You’ve heard the old adage: When the going gets tough, the tough get going! It’s one of those “up-by-the-bootstrap” motivational sayings that’s supposed to test our mettle and get us moving. But the fact of the matter is that business is almost always tough—especially when it’s your business. You probably wouldn’t still be in business if you weren’t tough.
The real challenge for a lot of growth-oriented businesses is not what to do when things get tough (things are always tough), but what to do when things get slow. More often than not when businesses see a slowdown in sales or a dip in growth, their natural reaction is to back off. There is a temptation to retreat a bit and play it safe until the market settles down.
It’s understandable. It’s counterintuitive to push ahead aggressively when revenues are stagnant—or even headed in the wrong direction. It seems prudent to be cautious (especially with spending) when the revenues are down.
But is it really prudent? Is pulling back the smart choice? I’d like to suggest that when the going gets slow the growing get going. Slower market conditions can be a great opportunity for growth—precisely because so many businesses (including your competitors) back off and slow down in response.
I’ve seen it time and time again with the clients I’ve worked with. The businesses that push ahead and expand their efforts during slow seasons are the ones who gain market share. While their competitors are taking defensive positions and actions, they are going after new business and taking steps to expand.
I’m not talking about being reckless or cavalier. This isn’t a call to place all of your business chips on the table and roll the dice—hoping for the big win. What I am suggesting is that when things are slow you review your plans and assumptions (you’re doing that regularly anyway, aren’t you?). Is your plan still sound? Are your basic assumptions still correct? If so, push ahead!
And while you’re at it, look for ways to do more. Look for ways to exploit the timidity of your competition. People are attracted to confidence—especially in uncertain times. If you are confident in what you’re doing (and I’m talking about a confidence that’s born out of a good strategy and execution of that strategy), you will attract business.
What are your thoughts about how to handle slow times? What are your biggest challenges during those times? And what’s your experience of moving forward—even when circumstances around you suggest you should slow down as well? Leave me a not in the comments section. I’d love to hear from you.