I’m compelled to comment on something I’m noticing with an increasing and alarming regularity.
It’s a variation on the biological imperative to choose, when faced with a serious threat to your life, between ‘flight’ or ‘fight’.
As we’re now well into the second half of 2012, I’m observing that a number of smaller business owners are making a decision (intentionally or not) on how they’re responding to the challenge of our rather challenging economy.
Basically, there are two (2) camps of thinking that seem to be emerging:
1. owners who are ‘doing nothing new’ to build their business, and
2. owners who are choosing to ‘do something’ to build their business in this economy
If you’re choosing to ‘hunker down’ and ‘stay the course’ in the hope that you’ll ‘survive the storm’ you are making a risky choice between action and in-action. If you have a lot of money in savings, you may be able to afford to exercise that choice. But not all of us have that option. Even worse, many owners are exercising the ‘do nothing new’ option — whether they can afford to or not.
Other owners who decide, as Hamlet once said, “To take arms against a sea of troubles and, by opposing, end them . . .” regardless of their resources, are far more likely to not only survive the economic conditions we’re in at the moment but thrive better than most when it ends, as well.
Quick diversion . . . when I was a pilot-in-training
there were certain times (during instrument flight training) that you learn you must ‘trust the instruments, NOT your body’. Why? Absent visual cues (like the horizon) when you’re ‘in the clouds’, your equilibrium becomes unreliable very quickly.
You ‘feel’ like you’re leaning to your right side so you ‘correct’ to the left. That ‘feels’ correct — to your body. In fact, you ‘feel’ you’re flying ‘straight’. But you’re not. You’re actually in a left bank and turning to the left rather than proceeding on a straight course.
Eventually, relying on your ‘feelings’ rather than your instruments, you’ll find yourself in what is known to pilots as the ‘graveyard spiral’. Your shallow turn to the left actually reduces your aircraft’s lift factor (it’s aerodynamic stuff and I won’t bore you with that!) and, as a result, you begin to lose altitude.
Whether you can read your instruments for instrument flight conditions or not, even beginning pilots learn to watch their altitude / altimeter.
When you notice you’re losing altitude, the ‘obvious’ response is to “pull back’ on the stick or yoke. When you’re in level flight, that raises your plane’s nose and makes your aircraft climb. Hence, you gain altitude.
But once you’re in a turn, however slight, pulling back on the stick only tightens your turn. Ironically, that ‘feels’ the same (to your body) as when you’re climbing — you feel yourself being pushed down into your seat. But it’s not gravity making you ‘feel’ that sensation; it’s centrifugal force (you’re in a turn, remember?).
At this point, non-instrument trained, inexperienced pilots notice that they’re losing altitude more rapidly. So they ‘pull back’ on the stick (again!) hoping to re-gain valuable altitude. But it seems to work in exactly the opposite manner. The more they ‘correct’ for their altitude loss, the more altitude they’re actually losing!
Eventually, this becomes a viscious cycle that makes the aircraft (and, the hapless pilot and any unfortunate passengers) enter such a tight turn that either the aircraft suffers structural damage and is lost or, the plane is flown all the way down into the ground (or, the sea as happened to John F. Kennedy, Jr off Martha’s Vineyard, MA a few years ago).
OK, back to 2012’s ‘interesting’ economy . . .
If you, like most of us in entrepreneur-land, find this economy isn’t the same as it was a few years ago (AKA ‘The Good Old Days’), your response to it may not be all that different than the pilot who doesn’t understand the ‘best’ course of action under deteriorating flight conditions.
Today, while the ‘natural’ inclination of many business owners and solopreneurs is to ‘do nothing’ different than you have done in the past, I submit that may be just as deadly as pilots who do the wrong thing at the wrong time in flight.
What is called for now is action, not IN-action. But appropriate action. And that would be . . . to proactively market your business in a manner that reflects:
1. a candid, honest understanding of your business — strengths AND weaknesses,
2. the marketplace you seek to attract and serve, and
3. a proven and systematic plan for taking coordinated actions to build your business or practice services . . . effectively
Doing ‘no thing’ IS a decision. And, it may be the best decision you can make. At times. But it’s usually not a deliberate decision as much as it’s a default decision because many of us are simply not being proactive about the ‘sea of troubles’ on the horizon that are waiting for anyone who’s in business in 2012.
My Respectful Recommendation . . . Do Something . . . By Design, Not Accident
As tempting as it is to ‘do nothing’ and ‘hope this economic storm blows over’ that strategy is just as deadly to your business as a ‘graveyard spiral’ is to an inexperienced pilot.
As difficult . . . scary . . . unsettling . . . makes-me-feel-like-throwing-up . . . as it may ‘feel’ to you . . . DO SOMETHING to make your business what you want it to be . . . by design, not accident.
Staying the course, given the current economy, is probably not the best course of action you can take these days. Remember the old saying, “Doing what you’ve always done isn’t going to get you anything different”. Today, that can also get you killed. Times have changed. We must change, too. Or, suffer the consequences.
Doing what you did to build your business in the past may need some adjustments to make your business remain successful in these turbulent days.
Yes, you risk making a mistake when you do something new. And none of us want to make mistakes. But remember that doing nothing is still a decision to do something — ‘nothing’. And doing ‘nothing’ has it’s own consequences — positive and negative. But they’re not consequences you’re creating. They’re consequences you’re being forced to accept because you’re abdicating your personal responsibility to make decisions and take actions critical to your own success.
No one has ‘all the answers’ to this economy or the best ways to respond to it for your business. But please . . . don’t do no-thing because you didn’t already consider doing some-thing else. At least make doing no-thing a deliberate and thoughtfully considered decision. It might be the correct course of action for you and your business. But for many, like Hamlet said, “taking arms against a sea of troubles . . .” will be far more likely to end them.
So . . . do your homework . . . seek the counsel of your trusted advisors . . . then do some-thing to market your business or practice. Yes, even if it is no-thing. But do it deliberately. You and your business will come through these challenging times and yes, you WILL be better for it when (not if) the economy eventually improves.
Life is what YOU make it. Choose wisely. Act decisively. And, enjoy success . . . because you’re worth it!