Our economy is on a small-ish roller-coaster, but what is often ignored is that the roller-coaster has long been operating far above ground-level in Australia. We have an enviable economic status worldwide. It is close to three full decades since Australia last entered a recession. The GFC hit with full force in September of 2008 – 11 years ago!

Australian annual economic growth has slowed in recent years, bringing to some a sense of gloom and even unfamiliarity. There are now many who have never experienced a significant economic downturn in Australia through their whole careers – whether as an employee, a business owner, a politician, or an organisational leader.

There is (to my mind, needlessly alarmist) talk of upcoming recession for Australia. National retail figures for July indicate a downward spend Australia-wide. However, there are indications from some of my sources that retail spending has increased through August and into September. It may be that as the general population receive a bonus in their tax returns it may provide a micro-stimulus to spending. There are, of course, numerous other factors impacting our overall economy. It is the cross-impact of different factors that is, however, creating the analytical uncertainty and negative interpretations of trends.

In the face of economic uncertainty, however, what can be our local response?

The most robust approach to economic downturn is actually to ramp up in at least three distinct categories:

  1. Maximise Relationships
  2. Innovation
  3. Positive Strategy
Maximise Relationships

Building, maintaining and growing relationships leads to multiple outcomes that build resilience and productivity. (When I say productivity, think beyond accounting-style widget calculations of time vs effort, but creating better or new products, services and “game-changing” results.) Advice, ideas, inspiration, motivation, competitive intelligence, opportunities, leads, resources, contributions, alliances, partnerships, and more can all come through your relationships with both individuals and organisations.

Seek out relationships for both short-term and long-term yields.

And building relationships requires authenticity, integrity and trust to be beneficial and ultimately valuable for both parties.

Innovation

Not-for-profits, small businesses, community groups, medium-sized and large businesses – it doesn’t matter how big you are or what you are, you don’t have to be Google or Uber to innovate and “disrupt” the way things are done.

Innovation is applied creativity that creates a tangible product or service. Even the smallest micro-business can be a great innovator. I’ve worked with companies where 2 individuals have solved problems that have vexed multi-billion dollar corporations.

Get creative and innovate!

Positive Strategy

Instead of full retreat mode, consider how you can develop a strategy that is positively geared towards taking advantage of situations.

Most of the readers here are from smaller-to-medium sized businesses. You have 2 incredible advantages that others do not:

  1. You can turn on a 1-cent piece. Yes, you read that right – a 1-cent piece. “But they don’t even exist anymore!” So what?! You know what they are, what they were used for and how small they were. Now, you might have been around for a while too, but doesn’t stop you from changing, pivoting and getting into places where those huge 50-cent coins don’t have a chance. Old tools can be far better than new tools, too. Nimbleness is the great advantage of any smaller organisation. Use it.
  2. You know your clients better than Uber or Google or Facebook. Sure, they do all of this data-collection, but not a bit of it compares to sitting down over coffee (or at your store or place of work) with your client and asking them about anything and everything and getting to really know them. This is the greatest under-utilised resource in business and organisations today. I have run many consulting projects for companies where I have used the clients and the employees to find out tremendous amounts about the companies and individuals I’m working with and how they can work better with their constituents. I’ve then used that information to help create strategies that will turn around incredibly complex and difficult situations. There’s an art to the conversations, yes, but anyone can start. That’s the beauty of face-to-face communication.

The point here is that being positive is the key thing. Forget the gloom and doom. There is always opportunity if you look for and plan for it. In fact, being positive is a strategy in and of itself. Employ it.

As they always say, “the fundamentals of our economy are strong”. Do something with it. Get off the roller-coaster – it’s too easy to ride it, instead of taking a path to your own destination.

We look forward to our Chamber members continuing to thrive throughout this financial year. If you need any help doing it, talk to me.

© 2019 Peter J. McLean www.chamberofcommerceandcommunity.com

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