a 2009 BUsiness plan
if you’re feeling a little shaky about the future, you’re not alone.
After 30 years in the business, I can say that the aviation indus-
try has always been cyclic—up and down with the weather, the busi-
ness climate and general consumer confidence. To survive the current down-trend, aviation
businesses must stay focused and manage intelligently. I find ideas in reading books and inspira-
tion from people that I’ve met. Here are a few that I plan to
use in my 2009 business plan.
focus on simplicity. Specialize. Focus on features that customers respond to positively and value with their money. Rather than adding more products, look for products that have a
shared set of features. As an example:
streamline your fleet to feature one aircraft manufacturer—all Cessna aircraft
or all Cirrus aircraft, etc. This saves
money on standardization of flight instructors and will require fewer parts
on the inventory shelf during repairs
jewelry sales were non-existent and that he was now in the
scrap gold business. With revenues down, he reinvented his
business to pay the rent. With this change in business, he also
found that he had to dress-down, focus on sales and customer
service. He no longer lives in the back office. He soon found
that by reconnecting directly with his customers he was energized and enthusiastic about business.
During the journey to reinvent his business he reinvented himself, as well.
View the problem
as an opportunity
don’t solve the problem. Instead, look for
a paradigm shift. When Garmin wanted to change the face of our instrument
panels, they didn’t just invent a better
artificial horizon or an airspeed indicator that was easier to read. No, they gave
us the G-1000. Fixing the problem can
only return things to the way it was. Instead, view the problem as an opportunity to do things differently. Keep a journal of lessons learned so as not to make the
same mistake twice, and then get on with business.
stay true to your standards. When times
get lean, it’s tempting to lower your standards. A CFI friend was recently offered
a job to instruct at one of those “
get-it-quick” pilot schools. It was his only job
offer in many weeks. It was tough but
he turned it down. He’s from the old
school where pilots build experience
and confidence while learning to fly. Instead, he became a Cirrus Standardized
Instructor and put his high standards
and flight experience to work by training businessmen who need solid train-
ing while criss-crossing the country in their new airplanes.
to do things
Keep a journal of
lessons learned so
as not to make the
same mistake twice.
don’t follow the old rules. Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Airlines, is also the author of Business Stripped Bare: Adventures
of a Global Entrepreneur. In his book, he shares experiences
that taught him lessons in business. He says: “There are many
ways to run a successful company. What works once may
never work again. What everyone tells you never to do may
just work, once. There are no rules. You don’t learn to walk by
following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over, and
it’s because you fall over that you learn to save yourself from
network. Put yourself out there and get exposure. Build your
personal experience. John and Martha King often talk about
their early experiences in failed businesses. Out of those experiences came a diverse set of skills that allowed King Schools
to be successful. They compare the act of collecting experiences to collecting SCRABBLE tiles, where each unique experience is like a SCRABBLE letter-tile that allows you to put together a variety of possible outcomes.
Be willing to reinvent yourself. A friend of mine owns a number of high-end jewelry stores. He announced last week that
deliver bad news personally. There is an FAA inspector in the
LOU FSDO office that I respect (I won’t name names in fear
of looking like a brown-noser) because several times in the
past he has made it his mission to deliver bad news, personally. He could have delegated the job. He could have put it in
an e-mail. But he didn’t. If you are a person of integrity, then