Business Challenges: What Goes Up Must Come Down
How many ups and downs has your business experienced? Since we started our business, we have been through seven ups and downs – oil, banking, real estate, savings and loans, dot.com, Wall Street, and now real estate again. It has caused us to refine and redefine our business at least that many times.
If it’s a part life, it does not make sense just to try to survive this one. Another wave is coming. If you own a business, the wave that could take you under could be something global like this “Great Recession” or something unique to you and your business. So be watchful; be prepared for those business challenges that are out there.
5 Challenges Businesses Face
At the Business Success Center, we have identified five potential business challenges that are always out there:
What’s happening now? We are being hit by all of these all at once or so it seems.
What are people doing? Some are giving up and calling it quits. Some are digging in and just trying to survive — to just be able to “stay” in business. The successful ones are looking for ways to thrive.
What do you choose? Give up, give in, or stay in?
Keeping Your Head
Rudyard Kipling wrote his poem “If” in 1895 but it was not published until 1910. It’s a litany of actions to take to become a man (or woman). I think it’s also a useful guide on how to have a successful business and face business challenges no matter what is happening in the world outside or inside.
So how do you keep going when others are losing their way and people are blaming you?
It starts with confidence. This makes sense. After all, confidence in you (your product and service solutions, your staff, and how you do things) is the prime reason someone decides to buy something from you. No confidence, no sale — end of story.*
Step One: keep your head no matter what others are doing. Don’t just be confident you can survive, envision yourself as thriving. Pass on this confidence in your ability and skill to overcome any challenge that comes your way. Be confident in staff and customers, too. Confidence is contagious; spread it around.
Can you trust, wait, dream, think?
People buy from you because they trust you will provide them with the level of quality, service and selection they expect. Because you give them what they want not just what they need, they’re willing to pay your price and be glad it’s not more.
Owners who thrive in tough times are what authors Albert Bernstein and Sydney Rozen describe as “Believers” in one of my favorite books, Neanderthals at Work. It is an oldie but a goodie. (Buy it from your favorite local independent bookstore but they will have to order it.) This term does not have to do with a religious faith but in the thought that some people believe there is order, rules that matter and following those will make you successful and proud of it.
How do you demonstrate this?
You trust in yourself. You are willing to wait and see what happens. You think and plan ahead because the world turns and the best will rise again. You dream big and take actions that are counter intuitive to those who are quitters or just survivors.
What do you do, Little Red Hen? While Chicken Little** is saying the sky is falling, do you get out there and “Just Do It” ? Do you keep thinking how to work smarter not harder?
Here are some good “Thriver” choices. Dreaming, thinking and trusting are required.
1. You don’t cut prices or quality. You do contain your costs by setting up processes and systems that make you more effective and efficient. You may even raise your prices and get a better grade of customers.
2. You spend more on marketing. But you do it more efficiently. And, you do seek out alliances with other like-minded businesses and organizations.
3. You don’t cut back on staff. But you do get rid of the dead wood or at least rearrange that wood to light them up and get a roaring fire going instead of just fizzling out.
4. You become more selective in your customers. You go for the platinum and gold customers™ and dump the lead, concrete, and radio active waste customers™.
“If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;”
(From “If” by Rudyard Kipling)
Banks, the government and non business owners think those of us who own small businesses are too volatile, too much of a risk taker. Just plain crazy.
I can tell you in working with owners of product and service businesses from accounting firms to zoos, we are the most risk adverse group on the planet. Any risk we are willing to take only happens after we have examined the other options and trust we can take an “informed leap of faith”.
If we guess wrong, then we usually start again. You can do that relatively easily in the US and even easier in Texas that is famous for being a “boom and bust state”.
In many parts of the world you “lose face” or even your life if you close your doors. By the way, even in tough times, most small business do not “fail” (close due to nonpayment of bills). They close the doors because the owners give up. They lose their dream, their trust and confidence in themselves, and their will to go on.
In the end, it’s your choice
As Kipling says,
“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;”
“Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;”
“If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
“Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!”
You WILL always be a thriver, not just a survivor.
*In experiments, researchers found they could influence the education outcome by telling the teacher ahead of time that a student was bad or good. Confidence does have consequences good and bad. We are talking here about honestly feeling positive about what you do for customers, your community, and others who count on you.
**If you are interested, the Chicken Licken or Chicken Little story comes from the Jataka Tales of Buddhist folklore not Aesop’s Fables and Little Red Hen is most likely a Russian folktale. I am confident that you will impress others with these bits of trivia and be well on your way to a more successful you.
Here’s to your long lasting success!
How do you thrive in tough times? Share your experiences. They could help the rest of us when we need a little inspiration.