, which can be completed in your First 100 Days, will position your company not merely for survival but will set a goal for growth that will drive your business plan for the next three to five years.

Step 1: Set a Goal

  • Allot 10 percent of the First Hundred Days to Step 1. Use these ten days to set a growth goal that is unambiguous, ambitious, feasible, and, above all, written in the language of business. Since the universal language of business is money, set a quantified target. Create an ambitious but feasible whole-of-company goal to reach X dollars in revenue, have X percent margins, and X dollars in EBITDA within the first three years of a five-year plan. 
  • In the space of ten days, gather the performance data you need to inform such a goal. When you have solved for the three X’s above, you will know what your goal is. Next, you need to define a how to implement the what. Typically, the how is simplifying the business by applying the 80/20 Principle to determine precisely where to simplify—where you should focus—to produce profitable growth.

Step 2: Create the Strategy

  • Apply the 80/20 Principle to build a strategy to achieve the goal set in Step 1, 80/20 will guide you in simplifying the range of products you offer and the customer base you serve, which will, in turn, guide the simplification of personnel, other resources, and overhead. It will reveal, by the numbers, what is working and what is not working in your business, a revelation that will guide you in separating the first from the second and move resources from what is not working to what is working.
  • Common sense may prompt you to rescue failing products and resuscitate failing customers. Common sense will kill your company. Instead, focus on what the numbers tell you. Devote roughly 80 percent of your resources on the roughly 20 percent of products and customers that already produce roughly 80 percent of your profit. This and only this will earn your business the right to grow.

Step 3: Build the Structure

  • In Step 3, you follow the strategy built in Step 2 to guide you in organizing the business into segments that provide the optimum focus on those customers and products capable of creating strategic growth and thus attaining the goal set in Step 1. Essential to delivering on this goal is creating the accountability that comes with segmentation of products and customers within a clear, efficient, and rational structure.

Step 4: Launch the Action Plan

  • The fourth and final step in the First Hundred Days is launching an action plan, in which the imperatives and tactics necessary to execute the strategy (Step 2) within the segmented structure (Step 3) are clearly defined. Step 4, like the three steps that precede it, aims for progress, not perfection, in delivering on the goal. The entire First 100 Days are dedicated to making sound, informed decisions and taking action based on them. Action, even imperfect action, injects your strategy into the real world, where it is tested, monitored, tweaked, and revised as necessary to create continuous, incremental improvement over the next three to five years.

The deliverable at the end of the First Hundred Days is a rough-draft action plan. At this point, managers throughout the company and the executive leadership team can divide their labor. Most of the operational managers will focus on drawing up action plans for executing the “critical few” objectives for their departments that will address with the intention to grow the roughly 20 percent of customers who buy the roughly 20 percent of products that produce roughly 80 percent of the company’s profit. In parallel with this, the C-suite executives continue to develop a comprehensive companywide strategy focusing on the critical few for growth over the longer term. As the First 100 Days concentrate on positioning the company to earn the right to grow, the first full year of a three- to five-year plan completes the 80/20 simplification, setting up a second year that is acutely focused on the critical few products and customers capable of creating and sustaining profitable growth by taking market share from the competition.

author avatar
Bill Canady
Bill Canady has over 30 years of experience as a global business executive in a variety of industries and markets focused on industrial and consumer products and services.

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