Making lemonade from lemons: A CEO’s humbling experience navigating this uncharted economic storm

If there is one lesson I’ve learned as a business owner trying to navigate the turbulent economic waters, it is that I have to accept that there are some things I cannot control; that survival – and success – will come from setting aside the status quo and looking at our core operations with a fresh perspective.

It’s been a learning experience for me.  I’m a “Type A” personality heading up a business that has known only growth. It was a difficult pill to swallow when the realization hit that the economy was a force beyond my control. Doing everything right was no longer good enough.

I know I’m not alone in this battle. I also know I’m not the only one who takes it very personally when growth remains elusive despite attacking it with every weapon in my arsenal.

Once I accepted that, I recognized that this is the ideal opportunity to put into practice many of the suggestions made on our salesjournal.com blog over the past year. When strategies that were successful in the past are no longer working, it’s time to step back and see what changes can be made to the business that will carry us through the lean times and put us in a position of strength when the economy finally turns.

To that end, I gathered my entire company for some creative brainstorming on what directions we could take that would open new revenue streams while still remaining true to the integrity of our core mission and values.  It was an exploratory process that was undertaken in a thoughtful, collaborative and meaningful manner rather than as a knee-jerk reaction to a temporary situation.

First and foremost, we are focused on solidifying our position as trusted advisors to our existing clients. We’re reaching out to find out how we can add value to their businesses right now, even if they aren’t in buying mode. By sharing white papers, webinars, best practices and other valuable information to help them steer their own ships, we are staying in front of our customers and letting them know that we aren’t going anywhere. When they’re ready for us, we’ll be here.

We are also conducting ongoing surveys of our customers and prospects so that we can better gauge when they are once again ready to buy.  We’re making strategic use of data and trending information to help identify the “path of least resistance” in terms of investing resources into business development activities that will bear fruit sooner rather than later. Finally, we are identifying new and creative ways to maximize our strong business partnerships in mutually beneficial and cost-efficient ways.

Beyond that, we have identified multiple new business solutions that we are rolling out over the next several months. They relate directly to our core business, and will generate new revenue streams to carry us through the downturn and into the future.  Best of all, when the economic pendulum swings back to stability, we will be stronger because our company will be familiar to an entirely new audience of prospective customers.

Is mine the only business making these kinds of strategic decisions?  Certainly not. But I hope that my example will inspire those who may be close to giving up in this economy to find new paths to execute and succeed.

Take advantage of the situation to identify new strategies that can carry your business through the downturn and that will make your organization increasingly more competitive and chartered for strong growth when the market turns.

We are and I’m proud of it!