Avoid a "Recessionary Mindset"

At first glance, you’d think our company would be a prime candidate to feel the recession’s pinch. We’re in technology. We’re consultants. And we’re based in Connecticut, a state with chronic economic problems. But we turned in record sales in 2008 and continue to do well. A big reason is that we’ve decided to focus on what we can do rather than lapsing into a "recessionary mindset." The following three approaches have helped us focus on what is necessary to grow our business:

1. Stay disciplined A tall latte and a quick peek at the market to kick off your day, right? Wrong. In a darkening recession, a declining Dow Jones industrial average casts a long shadow and keeps us all in the dumps. You can get your news fix after you close that deal or write that report. Our head of sales ducks the morning call of the market siren and goes straight to Salesforce.com first thing. We credit this discipline with a healthy pipeline and an upbeat attitude, which is essential to prospecting and selling. It’s a virtuous cycle.

2. Network, network, network Breaking the 500-plus barrier on LinkedIn or Facebook is not the networking target when businesses are sinking and everyone is panicked about drowning in debt. When you go to your local alumni event or meet an unemployed friend for coffee, take the time to see that we’re all in the same boat and find out how we can bail each other out. Our management participates in the CT Technology Council, local chambers, networking events, and several charitable interests, all of which lead to valuable business partnerships and opportunities.

3. Focus on new opportunities At this point, perhaps you are skeptical—thinking our approach is a bit rose-colored. Your industry may be shrinking and customers may be disappearing left and right. If that’s the case, it’s still important to stay opportunity-focused. When our largest account ended a long-term project due to funding constraints, we used that as an opportunity to diversify our client list and create new relationships. This has lead to several new clients to supplant the one that has cut back and whole new possibilities for growth in 2009.

No matter what business you’re in nor how successful it is, chances are you’re feeling the pinch. A recessionary mindset only squeezes more tightly and distracts you from what you can achieve. Avoid its clutches by benching your 24/7 news fix, spending some quality time helping colleagues and friends achieve their goals, and looking at your business and industry with a fresh outlook. Like us, you’ll be thankful, and so will your customers, suppliers, and partners.

Michael H. Felberbaum Vice-President of Talent & Marketing Advanced Decisions Shelton, Conn.

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