My late grandfather used to say” if you don’t listen to the news and don’t read the newspaper, life is actually pretty good.” I have noticed in recent years that all news organizations have moved from being reporting agencies to being “news makers.” There are as many so called expert opinions as people living in this country. Instead of bringing facts to the attention of people, they now tell people how to think and how to feel.
I have found myself having this particular conversation over and over lately; I thought it might be valuable to share it with all of you. I am a very optimistic person and a man of possibilities; I never surrender myself into negative conversations. However, if I for one have learned anything from the recent financial crisis it is that as a small-business owner, a coach, it is time to get our heads “out of the sand” and read the writing on the wall. The economic recovery is way, way slower than what the media or the government presents.
I will say that, in my humble opinion, we are approaching a moderate depression. At least it appears that way for the middle class. I want to be wrong. I do. I say be intentional for the best and plan for the worse, as the saying goes.
I know in dire times human beings find comfort in hope. However hope is not a management strategy. The government can’t help, really. My assertion is that no one in Washington knows what to do, not this time. It is like being inside quick sand; the more you try to get out of it the more you are stuck in it.
The following power tips are designed to give you, the small business owner practical guidelines to get out of hope and into action:
Stop worrying about the global economy and start focusing on your immediate environment– As a small-business owner, the global crisis has nothing to do with your business, not really. Focus on what is local as that is where most of your business is coming from.
Do not invest your cash flow into your business – companies do not go out of business because they are losing money. They go out of business because they are running out of cash. It is time to move from inspiration to preservation. Preserve you cash; it is what will keep the door open.
Increase the value proposition to your existing customers – it is much more cost-effective to keep a customer than acquire a new one. The difference is quite substantial. Put 80% of your focus on listening to your current customers instead looking for new ones. Give them more than they expect, they will come back.
Top-Grade your staff – yes you heard right, Top-Grading. There are highly qualified people in the market that will be willing to work for much less. It is unfortunate, yet it is the reality out there. It will upgrade the experience and satisfaction of your customers. They want to be loyal, give them a reason, and they will.
Most of all do not panic – as my partner Bruce always says; apply the “60-second second rule.” Take an extra 60 seconds to reevaluate your decision before you act. Separate your emotions and feelings from your decision process. It actually works.
One of my current clients, a soon to be a CEO of one of the top 10 Automotive suppliers said to me. “The media keeps presenting the automotive business in full recovery, yet we at our company are planning for at least another 5-7 years for full recovery”.
What do you say?