How to Focus Your Business During an Economic Downturn – The Toilet Paper Shortage
Are you ‘participating’ in the recession? ‘Participating’ can also be called ‘contributing’. Do you know the toilet paper shortage story? It was told to me by a colleague and fellow coach, and now I pass it on to you. A young student of economics came home from college and wanted to impress his grandmother about how much he knew about the world of economics. So he boldly told her there was going to be a toilet paper shortage. So his grandmother went to the local store and bought a whole cart of toilet paper. And grandmothers being proud of their grandchildren, she then told other grandmothers who went out and bought their own carts full of toilet paper. So, of course, there was a real toilet paper shortage just as predicted. So be careful your own actions (based on your attitudes about the health or lack of health of your industry) don’t contribute toward a downward spiral. You could say when asked about how the economy is effecting your business, ‘I choose not to participate in any downturns.’ And in a way that is true. Some industries are not feeling the pinch. And just because you may not have low hanging fruit (customers seeking you out) doesn’t mean that you can’t go after the higher fruit (become more proactive in seeking out new customers and new groups of customers). Are you giving yourself permission to play the ‘victim’ of the economy, or are you saying, “I’ll make lemonade from this lemon.” Many philosophers, psychologists and business gurus say that times of stress produce the most breakthroughs in sales, market leadership, efficient operations, etc. So what can you do?
1. Find a new market. Strategically expand your product or service offering.Come to the book discussion group on “Blue Ocean Strategy” on July 23rd to learn a conceptual framework for finding new markets and products (strategy canvas, value innovation, six path evaluation and other tools)
2. Cut out unnecessary jobs and operations. Use this time to document your operations and make them smoother and trimmer. When you document your processes, you’re building in protection against losing people who take their knowledge with them. You also are preparing to set up a second business that is similar to the first.
3. Train yourself and your staff. A slow time is a good time to learn new skills, prepare to offer a new product, open your eyes to new opportunities, transform your company culture, get coaching to develop yourself to take your business to the next level.
4. Advertise and market your product or service. It has been shown over and over again that those companies that promote themselves during tough times ride the wave the highest and the earliest as the economy starts to recover. They have such a head start on their competition that competitors never catch up and their market share skyrockets.
It’s all in your attitude. You can play ‘victim of a poor economy’ or you can choose to not participate, get proactive in positioning your company for ‘more and better’ in the present and future. It’s your choice.