Many years ago I worked for a company in a management position. I enjoyed years of their growth and abundance in the market. The product was fairly easy to sell. The company easy to build. The owners were brilliant. The model seemed sound. The leadership was respected; something to be emulated and sought after. This was a multi-million dollar company with offices in multiple countries. Today, they no longer exist except as a memory for those of us who invested years of heart and energy into building their business while we established our own organizations.
What happened? The same thing that can happen to you unless you respond to the needs of the market as it exists today! They did not respond to a changing market. They hired outside branding "experts" which did not quite hit the mark. Sept. 11, 2001 hit compounding the challenge. Over time they became fear driven which trickled down to the sales team in the field. How did this happen? Was it ego, denial or an inability to adapt quickly that failed them? I don't know. As an outsider at close range I offer the following insights that are eerily familiar in today's economy.
Watch for these symptoms which, if not addressed, can kill you...or lose you quite a bit of momentum, opportunity, and profit.
- Fear causes confusion, paralysis or withdrawal from the market.
- Negative news and discussion is a distraction, which results in a lack of focus and exaggeration of current climate, which contributes to number 1.
- For newcomers, the perception of lack of opportunity or need creates a self destructive cycle of belief. If you are new to an industry or situation, you have no history or reference with which to measure or find assurance, doubt takes over and growth is handicapped.
- Don't stop doing what you were doing. The vacuum that is created by the ebb of this market actually creates opportunity for those who are inclined to pursue it. Press into the openess created by your competitors withdrawal. This is a great space to collect on the marketing efforts of others.
- Turn off the TV and radio. Don't listen to those who tell you how bad it is. Yes, it is true that some are losing their jobs, some industries are in a downturn....we quickly forget that even in a growth economy, these same discussions occur. The market has changed. That is true. If you want to stay in business, you will find a way to adapt.
- Adapt. Ask yourself, in your area of specialty, what is missing in this current economy that you can deliver? This may mean creating a new offering or pursuing a new niche. This is the time to gain laser focus rather than more generalization to capture market share.
- Take care of your current customers. They are unsure and fearful at this time too. Your confidence and connection will create loyalty, ongoing business, and referrals far beyond what you could imagine. All you have to do is keep in touch.
For some of you, this may be the time to reinvent yourself or adjust your business model... or get back to the basics and update your strategic plan. In every market change there is great opportunity. One of the benefits of being a small business is our ability to quickly adjust.
Instead of looking at this time as a period to cut back, withdraw, shore up...View this as an opportunity to focus with laser sharpness on your customers, ideal prospects, on investments that gain you return (whether time or money) and carry this practice forward as your business grows! These are smart business practices!
Are you ready to shift gears, step forward and grasp what is waiting for you?