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Learning To Lead In A Down Economy

The last two years have been difficult for many business owners. And with many economists predicting another recession in the near future, it appears that the economic climate may remain challenging for the foreseeable future.

And while the most obvious impact of the recession on most businesses is a decline in revenue and profit, the ramifications go beyond financial concerns.

If your business has been adversely impacted by the sluggish economy, you know exactly what I mean—feelings of pessimism, helplessness, and even depression can set in. And unfortunately, the negativity can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  

You don’t have to go down that road, no matter what the state of your business may be. Below are three tips to keep you positive, focused, and effective despite adversity:

1) Recognize that setbacks and failure are a part of life and a part of business.  As Tom Krause put it, "There are no failures—just experiences and your reactions to them." If you can accept and digest this truth, you will view failure in an entirely different light. This recession is testing you and forcing you to adapt. You may have to work harder than ever to attract new clients, and you’ll probably have to work hard to retain your current clients as well. Instead of giving up when things take a turn for the worst, work until you develop a solution. When the economy does pick up, you’ll be in prime position to capitalize. 

2) Stay optimistic—even if you don’t feel optimistic.  As a manager, you set the tone for your team. If you’re despondent and defeated, they are going to follow your lead. If you’re having a particularly rough day, take some time to pull yourself together before interacting with your staff. Negativity and pessimism are toxic in the workplace—keep them out of your office!

3) Know your numbers. In many cases, it’s uncertainty that causes stress and negativity.  When times are tough, it’s more important than ever that you are on top of your numbers. Know what your expenses are each month, how much revenue is coming in, what type of ROI you are receiving on your marketing efforts, etc. Operating with a precise understanding of your current situation removes stress and uncertainty from the picture, and it allows you to sensibly adjust course moving forwards. 

Times are tough for many businesses at the moment, so if you‘re struggling, you aren’t alone. However, if you are going to lead your team and your organization back to prosperity, it’s important that you don’t succumb to a mindset of negativity. Remember, it’s not whether or not you get knocked down—it’s how quickly you bounce back that matters. 

[Image: Flickr user Infusionsoft]