I recently sat at breakfast with a good friend of mine who also helps small business owners and self employed individuals succeed. (Combined we’ve
worked with thousands of entrepreneurs, organizations, and individuals.) As we talked about our lives, we discovered that we both work with people and
companies who are struggling right now as well as those who are experiencing higher levels of growth and success than ever.
As we continued to talk, we both noted that the economy’s current volatility truly highlights the behaviors and patterns that people tend to have
within themselves – even in good economic conditions. From that perspective, we found that the current economic strains which the economy is feeling
can actually be healthy, because it causes each of us to reexamine our unsustainable, unproductive, or non value-producing behaviors.
Further, we discovered that we were in agreement on several key distinctions which separated the successful group from those that were struggling, and
we found a set of traits and behaviors that were clearly common in both sets of people.
The first thing we identified was the difference in each group’s focus. In our struggling group, as you might guess, the focus is on the never ending
barrage of bad news and negativity.
For starters, we identified people spending unproductive hours watching the stock market, checking the Internet, worrying about things beyond one’s
control, or watching the news to confirm their already entrenched belief of how bad things are currently. Add to that, the time spent in unproductive
conversations and discussions that conjure up feelings of fear and helplessness.
As these people project that fear and negative outlook on everyone else, it’s no wonder that they experience others as being fearful too. We guessed
that if we could listen in on their conversations we might hear comments like “Nobody is buying houses right now.” “There’s no money available for
credit.” Or “Our clients have completely stopped spending money”. Ironically, none of these statements are even remotely true.
Our thriving clients, on the other hand, are taking a different approach. They certainly aren’t sticking their head in the sand or pretending that none
of the financial catastrophes are real. In fact, they are often watching the same news programs and reading the same articles as the struggling people;
however, they see the information with a completely different focus. This group realizes that if they can clearly identify and understand the changes
that are occurring in other people’s values and priorities, then they can capitalize on an incredible opportunity to realign with what people want and
value right now.
Below are a few more traits and ideas that we agreed will help with applying this focus in order to put you in the later, more successful, group:
First, it is imperative to understand that everyone is an entrepreneur. It is commonplace to think that entrepreneurs are only those that own their own
business, but let’s examine that idea deeper.
Obviously, when you own a business you are an entrepreneur, but what happens if you work for someone else? How do you view that relationship? To me, it
means that you own your own business, and your boss is your customer.
Perhaps your spouse, your children, or your parents are your customers in too. In viewing the world this way, we each have that same entrepreneurial
responsibility of maximizing the value we create with our customers – whoever our customers may be. If you adopt this attitude, then the question at
hand becomes: What can you do to be productive, proactive, and to lend your abilities in a way that creates maximum value for others?
In this approach it becomes critical to create more value for your customer than you ask from them in return, and therefore increase your bottom line.
This is important because increasing your “bottom line value contribution” causes your “personal stock price” to go up (even if the overall economy is
going the other direction).
You see, each of us has our own personal economy that we have an immense amount of control over, and our personal economy is determined more by our
personal bottom line and balance sheet than it is by the external economy.
Another key that we saw with our successful clients in this turbulent market was that they spent a lot of time developing their “capital”. Most people
focus on financial capital, however, these clients realize that financial capital is the least important form of capital to gain success. In fact,
there are three important types of capital that each person should be working on to insure thriving in this economy:
is our ideas, knowledge, and human ingenuity. It is especially critical to increase one’s capacity, leadership, and skill sets in order to increase
productive output. While many people tend to get bogged down with the doom and gloom, refusing to spend money on improvement, training, and education-
my most successful clients take advantage of those lapses to accelerate their ability to create value. Increases in mental capital contribute to job
security and career options.
For some, this may mean examining their career path and deciding it’s time to take it in a different direction, or even pick a new path altogether.
is simply people that you have a connection with, create value for, or that know and trust you. Investing in these important relationships is paramount
to stabilizing your personal economy. When someone refuses to invest in personal relationships, they often find themselves in difficult and lonely
situations when adversity strikes.
The different ways one might invest in a relationship can be to find out what they value and use your Mental Capital to provide it for them. It might
include just keeping in touch and having meaningful conversations. Ultimately, it is helping them solve problems, being of service and therefore
building value or relationship equity (otherwise known as goodwill).
Those who are willing to extend themselves in relationships, and expand their circle of relationships, will fare far better during marketplace
downturns. Important relationships should include mentors, teachers, and others who are contributing to increasing your Mental Capital.
is just as it sounds- money you have access to. While financial capital is important for thriving in these times, I have purposely listed it third
because it is not as important as mental and relationship capital. Financial capital will expand based on creating more value than you consume and is a
byproduct of how effective you utilize your mental capital to create value for people. The higher the gap that exists between the value you create and
what you consume, the more financial capital you will have. One approach (that we don’t recommend) for accumulating financial capital during economic
downturn is to reduce consumption. However, that approach ultimately fuels system wide economic distress.
The second (and recommended) solution is to increase output, production, or value creation. This doesn’t mean work longer hours, but rather to be aware
of what others value more highly, and focus on delivering that particular type of value.
As you are able to increase your 3 forms of capital simultaneously, they will have an exponential effect on one another. This will enable your capacity
to create value and therefore bolster your reserves and capabilities even further.
Simply put, the more you have to offer, the more you are able to receive in return. If you follow this principle and always increase your capital reserves
– prosperity is an inevitability.
[Ed. Note: Garrett Gunderson is a financial advocate to professionals. Through the value of Soul Purpose, he empowers people to build sustainable wealth consistent with their passion, purpose and knowledge. Garrett is a winner of the SBA’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. He founded Freedom FastTrack, as an expression of his Soul Purpose, which has been the fuel for a growing message that took the company to the Inc 500 in 2007. Garrett is the author of the revolutionary financial book Killing Sacred Cows, a New York Times bestseller and the New Rules to Get Rich with Nightingale Conant. Garrett lives in Salt Lake City with his wife and two crazy boys!]