Many people consider me to be a Jekyll and Hyde when it comes to spending company money. This is my short bit of advice to all you business owners out there!
Business is booming. You’re booked up for months, everyone’s occupied and happy. Why not celebrate and go out for a beer with the guys, or better still book an all expenses paid weekend away for everyone? Lavish some love on your team.
When it comes to the tools you (or your team) use every day, go mad and buy the best available. When we get a new starter, they are asked what machine they’d like (people usually go for a high spec MacBook pro and cinema display). This isn’t cheap, but if you’re hiring, business must be good and you shouldn’t be short of cash
Buy great coffee, comfy chairs, whatever books are necessary and copious amounts of fine tea. Encourage them to go on training courses and attend conferences. Never forget, your team is the company’s most precious asset and making them feel loved and appreciated is the best money you can ever spend.
Hopefully, you’re sat there agreeing with me and not thinking I’m a madman, but there is another side to consider.
Business isn’t always booming
It is very easy to let expenses escalate out of control. It always makes me laugh when I hear about the NHS or Blue Chip companies slashing costs, tightening budgets and ‘battening down the hatches’. Surely this is good, ongoing business practice and not something to be done when there is a downturn! It’s ridiculous, but you see it happen time and time again.
Regardless of how good things are, I am particularly careful about ‘commodities’. Electricity, gas, telephone, stationary and the biggies, rent and rates. Yes, you need a cool, funky, warm office that makes your people happy, but must it be in an expensive location? Hell no!
In London you can pay monster rent and rates whilst simultaneously forcing your staff to put up with a murderous commute and brutal living costs. Of course to skirt around this, some agencies set up in more ‘bohemian’ parts of the city, only to be forced out, having spent a fortune on refurbishment, by rising costs as the area becomes more and more gentrified.
A Dirty Word
In lean times, it’s easy to see the cost of wages and consider cutting back on staff. This makes me feel uneasy and should be avoided at all costs. Good people are very difficult to come by and frankly losing them should be the very last resort. It can be painful, but when markets recover, the firms who have retained their talent will have a huge advantage over the staff slashing, short-term thinkers.
Blue Chip CEO’s attempt to keep shareholders and banks happy: short-termism is a very British thing and sucks like a Dyson. I say man up and ride the storm with a skilled, intact workforce.
- Create the best working environment possible
- Give your team the tools they need to kick ass
- Be ruthless with your fixed costs and suppliers - search for the best price for everything
- Choose a great location where rents are stable in the medium/long term
- Don’t be a short-term thinker: make redundancies a last resort.