"During Tough Times, Don't Let an Economic Recession Become a Courage Recession"
by Jim Senhauser
Over the past few years, no one can deny that there has been an excess of disappointing financial news. More recently, employment trends have been ticking up. Still, in viewing the future, there remains a lot of economic uncertainty and insecurity out there. This is true among business owners, heads of companies as well as lots of people who are just trying to keep their job or find a new one.
Let's face it – uncertainty can breed fear. Unfortunately, that fear can lead business owners and managers to make some pretty regrettable decisions, long-term, if they are not careful. Such a reaction is natural. When we are concerned that the road ahead might still be a bit rocky, we often tend to want to "tighten things up" and begin to cut our costs and expenses of doing business. Nothing wrong with being a little cautious, is there?
Normal caution is a good thing. Irrational fears and the knee-jerk reactions that they can trigger are not. The trick is to refuse to allow an economic recession to trigger a courage recession. Even during less than stellar economic periods, there are opportunities out there that would not be available during more prosperous and comfortable times.
So, beware – take precautions in your business strategies and your personal financial affairs so that you can weather whatever the economic slowdown throws your way. But, don't let that blind you to the possibilities that will begin to crop up all around you.
When it seems that everybody else is tightening their belts, a shortage of economic or personal courage can sometimes lead businesses to become overly conservative in their "paring back" strategies. When these businesses abandon a market or become less aggressive, they may even be creating openings for you, me or other competitors in various niches, or simply lower our barriers to compete.
Advertising costs go down, suppliers become hungrier and more goods or properties become available at unheard-of prices. It is essential for all of us to keep our eyes open for all of the opportunities that downturns create.
When times get tough, those companies with less courage often cut back on development and delay or stop their new product launches, marketing efforts or service innovations. However, if the market continues to demand the types of products they produce or services they offer, consumers are still going to be looking for something that is newer and better than what they have seen previously.
It was not so long ago that the cell phone market was considered stagnant. Then, the so-called "smart phones" were introduced. A variety of innovative products from Apple, Blackberry, Samsung, HTC and others recreated a market that a few years earlier seemed stale and saturated. While during an economic slowdown there may be fewer consumers overall who are buying, if you are the one who is selling, it is still your job to capture all those customers that you can. As a result, when things do improve, as they eventually are bound to, you will be in a superior position vis-à-vis your competition. You will have created a legion of new customers and clients from the ranks of your competitors' former devotees.
In slow economic times, it is also important to keep an eye out for other markets that might have potential for you. There may be unexplored niches that could become viable for your company as a line extension or even an entirely new business.
Now don't get me wrong. It is crucial to exercise normal caution. No one is as familiar with your business or financial situation as you are. You know what you need to do to remain "in the black." However, don't let fear blind you to the possibilities that are out there to develop a competitive advantage over those who are being overly timid.
Much as we would like to think so, it is not always the people who are exceedingly brilliant or the most creative who succeed. It is instead often the most courageous, or just those who exhibit normal levels of courage in tough times. Everybody knows that whiners are rarely winners.
To fret and worry is simply a waste of valuable energy. If you have anxieties about your business, channel those concerns into doing what you need to do to correct the situation. Let your concern about the future provide you with the resolute impetus needed to move forward, not to be competitively complacent or paralyzed with worry, doubt and fear.
Remember, courage is not the absence of fear or doubt. It is instead the ability to press on, even when some level of fear or doubt is present. You and I can never allow an economic recession to become a recession in courage.
(This article from Jim Senhauser is copyright 2012 – IdeaTree®, Ltd. Chicago, IL 60613. All rights reserved. IdeaTree is a registered trademark of IdeaTree, Ltd., an Illinois-based web marketing and copywriting firm.)