These are difficult times for many businesses at the moment. Customers are nervous, suppliers are demanding their money quicker than ever, and the supply of credit essential to many businesses has dried up. It's a tough time for many but tougher than ever for the many male ostriches apparently frequenting our businesses these days.
Recent research showed that men are two and half times more likely to be involved in insolvency. That will certainly have ruffled a few male feathers in a few boardrooms.
But importantly, the figures from Tenon Recovery also showed that their female counterparts may have a crucial advantage in navigating the choppy waters ahead. They are far more likely to take the sensible, and the necessary, step of taking advice to secure the future of their business and are also much more likely to make a plan – and then stick to it.
The message that sends to businessmen across the region is clear. This is not a time for sticking your head in the sand. Now times are tough, this is the perfect opportunity to start getting your business in order, for doing the things you put off when the good times were in town.
Even if your business is in good shape, remember that others, including possibly some of your suppliers, may not be. The recent travails of high street retailer Zavvi showed the dangers. When its sole supplier EUK, part of Woolworths, failed, Zavvi faced problems stocking its shelves for Christmas. Other retailers had alternatives and fared far better. Now is not the time to have all your eggs in one basket.
Likewise, this is also a good time to review your contracts. Harsh though it may seem, if suppliers are facing tougher times, then they may look to your business to help them through it. It's a balancing act – no-one wants a supplier to go under, but at the same time, it's got to be right for your business as well.
Not many people this side of the Pennines look to Manchester United with any great affection but they learnt a valuable lesson with their shirt sponsors. When Vodafone pulled the plug – and their name – on the Premiership leaders' shirt deal, United had no option but to let them go. But when Vodafone's replacements insurance giants AIG, hit by the global credit crunch, also tried to pull out of Old Trafford, they found United had tightened up the contract. That's why Rooney and Ronaldo still have AIG on their chests – and why United have bought valuable time in looking for their next sponsor.
Of course, it helps if you're well-known brand, top of your league and heading for success on six fronts. But for any business – market-leading or otherwise – in the current market the best advice is to take advice. There's never been a worse time for sticking your head in the sand. Follow the lead of the best businesswomen, get your affairs in order and look to get help where you need it. Male ostriches – take note.