In 2009, you will face a whole new business climate. Economic uncertainty, a lack of credit, and a lot of pre-emptive fears will shift how companies treat their employees and vendors in ways that don’t exactly favor the little guy (often times: you). This isn’t a post about social media. It’s a post about what you might be able to do in this climate, and some of it involves social media tools.
Effective immediately, become the owner of your store. This is very much the same advice Tom Peters gave a decade or more ago when he told us all to become the CEO of our career. The reason I want you to think store and store owner is because it’s a little more accurate to the climate, even if you’re within a huge corporation.
Store owners think in fairly simple terms. Is there enough money coming in? No? What can I do to get more? Am I spending too much money? How can I cut back? Stores run with a simple balance sheet mentality that helps you understand quite quickly the very basics of the business.
You can apply this to how you think about your own career, and/or to your offerings. If you’re not thinking about what you do as offerings, that might be a good first step. You might just be “an” employee, but you could envision yourself as a store owner in a larger marketplace, and that would probably help you better prepare for 2009.
How a Store Owner Thinks
Sam Walton came back from the war and bought a Ben Franklin store in Newport, Arkansas. He ran it better than a lot of other Ben Franklin owners. Here’s an example: one day, a guy came into the store saying he had an entire truckload of ladies nylons that he couldn’t return to the manufacturer, and the destination store couldn’t take them either.
Sam bought them in a heartbeat. He knew that he could sell them super cheap and get people into his store, where they’d buy other products. It worked. He started selling more than any other Ben Franklin in the area.
The story goes that franchise management for Ben Franklin didn’t like this, that they told Sam to stop it, and that Sam decided to go it his own way. He picked up a new store and called it Walton’s Five and Dime. Not too much further down the road, Sam started Wal-Mart.
What Sam did wasn’t amazing, wasn’t huge, wasn’t a genius play unto itself. He simply figured out what customers want and he gave it to them. His view: give them the best possible value for the lowest possible price. Don’t be cheap for cheap’s sake. Find the middle. He was a store owner that came up with a solution.
How Store Owners View Downturns
In this economic downturn, a store owner will do a few things. She will strengthen her existing relationships with customers. She will strengthen her relationships with suppliers, and perhaps work to understand which of her suppliers are having a tough time (so that she can find alternatives or maybe even help out). Store owners will look for new customers to handle the potential attrition a bad time might bring, so that customer numbers stay somewhat solid.
Can you see how this extends into your own business? If you’re an employee, have you started thinking about your suppliers (your company) and looked into how alternative relationships might form? Are you seeking out new ways to be useful during this time? Have you thought about which of your products might be more useful to others in the coming economic climate?
Now is the time to treat your career and/or your business as if you’re a simple store owner. Look for ways to strengthen your relationships with customers. Look for ways to manage your suppliers (employers). Look for the ways you will need to earn more, cut more, and balance your financial needs.
Does this make sense to you? How do you apply this analogy to you?
Photo credit, striatic