Tim Berry's article excerpts: "...the economic news is clustering now... if you are like me... the bad headlines take you very quickly to the unconscious analysis of what it means to you... it’s what you do with your business that moves it up and down, not what happens in the headlines... What was really happening, however, was very micro: new products, better marketing, channel development, whatever was working... I’m not saying that the major macro-economic trends don’t threaten you. I’m just saying that your own microeconomic actions are so much more important. NOTE: All links came from the comments on Tim Berry's article at SmallBizTrends.com
Berry’s ultimate conclusion: those storm clouds don’t matter as much as your own small business decisions.
Change Your Business One Decision at a Time
From the original Market Busting Article: A company can’t outperform its rivals if it competes the same way they do. Reconceive your business’s profit drivers, and you can change from copycat to king of the jungle. At a high level, this strategy is about redefining profit drivers. At a practical level, it involves making several deceptively simple moves: Some companies reconfigured their unit of business—what they bill customers for—to more closely match the customers’ needs.
Redefine Profit Drivers
On the other hand, I have found fear to be a great motivator, too. The trick is to harness the adrenaline that comes as a natural response to fear.
Harness the Adrenalin from your fears...
Fear can be a healthy thing, if you don’t let it overwhelm you. We must be aware of the trends around us, but moreso of the things around us that we actually have direct control over.
Work on Things Which You Have Direct Control Over
Be Aware of the Trends, Do Not Succumb to Them
I continue to operate on the basis that if I provide what my clients want and need, and can do so at a cost-level they can live with, I’m okay. I’ve struggled… mightily…and managed to rise above it all, by keeping my focus on the client…not on stories about the GNP, recession, or financial crisis. (emphasis GBD)
Then Focus On Creating Outcomes
Small business owners can actually make money if they use downturns as a reason to cut costs and become more efficient. If I am thinking about riding out a sluggish economy instead of agressive growth, I am going to have some positions that no longer need staffed.
Focus on Effectiveness of Outcomes
Entrepreneurs (and by definition small business owners) don’t try to predict the future so much as make it. They need to be obsessed by controlling what they can, not being intimidated by a future they cannot predict.
Don't Be Intimidated by a Future You Cannot Predict
Make Up Your Mind to Make the Future You Want!
Have you become comfortable with discomfort? Have you resigned yourself to the fact that things are going to be difficult and accepted that you will just have to "tough it out"? Beware of your rationalization. Truth is that "tension is the entrepreneurs best friend". What if it was simply the way your business tries to your attention and sit up and take notice? When you feel conflicting ideas, feelings, and emotions - pay attention! The tension, conflict or dissoance you feel, may be just what you need to deal with in your business - right now. Ask yourself this question, "Is this really something you shouldignore or is it best to take action?" Who said it's our right to feel comfortable all the time? There's a reason they call it a "comfort zone", because if it takes you down the path to complacency. Resist it, and practice intellectual honesty, and get into action. You might be one action step away from a breakthrough. To learn more, check out Wikipedia entry on Cognitive Dissonance. "A powerful cause of dissonance is when an idea conflicts with a fundamental element of the self-concept, such as "I am a good person" or "I made the right decision." This can lead to rationalization when a person is presented with evidence of a bad choice. It can also lead to confirmation bias, the denial of disconfirming evidence, and other ego defense mechanisms."
Beware of Rationalization
Pay Attention Tension
Joe Connolly, WCBS / WSJ small business reporter talks to a lot of small businesses. Several months ago he did a report that basically said small businesses are less affected by economic downturns and he’s right.
What's changed in your market?
What are you going to do about it?
...you will find some really strong strategies and points on how to sell the outcome that a customer wants – a key to growing a business... “Does what I sell really reflect the value I create for customers?” Storm or no storm, paranoid or sane, cash or no cash, this is a fundamental question that must be addressed time and time again until you have it covered.
Sell the Customer the "Outcomes"
… but I still think that only sticking to your knitting is a bad idea. It’s like putting all your eggs in one basket and if that basket blows up, as in the case of let’s say Joel’s franchise consulting business, then what?... That’s why I mentioned the notion of “how to sell the outcome that a customer wants.”
Look for Opportunities to Diversify
Recognize Tension and Manage It (click arrow to read full article) Sir Issac Newton’s Third Law of Physics states ‘Every Action has an Equal and Opposite Reaction’ for example stretching an elastic band places tension or pressure on the opposite end but because each end of the finger is resistance keeps it in its place until you remove the resistance and the elastic band pushes back - the bigger the tension the bigger the push back. Push back or tension in yourself or your business is something that should make you sit up and pay attention. Unlike Newton’s Third Law of Physics, there is no guarantee of equal and opposite return. No guarantee that the harder you push the better your results - unless, you pay attention to the friction or push back and learn from it. Pay Attention to The Tension If I could give a gift to every entrepreneur and business owner it would be the ability to learn from your actions. To be able to recognize and translate the tension they feel into the opportunity to learn, grow, and improve - because then you cannot fail, you simply maneuver and make adjustments based on the push back (tension) you sense. You cannot fail as long as you stay in the game and make the necessary adjustments - the only way you can fail is if you quit.
"… it’s what you do with your business that moves it up and down, not what happens in the headlines."