These are tough economic times. Your plans have been put on hold and your business is struggling to stay in the black. What should you do? Here's a twist, a strategist see's things much differently. The reality is these tough times are when growth is easy.
What is your natural reaction when faced with sudden danger? Imagine you encounter a burglar in your home. What do you do? When you first see them you freeze up and just stare in surprise. Then you have to make a decision. You either run away or attack. Imagine if you changed your response. What if your first response was to attack? This would surprise the buglar and give you the advantage. This scenario is occuring in businesses around the country today. The sudden drop in the economy has caught most by surprise and they are standing around with their mouth agape, not moving, not growing, and not responding in any way. They are hoping it's all a mirage and simply goes away if they remain still long enough. Other businesses are giving up, running away, and are attempting to minimize the future damage to their profits. However, the courageous few are responding with an attack. They are moving forward and advancing.
There are three possible responses to threats that we can experience; freeze, flight, and fight. Unless we have been trained to react differently, these three responses nearly always occur in this order. We first freeze. We lock-up or "choke." If you learn your competitor has taken a key customer, won an important contract, or a tax law has changed in a way that doesn't favor our business or industry - we freeze. We don't respond at first. This is the response we are seeing in the market right now. With the perception that the economy is down, companies have stopped trying to grow, stopped advancing their agendas. This is a freeze reaction. This response is sometimes appropriate. When danger nears, freezing may prevent you from doing something you'll regret. Most of the time it only creates a delay that accomplishes nothing.
The second response is that of flight. We try to run away. Again, we see this in the market now. Companies, pull out of markets, lay off people, and hunker down for bad times. Like freezing, fleeing is sometimes the right response. However, when others are leaving it opens the competitive market place for those with the courage to make progres.
The last response is that of fight. This response is active and moves forward to take advantage of the freeze and flight condition of rivals. This is the response we want. While rivals are freezing and fleeing, we are handed an opportunity to advance. When the avoid investing the prices fall. When they avoid hiring or layoff people, we have an opportunity to pick up the best people at lower salaries. When they freeze and stop growing we can grow without competition. When they flee the market we can take their abandoned customers.
Put it to Work; Look at your business practices and determine if you have frozen or are fleeing. Decide if this is an appropriate response. Look at your competitors. Are they frozen or fleeing? What opportunities are they creating for you? Sieze them without delay.
Make small advances everyday during this "down" time. Here are two simple ways to evaluate decisions; (1) go with the decision that offers more options, not fewer, (2) break decisions down into one's with short term consequences. If you decide wrong, you won't have to live with the results too long.
They key to success in these times is to keep advancing while your rivals have their heads down and are on the run. When people flee they leave behind their treasure and all you have to do is claim it.