How to Grow Your Business in Today's Uncertain Economy

Businesses are facing challenges in this current economy, the likes of which have not been experienced in most of our lifetimes. News stories seem to bounce from bad to worse, from hope to despair, leaving relatively rare moments of optimism and huge holes of uncertainty. The primary result of this combined gloom and doom assault has rendered many businesses paralyzed with a sense of fear for the present and the future. Here, Knowledge Center contributor Michael Dotson shares 10 ways for professionals to take advantage of the opportunities that still exist in this down economy.


Many businesses today are paralyzed with a sense of fear for the present and the future. Such paralysis has slowed the progress of even the most (formerly) dynamic of companies to a crawl. Economists are left scratching their heads, unsure of what to do. Plus, marketing departments for many companies appear to be more preoccupied with job preservation than re-establishment of momentum.

As professionals, how do we break away from this stagnation and take advantage of opportunities to grow our business? Here are 10 ways.

1. Understand the terrain

Trench warfare is "a form of warfare where both combatants have fortified positions and fighting lines are static." The key word here is static. By recognizing and accepting that businesses have hunkered down, and that the static lines in our economy are likely to remain for the foreseeable future, you can begin to develop a path that will enable your business to move forward.

2. Recognize that early progress could be agonizingly slow

With a robust economy, success could not happen fast enough. In World War I, forward tactical advancement had often been measured in feet or sometime inches-so it is in the economic "trenches" of today. Given our current situation, it may seem that everything is happening in slow motion. Your business plan must take into consideration a reduced pace of progress. Sustainable success can best be achieved through a series of small victories.

3. Lose the fear

A good insurance salesperson knows that fear is a strong motivator. It is also understood that fear is an emotion that needs to be brought under control or it will lead to distress and high anxiety. This does not mean that apprehension should be abandoned. However, it does mean that your success will be determined by how you deal with not only your fears, but with your approach in dealing with the fears of your customers, clients and competitors. The sense of fear will begin to move from the forefront as you focus your attention on your immediate plan of action.

4. Be different

There is a common adage that goes something like, performing the same action repeatedly with the expectation of a different outcome is the definition of insanity. What may have worked for us last year, last week or even yesterday may not work in today's economic climate. Take deliberate steps to be different in your approach. Breaking from the routine will cause you to begin looking at your business with a fresher perspective.

5. Be a puzzle solver

Sudoku and crosswords can be stimulating ways to pass the time. Treating your business as a puzzle to be solved can add a new dimension to your efforts. Writing down specific problems to be solved, then writing down your solutions can often lead to unexpected and creative results.