How to Fail
in Business Without Really Trying
Business News New Jersey (January 28, 2002)
1991 was a tough year in the US economy.
It was also the year I lost my job. I was determined at that point to
do two things; start my own business, and report to only one boss for
the rest of my career, the person I looked at each morning in the mirror
while I shaved. There have been rough times and easier times in my 10+
years of self-employment, but what keeps me going are perspective and
a sense of humor.
My maternal grandmother was a Russian born
immigrant who fled her homeland because of religious persecution in the
early 1900's. She raised her 5 children during the Great Depression of
the 1930's. When I was young and was upset over something (minor in comparison
to my grandparents' adversity) my grandmother would say to me, "Dalink,
you only have two choices in this world; you can laugh or you can cry."
Given recent world events, her words had great wisdom. At times it's appropriate
to cry, but eventually you have to pick yourself up and get moving again.
It is with that perspective and the memory of my grandmother's ability
to laugh in the face of adversity that I present the 8 easy ways not to
build your business in tough times.
- Close the door to your office,
put your feet up, hum old Beach Boys tunes, and remember the 90's
as the "Glory Days". After all, this is no time
to be proactive, think ahead or plan for the future, it's so much
more fun to feel sorry for yourself and blame everything on the
- Whatever you do don't call up
your best customers and strategic partners to see if there is
anything you can do for them. Why bother cementing your relationships?
Cement is for patios, not relationships.
- Don't even try to build relationships
with the press. There's no reason to get visibility for your product
or service in slow times. You're so busy most of the day analyzing
Judge Judy's decisions that you usually don't have time for talking
to editors so why start now?
- Don't go to trade shows or other
industry events, unless it's to complain about the size of the
shrimp. You never meet anybody worthwhile or learn anything
useful at these things anyway, why waste your time?
- Don't become a member, or better
yet, an officer, of an industry association, or encourage colleagues
to join industry groups. There's no profit in keeping your
finger on the pulse of today's rapid business climate changes.
Besides, you might get a reputation for being a pretty decent
- Don't try to improve yourself
by going to a sales or technical training workshop. If you
know your content and you're good looking, the world will come
knocking at your door to buy your products and services.
- Don't look for opportunities
to build your business or branch out in a different way. I
never saw a branch that didn't break off a tree.
- Don't even think about updating
your current logo, stationery or brochures, cleaning out your
files or re-tooling any inefficient business process. Your
logo of the dinosaur sitting by a typewriter is a clear indication
of the new and innovative ideas you have to share.
All jokes aside, motivation is a serious
thing when times are tough. If you, and by extension, your business are
derailed by external climactic pressures, the consequences could be fatal.
Now is the time to clean house, take stock and plan. Take the opportunities
offered by slow times to cement relationships, improve yourself and your
internal processes. Getting involved in a project will renew your sense
of purpose and position you and your business for the better times that
are around the next bend.