Always Operate From a Position of Strength

by Pat Hammond on Monday, September 14, 2020

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I was talking to Lisa Masiello from TECHmarc Labs the other day about the many business challenges we've had to deal with because of the pandemic. Lisa reminded me that to survive times like this we need play to our strengths and fall back on our planning. She pointed out that if COVID-19 shut the door to one opportunity, it might be time to fast-track a project you have on your five-year plan or fall back to doing what you're good at to create new products and services. She was talking about adapting your skills to today's situation in a way that moves your future goals forward.  It reminded me of business rule #3, always operate from a position of strength.

Turning challenges into opportunities...

To me, operating from a position of strength has always meant having a plan so I could be proactive rather than reactive. But that was only half of the equation. 

Now that we're six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, I've come to realize that operating from a position of strength also requires awareness. 

The ability to see the big picture and how a situation fits into your overall plan. It is knowing what you need to do to achieve your goals and never putting yourself in a position where you are reliant on one source to meet that need. And that part is the key to operating from a position of strength.

We live in a precarious time to be a small business owner. 

Very few people plan for a pandemic and with a situation that changes on a weekly, if not daily basis, there is going to be a much higher level of reactiveness in our actions as business owners than we're used to. The quality of those reactions depends entirely on your awareness of the situation and your ability to operate from a position of strength. 

Think of it as taking inventory rather than planning. 

  • What are the skills, knowledge, and personality traits that set you apart from the competition?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • Make a list of all your resources - people, materials, connections, etc.

Once you've done that, ask yourself some critical questions.

  • Can an existing product solve a similar problem in a different market?
  • Can you repurpose an existing product to solve a different problem for existing customers?
  • Can you partner with someone to combine an offering or reach a new market?

Look at your long-term goals.

While many business plans build on the previous year's actions, it's not uncommon for plans to include add-on products or services that don't require a major commitment of resources.

For example, NH Business Guild's plan for this year included launching a series of in-person classes, events, and workshops. I had to scrap that plan due to COVID-19, but I was able to tap one of next year's goals, building an online platform to offer digital classes. I'd already done the research, and I had the resources, all I had to do was change the timeline.

This made me take a harder look at some of my long-term goals. It turned out there were things in my three- and five-year plans that used existing resources and could be set in motion today with little or no cost because they required skills and resources I already have.  

Playing to my strengths - my skills, resources, and long-term plan -  helped me turn a problem into an opportunity. It won't make up for all of today's lost revenue, but it is setting things up to generate revenue tomorrow.

Be your own lifeline

Proactive or reactive, the choice is yours. 

Yes, it takes a little proactive effort to put yourself in a position of strength. But what's the alternative? 

If you're struggling to maintain the status quo during these trying times, set aside a couple hours to create an opportunity.

Do a quick review of what you're good at, what you're not so good at, and compare it to your competitors.

Look at your resources and think about new products, markets, and partners. Review your long-term plans and see if there is a way to move a project forward. 

Find your strength and make it work for you.