Growth Tip: What Michael Hill has learned about surviving tough times by @stephenlynch

What Michael Hill has learned about surviving tough times

Michael Hill did not become an entrepreneur until he was 40 years of age when he opened his first jewelry store in 1979.  He now owns more than 250 Michael Hill jewelry stores throughout New Zealand, Australia, Canada and USA.

Here is our summary of what this leading retailer has learned about surviving tough times in his book “Toughen Up”:

Tough times are good for you   

Struggle and hardship makes you leaner and stronger.  It forces you to streamline and focus.  Winston Churchill summed it up best: only fight on one front at a time.  It’s very dangerous to engage in several battles at once.

The power of visualization

When I started we set a goal of owning 7 stores in 7 years.  Later on when we set the goal of owning 1000 stores by the year 2022, the attitude of the whole team changed.  Now everyone is inspired about where we are going and a whole new world of opportunities has opened up for them – managing stores, living abroad and experiencing this crazy journey together.

Never be afraid of change

If it aint broke, fix it anyway.  Complacency is the enemy of progress. Tough times produce the best opportunities to expand your horizons

Hire the right people and help them become better

Rising unemployment presents a golden opportunity.  It is better to cause a little turmoil to get the right people in your key positions now – than to put up with average staff just to avoid disruption.  Weak managers employ staff weaker than themselves, and are often hopeless delegators – trying to do everything themselves.  Managers must seek out people who are better than them.  The key to success is to build a fabulous team, and then become the coach of that team.

Get down to the coalface

Reading reports, talking about strategy and responding to emails is not the real business.  If you are not prepared to roll your sleeves up at the coalface where the real work is done, then you are in the wrong business. No matter how big your company gets, your executives must spend time at the coalface to understand what customers want and to observe what is really going on in the business.  Everyone in our business needs to know how to sell a diamond ring – that’s what we are about after all.  

Embrace mistakes

If you are not making mistakes, you are being too cautious. It’s fine to make mistakes, as long as you don’t make the same mistake twice.  

It’s nothing personal

Business and sentiment do not mix.  If you allow emotion to cloud your judgment you are in trouble. The bank is not going to be sentimental when it forecloses on your mortgage.  Be honest about what is working, what isn’t – and do what is best for the business.  Eliminate all areas of weakness, and streamline your product offerings – even when doing so might be emotionally difficult.

Keep your balance

Health, wealth and happiness only come to those who focus on all three. Take control of your time.  Turn your phone off.  You are never going to forge something brilliant if you are reacting to emails on your blackberry every minute of the day.  If your body is unhealthy, there is no way your mind can be clear and fresh.  Henry Ford said, “The more time you take to think, the more time you will have.” ?ui=2&view=bsp&ver=1qygpcgurkovy - Growth Tip: What Michael Hill has learned about surviving tough times 	by @stephenlynch
Stephen Lynch

Chief Operating Officer – Global Operations