When the Going Gets Tough…

Small Business

Creativity helps businesses thrive in trying times

By Michael W. OReilly

One thing that’s become clear to me over the past several months is that the businesses succeeding through these tough times are those that are placing less emphasis on cost-cutting and focusing more on increasing revenue and sales, as well as building and retaining their customer base. Those companies have developed creative ways to keep business coming in:

  • A pool builder has expanded his work to pool maintenance and landscaping services.
  • Residential builders reinvented themselves to perform home improvements and renovations when new construction stopped.
  • Some banks and credit unions are working with borrowers to adjust credit terms to help them through a rough period. (Imagine how loyal those customers will be when the economy picks up.)

So it seems that business is being done, even though it sometimes sounds like the economy has come to a screeching halt. In a recent discussion I had with several CEOs, three of them reported that 2012 will be a record year for their firms, and two of those are in industries hit very hard by the recession. The question is, what does a company need to do or do differently to get or keep the business that’s being done?

“_the Tough Get Creative

Creativity is a common thread connecting those who are succeeding. Being creative may not always mean a radical departure from the norm, but successful businesses are doing something different: expanding services, refocusing capabilities on a different service, finding new applications for what they sell, or just plain kicking into a higher gear.

Quality of service and execution are also critical, and like creativity, they are within your power as a business owner or manager to control.

Finally, whether a company succeeds or fails during tough times depends in large part on sound leadership and communication within the firm. For example, do you:

  • Create an environment in which creativity flourishes?
  • Effectively communicate vision, direction, priorities, and goals?
  • Supply the positive thinking to find solutions to what appear to be insurmountable obstacles?
  • Direct the focus toward increasing revenue?
  • Spur employees on rather than rein them in?
  • Communicate urgency rather than despair?

All of those things are in our control, even if the economy, financial markets, and credit availability are not. And they are all essential for success in any times but especially trying times like these.

Michael O’Reilly is a regional director at Paradigm Associates in Westport. Contact him at moreilly@paradigmassociates.us.

Learn more from Michael O’Reilly at CBIA’s Dec. 11 program, “Become Your Company’s Best Salesperson,” from 8 to 10 am at CBIA in Hartford. You’ll hear about:

  • A six-step process that leads a prospect to a decision to buy
  • Surefire strategies that lead to more positive buying decisions
  • Proven sales strategies to stay focused on growing your referral opportunities
  • Finding the right sales opportunities to build your pipeline.

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