The 3 P's of Coping When Business Sucks

Well, that was interesting! 

I’m kidding, sort of.  In fact, it was downright depressing.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1,500 at the low point of trading yesterday.  It finished down 1,175 points, or a 4.6% correction, making this its biggest one-day point drop ever.

The other indexes didn’t do so hot either.  The S&P 500 dropped 113 points, and hadn’t seen this kind of pullback in 20 years.

The reason for this incredible panic:  Fear.  This is boiled down of course, but investors are fearful that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates.

I was working on Wall Street during the 2007 housing crisis.  I watched markets tumble, and the economy slip into a massive recession.  I was shocked then. When the market tanked yesterday, I felt like it was déjà vu all over again. 

Yesterday, the Market sold off…big time.  Investors, unless they were betting on a massive correction, lost some money, albeit on paper. 

 
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I’m sure you know what it’s like to win.  It’s an incredible feeling when you are doing what you love, business is flowing well, and you are making money hand over fist.

But, at some point, a correction will come.  No, there’s nothing you did or will have done wrong.  The market will always tell you what its thinking.  The point will come when you’ll experience a dry spell.  Maybe you’ll serve a few clients here and there, but the steady stream you once had won’t be there. 

 

So, what do you do?  Do you panic?  Sell the business? Give it all up and join a Convent?

Of course not. You wouldn’t be doing this unless you loved it, were passionate about it, and felt the desire to kill it in your market.

This situation is cyclical.  It happens.  We have seen these kinds of corrections before, and each time, we end up bouncing back, a little stronger, and a little wiser for the future.

No one likes the idea of hunkering down and waiting for the market to come back.  What’s worse is that there’s no clear way of determining if the downturn is effecting the entire economy or if it’s particular to your profession, or more narrowly, your business. 

Navigating these rough waters can be challenging but there are a few ways to keep yourself afloat.

Passion

The first thing to remember in these situations is that you need to keep your fire and passion.  This is the moment you find out if you’re in it just for the money or for the love of the game.  If you only care about the money, your fire will eventually burn out.  And when it comes time to reinvent yourself, you’ll come up empty.  Plus, your clients will see how little you care. It will be evident to them. 

Remember, all it takes is one bad review to go social and your client base is history.

Persistence

Secondly, don’t give up.  Whether you know it or not, everyone has been in this position before.  Some still experience it.  You need to know that this is not an uncommon phenomenon.  In its cyclical nature, market forces will swing momentum back your way. However, like investing, you need to be strategic in how you approach the markets.  This means learning about market habits, ebbs and flows, and figuring out your place in that market. Then, make some adjustments. Don’t just continue business as usual.  Seize the opportunity to up the ante and give yourself better footing for when the market does bounce back. In other words, create more value! Give your clients information, content, and/or better service. Find a way to engrain yourself and your business in the lives of your clients.  As Gary Vaynerchuk says “put in the work!”

Personal Brand

The biggest factor in pushing yourself through tumultuous times is your personal brand.

According to BrandYourself.com Personal Branding refers to “establishing and promoting what you stand for. Your personal brand is the unique combination of skills and experiences that make you, you. Effective personal branding will differentiate you from other professionals in your field.”

When the market is attracted to you, what you stand for, your experience, your talent and knowledge, the positivity and personality you offer, they will be attracted to doing business with you.

People are trusted more than corporations, and with the overabundance of advertising across digital mediums as well as traditional platforms, audiences believe that corporations have only one thing on their minds: sales. 

Your personal brand gives you a way to build your reputation, connections and establish trust.

Focusing on your passion, persistence and personal brand will not only benefit you during the hard times, but will serve you well through the good times as well.

I have found solace in the fact that sometimes there are outside factors working against my efforts. Sooner or later, my persistence (or stubbornness) and drive will outlive those negative forces and I will be back on track.

Are you well equipped for when business is slow?  What have you done to prepare?