A Brighter Tomorrow

Educate yourself on the basics and look locally when pursuing survival strategies.

I moved on from a professional development group recently after four years of monthly meetings with VPs, product managers, CEOs-in-training and generally wise and experienced folks. One thing I learned in that group is how easy it is to focus on the day-to-day. The number of decision-makers who have not honed skills in negotiation, business valuation, marketing automation and financial indicators is high. My biggest takeaway is how much “basic” information is out there, and how important it is to be aware of these ever-changing best practices.

If you’ve listened to Signs Unscripted, you know I like short podcasts. TrendsTalk by ITR Economics is a new favorite. I first heard ITR’s Alex Chausovsky speak earlier this year at a conference, a session I thought might be a bore. I was surprised that Alex’s presentation drew me in and convinced me that complex economic trends can be harnessed to drive business decisions.

In a recent episode, “Managing Negativity,” Alex discussed finding opportunities amidst the pandemic. So, yes, you need a lot of cash on hand right now to meet payroll and other expenses until the economy improves. That’s a tough task, given that it may not happen till early 2021 (Alex’s prediction, not mine).

Alex said what you’d expect to come next: There are still opportunities out there. I know, eye roll. But this is why I like the guy – he had specifics. It turns out that the development of diverse sourcing methods amidst the pandemic has been tough (read: supply-chain disruption is driving manufacturers to source more locally). “That really is a good opportunity,” Alex said. “Even though your traditional markets might be down … there will still be opportunities to find existing clients now opening local facilities or looking for new sources of supplies.” New business opportunities will come from filling those gaps.

Does that mean new signs at new local manufacturing facilities? Perhaps, but the lightbulb that turned on for me was increased localization. What may have been a cost-prohibitive service or product to offer before may be a new possibility today. (What do we call this, reverse globalization?) As you’re considering cost-cutting and new revenue sources, your equipment remains an asset. If it’s not in use with your typical customers, what else can you do with it? 

As we’re watching medicine become telehealth and restaurants become caterers – or even grocery stores – and looking for new ways to survive, I have two pieces of advice. First, educate yourself on the basics; be fearless about what you don’t know. Second, as you seek survival strategies, look locally. There may be more opportunities than you think.