There are Tough Times and Times that are Tough… which one will you choose?
There are two types of business--those that have had tough times and those that are going to have tough times. Generally tough times relate to financial challenges, either a lack of business, or a Client that has run into financial difficulty or a combination or both. Of course there are other issues that can create tough times but more importantly, what do we need to do to survive them and thrive in business? I have experienced many tough times in business and I've certainly helped a lot of businesses to get through tough times as well. From these experiences, there are 10 absolutely non-negotiable things that have continually proven to be the most helpful for me to get through and actually come out the other side in better shape.
1. Deal with facts not fiction- rose coloured glasses off!
In the middle of a tough time it’s really easy to start freaking out based on "what could be" as opposed to “what actually is”. It is important to get all of the information about what is going on FIRST and to only deal with facts, regardless of what is going on in your head. Most of the things we worry about never actually happen, or don’t exist, so don't let your imagination get ahead of the reality of the situation. Use this creativity towards marketing efforts.
2. Don't make things worse by doing nothing.
Whenever you see a disaster looming, don’t be like the deer in lights! The single most important thing to do is TAKE ACTION. Sometimes we can be a little like a deer and be in shock and disbelief what is happening and freeze up, which helps no one. The problem is that if we don't leap into action, things will always get worse and they will get worse quickly.
3. Always strengthen your relationship with your existing clients or customers.
In a weirdly ironic way, when times are tough, many businesses actually stop servicing their existing and loyal customers and clients. A depressed mood descends on the business and this in turn affects customer service. That's why businesses in this negative space lose far more customers and clients than they should, which of course only makes matters worse. Now is the time to build bulletproof relationships with each-and-every customer or client you are fortunate enough to have. You need to be communicating with your customers, engaging them, finding out what is going on in their world and most importantly of all, becoming very clear on what your customers need from you.
4. Use this situation to rethink your business.
Tough times are crossroads in our business, and they provide an opportunity to make hard decisions about what is working and what is not. This is the perfect time to stop and really reflect on your business and make the changes that deep down you know you need to make. Review your pipeline, service or sales model, is the customer experience still relevant and take a hard look at your marketing or lack there-of. Use this time wisely to get smart and focused.
5. It is time to get out and chase business.
Just as we can stop servicing our clients during tough times, business development can also grind to a halt and we all know that this spells disaster. As hard as it may be, when times are tough, you have to ramp up your business development and push through the hard times. Winning a few new projects or finding some new clients might just prove easier than you think and it will go a long way to making you feel better, regain some confidence and may even stimulate your creative juices to start a new venture or introduce a new service or product.
6. Choose carefully who you hang out with
It’s more important than ever during these times, to avoid the portents of doom, those people who are negative all the time, they only ever focus on what they haven't got as opposed to what they have and so on, etc. Don't let yourself get caught up in this negativity vortex. Keep away from people who are energy vampires and find the positive, proactive and energetic business owners who are too busy getting on with it to get caught up with “pity parties” ( to quote a dear friend and Coach Vivien Eakin).
7. Be prepared to try "something different and new".
When what you are doing isn't working and keeps leading to the same results, it makes sense to try something different and get out of your comfort zone. Now this sounds logical, yet I have watched so many businesses slowly go bust simply because they kept doing the same old thing, right to the end. We have to be prepared to do new things, try ideas outside of our comfort zone and look to other for advice.
8. Invest in your business.
This is the very best time to invest in your business. It is time to give the outside a coat of paint, upgrade the website, develop some new marketing initiatives, come up with a new corporate image, train your staff, invest in new technology and anything else that will make your business look more impressive and run more impressively.
9. Invest in yourself.
Just as I believe that it is an important time to invest in your business it is also an important time to invest in YOURSELF. This means learning new skills through books, seminars, events, online training, mentoring, coaching, joining associations or communities, whatever it takes. To do this you need to invest time and money. Technology has allowed us to connect simply and with little costs to do research and seek out activities that will not hurt the pocket but will feed the sole.
10. Find someone to mentor you through the challenging times.
If you have someone who you admire and respect and who you know has been through a similar challenge, why not reach and ask for help. Be totally honest with them, tell them the problem, exactly how bad it is and what help you need. They can't be expected to take on your problem, but having them to talk to, and to offer advice on how they got through their own challenges could just prove invaluable.
First published Jan 31st 2019