8 Bold Ways To Ride Out...

Laurel Delaney The global economic downturn has impacted all small businesses, including those with even the simplest globalization strategies. What can you do to ride out the roller-coaster economic climate? First, trash all your expectations.

Let’s face it, we are in a “transitional” economy -- an extraordinary period of uncertainty -- that is so profound it is causing many small businesses to cutback or pullback on their initiatives like never before. Taking action at the earliest sign of danger is the only sure-fire way not to get killed. A tactical approach might be to: outwit your competitor, retool your product, realign your service offering or readjust your attitude. The old way of doing things -- trying to fit everything into pre-existing patterns -- will not necessarily work in the new economy.

To merely stay on track, focus on the short term. But to really relish your ride, start to put a gigantic plan in place for the future. The winners will be those folks who know how to get a job done, are radical innovators and born risk-takers. Those who are willing to stick their necks out and make short-term sacrifices for long-term gains will bring home the big prize of greater profits and revenues. Don’t do anything foolish though to hamper your long-term prospects. Look at your problems as opportunities. Rediscover, revisit and refocus on all aspects of your business. During the refocus phase, examine the parts of your business that have competitive and sustainable (hopefully revenue) advantage and then execute on a perfect plan.

Here are eight bold ways to ride out the roller-coaster economic climate:

1. Trash all your expectations. Create discomfort within your organization. Comfort leads to inaction and in this rough-and-tumble world, you want as much action as possible. Be inspired and desperate because you need both of these characteristics to keep the business prospering. Don’t overlook emotion either. Some of our best creations generally take place when we are under the influence of powerful emotions such as righteous anger or unruly love.

2. Communicate effectively. Employees tend to clam up or start gossiping if they don’t know what’s going on. Keep them informed and excited. Articulate a clear vision with a positive anticipation for the future.

3. Look for new opportunities. Start by focusing on your core customers and look for signs of a shifting mindset or market. The idea is to search for successful next-generation ideas or cutting edge trends that will sustain you over the long term.

4. Be conscious and aware of what’s going on in the world and the impact it may have on your business. What effect will the resignation of Boeing’s CEO have on your business? What if the flu outbreak becomes the worst since 1968-69? Or Bush eliminates tariffs on steel and other imports? Maybe each of these separately won’t impair your business but in combination, it might destroy it. Be ready.

5. Ask customers for referrals. To drum up new business, why not just ask your clients who you should contact? If you have done a good job, they will be more than happy to refer you to someone else. It makes them look good and fortifies your relationship.

6. Develop new products or service offerings. First, take a good long look at what you already offer. Then, sort through any shortcomings to come up with something genuinely better. Who knows? Maybe you might find a whole new market for your business that is huge. Most companies today cannot keep offering the same old stuff to the same old customers, through the same old channels in the same old way. Start offering a dizzying array of superb anything.

7. Reinvent yourself to offer something new and disruptive where there is a demand. You’re looking to capture every person on the planet’s imagination and then sell them something they didn’t even know they needed. New market disruption offers a grand opportunity to alarm established companies and steal away some business.

8. Build a more shockproof bridge to your new business. Help your staff understand links between the past, present and future. Explain who you were, where you are now and what you plan to become. Nothing beats acting out your intentions. Keep acting them out until it sticks with your family, friends, employees, suppliers and customers.

There is no “cookie-cutter” approach to running a business because everything is up for grabs. Instead of becoming a victim of circumstance, create a situation where you work relentlessly to transform your organization. Be a master of your own destiny. There is no better time than now to trash all your expectations and get ready to roll.


Copyright ©2003 Laurel J. Delaney. All rights reserved.

Laurel Delaney runs Global TradeSource, Ltd. (http://www.globetrade.com), a Chicago-based global marketing and consulting company and is the creator of "Borderbuster,” (http://www.globetrade.com/generic21.html) an e-newsletter that is highly regarded for its focus on global marketing. She is the Chicago chapter facilitator for Women Presidents’ Organization (http://www.womenpresidentsorg.com). She can be reached at ldelaney@globetrade.com (mailto:ldelaney@globetrade.com).

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