The Opportunity During Tough Times
We fear that Wall Street is still spiraling out of control, our economic system might in total chaos and the sky might be falling as well. While I find myself very concerned about our financial future, there’s something about a shake down in the way we do business that excites me. In my experience, difficult times for the business-as-usual approach always opens up new opportunities for creative, nimble and entrepreneurial organizations or individuals to find a break that fat, entrenched and risk-averse big business cannot or will not pursue.
I started The A Group in November of 2001, a few weeks after 9/11. Most people thought I was crazy because of the overall fear and paralysis in the marketplace. “Boy, I hope you’ll be ok; these are difficult times,” I heard over and over during the early days. And they did represented the reality of the day. People were looking around waiting to see what the tragedy really meant for our economy, our businesses and the future of our lifestyles.
But while everyone waited for the proverbial “what’s next,” I was able to negotiate a great rate on an office space lease. Due to the overall fear in commercial real estate at the time, my landlord was willing to accept less money for the space as well as take a risk on an unproven, immigrant-owned, start up since his other prospects were suddenly gone.
During that time the work force also swelled up since hiring slowed down tremendously. I was able to cherry-pick our first “Groupers” [a Grouper is a member of The A Group team and, no, they are not fishy] at reasonable salaries. I was also able to secure great payment terms with our strategic vendors as well since they were eager to land new accounts.
While every crisis brings different challenges, I’m certain the challenges we face today will create new opportunities and exciting new businesses, products and ministries will be introduced by those who can quickly adjust to a new reality. If you’re able to look past what you might be losing and see how you can potentially gain, you could win big.
In days like these, I think about the story I heard a few years ago where two shoe salesmen during the turn of the century were sent to Africa to open this new territory for a large shoe manufacturer. Not long after their arrival the home office received telegrams from both men. One said “Bad news. No market here. People don’t wear shoes. Coming home,” while the other read “Amazing opportunity. No one has shoes yet. Send more people.”
I know I can’t do anything about the state of the current economy or how our government reacts or doesn’t to our nation’s challenges, but I can look beyond them and find out what hole will be left in wake of this storm for the nimble, creative and entrepreneurial guy to fill. Maybe my telegram back to headquarters will read something like: “Times are tough. Everyone needs our help. Great opportunity. Let’s expand”