"While You See a Chance, Take It!" – Opportunities and How to Create Them for Yourself

One of the biggest difficulties I have with recessions is that the bad news it generates
tends to become like junk food: we know it’s bad for us and yet
we eat it up anyways. It is far too easy to get caught up in who is on the losing end of
things in a tough market, even though—and let’s face
it—that’s what tends to sell in the news business these days.

Too often what’s overlooked is that there are great success stories out there being written
today by companies who see this economy the way I do—as a golden opportunity to grow and
prosper. That’s why I encourage everyone to dig a little deeper and find out who is succeeding
in the marketplace, because there are some great lessons to be learned from them. I’ll start
with two recent examples.

In 2009, the Ford Motor Company took a chance and launched an aggressive marketing campaign—at
a time when many competitors were in retreat. As a result, they recently reported that they
are now one of the first major manufacturers selling cars in the United States to report
a monthly sales increase this year. Those efforts are being noticed elsewhere, too. Advertising Age, a leading publication
in the marketing industry, credits Ford for taking the risk, saying that the company, among
a very select group, have "managed to improve consumer perceptions despite major issues in
their respective categories."

Here’s another fresh example. Apple is known for building great-looking, innovative products
and it’s no secret that they are perceived by some as being uncompromisingly pricey. Despite
the economy, despite an array of cheap alternatives in the marketplace, and even in spite
of a campaign by a competitor that emphasizes that price difference, Apple sales are up. Way
. In July 2009, they posted the best non-holiday quarter in the company’s history.

These examples are the newest in a long line of success stories to emerge in similar economic
times that we’re facing today. Hewlett Package was founded during the Great Depression in
the 1930s. Networking giant Cisco Systems received its first round of financing and moved
from a garage to an office space in 1987—another tough year for the markets. During the recession
in the early 1990s, Wal-Mart expanded its number of stores, opening new ones in Mexico…and
they seemed to have managed rather well in subsequent years.

All these examples—both classics and new—illustrate how it’s important to not let yourself
be captive to market conditions at any given time. See what’s in front of you as a challenge,
and recognize the opportunities that come knocking in this new economy are different from
before. CEO coach Tony Jeary said it best in his guest column featured in Zig Ziglar’s recent
newsletter: "Opportunity in good times assumes the continuation of the normal and capitalizes
on things remaining normal. In bad times, opportunity comes by abandoning things that no
longer work and finding new things that will work, based on new needs."

Challenge the assumptions that so many others are making about today’s market and what that
means for your bottom line. It’s not that people aren’t buying anymore. Their priorities
may be different, and
as I have pointed out in a previous article
, the decision-making and buying process can
be longer. However, your customers are still out there, and demand remains unabated for
great products—things that make their lives easier, more enriching or more productive. Just
as important, the need for professional sales support—people who connect with other with
empathy and persistence—that’s an opportunity that never goes out of style.