Friday, December 05, 2008
The roller coaster
|When you have been in business long enough, the journey begins to feel like a roller coaster. Most entrepreneurs who have survived even one recession would describe the path as bumpy or choppy, if not filled with downright dizzying heights and sweeping lows. I have been fortunate to have a pretty tame roller coaster, with minimal white-knuckle time and not a whole lot of yelling going on. But it’s a roller coaster nonetheless.
Looking back over more than two decades in business, I’ve seen times when all systems are go and all lights are green. It can be absolutely exhilarating. I love those times! Likewise, there have been times when the roller coaster slows or even starts to race downhill – with flashing red lights in the distance. These are times when you feel the pressure of keeping forward momentum, keeping employees employed and just keeping morale up.
So here we are, amid the third recession in our company’s history. It appears to be bringing with it the very real threat of a downward spiral, an image of the roller coaster hurtling off the track and into oblivion. Some companies are facing this already. With massive layoffs and plunging sales volumes constantly in the news, every business owner needs to beware of both the challenges and the opportunities in this unusual marketplace.
I sure don’t have any answers. And each week I feel a little differently about what I’m reading, hearing and discussing with fellow business owners. My own way of dealing with this economy is, first, to be aware of the challenges and the potential of a runaway downhill roller coaster. This isn’t the time to put blinders on. Second, and even more important in my opinion, this is the time to be fully aware of the opportunities that are emerging. While some industries have been hit harder than others, opportunities can be found almost everywhere. Innovation is rampant. Our own field of public relations is evolving almost on a daily basis. So while some traditional doors are closing, many others are opening up.
We usually spend much of December planning for the coming year – developing strategic plans both for our clients and for the agency. You can bet that this year I’ll be focused on innovation and opportunities. And this, too, is exhilarating. If the road had been flat all these years, I probably would have been off on a new career adventure long ago.