I have learned a great deal since leaving corporate America and joining the ranks of the self-employed in 2008.   For one thing, I was surprised to discover that tough economic times are the best period in which to grow your business.

Consider what a tough business environment does for your mindset.  Every time you turn on the television or read the newspaper, you are reminded that things are bad… real bad.   As a result you might believe that your entire prospect market has slashed their budgets to nothing… and yes, this may well be true for a great number of them but not all of them.  The key is which part of this equation will you focus on?  Will you focus on those who are not spending and act accordingly… keeping your costs low and doing as little as possible in an effort to hang on and ride the storm out?

Or, will you choose to focus on the more precious few, who will still be spending? Will you stiffen your spine and move out into the marketplace like a warrior whose back is against the wall?  Will you adopt the perspective that your best prospects are still out there and go about the hard work of finding them?

It matters not whether yours is a large company or small one… the distinction between these two mindsets will make a world of difference in your results.

Now consider what a tough economy does for your competitor’s mindset.  Actually, the same thinking goes on between your competitors’ ears.  They are either choosing to buy into the bad economy or they aren’t.  Statistics and human nature are on your side in this regard.  Most people will believe what they hear (especially when they hear it multiple times, consistently over a period of time) as unquestionably true.  Most of your competitors will focus on the large number of businesses who have slowed their business to a near stand still and are just hanging on by their finger nails for brighter days. Some of them will step up their game as you do… but rest assured that most of them will not.  Most of them will believe every bit of bad economic news and act accordingly by battening down the hatches.  This is unfortunate for them but good news for you.

Most people, and therefore businesses, tend to adjust their strategies as a reaction to their changing environment… similar in a lot of ways to those investors who try to time the stock market… buying low and selling high…  What a wild financial and emotional roller coaster they ride! It’s very tough to time the stock market (and the economy) because you can’t control it.  A much better alternative is to remain calm and consistent.  Don’t pull back.  The best decision is to invest even more during a poor economy, as counter-intuitive as that might seem.

Time and math are on the side of the person (and company) who invests with the long view in mind… consistently investing in every market… building one investment on the back of another …and growing over time.  The same is true of business growth.  Rather than throwing all resources at the market in good times and pulling it all out again in rough times… it’s smarter to consistently invest all the time, save for a rainy day during good times and so you can step up your efforts during tough times.  Another point to remember is that not all prospects/customers are equal.  The strongest players in any market are the ones who have the resources to keep doing business and playing the game in any circumstance.  Although harder to find them during tough times based on numbers alone, the ones you do find are the good ones.  There is no easier time to find customers with a strong foundation and deeper pockets than in a weak economy.  They tend to stand out because they are still active.

The opportunity to step up while everyone else seems to be stepping back makes stormy economic weather a perfect time to grow your business and the ideal opportunity to identify the best prospects, which are the ones you really want.

 Blog Post by Diane Roodvoets, Workforce Engagement Consultant

Owner, Glessner Rewards   www.glessnerrewards.com

Owner, Glessner Promo   www.glessnerpromo.com