Tuesday, July 7, 2009

It's not JUST The Economy, Stupid.

The economy can only take so much blame for the woes of many of us before a bubble of a different sort bursts: our own. Especially for those of us who are business owners, we need to remember that we're in business for ourselves.

Business owners are rarely innocent victims of circumstances. Sure we can't anticipate every possible thing, but no one forced us down any particular path either. We business owners, especially those of us in the developed world, have far more opportunities, protections, and levers at our disposal.

We suffer from the same weaknesses as anyone else such as complacency, fear of uncertainty, and the need for positive cash flow. But we are not entitled to being handed solutions to these needs and problems. They are our own and and we must seek solutions that are empowering.

First though we need to be honest with ourselves:

  • How much credit do we really deserve for our growth during boom times? Was it strategic or more the result of the pie growing around us? (i.e. did business fall into our lap... as well as our competitors... or did we attract it systematically and through compelling positioning?)
  • How much is our blame on the nebulous "economy" our way of deflecting from our own weaknesses, mistakes, and oversights while putting off the nitty gritty work of tackling them?
  • What's the profit in continuing to blame things that are outside our control while ignoring the things that are?
As a blogger Brandon Boyd recently said:
This economy is 'thinning the herd' of weak business practices. Its affect will be a benefit to the customer in the long run - as businesses that truly 'deliver' will remain.
I'd add that it'll benefit business owners in the long run too. Those that manage to do more than simply coast through economic downturns will build stronger businesses. They will be the leaders, regardless of economic cycles. Those that go away, well, they were lucky to begin with.

The truth may hurt but that doesn't mean it can't be helpful. The first step is admitting it, right?


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