What should you be doing to deal with this situation? My advice is to stay as far away as possible from negative, can't-make-it-happen kind of folks. Hang out with like-minded global entrepreneurs and business owners who are on a mission to change the world -- crisis or no crisis, money or no money. And believe me, it's these kinds of individuals who are doing things differently and making things happen in a very restricted economy. Let me explain.
I just returned from Evian, France, where the World Entrepreneurship Forum, the first worldwide think-tank dedicated to entrepreneurship and its role in society, took place.
The Forum brought together more than 80 participants, representing 35 nationalities, of the highest level: entrepreneurs, social entrepreneurs, political decision-makers and international experts.
The central theme of the forum was "Entrepreneurship as a creator of economic wealth and social justice," and attendees came away with recommendations for how we can create a more favorable environment for entrepreneurship, how we can assess the actions taken by entrepreneurs and how we can better train the entrepreneurs of the future.
Throughout the entire rigorous two-and-a-half day program, never did I hear a word about how bad the economy is. Our focus was on creating an environment in our world where every citizen has a chance to become an entrepreneur in good times or bad and ensuring improved economic conditions for all. Why? Because it's the entrepreneurs and small businesses in the world that will lift us up to a new and improved global economy.
Whether it is through client work at my own business, membership in the World Entrepreneurship Forum or serving as a facilitator for women presidents of multimillion dollar enterprises, here's what I've heard many entrepreneurs and small business owners saying repeatedly about what they are doing to dodge the economic crisis:
1. Be resilient. You can't predict the future, but you can make a plan with a lot of good built-in choices and adjust along the way to accommodate circumstances. When things stabilize, you will be in good shape to go full speed ahead on something.
2. Keep things simple. Don't over-commit or over-strategize on projects or ventures where only a rocket-scientist can decipher what's going on. The KISS (keep it simple stupid) theory applies more than ever now.
3. Create new avenues of growth. Stop heading down the same dead-end path and start a new one (for example, going global) that achieves more favorable results.
4. Start a new company. Focus on a new beginning as opposed to meeting payroll. People will be hungry to work with you during a slow time.
5. Tighten all controls, but don't turn into a control freak. Be mindful of metrics and how to track results but give enough freedom that people can feel empowered to get things done.
6. Bill in advance, during and afterward on all projects until funds are in the bank. Cash flow is what keeps you in business.
7. Keep morale up. Communicate as best you can and as often as possible with your employees and stakeholders about the health of the company and the impact the global economy has on it. Work smart to stay lean, mean and strong so that when the tide turns, you are in a healthier position to take on new initiatives together.
8. Terminate under-performing business units, divisions, product lines or service offerings. Don't let pride get in the way of taking action on things that, if not treated, may deteriorate the entire organization.
9. Rediscover your balance sheet and P&L statement. Take stock of actual sales versus projected sales and where you stand financially this year compared to last year on sales and profits.
10. Do better work. Mediocrity is not sustainable during a downturn. Exceptionalism will become the norm and a way to set yourself apart from competitors.
11. Look for value. Buy real estate, stocks, companies or cars, for example, or, if the price is right, rent that space you always dreamed about.
12. Cut costs. But not so much that you can't obtain prosperity. Trim the fat and nurture what's left to get as lean as possible.
13. Invest in social capital. Launch social media and networking platforms to make connections within and between social networks as well as connections among individuals to foster a sense of common good and community.
14. Learn how to sell. Prior to tough times, some business owners stopped going out on business calls because they preferred to focus on big picture thinking. Not anymore. CEOs now go on calls to impress big clients and teach everyone else in the organization the importance of generating revenue for the firm.
15. Lead in a new way. Be the change you want to see within your organization. Pretend you have just been brought in to the company. Make tough decisions that you were afraid to make before difficult times to illustrate newfound leadership skills that employees can be proud to imitate.
16. Don't be a wimp. What I mean by that is, never let the company's problems or your bosses' or your colleagues' problems become yours. Yes, times are tough, but show courage under fire. If you do, you will be first up for a promotion after the dust settles.
So, while others are lamenting the state of the economy, you can take these steps to overcome the crisis and strengthen your business and the world.
About the Author: Global business expert Laurel Delaney is the founder of GlobeTrade.com. She also is the creator of "Borderbuster," an e-newsletter, and The Global Small Business Blog, all highly regarded for their global small business coverage.
Laurel is a member of the Small Business Trends Expert Network.