Sunday, June 22, 2008

Use the Recession, Gain an Advantage

Some time ago, I read the dip, by Seth Godin. Recently, during conversation, a friend suggested that I revisit the book. So, I picked up my copy and started reading parts of it again. I found much of it seemed new to me and far more relevant than it had before.

the dip is about knowing the difference between when to ride out the low points (the dip) and keep working toward your goal and when you're in what Godin calls a "Cul-e-Sac" (a place where you're stuck and no matter what you do, you can't improve your state). During a recession, many people begin to jump ship. Businesses begin to suffer from fewer sales, less production, fewer shipments, less foot traffic, etc. The affect is a hit to the bottom-line. Many businesses close up shop.

However, the dip is a time when businesses should get creative and look for opportunities. A time when leaders, managers, supervisors or business owners should take a deep breath and spend some time examining the ways in which they can create a more effective, focused, efficient, specialized business, department or team. Too often, we try to increase revenues by spreading ourselves and our teams too thin. We try to cover too much or too many markets.

If instead, we were to focus our energies on fewer tasks, products, customer segments or markets, the concerted effort and focus would have a greater impact. Therefore, it would more likely have a more beneficial result. It's the dispersed effort and the eventual quitting, that keeps us from being successful during a recession. Many successful businesses, unable or unwilling to push themselves through the dip, quit. Prior to the recession, those same businesses may have been close to realizing the level of success they were seeking.

Push yourself, your team or your business through the dip. Here are some ways to help you do that:

  • First be sure you are in a dip and not a Cul-de-Sac. If there is no possible way to improve the situation, it's time to quit and move on. Quitting is not failure. Quitting allows you to redirect your resources (time, energy, money, ideas, people). Quit products, services or features. Don't quit markets, strategies or a niche.
  • Look at your organization, department or team. How are you managing your resources (people, dollars, time, etc.)? To push through the dip, you'll need to examine your resources and be sure they aren't spread too thin or underutilized. Review your team and be sure you're effectively using their talents, skills and interests. There may be diamonds in the rough. Pluck them out, polish them and let them sparkle.
  • Use the slow times to work on being better, faster, smarter, leaner or more specialized than your competitors.
  • Market better. During a recession many organizations cut their marketing budgets. While they're cutting, you fill the marketing gaps their cuts have left behind. Your name will be seen more times and make more impressions than the competition.
  • Since 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of the market. Determine who your 20% are and focus your resources on them.

Pushing through the dip makes you, your team and your organization stronger, wiser, quicker, resilient and confident you can do it again (if necessary).

Kennette Reed