“These are perilous times for the federation.” Jean Luc Picard, Captain of the Enterprise (Star-Trek)

While the turmoil of current times might seem like something from a galaxy far away, this is not “science fiction”. The economic crisis, supposed bail-out and the resultant impact on business and peoples lives… is all too “real”!

So, precisely “how” should you or your organization manage these difficult times and challenges? Earnestly consider the following perspectives which may serve you and your organization well throughout the remainder of 2008 and beyond:

Step # 1: Refocus your “thinking” on what you need to do survive, and away from the negative media.

Begin by seeking clarity in your internal processing of the available “facts” and valid information. Remind yourself that there have been many market corrections before. In fact the “DOW” was at a comparable low point just a few years ago, in 2004. Also, be acutely aware that interest rates are near record “lows”... this is not the Jimmy Carter era, when mortgage rates were in the 17% - 18% range.

With these perspectives made clear, refocus your intention and attention on what you, or your organization need to do in order to appropriately manage your strategic thinking and resultant planning. In sports, it is believed that “Good shots, are built on good shots”. In business the same principle holds true, “Good thoughts are built on good thoughts”! As I have cited to you before, right thinking is the precursor to executing right action.

Step # 2: Address your fears.

I heard a news broadcast recently which reported that “The American people are anxious, and anxiety fuels more anxiety.” This is clearly a prescription for impending failure, based on wrong thinking and assumptions.

What ever your deepest concerns or fears are... face them now! Previous studies have determined that what people fear is almost always unfounded:

» Less than 5% of what we fear, can we potentially do anything about.

» Another 5% of what we fear, we have no control over.

» The other 90% of what we fear is not reality and will never even happen.

So, reframe your concerns or fears as challenges to be over come. Even better, restate them as goals to be achieved. Now follow through and rally your troops. Reassure the members of your organization that their fears are not appropriate, that they should remain calm, and that your organization is being proactive in its response to market conditions. If necessary, meet individually with the organizations employees to reassure them, dispel limiting thinking or false assumptions.

Don’t fail to understand that in order for your organizational staff members to maintain good morale and to be positively motivated... then must be assured that everything is going to be “OK”.

Step # 3: Appropriately “assess” your present circumstances and business assets.

For many organizations and people, making accurate assessments of their current situation, can in itself present a challenge. This is a crucial step to undertake if you are going to survive now, and prepare to thrive tomorrow. If this somehow sounds familiar, it is. It parallels an age old axiom... “Live to fight another day.”

As for initiating the assessment process, there is a key piece of strategic thinking that you need to apply to this process. You must first determine:

» What do you or your organization have the ability to directly “control”?

» What is beyond your ability to exert control?

» What is insignificant or of no importance at all?

With regard to making the actual assessments, there is a virtual litany of potential considerations. Focus on the core elements of your business endeavor by initially assessing:

» What is working well for you right now?

» What are the core “strengths” of your organization and your people?

» Reassess the talents, abilities and available resources of the organization and its people; then take a fresh look at how they can be better utilized.

Step # 4: Reevaluate your process for conducting business.

During times of economic downturn and soft market conditions, it is important to remain focused on “why” you are in business. What is the “Vision” and “Mission” of your organization? Do today’s economic and market conditions necessitate reevaluation of the organization’s vision and mission statements?

Once you have revisited your organizational “purpose”, there are again strategically important actions to be immediately taken:

» Communicate the redefined vision and mission to every member of your organization, in a clear and succinct manner.

» Carefully explain to each and every member of the organization exactly what their “role” is and how their work directly contributes to the achievement of the organization’s vision, mission and goals; as well as the potential for the company’s future growth and resultant benefits to its employees.

Step # 5: Conduct a thorough sales and marketing review.

In times such as these, it is essential to accomplish more, with less. There is also the necessity of working “smarter” than ever before. In like fashion, it is also important to return to our developmental roots. The point of which is that the process of development is from the “inside-out”. Investing the time to determine how to grow your organization from inside-out, is crucial to your survival process.

Following are some primary considerations for implementing inside-out business growth:

» Develop, update or expand your customer “referral” and “rewards” programs.

» Determine how you can gain additional or repeat business from your existing customers.

» Survey both existing and previous customers to learn how to improve your service and product offerings.

» Determine who the primary and secondary vendors are in your customer’s business or industry.

» Develop strategic business alliances.

Reliable business studies have determined that it costs 5 times as much to get a new customer, than it does to keep one that you already have. This fact alone should be enough incentive to grow from within.

Step # 6: Work more effectively.

Not only does your overall organization need to work smarter, they need to work more efficiently and effectively. In conjunction with Step # 3, your people can learn how to be in “control” of both their time and their schedule. While there are only so many hours in a work day, your people can maximize both productivity and results with effective time management.

Step # 7: Evaluate the opportunities that are available to you now.

While business may be on a slower track in the short term… Don’t fail to take advantage of the time which is now available to you to improve your skill sets, prepare for busier times that will most assuredly return, and to explore new options or opportunities that may be available to you. What ever it is that you’ve wanted to do and just haven’t had the opportunity... now is the time.

If you want to maximize your future ROI... the time is ripe to invest in the future of your organization by investing in your people. Consider the following key points:

» SALES: The typical sales representative has been well versed in knowledge and training regarding the organization’s products and services. Yet, on a universal basis sales professionals have not received any formal development training with regard to the actual “BUYING / SELLING PROCESS”, “NETWORKING TECHNIQUES & PROTOCOLS” or “EFFECTIVE PROSPECTING”.

» MANAGEMENT / SUPERVISION: The vast majority of management and supervisory positions are filled as a result of promotions from within business organizations. Through hard work and dedication, “super-workers” have earned the opportunity to then be promoted to supervisor or manager.

While thoroughly indoctrinated with their company’s operational policies and procedures... these managers and supervisors have never been provided with appropriate formal management development training for the all important roles and responsibilities which they have already assumed.

» LEADERSHIP: You need only to turn on the news to know that there are multitudes of business executives and government officials who are referred to as being leaders, who clearly don’t exemplify the public perception of what a leader is, or even should be. Just because an individual has had some degree of financial success, and resultantly gained public visibility, does not qualify them as a bonafide “leader”. The simple truth is that the vast majority of those individuals which are referred to as leaders have again, never had any formal leadership development training.

Step # 8: Take a “fresh” look at your future.

Taking a hard look at the future of your organization or yourself, is far more important that you might first realize. Simply think back to 2007... was your business journey last year the same as the one you are currently experiencing this year? Are the results that you are currently getting the same result outcomes that you obtained last year?

As you and your organization move forward toward the threshold that soon awaits you in 2009, rest assured that you will be again undertaking an entirely new journey into ever changing market conditions, economic environments and technological advancements.

Neither time, nor the marketplace will afford you the luxury of remaining where you are.

So, what will you do? What actions will you take? How will you prepare? Your “future” is waiting...

Copyright © 2008 Thomas H. Swank, CBC. All Rights Reserved.

Author's Bio: 

Tom Swank is a highly respected Executive Coach and Motivational Speaker. Mr. Swank is the Founder and President of Executive Coaching International, which is known for the development of “High Performance People and Organizations”. Tom is recognized as an expert in the field of “business development and personal improvement”, as well as a contributing author, by SelfGrowth.com, the number one ranked website for personal improvement. He is also a contributing author to the number one ranked website for small business and entrepreneurs, Evan Carmichael.com. Tom’s articles are also regularly featured and highly ranked on BizSugar.com.

Contact Tom at (877) COACH-10 or by e-mail at TomSwank@ExecutiveCoachingInternational.com To receive Tom’s acclaimed “Results By Design” or “Coach’s Perspective” Newsletters which provide Ideas and Resources For Success, visit Tom at www.ExecutiveCoachingInternational.com