I tend to write these posts a few weeks ahead of publication. I do so because I’ve been around long enough to not worry about things that only last a few hours (it’s kind of like a grenade. It won’t harm you unless you’re close enough to it), to recognize the big from the small (what some call “meta-events”. Michael Jackson’s death, despite what fans may think, did not change the world, just theirs (the grenade again). Madoff’s scheming did far more to more people (and I’m still waiting for the movie)), to take the long view (trends are more telling than events themselves), …
So as I write this we’re told the economy is getting better. I’m listening to NPR and today’s news is that stocks are falling in Europe and elsewhere. Contradictions, these.
Whatever your take on the economy and how long it will take to recover or whether it already has, let me offer seven rules for keeping your business going when others ain’t. The first three are in this post, the second four are in the next.
1) Take the Long View – Some people look for projects that produce immediate reward. Good and a worthy undertaking. It also means they are perpetually putting out fires and applying bandaids to broken arms.
My suggestion is to take a longer view of things. True, you may need to put out a few fires to get the breathing room necessary to take a longer view and by all means do so. Just so long as you take the longer view.
Figure out what project, what product, what service, what engagement is going to keep you involved, active and in front of people for a long period of time. How long? I tend to think in terms of years with one year being a minimum. Seriously. The longer you can plan to be active the longer you’ll be active. Taking the long view comes from doing business plans. You can always change your plan and without a plan you’ll never know what direction you’re going.
2) Come up with UnSafe Options – What’s this? There’s an economic downturn and I’m suggesting you come up with risky undertakings?
Yes, to a degree that’s exactly what I’m suggesting. You’re not the only one dealing with economic travails. Although many will want to stick to the tried and true methods during harsh economic times what they’ll soon learn is that those tried and true methods worked best (and perhaps only) when the economy was much, much better. This means many more businesses will be willing to take some well-defined, well-reasoned risks.
You’ll want to come up with things that are variations of the tried and true methods, variations that change just the right elements to make them work in different economic situations and business environments.
There’s work in being unsafe. How much work depends on how unsafe you are.
3) Think Before You Act – Okay, you’ve come up with an incredible option, taken the long view and are excited about getting clients on board.
Stop. Just stop. Stand still for a second. Think everything through again. At least one more time if not two. I find it helpful to write everything down and share it with one or two trusted peers for comment and review.
Written down, does it still make sense? Are there danger points that make themselves known when you see your strategy in print? Are you able to adequately answer all the questions your peers throw at you?
Okay, now go ahead and get clients on board.
I’ll be providing the next four rules in my next post.
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