When The Going Gets Tough
By Michael Guld
heard all the headlines … “rising gas prices, housing sales down,
auto sales down, the escalating credit crunch, rising inflation,
looming recession and possibility of stagflation.” Not exactly the
kind of news that makes you want jump out of bed in the morning, is
it? So what do you do? You could just roll over and go back to
sleep; however, when you wake up the problem will still be there.
individuals nor businesses care whether the country is technically
in a recession or not – a decline in Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
for two consecutive quarters or more – rather all they really
care about is their pocketbooks and making a good living. Most
businesses are, at a minimum, being affected by the slowdown and
most individuals are, at the very least, uneasy about the potential
do we process all this stuff when the going gets tough?
You may be familiar with the answer: “The tough get going!” This
famous proverb, attributed to Joseph P. Kennedy, father of John F.
Kennedy, could never be more applicable than it is today.
Regardless of outside influences and mostly uncontrollable
variables, you still have a business to run, a budget to make,
employees or stockholders to support, bills to pay and a family
counting on your success. Take the attitude that even in an
economic slowdown, a number of people are still going to be in the
market for the products or services that you offer…and no one
is going to satisfy their needs more than you. If there’s going to
be a recession, choose not to play.
do you put these words into action? Here’s how:
Live by the Serenity Prayer – “Accept the things you cannot
change, have courage to change the things you can and the wisdom to
know the difference.” In business, the wind is either going to blow
against your back or directly in your face, but rarely will it blow
neutral. Remain calm and composed and keep sailing full force
forward through stormy seas ahead.
Ignite the passion for what you do – Remember why you got
into your given field and retain the enjoyment you have for the
business. Passion creates positive energy, which ignites and
excites, whereas stress creates negative energy, which
deflates and fatigues. When you have a passion for what you do, you
enjoy the process (your job) as much as the end result
(your paycheck). And passion is contagious, lifting your staff,
co-workers and customers and producing better results in the
Commit yourself to personal and professional goals -
Dreams are all about “wanting, hoping and waiting for it to
happen,” whereas goals are dreams with a deadline. The two
most self-defeating words in goal setting are “if only”; they
provide a built in excuse. Write your goals down, visualize
achieving these goals and live for them everyday.
Have a plan – “If you do not have a roadmap, any ole road will
get you there.” Make sure, when working towards the plan and on
daily to-do tasks, the energy you exert has an economic benefit and
gets you closer to your goal; otherwise it’s wasted energy. Set
mini goals with mini timelines and stay laser focused, ignoring the
many distractions trying to sway you off track.
Work the plan – While having a positive attitude is
important, only when coupled with positive activities will
bring success. Your plan should include sales, marketing and PR
components to attract the business that you deserve.
Refine and live your value proposition – In these days of
hyper-competition, you have to have a USP (Unique Selling
Proposition) that translates to a UBA (Unique Buying Advantage). If
you’re not unique, you can’t compete. Know and promote your 3 Ds;
what makes you drastically and distinctively different.
Provide a world-class customer experience – During tougher
economic times, there is a tendency for buyers to become more price
conscious in an effort to save money. As competition increases and
business slows, there is a knee-jerk reaction for businesses to
reduce prices to match or beat the competition. Instead, focus on
the unique value that you provide through an outstanding customer
experience, with value-added benefits that customers and clients
cannot receive anywhere else. Protect your turf by reinforcing the
value that you provide before the competition out-positions or
Focus on new business development – If per-account spending is
affected by a slow down, expanding your customer base can make up
the difference. There are others in your market who could be just
as satisfied with your products, services and customer experience as
your existing clientele are … they just don’t know it yet.
Brand extend – Consider new revenue sources that you can
capitalize on within your business. Starbucks has been successful
selling CDs, UPS stores selling greeting cards and Applebee’s
offering “Curbside to Go.” What add-on products and services would
be of interest to your existing clientele that could provide
additional revenue without a lot of additional cost or additional
the above are important in any economic environment, they are
imperative in tougher economic times. Business is cyclical,
and those who dig deep to plant strong roots will not only
survive the down cycle, but will thrive when the economy
turns. Hunker down, get back to business and take back control of
your destiny. You are in good hands…your own!
Read other articles and learn more
about Michael Guld.
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