Economic Downturns — Good or Bad for Business?

Business is a little slow in some places around the country right now and I’m going to stick my neck out and say that that can be a good thing. It’s not as though companies need to go on diets as a New Year’s resolution, but when leads get a little sparse, we do something that is healthy — we check things out, we mutter, cuss, open old file drawers (and find the Johnson file somebody misfiled a year ago) and in general get a little paranoid. A little paranoia is not all bad. When the economy coughs (and it’s not because of a local disaster), there is going to be a weaning process.

Weak companies are going to get invited to go back to what they are good at. And strong companies, which, by definition, make provisions for most business contingencies, will get stronger. It may sound cruel but it really is not. Nothing is more cruel to hard-working folks than for them to just be able to hold on, head barely above water, but to ultimately not be getting anywhere.

Consider this: If you are not paying yourself at least what you would demand as a wage working for someone else, that’s exactly what you should do, work for someone who knows and is willing to pay you what you are worth. At least if you do that, you are no longer taking the risk of running your own business. This philosophy can work to your advantage in tough times.

Sound companies right now are the ones out there looking to pick up good people who are being forced out of jobs with struggling companies, shopping for equipment on sale at huge discounts, buying a warehouse or office for their operations from someone (or someone’s bank) who didn’t have a BOSHA checkup from time to time so they were ready for times like this. The purpose of this is not to make you feel bad, but to give you the reason it is important to have your BOSHA checkup regularly. In business, it’s great to be smart; but it’s sensational to be smart AND to be in a position to take advantage of the opportunity you were smart enough to uncover.

What are some of the things BOSHA physicals show? Working capital: How long can you tread water financially with little or no income? Receivables: Are you calling some receivables “collectable” that are really one of the “myths” I write about? Client relations: Are you poised to call on your past and current clients and to get a positive recommendation or referrals? Key personnel: Has cross-training allowed you to live lean without dropping important services or losing data? What about your attitude — are you motivated, is your staff confident of your leadership, that you’ll make it?

If you can look at your BOSHA readouts and see that things are in pretty good shape, you can position your company to really make some strong moves; good decisions that will have a much more positive impact than if you had made the same ones in unthreatened times.

Bold decisions you are in a position to make in downtimes actually are less risky because you have less competition; there is less to lose and a lot more to gain. There’s a favorite saying of mine which says, “in really difficult times, market share always reverts to its rightful owner”; let that be you.

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