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The Business at the End of the Recession

November 26, 2009

Two business owners were lamenting over the poor economy. “There’s nothing you can when the customers don’t come in”, one said. “All we can do is hang on until things get better.”

They asked for my advise. I recalled a message I had read a number of years ago. It was titled “To The Kid On The End Of The Bench” and was published in the Wall Street Journal courtesy of United Technologies Corporation. It began;

“Champions once sat where you’re sitting, kid.”

This isn’t the first recession and it won’t be the last. Look around at the successful businesses that have survived the test of time. If you’re going to make it for the long run, you’ll have to be able to prosper in the good times and survive in the bad.

“The Football Hall of Fame (and every other Hall of Fame) is filled with names of people who sat, week after week, without getting a spot of mud on their well-laundered uniforms.”

You’re not the first shopkeeper to spend a day in solitary confinement. The test of greatness is not that you served the time, but rather what you did with the time.

“Generals, senators, surgeons, prize-winning novelists, professors, business executives started on the end of a bench, too.”

Twelve years ago business was slower than it is today, but interest rates had skyrocketed to over twenty percent. “Stagflation” was a new and unheard of phenomenon that almost broke everyone’s back. But those that survived prospered.

“Don’t sit and study your shoe tops. Keep your eye on the game. Watch for defensive lapses. Look for offensive opportunities.”

What can you do today to improve your business so that when good times return you’ll be prepared to take maximum advantage of the opportunity? Is your inventory in order? Are your employees properly trained? Is all the maintenance done? Do you need to visit your suppliers? Are all those things done that you never have time to do when business is good?

“If you don’t think you’re in a great spot, wait until you see how many would like to take it away from you at next spring practice.”

If you think you’re in a tough spot, listen to your friends who work for large corporations. They share all your anxieties about the future, but they have little they can do to control their own destiny. Your future is in your hands. You may not like the current detour, but would you want anyone else at the controls?

“What you do from the bench this season could put you on the field next season, as a player, or back in the grandstand as a spectator.”

The times will change, they always do. They may already have. How you utilize the slow times to better prepare yourself for the good times, will determine your staying power for all times.

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