The economy is in trouble and 2009 is going to be a challenging year for small business owners struggling to survive. Lots of our SBTV.com viewers have questions about managing their businesses and they are searching for information and resources to help them navigate through these recessionary times. Asking for advice and guidance to help you run your business is always a smart idea; however, blindly following that advice without listening to your own instincts can get you into trouble. When you’re worried and stressed about keeping your business going it’s tempting to rely on someone else’s strategy.
Before you make that mistake, consider this. Most cars today have GPS systems. My new iPhone has one. The taxi’s in New York have them. And if you don’t have one you can access on the go, you can get directions from online mapping sites. It’s simple. Type in where you want to go and follow the directions to your desired destination.
So why not get directions for your business, too? Well, what happens if your GPS is wrong? What happens if the business directions you get are wrong for your business?
Here’s some food for thought. My husband and I were traveling in the south on a media tour for SBTV.com. As we were driving back to St. Louis we decided to stop in Tunica, Mississippi. For those of you who don’t know, Tunica is just south of Memphis, Tennessee and was once part of the poorest County in the United States. Today, more than 10 million visitors make their way to Tunica which is considered the casino capital of the South.
Because we didn’t have a clue how to get to Tunica from where we were, we turned to the GPS system. We identified our starting location and selected a visitor site in Tunica (Sam’s Town Casino) as our destination. We were on our way. Periodically, our electronic guide would tell us where to turn as well as inform us how far to our destination point. After 30 minutes into our journey, Lola (the name I gave to the electronic voice) had us taking desolate looking two-lane roads. Where was Lola taking us? Even though we were somewhat skeptical, we let Lola continue to dictate our path. It was the gravel and dirt road that served as a wake-up call. My husband flagged down a very nice man and his wife in a pickup who told us the road we were on led to the water’s edge, and Tunica was across the river, but there was no way to get across – unless we had an amphibian vehicle. We had to turn around and retrace our route in order to get back to the right road to Tunica.
My point is, if we had allowed our instincts to guide us when things starting looking odd to us, we wouldn’t have gone more than an hour out of our way. Lola had sold us a bill of goods. In business, if we’d made the same mistake we’d be all washed up.
So to keep your head above water in 2009, ask for the help you need, but don’t let fear override your business instincts. Ask yourself, “Does it make sense to follow the gravel and dirt road to a well-known tourist site?”
Here’s to staying dry and to your business success. Happy Holidays!