by John Ingrisano
Yes, we are awallow in The Great Recession. So, take a few minutes to snivel, whine, complain … and then get over it. If your biz is in the tank, stop blaming the recession. And definitely stop sitting around hoping and waiting for it to end. Do something about it!
In my roaming, “clinical” research, I ask every business owner I encounter a simple question: “How’s business?” I hear three possible answers:
- It’s awful. I’m hanging on by my fingertips.
- It’s been tough, but we’re trying new ideas, redesigning our business model, and it’s showing signs of working. (If not, we’ll keep on researching and trying others.)
- We’re doing great. As the field thins and our competitors go under, we’re capitalizing on the opportunities that are everywhere. We have elected to skip the recession.
Now, I would love to be able to brag that I am category # 3: a brilliant businessman, with vision and a plan that proved I’m so much smarter than my fellow entrepreneurs. Just ain’t so, Joe.
Instead, I confess that I was the proverbial deer in the headlights when I woke up two years ago to see that half my business had evaporated. I had not been paying attention, just tooling along on auto pilot, enjoying the trip, ignoring all the signs that read: “Danger! Danger! Brick wall ahead!”
So, I spent the next 18 months shaking off the daze, and looking for a way, first, to rebuild my existing business and then, second, when I realized that the old model no longer worked, getting outside the box and looking for new opportunities. I had a lot of false starts and made some bad turns into dead-end streets.
I learned a lot along the way and came close to the brink. However, while too many of my biz associates have gone under, I’m still standing: new ‘n improved, and even making money in this new, stranger-than-fiction economic reality in which we do business these days. No, I’m not getting rich, but I am again financially stable and in growth mode.
My point: If you’re holding on in hopes that the economy will turn around, that’s not we do it in the business world, and you know it. No business owner worth his/her weight in salt just sits back and hopes that things will improve. Get out there and make it improve.
What to do:
- Assess. Look over your books and your markets. See where you are still strong and where you are losing business. Find out WHERE and WHY the game has changed for you.
- Review your power strengths. Where are you strongest? What do you do best? What is your number one competitive advantage?
- Update your business model. See how you can adjust your business model to regain market share in your traditional markets. Sometimes it’s only a matter of re-packaging your offer and beating the drum via some heavy-duty marketing. (Revamping your website, looking to marketing sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, expanding laterally into a new niche in your current market. Get creative.)
- Do not compete on price. Don’t become a bottom-feeding price cutter. Instead, focus on what makes you unique, special, attractive to prospective customers.
|“When a business has a clear point of difference, easily communicated to potential customers, the sale will likely be made on factors other than price. The clearly-differentiated company gains a price advantage, without having to cut prices.” – Apples to Apples: How to Stand out from Your Competitors, by Dan Paulson, president/CEO of Invision Business Development.|
- Get outside the box. I know business owners who have explored everything from the ridiculous to the sublime. No one – I repeat, NO ONE – truly understands today’s economy or where it will go in the coming months and years. Explore your options and take reasonable risks.
- Never give up. Remember that the goal of business is to make money, but also to maintain independence. My new business calls for a lot of travel, doing day seminars. Though fun, it’s also tough. Most of all, it beats becoming a cubicle-dwelling-wage-slave for some politically correct boss who likes to hold happy-clappy motivational meetings every Monday morning. I’ll rise or fall on my own talents and weaknesses, thank you.
The bottom line: These are tough times for everyone. Do not roll over and play dead or just sit on the sidelines hoping that the next great econ boom is on its way. You’re a business person. You do not wait for things to happen. You make them happen.
So, work hard and find a way to make money. – JRI
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