Why This Could Be the Best of Times
by Jeff Piersall
“Adversity is needed in order to become successful.” – Zig Ziglar
The rules are changing, but the game is still the same, and the principles of success never change.
Most of the business community has been at a stalemate, concerned about the government and what they will or will not do. When an owner, CEO or manager does not know the rules, they stop making decisions and go into the proverbial “holding pattern.”
Art Williams, the inspirational leader, insurance executive and founder of A.L. Williams & Associates, used to say that you could beat 50 percent of the population with honesty and another 40 percent with hard work – but it’s the remaining 10 percent that’s the dogfight, where your character, choices and strategies make a difference. Well, that equation does not apply today as 50 percent of the population does not even show up to participate! The Williams formula still works, but unfortunately it only applies to half of the population.
So what does that mean to the entrepreneur? You now have less competition. Just like the football coach who must make halftime adjustments, you too must make some adjustments to your game plan and then go execute them with your team.
If there was ever a time to have clarity and focus on your goals and objectives, it is right now. Simplify, create clarity, and make the main thing the main thing every day. A business will move through four quadrants of growth: Formation – Storm – Norm – Perform. Most companies are either in the Storm (chaos is the standard operating mode) or they are in the Norm quadrant where operations and processes dictate the day-to-day company function. When the rules start to change, these companies either accelerate the Storm, or companies in the Norm stage will become complacent or desperate and slip back into the Storm.
When the ship at sea is caught in a storm, everyone looks to the captain; if he falters so does the crew. But if he provides clear and accurate guidance with positive and direct leadership, the ship will come through the storm. Leadership is needed in times of adversity – anyone can appear to be a leader in good times or if standards have been abandoned.
The Great Opportunity Ahead
Bill Potter, Vice Chairman of the Melbourne Airport Authority, made an observation in his recent acceptance speech for SpaceCoast Business magazine’s 2012 Business Leader of the Year in Transportation: “In 1973, unemployment in Brevard County exceeded 19 percent; the airport went to work to become one of the greatest economic engines for our community and is now recognized internationally as a hub for Aerospace/Aviation.”
In October 2005, the start of our most recent recession, companies were fat, having experienced an unprecedented growth cycle from 2001 to 2005; individuals were delusional with their spending habits, and personal saving was a negative half (-0.5) percent nationally. We came out of that economic recession in 2009 but due to lingering effects in certain industries and because the exit was not at the speed or pace of the 2001-2005 growth cycle, most people never recognized the trend. Nevertheless, our nation’s GDP was at an all-time historical high.
As the probability of another recessionary period approaches in the 1st quarter of 2013 (Christmas spending being up is another confirmation of the looming recession), companies are lean and profitable and the individual savings rate exceeds 5 percent. The housing bubble created the 2005 recession; this recession, however, is government induced with over-spending and a lack of direction.
Shrinking Back Is Not a Growth Strategy
What have we learned about recessions? Companies that do not have great clarity on where they are going will really struggle. We have so many examples of companies – Christopher Burton Homes, Brevard Eye Center, Melbourne International Airport, to name a few – that re-tooled and ramped up their marketing during that recessionary period to gain greater market share today.
It is the same lesson repeated from the 50’s recession when Babo Cleaner, then #1 in market share, pulled back while a new start-up (in the Storm stage) had a clear focus and used marketing to take over the #1 position. That product was Comet.
2013 is all about CLARITY, FOCUS and MARKETING. On November 29, we lost one of the greatest inspirational leaders of the last forty years, Zig Ziglar. I started this article with one of his quotes, and I will end it with one of my all-time favorites. Put it on your wall for 2013:
“I am so optimistic that I would go after Moby Dick in a rowboat and take the tartar sauce with me.” – Zig Ziglar
Jeff Piersall is the co-founder and CEO of SCB Marketing. Contact him at (321) 537-4941 or email@example.com