10 Things to Remember During These Trying Times

Times Are Bad? So What Are You Going to Do About It

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Bart Cleveland Bart Cleveland
1. Times are bad. So what? The fact is every economic downturn throws our industry on its head. If you have been in this business for a decade, you've been through bad times a few times already. It's happened before and it'll happen again. How well you do during tough times depends on how you approach overcoming them.

2. From every bad situation an opportunity appears. Many people lose their job ultimately say, "It was the best thing that ever happened to me." Why is that? Simple. Losing one's job forces a reevaluation of one's place. It affords a person the time to try something different or find something he's better suited to do. The same can be said for businesses. In the end, a business becomes better, more marketable and more competitive.

3. Don't forget to have fun. I've been through enough tough times to remember that you can't get through them unless you keep some perspective. The truth is, if you're sitting around worrying about what bad thing might happen next, you're wasting energy and time. Get busy doing what you love to do.

4. Be an optimist. You know those people who walk around with a little black cloud hanging over them? It seems that bad luck always befalls them. I find that these people bring bad luck upon themselves. If you worry that the worst is going to happen to you, it usually does. I believe the opposite is equally true. I'm not a Pollyanna, but I do believe that winning only comes when you believe you're a winner.

5. If you're going through it, so are your clients. Bad times give an agency a golden opportunity to be an even greater asset to its clients. You should know what your client's challenges are during the current economic conditions and offer solutions to minimize the negative effects of those challenges. How would you feel as a client if your agency did that without being asked?

6. Don't procrastinate. I've seen too many companies try to weather the storm without making any adjustments. I can't remember any who survived. Assess your business early and often and make adjustments for today, today.

7. Get better at what you do. An agency's capabilities must continually evolve. Just because times are bad doesn't mean you should put capability growth on the shelf. Invest in your company's future. During a struggling economy, these investments can be found at bargain prices.

8. Challenge your employees. Just as your agency should make an extra effort to help clients during a challenging time, your employees can do the same for you. Don't be surprised when they take on the challenge as if they owned the agency. In a very important way, they do.

9. Relax. If you've ever played a sport, you know that your best execution happens when you're relaxed. You don't worry about making the shot when you're taking the shot. You just take the shot. If you don't play loose, you can't do your best. Tensing up usually spells defeat. Get in the game and don't look at the scoreboard.

10. Look over the horizon. What will our industry be like when we come out of this recession? Will it be stronger or weaker? Will client expectations have changed? Will your agency's abilities match what clients need? Discover the answers to these questions now and you'll know where your agency needs to be when good times return. If history is any indication, they will be here before you know it.

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