Someone once said that being the owner of a business was like riding a roller coaster. There are constant ups and downs but very little straight, smooth roads. Working with many different business owners from various industries during the past nine years has only confirmed this truth. The ups of the business cycle are a great ride, but the down cycles can, in some cases, be devastating. What separates those business owners who survive and thrive from those who have very little success or ultimately fail, is how they bounce back from the inevitable downs of the ride. How does a company leader continually rebound? From observing those who have been successful, I believe there are three vital keys to bouncing back successfully.
- Prepare Ahead of Time– Knowing there will be down cycles and not preparing for them does not make sense. Usually, the down cycle involves financial strain and significant testing of the company’s cash resources. A company must store up significant cash reserves during the prosperous up times of the business cycle. One business I know went through terrible periods of losses; however, their cash reserves were built during the good times, so they were able to survive. More importantly , they were able to keep their good people which enabled them to come back strong when the cycle turned up.
- Maintain a Positive Can Do Attitude– It is easy to get down and lose confidence during a down cycle but you are what you think. Maintaining a resilient get-it-done demeanor can pull a business back up. Also, that kind of attitude is a powerful example to people in the organization. They will follow the leader and your leadership is crucial.
- Keep Your Poise– When situations are tough, it is a temptation to take quick, knee-jerk reactions before thinking it through. Sometimes quick decisive action is necessary but settle down and make decisions with a calm mind-set. John Wooden said poise is, “not being thrown off stride in what you believe or how you behave because of outside events….Few characteristics are more valuable to a leader than Poise, especially when she or he is under pressure. And that’s what leaders are paid to do, perform under pressure(Wooden, Jamison, p.51).”
Leaders who plan, have a positive attitude, and keep their poise will carry their company, and its people, through down cycles and difficult situations to enjoy success once more.
*Wooden, John & Jamison, Steve (2005), Wooden on Leadership