8 Ways to Capitalize on a Crisis

By Ann Elliott

A crisis changes the prevailing order. Nothing is the same after a crisis.  Are you using the prevailing economic conditions to your advantage? Paul M. Romer, Stanford economist and recognized expert on economic growth, said “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” Many businesses are caught up in the prevailing, negative outlook and are missing an opportunity to improve the way they do business.  All they see is the downside of an economic downturn. entrepeneur The problem with a significant global economic downturn is that no matter where you go there it is.  Before you get too caught up in the frenzy, remember that sensational, bad news sells. There is no question that we are experiencing you-know-what. Look on the bright side.  You have already done a year of time.  You don’t have to repeat those twelve months.  If the experts are correct, and that’s a big if, in mid 2009 the economy will be turning around.  George Bernard Shaw said, “If all the economists were laid end to end, they’d never reach a conclusion.”  Remember this too shall pass…..sometime. The current downturn in the economy has our attention. If you are not taking advantage of this slowdown, you are missing a great opportunity to be ready for the upturn. Some symptoms of a terrible crisis and a lost opportunity:
  • Focus primarily on the negative
  • Tolerate a low performing work force
  • Toss the basics of good business
  • Operate in a top down, command and control mode
  • Spend energy on what you cannot change
  • Maintain complex, inefficient systems
  • Fore go marketing and training initiatives
Some businesses do better in a downturn despite what you hear on the nightly news and front page of the newspaper.  Car repair shops, for example, have more work because people keep cars longer.  Attorneys who handle bankruptcy have more business in a downturn.  Instead of buying a new house, people repair or remodel their existing house. Here’s an example of a missed opportunity to use a terrible crisis: This week I took a pair of shoes to a shoe shop for new soles and heels.  I asked the owner if he was experiencing more business these days.  He said, “Yes, I’m really busy now.”  He reminded me, however, “There have also been times when it’s really slow.”  He told me now people are repairing a nice pair of leather shoes instead of tossing them in favor of a new pair. As I walked out the door clutching my yellow claim ticket, I said, “Create a great day.”  He looked up from his workbench over the rim of his glasses and said, “I’m too busy to have a good day.”  Surprised and unable to contain myself, I said, “Surely you meant to say you are too busy to have a bad day.” Use these practical solutions to capitalize on a crisis: 1.  Remind yourself of what is going well in your business and your life. Take an inventory of all you have to appreciate. The little stuff counts, too.  You will discover you have an”embarrassment of riches.” 2.  Take care of your customers and clients with extraordinary products and service. Find out what they expect and how you can solve their problems profitably. 3.  Expect a high level of performance from your work force. Train them so they can excel. 4.  Trim excesses at all levels in your business. Streamline systems to get the most work with the least amount of effort and the highest accuracy. 5.  Be transparent with your employees. Keep them informed and expect them to find solutions. 6.  Find out how others are affected by this downturn. Ask them what strategies they have in place to deal with it.  Share yours with them. 7.  Push the problem solving and decision making further down into your organization. Give your employees a stake in the outcome. 8.  Use this perfect opportunity to showcase how you can solve problems for your clients and customers. Learn how to market effectively and creatively. There’s nothing like a crisis to galvanize your resolve. The days of succeeding in spite of yourself are over. If you are serious about running your business on purpose, use this crisis to your advantage.  What strategies have you put in place to position you to succeed in the inevitable recovery?  A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

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Ann Elliott

Ann Elliott, founder of The Berkana Company, excels at leadership strategy

An expert at helping business leaders enjoy more profits and improved productivity with less stress, she blends fun and excitement with executive coaching and training to yield results for her clients.

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