Whatever your business, slow markets or a sluggish economy can make things tough.
It’s natural to respond in fear and shift into self-preservation when that happens.
And it’s the worst thing you can do.
For one thing, it reveals that deep down inside, you believe you can’t make it. Which is a problem, and probably means you’re self-sabotaging in other ways to.
It is also really bad for business.
People operating in a fearful state of self-preservation often cut marketing dollars and put a stop on any investment in their own education.
Flipping on the autopilot and just trying to hang in there is a weak strategy for any business.
Even when money’s tight or when things aren’t selling as quickly as you’d like, it’s still important to invest in your business, your marketing, and yourself.
In fact, during market lulls may be the most important time to do that!
While everyone else is hiding under their desk, hoping the same old strategies will keep them safe, you will be perfecting your skills and understanding of the very things that distinguish your business from the rest.
You’ll lay down a power card while everyone else is lying down.
You’ll pay handsomely with time and money to learn new skills. As you apply what you’ve learned, you’ll surprise your colleagues.
Here’s another point.
Keeping up with the latest trends is critical to your business, no matter what the market is doing.
Even now, where and how people shop for homes is changing. It’s critical to be aware of it, and then know what to do about it. As a real estate agent, I need to know where people are shopping, and how to get in front of them.
When times are tough, don’t hunker down and hope for the best.
Work to understand the trends in your industry. It will require an investment of hundreds of hours of reading and listening to podcasts and attending seminars and workshops. It will also take time to practice using the related new software, platforms, and technologies you’re bound to discover.
Then get out there and be surprisingly generous.
I’ll bet you’re still wondering how this helps one to win clients.
Here’s the thing.
With your keen understanding of the market and trends, (and after some practice and troubleshooting) you’ll know where the clients are and how to get in front of them. Once you’re in front of them, your reputation as a knowledgeable and generous professional will attract people.
I know because it’s how I am attracted to businesses and leaders and authors and speakers.
I also know because as I’ve been generous and applied what I’ve learned, colleagues, competitors, and even clients notice. And they seek me out to ask questions.
Strangers will walk up to me and say “Hey! You’re Tina! I read your blog.” Or they’ll hire me because they found me easily exactly where they were looking. (You know where that is, right?)
What about you?
How do you weather slow times in your business or industry?
(Picture from my flower garden)
This week I’m celebrating my one-year anniversary! It’s been one glorious year since I had my first scheduled day off. That might sound weird to some people, but self-employed people know how difficult it can be to not work when people expect you to.
It’s been an adjustment, but I don’t plan to go back! I went from doing it all on my own to joining a team of professionals, to customizing my own team with Eniko as my right hand woman.
It’s sometimes a challenge to share work with a team mate when I’m perfectly capable of doing it. I’ve done it on my own for so long, I’m used to just doing… everything! But it’s getting easier to share the load – and what a brilliant invention team work is! We can each operate in our strengths, and get help with the things we’re terrible at, or just hate doing.
Probably the biggest adjustment has been letting go of the pride of being busy. We tend to wear busyness like a badge of honor. As an eager, goal-oriented person, it’s tough for me to sit still sometimes.
It helped to read a blog lately, where Tyler Ward said, “Busy isn’t respectable anymore”. I was challenged by that, but also relieved. Being overly busy is not the accolade it once was – now it’s seen more as an inability to manage time, or a self-control issue. (are you squirming? I was!)
So I’ve been intentionally working toward a lifestyle of less busy.
I don’t respond like a paramedic anymore, just because someone calls. Sometimes I’m at a wedding or a funeral, and that’s okay.
Working with a partner frees me to take a day off, so I use it to garden, go to the beach, do housework(groan), or whatever I feel like. I try very hard not to use it for working!
I also make a point to put everything aside when hubby gets home, so I can give him my undivided attention for a while. It’s my way of loving and honoring him, and it doesn’t cost anything. Just setting myself aside for an hour? I can do that.
As I practice these, I find my stress level has dropped considerably. I also find it easier to be in the moment, enjoying wherever I am, even if it’s an open house in the middle of a thunderstorm.
I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store! …How do you avoid the busy badge?
This week at the bank, I stood in line just like people in bank lines apparently should – facing forward, avoiding eye contact, and trying not to feel like herded cattle. As we all stood there, slowly shuffling forward, the woman next to me turned and we realized we knew each other. We started chatting and it didn’t take long before the conversation turned to something I’d said online. (Online presence comes up a lot!)
She had read about how Eniko had recently partnered up with me. Apparently she’d been reading my blog for a while because she smiled and said, “So you made another change.” Then, with a smirk and head shake, she added, “Man, you’re just not scared of anything.”
Oddly, I felt a sudden need to defend myself. What? Of course I’m scared of stuff. I WAS scared to include Eniko – oh wait. No. Actually I wasn’t. If anything, I was afraid not to.
That evening at home I came across a Facebook personality quiz. I love personality profiles, so I took the quiz. The result made me laugh. It revealed what I already knew- that the reasons I’m perceived as fearless are my strengths – innovation, team work, and staying ahead of the curve for example. It also pointed out my weaknesses accurately.
The cool part was seeing how Eniko’s and my strengths and weaknesses compliment each other perfectly. It was a shot of affirmation that made my week. What a perfect pairing!
I do enjoy change. It’s part of who I am. Lucky for me, it’s vital to success in business. A business can’t grow without change. How would that work? I mean, growth IS change.
So here’s to growth (and, consequently, change) – personal growth, spiritual growth, and business growth.
What changes are you expecting this year? Are you excited, or nervous about them?
Things change, and fast. Just eight short years ago, iphones didn’t exist. (Who can remember such a world?) Google changed its algorithms again, and will continue to tweak it until the end of time. The Winnipeg Real Estate Brokers’ Act is poised for change too, that will impact the entire industry. One thing that doesn’t seem to change though, is the resistance to change. We like comfort, and change is uncomfortable.
Whether the change affects marital status, the national economy, or the price of fuel, there are ways to handle it like a pro. I find many changes thrilling, and enjoy being at the forefront of business change, but like anyone else, there are some I resist. These three methods have helped me cope with such changes.
Find the Good In It
Everyone wants to be that cheery person others enjoy being around. To have a positive outlook and attitude of thanks is exactly what makes that happen. Every change has some redeeming quality. A trembling national economy draws people together, and compels ingenuity. High fuel prices encourage thrifty driving and make us thankful for lower prices when they return. There is always something to be glad for – so be glad for it. It’s a refreshing experience to hear positive, encouraging words.
It’s tiring to walk through a day and hear only whining – and about such mundane things as rain! Yes, it’s raining. Yes. This is what it takes for plants to grow. Yes, this happens every year. Get over it. When there is nothing nice to say, there is one sure-fire cure for complaining: shut up. Try it – even silence can brighten someone’s day! No one wants a reputation as a complainer (or the pinched face that eventually befalls complainers). This one’s a quick and easy fix.
Give Up Control – You Never Had It Anyway
This is the part where we humble our little North American selves and admit we do not control global oil prices, or the way our siblings or children or parents behave. This is where we admit to ourselves that God knows better than even we do, whether it’s how much rain should be allowed, how big earthquakes should be, or how much money people should be able to earn. We can’t control it, and never will, so why hold on to it? It’s a waste of time and energy to try climbing onto His throne. Let it go. Peace follows, I promise.
Change doesn’t change – get used to it.
Change is always around the next corner. So why let it catch you by surprise? Expect it. Watch for it, and you’ll have the excitement of discovering it instead of dread.
What change are you weathering these days? Which of these do you think will help most?