Chances are pretty high that you’re thinking, “Are you nuts? How can someone be grateful for a downturn? Being grateful for an upturn makes sense. But for a downturn–that’s just plain ridiculous.” But it’s not.
Why? Because downturns, like every other obstacle, always demonstrate at least one thing–they always expose weakness. And for that, you and I should always be grateful.
When the economy is doing well, weaknesses get overlooked. “Why pay attention to that problem when we’re still making money.” Why? Because nothing lasts forever. Every market goes up and every market goes down. The wise among us make changes before they have to. But for the rest of us, we need downturns to force us to make the changes we need to make.
In good times, we tolerate employees who don’t perform well. We put up with marketing “campaigns” that are feeble at best. We don’t do the hard work of creating winning strategies that create competitive advantages. We live with systems and procedures that haven’t been optimized. And we put up with less than excellent work.
However, in downturns, we’re forced to confront our weaknesses. We’re forced to confront our poor marketing attempts, our growing list of receivables, our poor cash flow management, our poor employee morale, our poor leadership, our poor strategy formulation and execution, our poor customer service, our poor retention strategies, our poor referral systems, etc.
In other words, you and I need downturns to force us to do what we should have been doing all along–and for that we should be grateful.
But the best news of all is that when this market recovers (and it will), if you do the hard work now, you will be leading a better, stronger, more productive, more efficient, better led and better marketed company–and that is a good thing!
So refuse to give in to the negativity of the day. Be grateful for this downturn–and use it to make the changes you need to make. Develop a better marketing plan and tools. Become a better leader and manager. Drive productivity gains. Let go of employees you should have let go of two years ago. Rebuild your financial model. Improve your customer service. Test and revise your sales scripts to increase conversion rates. Etc.
Trust me, if you do this, there is a day coming when you’ll say, “That downturn in ’08 was one of the best things that ever happened to our company.” We all prefer comfort. But comfort rarely produces the best in us, struggle does. So embrace this downturn, use it and choose to be grateful for it.