Small Business: Ready for a Low Tide?

Congratulations! You weathered the most recent economic storms and kept your corporate ship afloat. As the saying goes, a high tide floats all boats – it’s when the water levels go down that the skipper is really tested. I don’t know if it’s climate change or what, but there have been some surprisingly low tides lately. The focus for small business in the coming year is balance sheet improvement. You know, the balance sheet. The one that you skip over each month as you anxiously seek the net profit number. You balance sheet is where business health is reported. For the coming year, holding on to the company’s cash, improving the cash conversion cycle, tightening inventory control, watching interest rates…these are the actions that will steady the ship.

Even if you hit a few rocks last year and took on water, you should be proud. You made it. You remained calm (mostly), made some tough choices, and learned some hard lessons. You passed a true test of leadership – survival. And now, the next test is upon us.

Small business leaders understand that a wait-and-see strategy must be accompanied by a time limit. Continuing to linger in one spot hoping all will go ‘back to normal’ is charting a dangerous course. After all, you’re in business to make money, not to let it drain slowly, painfully away.

It’s time for action!

There is no better way to propel your leadership team forward than crafting a strong, actionable strategy and inspiring them to execute. Some of your people are still huddled below decks, afraid to open the hatch for fear of capsizing. You want them to look around, feel the sunlight on their faces again, and smell the fresh air. But for them, the promise of clear skies is tempered by the fear of further economic storms. For the leader that sees the opportunity today, how do you get the team to act?

Forging a Strong Leadership Team

Whether you navigate a sailboat or an ocean freighter, recognize that the captain and their crew are fallible human beings. Leadership teams are made up of real people and, by nature, they can be influenced by politics and personal agendas. Sometimes confusion can be more the rule than the exception. It’s a rare leader that questions the importance of teamwork. Far more common is the leader who chooses not to work on improving the team’s function because they believe it’s too difficult a journey to undertake. Or maybe they just don’t know how.

Forging a high-performance team is accomplished by using a best practice approach combined with discipline and persistence. Individual management training and coaching puts one oar in the water. Working through the five dysfunctions is the other.

As a participant in countless change initiatives in a variety of industries, one consistent ‘truth’ is that there is no greater indicator of the potential for success than the strength and attitude of the leadership and the management team.

Why Bother with A Strong Team?

Perhaps you are now thinking, “Show me the numbers. I’ve got a bottom line to consider and we can’t take risks right now. We simply don’t have time for this soft stuff.”


  • What portion of time was spent discussing the most critical company issues in your last management meeting?
  • Of those critical issues what was the value of the ones that were resolved?
  • How many were left unresolved, to talk about again?

These are questions that every single team member should be able to answer off the top of their heads. If yours can’t, is it possible that there are better ways to spend your team’s time? Are management meetings boring and unproductive by nature? If so, why do the most successful companies hold meetings at all? Is there evidence that a strong team will always outperform a strong individual?

Cohesive management teams address the most critical issues quickly and decisively. The courses of action they forge are higher in quality, simpler to measure, and produce tangible positive results. When these teams do fail, it is due to this deliberate decision making, not analysis paralysis or procrastination, so they learn from their errors and do not repeat them. As a result of this environment, companies with great management teams experience an uptick in their ability to attract and retain the most talented management staff available.

Bellrock offers business leaders a different perspective on strategic challenges. We also translate that perspective into actionable plans that improve results and train managers on execution. Our purpose is to unleash potential. If you found this article valuable, don’t be stingy. Share.

Written By:
Tara Landes

Tara Landes is the Founder and President of Bellrock. She has spent over 20 years consulting and training in small to medium-sized enterprises. A sought-after speaker on a wide range of business topics, Tara has delivered workshops and seminars at conferences and industry associations across Canada. Tara obtained a BA (Honours) in Political Science from the University of Western Ontario (UWO) and earned an MBA from UWO's Richard Ivey School of Business.

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