May 7, 2008

While media pundits may argue over specific terminology and severity, one thing is certain: the United States is in the middle of an economic slowdown.

Generally speaking, businesses take one of two positions during this sort of marketplace uncertainty. The most common course is to batten down the proverbial hatches and ride out the storm. With any luck, once the economic skies clear, the company will be back to business as usual, only slightly worse for the wear.

A much more effective response is to take advantage of the economic downturn to refocus on the essential elements that make your business a success. While others may be hunkered down, you can seize the opportunity to outwork, outsmart and outmaneuver the competition by:

  • Fine-tuning your business model;

  • Developing and implementing strategic plans;

  • Scrutinizing day-to-day operations;

  • Finding creative opportunities for cost savings;

  • Reassessing your product and service portfolio;

  • Investigating new markets;

  • Reaffirming and deepening your relationships with existing customers; and

  • Exploring opportunities for innovation and new business created by these economic shifts.

With discipline and a view toward long-term viability, you can retool your company to thrive in both good economic times and bad. As a business executive, you can also exercise and enhance your full range of leadership skills, the most important of which are rarely called upon when it's smooth sailing and clear skies ahead.

Of course, we should be doing these things all the time. But don't forget that a changing economy really can present unique opportunities to take action and chart a new course for long-term success.

This article contains material of general interest and should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. Under applicable rules of professional conduct, this content may be regarded as attorney advertising.