As you read this, the United States may still be fighting in the Middle East. Our thoughts and prayers are with the men and women there, and we hope for a speedy resolution to this conflict.
What effects this war with Iraq will have on businesses is hard to say. It would
be prudent to expect a slowdown. In business there is always a slow period regardless
of what the world situation happens to be. What distinguishes a forward-thinking
businessperson is how he or she uses downtime to the best advantage of the company
and its employees.
A slow period can be used to catch-up with work (and, if so, there’s a
message there) or it can be used to reevaluate and redirect the business and
to plan ahead. In short, to do things now that will ensure better business in
the weeks, months and years ahead. Two columnists in this month’s issue
show us the way.
Steve Bursten (“Managing For Money,” page 68) reminds us that one
of our most useful business tools is sitting right there next to us on our desks:
the telephone. When business, sales and installations are slow is an ideal time
to review our customer lists, put together a list of our best customers and give
them a call. And it doesn’t have to be a “sales” call. Just
keep in touch, he says. He then offers the story of one decorator who did this
during a snowstorm one year and increased sales immediately and over the long
term. It was a break-through experience.
Kitty Stein, meanwhile, takes us through a short course on business planning
and gives us a list of things we could be doing to ensure better business (“Workroom
Operations,” page 64). This is a time to refresh our samples, research
new suppliers, plan a marketing strategy and analyze our businesses from the
inside and outside. All the things we know we should be doing, but never seem
to find the time for when things are busy. (Remember the old business riddle:
When is the best time to advertise, when business is good or when business is
slow? The answer is: Both!)
Together, Bursten and Stein have given us no fewer than eight things we can—and
should—be doing right now. They remind us that anytime is a good time to
be working on our businesses and not just at them.