Opinion

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Gear up for the upturn

5 Mins

I’m fed up hearing predictions about when the economy is going to improve.

Two years. Five years. Ten years. What really winds me up is people’s conviction – and yet, not one of these people actually forecast the problems we’re currently facing, so why should you or I listen to them now?

Indeed, when I ask these fortune tellers why they predict these particular time frames, they can’t offer one reason that can be substantiated – Mystic Meg has more idea in my opinion.

There’s always a market and the challenge for most real businesses is to operate within the prevailing market conditions – do we have any other option?

Of course, there are times to spend and times to cut back; times to grow and times to consolidate. But the option of battening down the hatches and waiting things out isn’t available to most of us – we need to do business.

So, here’s some good news: our fortunes have more to do with winning a new piece of business or distribution channel, or launching a new product line, than the current level of interest rates or oil price.

In other words, our success is determined by our own efforts and achievements, regardless of what’s going on in the world of high finance.

I’m not suggesting the global economy doesn’t impact on small and medium-sized businesses. Of course it does. But I believe our size is our advantage in these uncertain times. We can develop new strategies quicker than the corporate giants could ever hope to. More importantly, we can implement them immediately.

One of my clients recently told me that he views this marketplace as a time of “doom and boom”. He explained that while most people seem to be concerning themselves with things they know little about – and can do even less to change – he is focusing on developing new strategies for generating business and planning for the upturn.

I’m asking every entrepreneur I meet four questions:

•    Did you see the credit crisis coming? (Most answer “no”.)•    Did you have a plan for dealing with it? (Again, the answer tends to be “no”.)•    Do you believe the economy will recover? (Most answer “yes”.)•    Do you have a plan for it? (The silence is deafening.)

Hope is not a strategy. Keeping our fingers crossed that things will improve isn’t good business. We need a plan for 2009 and it needs to be different to anything we’ve done before.

I’d like to help you create a highly effective one – actually, two.

The first plan should focus on immediate impact – the cost-effective, and highly effective, initiatives you can put in place right now to generate immediate results.

As I conduct workshops around the UK, I’ve seen many resourceful examples including: non-competing firms sharing exhibition space; businesses recycling existing brochure artwork and amending copy and photographs to create a PDF brochure that appears brand new; and round-table discussions with clients and journalists generating PR coverage for everyone involved.

The second plan should focus on the upturn and the initiatives that need to be taken as soon as you’ve spotted it on the horizon.

Recruitment, for example, will be much easier if you’re the first to start. We must see this period as one of “doom and boom”, accept the conditions for what they are and put in place strategies to deal with them so that we can enjoy the boom when it arrives – whenever that might be.

Picture: source

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