Like your computer when you overload its memory or try to do too much with too little resources "it just locks up. And we all know the fix to that dilemma" you reboot and start all over again.
Another better analogy is actually the weather. One day it's sunny and warm. You're out in shorts and a T-shirt and the next day, a cold front moves in, it starts to rain and the temperature drops 20 degrees. Are you still going to be running around in shorts and flip-flops? NO. You're going to dress accordingly.
So, let's use these two analogies to outline some ways to literally opt-out of the doom and gloom. I'm not saying to ignore the "experts." I'm saying to listen to their economic weather report and re-boot as well as dress accordingly.
Unfortunately, no one really likes to re-boot. It means the computer has literally interrupted whatever it was that you were doing and crashed. Now YOU need to stop and let your computer get it together. That's what the economy is doing, rebooting. Here's what you can do to dress yourself for the environment and succeed.
1. Get the Facts. There are two components that drive fear; lack of information and lack of control. Take control of the news by collecting headlines and starting to put them into perspective. Focus on the facts and NOT the analysis yet. Here are some sites with great trend information:
- Knowledge @Wharton is another wonderful compilation of news that will give your brain a list of news and trends that will impact the environment you're operating in.
- Toilet Paper Entrepreneur does a series called News that Matters. Here they collect the best stories that will impact small business owners.
- Small Business Trends has an entire trend series of articles for you to explore.
2. Analyze the Info You've Collected. There is no better business analytical tool than your basic SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) process. But don't just make a list â€“ take it one step further and answer questions like these in each section:
- What were your greatest triumphs this year? Which customers were best sellers and which were most profitable? Why
- Think about the last ideal customer you lost? What happened? Why did they choose someone else?
- What are some things that would never happen in your industry? Assume that they have happened, what opportunities does that create?
- In what ways will government changes create threats or opportunities?
3. Draw a Picture. In the book "Back of the Napkin," Dan Roam shows how simply putting pen to paper gets your brain seeing problems and challenges differently. You don't have to be an artist, you have to take the time to draw out yourself, your customers and their challenges out and see what new perspectives you get from the process.
4. Create a new Prosperity Plan. This is the "dressing for the weather" component of the process. You've collected information, you've processed it, now you need to re-create your prosperous future within a new environment. What is your goal? What unique strengths and capabilities will you use to achieve it? What values and beliefs will you incorporate to succeed? Take a moment to put these to paper and create a new plan for your future.
I think we've all heard enough of the economic storm talk. Now it's time to stop being afraid and get outside. Sure there will be businesses that will choose to stay out of the weather, but the companies who get out and play will ultimately be the ones who were dressed for success.
About the Author: Ivana Taylor has spent over 20 years helping industrial organizations and small business owners get and keep their ideal customers. Her company is Third Force and she writes a blog called Strategy Stew. She is co-author of the book "Excel for Marketing Managers."