If you live anywhere but under a rock it's hard to avoid the recent economic reality we find ourselves in as a nation. Regardless of your political affiliation it's overwhelming trying to decipher what it all means and stressful wondering if it's going to be OK. Try as I do to monitor how much media I allow myself to consume, it effects me as a citizen, but even more as a small business owner.
As a small business owner you rely on a certain set of conditions to remain stable. You learn to count on what's worked in the past as you make decisions moving forward. And, typically, you don't have a lot of reserve on hand to weather the dark days of any storm.
When all these factors go up for grabs in a faltering or depressed economy it can reek havoc on the well being of your business, which is directly connected to the well being of your life.
So, what's the savvy small business owner to do to sure up the boat and ride the wave through these choppy waters? Especially given the reality that some businesses WILL do better than others. As much as I favor optimism, some businesses will hurt, BUT - regardless of a worse case scenario, there are things you can do to increase the odds of making it and that will empower you to take an active role in determining your own outcome.
Here are 5 important perspectives and actions that work for me as I face the uncertainly of what's to come:
1. Get perspective and knowledge. Find out where you stand with your own personal finances. Make an appointment with a trusted financial advisor and get the low down from someone who an expert in the field. I know when I rely on the news for all my information, I don't know what or who to believe. Get reassurance that you are positioned as well as you can be, or if you're not fix it! And remember, take the long view. As a country we have weathered many an economic down turn and eventually things do come back into balance.
2. Reevaluate everything. Take this opportunity to look at your business with a fine tooth comb. Could you cut expenses? Are your operations as productive as they can be? Nothing should be a sacred cow. Be willing to make tough choices - trade stress for peace - even if they're not your preference -for now.
3. Get creative. As Kelly Spors, journalist for the Wall Street Journal suggests, "This could be an opportunity to make inroads on competitors' turf (think Dunkin' Donuts taking on Starbucks in the coffee market). Big companies often reel in their marketing budgets in bad economic times, leaving room for small companies to make a bigger splash. It can also be a good time to introduce new products into the market that address today's economic realities." What could you change about your business that might make an economic downturn turn into good news for you?
4. Be nimble. Adapt rather than stay stuck in old ways of thinking or doing business. This is where it's to your advantage to be a small business in a bad economy. You have more control and can make changes.
5. Use the tools you already have. Whether it is yoga, mindfulness, or bubble baths, now's the time to rev up your spiritual or personal wellness practice and really connect with the big picture. Stay centered and focused on what really matters to you. In the end, I know whatever circumstances may befall me, if I have a strong sense of self intact, my health, and people around me I love - I know I can survive anything.
To summarize, in order to weather any storm in life you have to feel empowered. Empowerment comes from knowledge, inspiration and action - and regardless of your external circumstances, empowerment is something YOU can go after. In reality, you may or may not get the outcome you desire, but at least you know you gave it your best.