Hope & Fear (4/5): Avoid Layoffs & Down-sizing

November 18, 2008

As a business owner or top executive, your priority is the survival and growth of your business. Sometimes you have to make tough choices. In a bad economy those choices may include scaling your business back. Of course, things like layoffs and down-sizing are not your first choice. You’ll make that choice if it’s your only option. But you’d prefer to GROW your way out of tough times, right?

My intention today is to give you some tools to help you avoid layoffs and down-sizing in a bad economy. I can’t PROMISE these tools will work — the choices you’ve made up to this point play a big part in what’s possible for your business. But these tools give you the best chance. It’s like this: if you’re lost in the woods at night, having a flashlight and compass doesn’t guarantee you’ll find your way out. But without them, you’re doomed!

Assess the Situation

Anthony Robbins says it best: See the situation AS it is, not WORSE than it is. But to do that, you need to have a clear perspective. Your vision can’t be clouded by stress and worry. In other words, you must be peaceful.

I’m sure you’ve had the experience where someone close to you was very worried about something, to the point where they were reacting foolishly in ways that only made the situation worse. But you were calm, so you could see quite clearly what the best, rational course of action was. That’s the power of a clear perspective.

In your business, you need to be passionate enough to inspire and innovate, yet detached enough to make all of the rational, clear-headed decisions that make your business successful. Too much passion and you lose that clear-headed perspective. Too much detachment and you stop inspiring and innovating. Inner peace is the bridge between those two worlds. Both clarity of perspective and creative inspiration arise from a state of inner peace.

The human mind is almost magical in what it can do. But when the mind is filled with worry or stress, it can’t function to its full capacity. When the mind is peaceful, that’s when the magic happens. When the mind is peaceful, that’s when the million dollar idea suddenly POPS into your consciousness. When the mind is peaceful, that’s when you suddenly have the perfect solution to your most intractable problem.

So how do you keep a peaceful mind in a bad economy? Separate the FACTS of the situation from your INTERPRETATION of the situation.

Normally, we see THROUGH the lens of our interpretation. It distorts things just like a funhouse mirror, making us think the facts are something they’re not. But when you acknowledge there is this lens of interpretation, you can recognize the distortion in what you’re looking at. And you can get at the actual facts, the actual information you need to make effective and powerful choices.

Assessing the situation means creating a clearer perspective by becoming more peaceful. When it comes to a strategy of action, we want to revisit earlier lessons in this email series and expand on them.

Team Productivity Saves Jobs

Parts 2 and 3 of this series went into detail on how to increase your productivity and use that as a strategy to grow your business. For employers, there’s an added layer. Instead of just focusing on your own productivity, you get to be a leader and increase the productivity of all of your employees.

Whole books have been written on this subject, so the best advice I can give in this limited space is that you lead by example and enroll your team. Increase your own productivity, and do so openly. Make it public. Encourage your managers and their staffs to do the same. Grow as a team. Then enroll everyone in increasing the productivity of the company as a whole. Set team goals and communicate why those team goals are important to each individual employee.

If there are 10 people in your business, for example, let them know that if everyone increased their productivity by 10%, that would save one person from getting laid off. Show them the connection between the success of the individual and the success of the company.

Peaceful Productivity for Teams

Even if you kept all of this a secret, practicing Peaceful Productivity will transform your life and your business. But when you lead others and train them to be more peaceful and productive, a powerful synergy happens. In a group, people learn at an exponential rate. Everyone benefits from each other’s insights and growth, not just their own. It’s like a chain reaction in an atomic bomb that explodes the growth of your business.

As a leader, you can create that experience in your company.

Be a leader today and sign up for this week’s free teleseminar called “Productivity & Peace of Mind — You Don’t Have to Sacrifice One for the Other.” You’ll learn:

  • The 3 steps to increase your productivity
  • The 3 steps to greater peace of mind
  • The 2 paths to Peaceful Productivity
  • And lots more…

And just think, if you can train your team to grow your business in a bad economy, what might be possible in a good economy? Pretty exciting thought, right?

Learn more about this free teleseminar, and sign up today:

http://www.PeacefulProductivityNow.com

©2008 Curtis G. Schmitt

This is the fourth in a daily series of five posts on how to respond to this mixture of hope and fear in the world today. Here’s the full list:

  1. Commit to Change
  2. Keep Your Job and Prosper (for busy professionals)
  3. Grow Your Business in a Bad Economy (for entrepreneurs)
  4. Avoid Layoffs and Down-sizing (for business owners & executives)
  5. Shape Your Child’s Future (for working parents)
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Hope & Fear (3/5): Grow Your Business in a Bad Economy

November 17, 2008

One of the silver linings to a bad economy is that it forces us to grow as entrepreneurs. Innovation is what drives business growth. In other words, doing something BETTER adds value to people’s lives, and that’s what gets them to open their wallets and buy from you.

In good times, we all get a little lazy. Why innovate when we don’t have to, right? But as they say, necessity is the mother of invention. And when the survival of your business is at stake, that’s some damn good necessity!

When innovating, remember that there are two perspectives. On one side of the table is the seller. On the other side of the table is the customer. Let’s first look at the “bad economy” situation from your customers’ side of the table…

Provide the Most Valuable Solutions

Your customers are not interested in your products or services. They ARE interested in solutions to their problems. So your job is to solve the problems of your target market. And no matter what those problems are, a struggling economy will tend to make them worse. So the solutions you provide are needed even more. But, there are many others who provide similar solutions, so you need a way to stand out.

In my opinion, the best way to stand out from your competition is to do things BETTER than they do. In other words, create more value for your target market than your competitors do. To create the most value for your customers, you need to maximize your productivity. In other words, they will choose you if you produce solutions to their problems more effectively than anyone else.

Now let’s look at the situation from your side of the table…

Focus on Your Customer’s Problems, Not Your Own

In a good economy, a business can hang up their shingle, and as long as you provide a decent product or service, customers will buy from you. In a bad economy, people tighten their belts and don’t spend so easily. As I’ve already pointed out, they may still need your product or service (maybe even more so), but they are afraid to buy it.

So your job is to communicate better. And communication includes two parts: listening and speaking. Start by becoming a better listener. Listen to what your customers’ fears are, listen to what they really want, and listen to how they want it.

Now let me ask you a question: How well do you listen when YOU’RE stressed or fearful? Not very well, right? The more peaceful you are, the better you’ll be able to listen to your customers and really HEAR how they need you. And once you know that, then you can educate them on how perfectly suited your product or service is to solve their problems.

To summarize how to grow your business in a bad economy:

  1. Increase your productivity so you can create even more valuable products and services for your target market
  2. Cultivate your inner peace and confidence so you can listen better to your market and hear what their fears and problems are
  3. Educate your market on how YOU are perfectly suited to solve their problems

The entrepreneurs who thrive in a bad economy are the ones who respond most quickly to the needs of their market. This ability to respond (your response-ability) is magnified tremendously by the practice of Peaceful Productivity.

Productivity is a learnable skill. Peace of mind is a learnable skill. Do the response-able thing for your business, and sign up for this week’s free teleseminar called “Productivity & Peace of Mind — You Don’t Have to Sacrifice One for the Other.” You’ll learn:

  • The 3 steps to increase your productivity
  • The 3 steps to greater peace of mind
  • The 2 paths to Peaceful Productivity
  • And lots more…

Keep in mind, the businesses that thrive in a bad economy will likely become the leaders in their industry when the economy gets booming again. This is an awesome opportunity to really grow as an entrepreneur!

Learn more about this free teleseminar, and sign up today:

http://www.PeacefulProductivityNow.com

©2008 Curtis G. Schmitt

This is the third in a daily series of five posts on how to respond to this mixture of hope and fear in the world today. Here’s the full list:

  1. Commit to Change
  2. Keep Your Job and Prosper (for busy professionals)
  3. Grow Your Business in a Bad Economy (for entrepreneurs)
  4. Avoid Layoffs and Down-sizing (for business owners & executives)
  5. Shape Your Child’s Future (for working parents)

Hope & Fear (2/5): Keep Your Job & Prosper

November 16, 2008

Life has always been potentially stressful for the busy professional — juggling a career, family, personal relationships, health, hobbies (“yeah right!”). But this uncertain economy adds a brand new wrinkle. You might be worried about job. So let’s break this down into what’s within your control and what isn’t.

The fate of the company you work for is in the hands of the decision-makers at the top executive level. They are the ones who made the choices in the past and will make the choices in the future that determine whether or not the company survives this economy. What they choose to do — whether they layoff employees or cut bonuses or scale back work hours or close the branch you work for — is not within your control. So stop focusing on what they may or may not do. Focus instead on what’s in your control.

So what IS in your control? Just two things: What you choose to do and how you choose to feel about it. Let’s take them one by one…

What You Choose to Do

There are two parts to “what you choose to do”: what you focus on doing, and how well you do it. And the name for how you measure your success at these two things is productivity. In other words, your productivity is within your control. And to maximize your productivity, you want to focus on the most important things first and then do them as efficiently as possible.

Time for a reality check: Are you as productive in your job as you could be? Be honest…

So how much more productive could you be? To answer that question, try this: Think of a specific time when you were being your most productive. Call this your “kick butt” level of productivity, and give it a number from 1 to 10.

Now think about your “average” level of productivity. Those normal days where you maybe surf the internet a little, or chat with co-workers, or get sucked into meetings that go on longer than necessary, or get distracted by less important tasks, or just simply procrastinate. Give that a number from 1 to 10.

Compare that “average” level of productivity with that “kick butt” level of productivity. How far does it fall short?

In that distance between those two levels of productivity lives your opportunity to keep your job and prosper.

Most people perform so far below their peak level of productivity that in just weeks they can double or even triple their output. How much more valuable would you be to your employer if you doubled or tripled your output? In bad economic times, the demand for productive employees becomes even higher than usual. And as demand increases, price increases. So it’s even possible to get a raise in this economy if you increase your productivity.

And if layoffs do happen, the LEAST productive employees go first, right?

How You Choose to Feel

How productive are you when you’re worried? You may be busy when you’re worried and think you’re productive, buy how much important stuff do you really get done, and what’s the quality? Not a lot and very low. How productive are you when you’re happy and peaceful? When you’re happy and peaceful, there’s something called FLOW, where productivity seems almost effortless. Some call it “being in the zone.”

Whether you’re happy or worried, stressed or peaceful, you are CHOOSING to feel that way. And you can choose to create feelings of peace and happiness, even in an economy like this one. So in good times, your productivity sky-rockets from that state of peace and flow. And in bad times, you don’t let worry or stress cloud your decision-making or decrease your productivity.

When you’re peaceful and productive, you’ll have a calming effect on your co-workers and your employer. You’ll be part of the solution, not part of the problem. You’ll be one of the most valuable, level-headed members of the team. And even if you were to get laid off from your job, you’ll make better decisions about what to do next if you are peaceful inside.

Increase Your Productivity & Peace of Mind

Productivity is a learnable skill. Peace of mind is a learnable skill. When times are good, you can get by in your job pretty well without being very skilled at either. But when times are challenging, the employees who prosper are the ones WITH those skills. The employees who get hit hardest during times of uncertainty are the ones who are less skilled at productivity and peace of mind.

To make sure that you’re as valuable as you can be to your employer, and you’re able to prosper in these uncertain times no matter what happens, sign up for this week’s free teleseminar called “Productivity & Peace of Mind — You Don’t Have to Sacrifice One for the Other.” You’ll learn:

  • The 3 steps to increase your productivity
  • The 3 steps to greater peace of mind
  • The 2 paths to Peaceful Productivity
  • And lots more…

Focus on what you CAN control and you’ll give yourself the best chance for success and happiness. Learn more and sign up today:

http://www.PeacefulProductivityNow.com

©2008 Curtis G. Schmitt

This is the second in a daily series of five posts on how to respond to this mixture of hope and fear in the world today. Here’s the full list:

  1. Commit to Change
  2. Keep Your Job and Prosper (for busy professionals)
  3. Grow Your Business in a Bad Economy (for entrepreneurs)
  4. Avoid Layoffs and Down-sizing (for business owners & executives)
  5. Shape Your Child’s Future (for working parents)

Hope & Fear (1/5): Commit to Change

November 15, 2008

On November 4, 66 million people in the United States voted for change and hope when they elected Barack Obama as President. At the same time we are experiencing changes in our economy which leave many people afraid and uncertain.

It’s a strange mix, if you ask me. So much hope, so much fear. But whether you are hopeful or fearful (or bouncing between the two), one thing is certain: NOW is the time for action.

“This is our moment. This is our time — to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth — that out of many, we are one.”
Barack Obama, from his victory speech

Do you want the world to be a better place? Do you want to see some positive changes? Okay, so how much are you willing to participate in that change?

“What can I do, Curtis? I’m just one person.”

To quote Gandhi, BE the change you wish to see in the world. Start with yourself. Start with your own goals. Start with your own happiness and peace of mind. What change do you want to make in YOUR life?

It’s my strong belief that each and every person can and will make their greatest positive impact on the world by becoming:

  1. More peaceful inside yourself
  2. More passionate for what you do
  3. More productive in how you do it

By making YOUR OWN life better, you make the world better. So if you could change something about your life in the next year, something that would bring you more peace or more happiness, what would you choose? Give yourself a 30 second time limit and make a list…

If you’re curious, here are my answers (in no particular order):

  • I’d grow my business to serve 100 times as many people as I do now
  • I’d create an amazing relationship with a woman I loved
  • I’d spend more quality time with my friends and family

What’s on your list? Seriously, before you continue reading, take 30 seconds to make a list of the changes you’d like to make in your life in the next year…

Look at your list. Is there any doubt in your mind that the world would be a better place if you achieved these things? Any doubt that if you were happier and more peaceful that you could make a bigger and better contribution to the people in your life?

You’re helping no one by being stressed or fearful. You’re helping no one by being unhappy or disillusioned. On the other hand when you feel happy, peaceful, passionate, and productive, you treat people more kindly, you’re more generous, you inspire others, and you solve problems and overcome challenges much more quickly.

At this moment in time, the world needs more people like THAT.

This coming week, I’m running a free teleseminar called “Productivity & Peace of Mind — You Don’t Have to Sacrifice One for the Other.”

You’ll learn the art of Peaceful Productivity — how to make the most effective and productive choices peacefully, especially in times of change and uncertainty. No matter how uncertain things are, you can feel peaceful inside. No matter how many obstacles you face, you can continue to make progress in your life.

Peaceful Productivity holds the key to both. Learn more and sign up:

http://www.PeacefulProductivityNow.com

©2008 Curtis G. Schmitt

This is the first in a daily series of five posts on how to respond to this mixture of hope and fear in the world today. Here’s the full list:

  1. Commit to Change
  2. Keep Your Job and Prosper (for busy professionals)
  3. Grow Your Business in a Bad Economy (for entrepreneurs)
  4. Avoid Layoffs and Down-sizing (for business owners & executives)
  5. Shape Your Child’s Future (for working parents)