You really don’t need me to tell you that we’re living in challenging, uncertain times. These are difficult times for individuals and for businesses. It doesn’t help that we’re all bombarded with negative messages about business, the economy, and the government. Paying too much attention to those things can breed uncertainty. And that uncertainty has frozen some businesses in their tracks.
While it’s always prudent to carefully consider appropriate “next steps” (and I’m a huge proponent of regular, thoughtful business planning), some businesses get hung up trying to analyze all the events and trends going on around them. They develop a severe case of “analysis paralysis.” They spend so much time and effort trying to evaluate the situation that they end up doing nothing (or settle for the status quo).
In my opinion, the way they look at things is a big part of the problem. Some businesses view challenges, obstacles, issues, or difficulties exclusively from a “past” point of view (“This is what happened the last time we faced this situation.”). Unfortunately, when they do that, they’re letting their past dictate their future.
Instead of focusing on the negative impact of current conditions (and what happened “last time”), businesses need to look for opportunities presented by the current conditions. They need to look for ways to learn, to grow, and to change. What can your business do now that no other business is doing because of the current conditions?
Too many businesses waste time worrying about things that are out of their control. Focus on the things you can control. You can’t fix overall consumer confidence. But you can improve your customers’ confidence in you!
One of the ways you can do that is to be very intentional about listening to your customers and communicating clearly with them. And this kind of listening isn’t passive. You need to be sure you understand what they really want and need—not just what you think they need.
When other businesses are reacting to current conditions, you can be proactive. Instead of waiting to see what will happen, you can make things happen. People want to do business with companies that make their own success!