This is the final blog in a series on Doing Business in a Downturn. If you missed the previous blogs you can find them here – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4.
Is it easier to expand or contract? Our experience is that business owners find it much easier to expand. It seems to be a more natural process. But mostly it is to do with mindset – an expanding business brings with it exciting new possibilities, the fire in the belly is blazing, there is an expectation of more profit, more value, more fun, and more success.
Whereas a contraction is often viewed through the lens of fear, financial risk, loss of reputation or a feeling of being less successful.
Both contraction and expansion requires focus and a comprehensive understanding of your market and your business foundations. An integral part of building a nimble adaptable business is to have the ultimate vision for your business front of mind – as a point of reference for strategic decision making. Without clarity around your Vision your decisions are at risk of being made based on your current reality or your past experience – neither of which are valid in an environment that is constantly changing.
There is a danger that when the going gets tough you lose sight of your longer term vision. There is so much going on down there amongst the trees that you don’t have either the time or the inclination to extract yourself and to revisit your intentions for you and your business. You did not sign up for a downturn and you’re geared up for a very different level of activity than you are currently experiencing.
If things aren’t going according to your plan this is often the impetus for feelings of negativity or victimhood. The thing is a plan is not a promise. It makes no sense to:
- continue to follow a plan even though you learn something which changes everything;
- follow a plan that will not achieve the desired outcomes because the environment has changed; or
- strive for a goal which you now know is irrelevant or way too conservative.
A plan is not set in stone. A plan is created on a day based on what you knew that day, on what your environment was like that day and what you envisaged it would be like in the future. A plan cannot take into account things that you don’t know yet – and that is why a plan must be revisited and revised constantly.
Now is the time to take the time to be strategic and to understand that this period in time is just that – a period in time (albeit a challenging time) in the life cycle of your business. Now is the time to revisit the vision you have for your business and to see this period in the context of that overall vision.
Now is the perfect time to take a reconnaissance into your future. Leap 3, 6 and 9 years ahead and have a look around – who will your customers be, what will they be buying, how will they buy and why would they choose you? How might your industry be disrupted or how might you disrupt it? In 3, 6, and 9 years’ time what must your business look like in order to serve the plans you have for your life? Will your business enable your WHY, and accommodate your purpose.
This process of looking forward takes your focus off the challenges of the now and reconnects you with why you chose this business. It re-ignites the passion for purpose. It is often the passion that goes missing when the going gets tough.
Are you excited about the future possibilities? Will this business journey into the future fulfil your aspirations for you? When you are sitting in your rocking chair looking back at your life, will you be proud of this business, of your role in it and the difference it will make? How might you prepare your business for the vision you have for it?
Keep in mind – people starting up a business in a downturn don’t see it as a downturn – they have no comparison. How it is today is their only experience and they will design and structure their business for that environment. They will prepare their business for the future vision they have for it.
Having the past as a benchmark for business success will do you in. Set your intentions for you and your business for the future and put your attention on the now with an aspiration to cause your future to turn up.
When you reconnect with your Vision, when you take this reconnaissance into the future don’t make the mistake of doing it on your own. Engage someone who will ask the right questions, who will challenge and stretch you and who won’t let you get bogged down in detail. Your vision for you and your business will be a reflection of what you know you know. Expand your potential by leveraging off the mental and relationship of others. Read more about Why You Should Engage an External Facilitator.