The Pollyanna Principle

A reader says tough times can spawn innovation, but only if entrepreneurs take a long, hard look at they way they are doing business

Your well-written article challenges me to repectfully disagree about pressure on small business (see BW Online, 10/1/01, "Get Smart Fast -- Or Else").

Of course business is under immense challenge, but we read about the largest, and I might add, the most sluggish behemoths. We see Sun Microsystems slashing 4,000 jobs and Intel under enormous pressure, to name just a couple, as they fight to maintain their sales and profit levels.

For entrepreneurs experiencing these same overwhelming difficulties, I strongly recommend that, if business is slowing, use this respite for a complete and thorough reexamination of business now -- today. Start by answering a few basic but complex questions:

* Are we agile enough to make difficult and immediate positive changes to our business?

* What are our core strengths, individually and collectively?

* What can we do differently, immediately?

* How can we serve our best customers better?

* What changes can we make to our product or service offerings right now?

* Who in the markets we serve even knows we exist, and if they are aware of us, do they know enough about us? If not, why not?

* What can we do that we have never done before?

We see the current climate as the most positive event we could be experiencing. It focuses our creative talents, challenges us to our core. Our business is actually improving. Maybe we are unique, but I think not. We're scared to our foundation of what might come about if we just maintain the status quo -- but then, what if we do something great?

It's brain-dead simple to improve in flush times. It is positively invigorating, energizing, and heady to improve under economic pressure. Pollyannaish, I suppose, but what else are we to do -- lay off people and hope things change? The best time is now. We can use "seize the moment" or any number of other worn energizers, but we will each find our own. Every day is an opportunity to excel.

Steve Manuel

Tri-State Environmental Technologies

Tempe, Ariz.

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