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Finding Opportunities in Extraordinary Times

It’s a historic time! Most of us will get through this - but the question is HOW.

It’s interesting what being forced to stay at home can do. It really highlights the mindset people have; so much is in your power to either turn lemons into lemonade, or…. Not. But after so many weeks of social isolation, I’m getting the feeling that people are really getting ready to do SOMETHING. It feels like a race car revving on the track, waiting for the signal to race forward. 

Your actions during this time likely has the power to change the trajectory of your business - maybe even your life. If you want to come out of this strong, it calls for strength and mental discipline. I recently heard this advice and it’s spot on, “Never waste a good recession.”

Some have stayed at home complaining and feeding the anxiety of the unknown, focusing on their losses. Those who’ve done that have only fallen deeper into that anxiety - and maybe even despair. 

That may be a strong word but I don’t think it’s out of place. There are plenty who lost hope - even if only for a few days or a few weeks.

We’ve all felt that at some point or another in our lives, but we don’t stay there. What’s important to remember is that filling our heads with negativity narrows our vision for the future. It strips us of creativity, the desire to be productive, and the ability to create opportunities. 

This is key: the mental state we find ourselves in, without a doubt affects our outcomes.

I’ve mentioned this before, but I’m going to bring it up again. This quote captures this idea perfectly, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re RIGHT.”

I want to share some stories I’ve found from people who’ve found the mental discipline to see the larger picture, widen their view, and welcome creative new solutions during times of hardship.

Uber

Let’s start with a story we all know - Uber. Uber was started during a major downturn in 2009, rapidly saw explosive growth, and lived happily ever after, right?

Of course not. While people lost fortunes after 2008, two people were creative enough to think up a disruptive service and take action to build a company around it. There were lots of setbacks though - cities and taxi drivers pushed back on regulations. Lawsuits over whether who should pay taxes when using Uber. Internal human resource issues. Funding and the search for capital, and now with the advent of driverless cars… we’ll probably see another change in their business model.

Uber has had its challenges. The moral of the story that we can all learn from is this: Uber has the discipline and creativity to adapt to challenges and rise above them.

John D. Rockefeller

John D. Rockefeller was barely two years into his first job when the Panic of 1857 struck. He could have become depressed and stayed at home focusing on his losses, but instead, he chose to look for opportunity. Instead of blaming the economy on his misfortune, he looked at the trying times as an opportunity to learn, to experience a baptism by the market. He was inclined to “see opportunity in every disaster,” as he once put it.

Rockefeller started in the food-service industry and entered the very volatile oil industry as a side gig when he was in his 20’s. No one at the time knew if oil was going to be a short-lived trend or stay for the long haul. 

He made a bet and took action. 

Then, when another economic crisis hit, Rockefeller relied on his never-ending optimism to find more opportunities. He was able to negotiate favorable contracts with the railroad companies, who granted him discounts for transporting his company’s oil, giving him an important advantage over his competitors. 

Later, when times were tough again, he was able to buy up his competitors at low prices. And he met plenty of seemingly insurmountable opposition along the way, including financial losses and having to let go of 90% of his workforce temporarily. 

Within 20 years of that first crisis, Rockefeller alone controlled 90 percent of the oil market. Thanks to his creativity and optimism during hard times.

LinkedIn

Another company founded during turbulent times is LinkedIn. It wasn’t always the powerhouse it is today.

In fact, according to Nextweb.com, in an interview with CNN Money in 2009, Reid Hoffman, one of LinkedIn’s founders, said that 

“When LinkedIn was started back in 2002, the industry was in a “dot-com winter”.

He continues,

‘Consumer Internet ventures were looked upon with skepticism and it was important for it to distinguish itself from everyone else. Keep in mind that the “dot-com bubble” burst in 2000 so the introduction of another service that some thought was going to be big lacked market confidence.’

Hoffman didn’t let that deter him. In that same interview, he said that starting a business during an economic downturn is the “exact right time to do it because it gives you runway.” (Source.)

See how we are incorporating LinkedIn in a multi-channel approach to get more sales opportunities now

Creativity and Optimism Will Be Your Driving Force

Let’s take a look at some businesses doing this now. Fashion houses, distilleries, and restaurants. They’ve all had to change their focus. Fashion houses are using their factories to produce masks. Distilleries are turning out hand sanitizer instead of liquor.

Pretty much all restaurants now have a drive-through, or take-out only model. Some have been creative enough to offer “pantry” orders, where you can drive by and pick up dried goods and other pantry items the restaurant isn’t using.

Many are offering delivery when they hadn’t before. They are changing their hours to be more accommodating to their customers during a difficult time.

Some restaurants are even changing their menus to offer family meals. I heard of one that’s even throwing in a roll of toilet paper with every order! There’s some creativity for you.

One of our clients at LinkedSelling is a business consultant for martial arts studios. As you can imagine, his clients had to close their doors. While he and his clients could have sat back looking at potential losses, he helped them run campaigns that keep them top of mind with their martial arts students.

He’s even got campaigns running on Facebook where he’s collecting information from new prospects! All he did was change his messaging to incorporate the current situation. He’s also helped his clients incorporate new approaches to keep clients - and even gain new ones by offering online classes and discounts for when the studios can open up again.

He realized one important thing here: This situation won’t last forever and he’ll come out of this.

So will you.

That’s why now is  the time to dig deep and take action that will determine HOW you’ll come out of it.

What You Can (and Should) Do

Now is the time to find a way to stay top of mind and to nurture the relationships you have with your community and with your prospects and clients. It’s time to find a niche that needs to be served. 

Right now, we’re seeing that proactive businesses that take immediate, creative measures will in large part determine how the economy moves forward and how the workforce approaches work. I think we’ll see many more creative methods moving forward.

It’s been inspiring to see how businesses are doing their part to help other businesses work better remotely, strengthen their teams, increase moral and essentially pull through this together.

Everytable, a Los Angeles-based café launched a helpline to ensure that everyone in its market has access to healthy meals during this time. 

Amazon is hiring 100,000 more workers and giving raises to current staff to deal with coronavirus demands.

Chef José Andrés of LA set up shop in California earlier this month to feed cruise ship guests quarantined from the outbreak. Andrés announced this week he will transform eight of his New York and Washington, DC, restaurants into community kitchens for those struggling during the pandemic.

U-Haul has announced 30 days of free self-storage to all college students who have been impacted by schedule changes at their universities. 

LinkedIn is opening up 16 of its learning courses for free. Courses that provide tips on how to stay productive, build relationships when you’re not face-to-face, use virtual meeting tools and balance family and work dynamics in a healthy way. 

And so many more.

While you aren’t required to give free food or free classes to audiences, I hope these examples serve as inspiration to spark some creativity. There are ways you can be creative now to build relationships and become stronger.

Like Jack Welch, the late CEO of GE, said, “Leaders emerge during trying times.” Use this time to position yourself as a leader. Focus on what you CAN do instead of what you can’t and you’ll see that some creativity will propel you forward in these extraordinary times.

Your Turn

Want to learn more?

One way you can strengthen your positioning in the market, even if you currently aren’t getting many clients is to optimize your sales development strategy. 

Click here to learn how we build relationships and get clients using a multi-channel outbound sales development system.

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