Business Owners Give Thanks -- For What? - InformationWeek

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11/26/2008
03:48 PM
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Business Owners Give Thanks -- For What?

A common Thanksgiving tradition is sharing what we are thankful for this year. Given the financial crisis, this is a more daunting challenge than in the past.

A common Thanksgiving tradition is sharing what we are thankful for this year. Given the financial crisis, this is a more daunting challenge than in the past.Gathered around tables lacking the bounty of previous years and absent the out-of-town relatives that would usually attend (travel costs), it's easy to imagine business owners, grinding their teeth and sarcastically growling out something like the following (or maybe just thinking it):

"I'm thankful that our sales are down 40%." "I'm thankful that I fired 25 people." "I'm thankful that I closed two stores in the last 60 days." "I'm thankful that 10 bill collectors have my cell phone on speed dial." "I'm thankful that my investments are down 50%." "I'm thankful that my employee health insurance premiums jumped 65%." "Pass the mashed potatoes!"

Here's the part where I point that all isn't lost, that there is hope, that there's opportunity, that good times are just around the corner, that there is something to give thanks for. But let's face facts, that's a hard sell.

Or so I thought. One bMighty reader disabused me of the notion that any business owner would opine their tough luck at the dinner table, pointing out that:

  • Business owners have become successful by beating the odds and solving problems
  • That small business owners are America's leading job creators (78% of all new jobs in the US over the past 20 years.)
  • Today's economics challenges are simply problems to be solved
  • A positive attitude is a requirement for success

That can do attitude speaks to an opportunity presented by the current financial woes -- an opportunity to lead. No one recalls leaders who preside over flush times. The leaders who make history are at the helm for the spectacular flameouts -- Kenneth Lay, Edward John Smith -- for the comebacks against all odds -- Lee Iacocca, Doug Flutie -- and for grabbing opportunities no one else saw -- Steve Jobs, James Dyson.

Bad times create openings for new ideas and new directions. This is not a time to wait and see or business as usual. It's a time to put that positive outlook into action and solve problems -- chart a new direction, rethink the way your business operates, and question assumptions. The results may save your business during these trying times and perhaps even set you on a new path of possibility.

Be thankful? Yes, indeed. Give thanks for opportunity and go grab it.

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