Monday, July 21, 2008
Thoughts from the bunker...
|As a veteran business owner (the preferred way to say I’ve been doing this a really long time), I’ve weathered both mild and severe economic cycles. Each was unnerving. But I survived each one and, in fact, ended up thriving once all the dust settled. I’m not an expert, just someone who’s earned a few stripes along the way and has a few thoughts to share.
First, at the risk of sounding Pollyanna, attitude is exceedingly important during times like this. Sure, avoid being fiscally foolish, that’s a given. But keep your attitude soaring. There’s plenty of business out there in most sectors -- you might as well be the one to get it. And you will, if you continue to provide a great product or service, and keep the bar high as far as personal attention. Do resist the temptation to fall into step with doomsayers, who will quickly lead you into the doldrums. I see the difference when a company has a positive outlook, whether my company or any other. Your attitude is infectious – to your team and to your clients and customers. People want to do business with successful people who are positive in outlook. It can be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Second, there is no better time to keep your team motivated and confident. When news reports focus on layoffs and the rising jobless rate, it can be tough either way – as an employee or an employer. As employers, we need to go out of our way to help our work teams feel comfortable working together and give them the tools and training to do a terrific job, at whatever they do. If the staff enjoys working together, it shows in their attitude. Yes, there’s that attitude word again. While attitude is intangible, a good attitude leads to a superior work product. And that’s what’s tangible and that’s what will keep a company in the black. On the flip side, the wise employee will recognize that jobs will grow scarcer, rather than more plentiful, at least for now. Hard work and a good attitude truly are the best insurance for keeping that job.
One more thought – whether business is roaring or creeping, now is not the time to do the ostrich routine. You need to continue to be visible. Don’t pull back and wait for it to be over. You need to be the guy that people think of, not the guy whose name they can’t remember. This may mean keeping up your networking – relationships are slow to build but quick to crash if you are suddenly missing. Don’t abandon your marketing outreach either, whether advertising or public relations. Keep out there, it helps. I’ve seen it help my own business and our clients’ businesses. Just make sure you are reaching the right audiences with the right messages. Unfocused marketing is even more disastrous during bad times.
I realize these are simple thoughts. But the truth is, they’ve worked for me.