Dear Aunty B,
Although I have been in business since 1994, I have never seen a downturn. I am in food production and our business is doing OK – not great, but I keep reading in the media about how bad things are, and I am worried and stressed about the future.
I feel confident we have the right strategy in place, but I don’t know if this is a false confidence given the environment, or how to project and prepare for next year.
It makes it more difficult when my staff are looking to me for guidance.
You sent this email to me at 3.46 in the morning! Are you nuts? If you can’t sleep, don’t think about me. Do something boring. Count carrots, have a Milo, or tune into the Parliamentary News Network and listen to the crazy pollies debate how to spend billions of dollars they haven’t got.
Actually that won’t bore you to sleep. That spending bonanza, paid for by your future business taxes, will probably get you so agitated you’ll never sleep again.
Look, the first thing you have to do is get a grip!! The sun still rises, you still go to your office every day, and the orders are still coming in. You are doing OK. That’s good. Lots of businesses are still doing well, especially in your sector.
And as we saw in the 1990s recession, lots of businesses do OK in a recession and emerge with great businesses as the cycle turns – which it will! Maybe never back to the crazy days of free money – that’s now all reserved for politicians – but turn it will.
So here is what you are going to do now. You are going to go back to your staff and reinforce all your core values. Who you are, what you are, why have you succeeded and why your clients come back, again and again.
And you remind your staff this is a time to focus, focus, focus. You all keep doing what works. It might not work as well as it did a year ago, but that’s OK. Because everything takes longer. Deals will drag, people will look for reasons to delay. But you will get deals across the line. Business is still going on. The sun will rise tomorrow!
And you are going to tell your staff how important they are and create special occasions to celebrate small victories. You will also use this time to slowly get rid of your poor performers who have failed to improve and replace them with some great people who have been let go through no fault of their own.
You will look at all your costs and send everything out to tender to see if you can get your costs lower. You will look at new technology and upgrade your website. You will get excited by the opportuntiies – and believe me, there are plenty!!
Lastly you will remind yourself how important you are. You will rest, remain balanced, not work too hard and engage more with family.
You will stay tuned to the storm raging around you, knowing you won’t just survive but will emerge stronger as a result.
Your Aunty B.