Be proactive in a down economy

    Companies are announcing layoffs and even plant closings.  Wall Street continues to look increasingly bearish. Oil prices are outrageously high, affecting nearly everything from the price at the pump to the prices at the grocery store. The economy stinks and no end appears in sight.

    What does it all mean? Well, for one thing, it means it’s time to get timid, right? Time to back away from doing anything significant in a business sense. Time to back off.

    No, quite the contrary.

    One of the great flaws in American business is the inclination to run and hide, to circle the wagons when things get bad. I submit that if we want things to change for the better, we need to make it happen ourselves. Now is not the time to run and hide … it’s the time to be aggressive, assertive, and bold.

    Those who will lead the way out of this economic mess are those with the courage and innovative thinking to act "outside the box." And though some might say that sounds like a recipe for failure, I say that nobody ever succeeded by being afraid of their own business.

    Business and marketing plans for this time need to be adjusted by asking, "How will we succeed, and even grow, while facing these current market forces?" It’s not a matter of how to avoid failure. It’s a matter of how to succeed.

    You must look at your company’s products and services. Do they fit in this economy? If not, how can they be adjusted to take advantage of opportunities, rather than fail in the face of challenge?

    Now is not the time to automatically cut back on marketing, advertising, and public relations. If anything, these are vitally important business tools that may need to be given a freer hand to operate boldly. They need to be clearly thought-out, linked together, and aggressively pursued.

    One need only look back to the example of Lee Iacocca and Chrysler’s "K" cars that were introduced in the 1980s in response to a market devastated by high gas prices, increasing production costs and the consumers’ need for smaller, more efficient vehicles. That was bold thinking. That was aggressive pursuit of an opportunity during a very down market. That was success, because even though the cars looked like little boxes, you saw them everywhere. Chrysler could use some of that kind of thinking now, in fact.

    Bold, aggressive action is born of a solid assessment of your own strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats. Of course, you’ve done that before, but have you done it in the current economic mess we face?

    You may have produced "Product X" for 50 years, but if it isn’t selling now, it’s time to discover if you can produce a "Product Y" that will.

    Merely sitting back and waiting for things to get better will only prolong the problem.  Speaking for myself, I’d rather go down swinging than go out with a whimper because I was afraid to stand up and kick the market forces in the tail with new products, new services, and a renewed commitment to customer service.

    America is a great nation. American business is the backbone of who we are and what we stand for. Now it’s up to America’s business to lead us in this time of economic woe.

    Steve Gardner is the director of marketing for the Sleep Wellness Institute in West Allis.

    Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

    Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

    No posts to display