“Oh dear!” cried Chicken Little, “the sky is falling. I must go tell the king.”
The expression “the sky is falling” has become synonymous with a person jumping to an irrational conclusion and working everyone they meet into a panic.
It can be argued that this is happening with the current economic situation—the public is being whipped into mass hysteria.
Whether or not you believe the economic “sky” is falling (or that it’s already crashed around you), tough times have always provided great (and lucrative) opportunities. The trick is to know what to look for.
So, how do you find opportunity during these tough times?
Don’t do what you did during good times and expect the same results. Keep up with the changing needs and expectations of clients and customers. Suggest new strategies to your boss. Even if your suggestions aren’t implemented, it shows that you are thinking of the overall health of the company.
Focus on the need. For example, if you offered a teleclass on credit (where to find it, how to extend it, how to keep it, etc.) you’d be addressing a timely need.
Experiment with new ideas—the more the better. The trick is to take a number of small, manageable risks and see what “sticks.” For example, offer a series of free, one-hour calls on a variety of topics and see which one gets the best response. Source the newspaper to determine what new problems the economy has created, and then offer some creative solutions.
Roll out the red carpet. Whether you are the owner of a business or you work for one, good customer service doesn’t cost you a cent; in fact, it pays.
Follow up on every lead. In a good economy, people get sloppy. There’s no room for that now.
Consider other markets. No matter what business you’re in there’s usually an affluent segment of people that are still buying. Is there a way to package your offerings that would appeal to this market? For example, the owner of a martial arts school shifted his marketing from teens, who often dropped out because of low-paying jobs, to parents of kids aged 5-9, who were unlikely to cancel despite a poor economy.
Don’t pretend that times aren’t tough—emphasize it. Reassess the needs of your marketplace by listening to your clients. Ask them what they need to help weather the economic storm.
Be optimistic. Times will change, they already are. Focus on what’s working well and share that upbeat attitude with customers, colleagues and especially your boss. Positioning yourself as the “go to” person with an optimistic, problem solving attitude, could lead to new opportunities/advancement.
Now is NOT the time to skimp on marketing. In fact, it’s the best time to advertise. Try the free marketing offered online and highlight the value and efficiency of what you offer rather than your “luxury” items.
Layoffs result in new people looking for work. Is it time to recruit some top people? If you’re one of those people looking for work, refresh your skills/resume or start that business you’ve always dreamed of running. Proctor and Gamble, IBM and FedEx were all born during recessions.
Consider launching your product or service. Customers are willing to try new solutions during tough times if they believe the solutions will ease the tough times. Is it time to blow the dust off that new product or service you’ve been waiting to launch?
Take advantage of the negative hype. See if you can catch business your spooked competitors are leaving behind.
The economic reality has created new boundaries. You can leverage those boundaries to provide your business with focus and increased creativity. Economic downturns are tough, but resourceful entrepreneurs, who are willing to take calculated risks, and forward-thinking employees can ensure a prosperous future.
So, instead of worrying about the “falling sky” think about what Albert Einstein once said: “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” After all, who are you going to take advice from, a chicken or a genius?