Tag Archive for 'positive attitude'

The 2009 Small Business survival attitude

We’re currently in a very challenging economic period. I use the word “challenging” rather than the technical term, “recession,” because the impact of our economic condition is different for each business. Some are really hurting, while some are doing okay. But every small business owner is justified in being concerned about the next 12 months.

As we anticipate the next “shoe” to drop – like one or two of the Big 3 auto makers going bankrupt – businesses and consumers are girding their loins in anticipation of a tough year. And that kind of fear is what causes a recession to last longer than it should.

A small business owner’s entrepreneurial traits – pathological optimism, Pollyanna playing the “glad game,” glass half-full, etc. – are especially challenged right now. Indeed, it’s in our DNA to claim Admiral Farragut’s battle cry, “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.” And we get frustrated when something like a recession gets in our way because entrepreneurs have the “take no prisoners” attitude.

But there is another attitude that we acquire as we make entries into our small business captain’s logbook: Discretion is the better part of valor. Right now, and for the rest of 2009, discretion is definitely the high-percentage play.

Surveying the economic landscape in front of us and trying to imagine what the near-term future will hold, hard work and stick-to-it-iveness will be as critical to small business survival this year as in any other. But we should also find a survival attitude we can default to, especially in the most difficult hours.

The unit of hours is used here because, while large business CEOs may wonder if they will survive the year, small business owners often wonder if they will survive to the next hour.

So, to help you through those hours – which this small business owner has known well – consider my 2009 Small Business Survival Attitude, “This year, I’m going to win by surviving.”

You get to define success for your organization. But there is no shame for any small business to consider 2009 a good year if it is open for business on January 1, 2010. If you do better than that, well done.

If you feel you must take a big risk in 2009, apply the carpenter’s rule of cutting: Measure twice, cut once. Make sure your capital picture can support a mistake and/or surprise. Remember that there is a very fine line separating opportunity at the leading edge and the cash-eating effects of the bleeding edge.

Frankly, when we look back on 2009, it’s likely we’ll determine that it wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be. But no small business will fail this year by applying discretion as the better part of valor.

In 2009, there is no shame in winning by surviving.

Recently, I talked about this on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, if you would like to listen to my thoughts on this topic. And of course, be sure to leave a comment.

2009 is the year for small business “Positive Reality”

Well, it’s over. You know – that other year that will live in infamy – 2008.

It’s true that, technically speaking, 2008 is over. But alas, as we enter the New Year trying to muster up the primordial feelings of hope humans are known for when contemplating a fresh start, 2008 won’t go quietly into that good night. Indeed, we’ve only just begun to pay for all of the chickens that came home to roost last year.

If you know anything about me, you know what a pathological optimist I am. And while I’m convinced that the sun will come up tomorrow, metaphorically speaking, the facts on the ground demand a realistic assessment of what our marketplace and our businesses are up against in the next 12 months.

The term I’ve coined for this perspective is “Positive Reality.” I’m just as positive as ever about our possibilities for the future, while simultaneously recognizing the reality of the challenges we face in the near-term.

The opposite of Positive Reality is another term I’ve coined lately, “Negative Hysteria.” That’s what happens when we get caught up in the mainstream media’s one-trick-act of “Breaking News! We’re doomed!”

Negative hysteria is often produced by a new term I learned in 2008, availability cascade. Availability cascade is what happens when we hear something in the media so much that we begin to believe it to be true, even if it isn’t, and consequently begin taking actions based on that perceived truth. Sound familiar?

This New Year’s Day, on my small business radio program, with as much positive reality as I could muster, I kicked off 2009 with a segment about the task ahead of us. Take a few minutes to listen, and let me know if you think my 2009 perspective is too hot, too cold or just right.

The 2009 Small Business Attitude

Most people who know me will tell you that I exhibit the classic traits of an entrepreneur: pathological optimist, Pollyanna playing the “glad game,” glass half-full, take no prisoners, etc., etc. Perhaps I was born with all of that; but there is something else that I have acquired in my decades in the marketplace, many of them managing a small business, just like yours: Discretion is the better part of valor.

We’re currently in a very challenging economic period. I use the word “challenging” rather than the technical term, “recession,” because the impact of our economic condition is different for each small business. Some are really hurting, and some are doing okay. But every small business owner is justified in being concerned about the next 12 months.

So, it’s my nature to say, “Damn the torpedoes – full speed ahead.” But that’s not the attitude I’m encouraging right now. My advice is to assume what I call “The 2009 Small Business Attitude,” which is when you look in the mirror every morning, stand up straight and say to yourself, “I’m going to win by surviving.”

I’ll let you define what surviving means for your organization. But I believe that those small businesses that are still in business on January 1, 2010, can say they had a good year. If you can do better than that, congratulations.

Frankly, when we look back on 2009, I think we will determine that it wasn’t as bad as we thought it would be. But right now, as we anticipate the next “shoe” to drop – like one or two of the Big 3 auto makers going bankrupt – many organizations, large and small, as well as most consumers, are girding their loins in preparation for a tough year. And that kind of fear in the marketplace is what causes a recession to last a little longer than it should.

If you feel like taking a big risk in 2009, remember that there is a very fine line that separates the opportunity at the leading edge and the cash-eating effects of the bleeding edge. Make sure your capital picture can support a mistake or a surprise.

Recently, on my small business radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked about some of the operating fundamentals that we must focus on in order to accomplish The Small Business Attitude. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen and leave a comment. I’ll see you on the radio and on the Internet.




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