Oh, poor, poor us. We are in such a state. Everywhere we turn, we see evidence of decline. We are subjected to a steady diet of discouragement, every waking hour. Here in the States, we are told that our economic heyday is over, that we are in a terrible mess, that our debt is currently 90% of our GDP, which is obviously unsustainable. That the world is in turmoil, and on and on and on.
If our country were a ship in a storm, we’d be running around hysterically, screaming and crying. We’d be watching things that were breaking. As we watched instead of acted, we’d be letting the problems cascade, until there were so many problems that we were overwhelmed, and nothing we could do would save us.
Any proficient sailor will tell you that the best course of action, when something fails or breaks – or conditions get really intense – is to immediately focus on the things that most need our attention, and to get them under control. This begins to shift circumstances in our favor. The “cascading disaster” situation is averted.
This is what we need to do now, with our businesses. And the first place to start is to realize that there is hope, that we will find the answer, that we can fix this.
If we helplessly watch the storm and assume we are doomed, not bothering to lift a finger, our own thoughts will have sealed our unfortunate fate.
Not on my watch. Whatever forces at work are not bigger than us. All is not lost. There are things we can do, today, that will begin the shift from “going down” to “rising up.”
Once we decide that we are not going to be beaten, that we are going to fight, what are the best next steps? In my mind, there are three:
1) First realize who we are: the Doers.
We are currently surrounded by a “chattering mob.” There is an enormous focus on commenters, reporters, and analysts, all of whom report on what is happening but don’t actually do anything about it, other than make it sound worse than it is.
Now, some of the chatterers are our own customers – I’ll get to them in a minute. I’m not talking about them right now – they are in a completely different category. I’m talking about people who comment on what others are doing – they talk about everyone else, including business leaders, customers, and politicians. It is very important to remember that:
a) These commenters are not our customers; they don’t buy from us, they don’t need what we are selling, they don’t think like our customers or even care very much about our customers – nor us, for that matter.
b) THEY are not US. I repeat: they are not us. We are the Doers, not the observers. As leaders of businesses, we don’t just watch and comment; we ACT. We make things happen. We put wheels in motion. We make “something” out of “nothing.” We don’t just point out the problems. We see problems, and then we solve them. Then we make those solutions available to people who could use those solutions. That’s what we do.
Without us, there would be no solutions. In fact, there would be no “economy.” We, and our customers, are the “economy.” We matter. As you are subjected to the unending din of the chatterers, remember that we are the important ones. But even as we have this uplifting thought, in order to be successful in business, the next step is even more important.
2) Realize who matters more than us: Our customers. We make solutions. Good for us. But if no one buys them, there is no economy. The all-important economic dance is between the sellers and the buyers; we work together. We “do,” so they can “do.”
Our goal as sellers, then, should be to do our part right – make a product that people want to buy, make it easy for them to find it, for them to realize we have what they want, and buy from us. Fortunately, we can do all this without worrying much at all about the chattering mobs – the people other than our customers.
You can, in fact, go directly to your current customers, reverse-engineer your successful sales, then create new sales in quantity (I teach how to do this in my new book, which is days away from launching). If you do this right, your current customers will tell you exactly how they searched for your solution and found it; the words and phrases they used in their search; what they liked about your solution when they found it; why they bought it instead of something else; what their experience has been since they bought it; what they like about it and what could be improved; and a lot of other priceless information that will help you make customer-pleasing decisions.
Know what pleases them, please them, and they will make you successful.
3) Be brave. Go for it. You can’t fix anything while you are wringing your hands. You can’t lead others forward if you are afraid to take the next step. Sure, it may be more difficult than usual. You will have to step out of your comfort zone. You will have to do things in a new way. You will have to work harder and be more focused than you have been (and less distracted by the chatterers).
The wind is not at our backs at the moment. We are sailing right into a strong blow, and it’s tough going. But we are the Doers. We started our companies because we believed we had an answer, we felt an obligation to help, and we knew we had something special to offer. It’s time to hold on to those thoughts, to let those thoughts dominate our minds, and to be led by them. To lead others by our example, by our strength and our calm resolve to make progress.
I’ve spent more time than usual in other countries lately, and I have to say, this is a great country. There are great people here, and we have all accomplished a great deal – especially those who run businesses.
We’ve been down before, and we have been underestimated before. We have overcome. There is more greatness to come; there are solutions; we will find them.
The best place to start is right here, right now, by deciding that there is hope. That there are things we can do, for our customers and with our customers. Working hand-in-hand with them, we can accomplish wonderful things together. We can solve problems and improve the economy at the same time.
We just have to remember who is important, who isn’t that important, buck up, and get to work.