Winning In a Down Economy

In a time of great change, there is great opportunity. When there are changes in companies, jobs, business models and economic reality as we know it, there is always a redefinition of what the new rules will be.  Those who play to the emerging rules become beneficiaries of opportunity.

When we are coasting in business and life, we get lax.  We take things for granted.  When things are status quo, you are on cruise control.  As a customer, you like the goods and services you have become accustomed to.  You have that favorite restaurant or drink at Starbucks you buy without thought.

When hard times hit – loss in revenue or loss in job, you start shopping at cheaper places and looking for deals.  So does everyone else.  A higher level of discretion and scrutiny has entered your psyche.  You move with the ebb and flow of your situation.

In the gold rush of the 1800’s, another time of much change and opportunity, there were a multitude of people who were interested in winning the lottery with gold and missed the real opportunity.  The merchants who were busy servicing these speculators and building their business made the long-lasting impact.  Think Levi Strauss.  Think Wells Fargo.

If you are busy focusing on the down-side, you may just miss the opportunities that emerge in a slower economy.  Don’t get caught waiting for the proverbial “cheese” a la Who Moved My Cheese.  If you haven’t read the book, get it quick.  The story is about us.  I read a version to my kids recently to teach them not to get trapped in their own mindsets.

The fact is that we change only when there is crisis.  That is anthropological truth from observation of centuries of human societies.  Here are the ways to win in a time of change and make opportunity a part of your story:

  1. Become Valuable: What are you worth and why?  If you cannot articulate why you are worth what you make, then if you are overpaid, you are going to have a correction coming soon. With too many choices of talent, you must have something of value to offer.  Ensure this is front and center.
  2. Focus on Getting a Customer: Getting a job means getting one customer.  The tragedy is that most job hunters are lousy sales people.  They don’t study or understand selling.  If they did, then they would get a portfolio of customers.  If your company needs a boost or if you need an opportunity, get a customer and learn to say, “Yes” to whatever need arises.  Then step into it.  Your customer has the answers to what is needed.  You may have a new business emerge, a new service offering, or a new job if you will learn to focus on getting a customer.  If you have talent and speed, you can say, “Yes,” and then deliver.  If you are antiquated, then you will keep deliberating, and opportunity will pass you by.
  3. Make New Deals: Business is about deal making and relationships.  Just because things have worked a previous way does not mean they will continue. Get creative, and be open to doing business in a new way.  Re-price, reposition, repackage and re-imagine.  The methods serve the goal.  To make money means remaining flexible and focused.  What grows your opportunity pie? Sears did not reinvent themselves.  Unfortunately, they are going into the annals of business history, not setting a course for a future.  They have become irrelevant because they did not re-imagine new deals or new ways of doing business.
  4. Outwork Your Competitor: Someone wants your customer.  Mark Cuban was asked about his intensity and drive and how he was able to sustain it.  He stated that he had a healthy fear that some obscure person was out there outworking him right now and he couldn’t let them win.  If that is not your attitude, then what you don’t see may catch up to you.  You have competitors.  If you work harder than they do, you position yourself to winning.  Sit on your laurels, and there is always a consequence.

Every day you wake up in this economy, your attitude will dictate whether you will win or simply endure.  Enduring is painful.  Winning is invigorating.  Keep your eyes opened and look for the opportunities.  The winners are doing this very thing and stepping in the tide of a new reality. My hope is that you will upgrade your skills, get the help you need and go after it to bring value and get paid doing it.  Your customer is looking for this from you.

Published by Don Dalrymple

I am a management consultant to business owners, executives and entrepreneurs. I write and speak on systems, strategy and leadership on my blog and help empower business clients to achieve their goals for revenue and efficiency. I live a life of adventure and work with business clients all over the world from remote locations to help them start and grow their businesses.

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