I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the economy but I’m not asking myself the question ‘has it hit bottom?’ Instead, I’m asking myself ‘what do I need to do to succeed in this economy’?
Turning the question around opens up a world of opportunity. It takes away the assumption that I will be a victim of the economy and forces me to look at ways that I can take charge of my own success.
Listening to the news shows of all of the bankruptcies and lowered stock prices, it seems impossible for a business to be thriving in this economy, but many well known and successful businesses were started during a recession. Burger King, Hyatt, Fedex, MTV, Trader Joe’s and CNN are all examples.
One of the world’s most successful companies was started in 1975 and brings in more than $60B in revenue per year. A little company called Microsoft. You may have heard of them. While we’re in the midst of this current downturn, companies like State Farm Insurance, ITT Corp, Banfield and Sutter Health are expanding and hiring additional staff.
These companies succeed in the midst of economic downturns because they see a need or an unresolved problem, and they come up with an idea to fix it. Problems don’t go away during hard times. I would argue that they increase and that new problems occur due to the changing conditions. Our challenge whether we work in a corporate environment or as business owners is to identify the problems that our customers and organizations have and use our skills, talents, products and services to solve those problems. Here’s how to start:
• If you’ve been laid off, and are currently looking for a job, study the trends in your industry. And ask yourself the following questions:
• How has it changed in the last year?
• What problems are they working on?
• What skills do you have that will uniquely position you to help a company address those problems?
• Do you need to acquire new skills to be competitive in today’s environment? (This may be as simple as taking a short course at your local community college in order to get current.)
• Does your resume reflect and highlight the skills you have that will attract job offers?
• If you’re a business owner, what new problems do your clients have as a result of the economy? Zipcar is a great example of solving a ‘new’ problem. The company has been around since 1999 but has really taken off now that more and more people are looking for an alternative to buying or leasing a vehicle. Zipcar has a very simple business model of allowing their clients to pay a flat hourly rate to rent a car for short periods of time. You register for the service and get a zipcard which unlocks thousands of cars across the country with gas and insurance included in the rate.