I have learned that our industry can sometimes be its own worst enemy... because we believe (but don't like to hear) the media. But when the negativity is presented to us day in and day out, it's difficult to close our minds to such a continuing barage. We are after all, in the selling business, and we need to remain positive and upbeat in spite of these irritants that present themselves on our radios, TV's, and our computers. The following is a piece of literature which my partner first encountered in the early '80's when our country was undergoing a lot of economic turmoil. It points out how we can be influenced by those who know absolutely nothing about our business and their unfounded prophecies can become self-fulfilling. Enjoy the read....
There was this elderly man who had a profitable little business selling hot dogs on a busy street corner in a major city. He wasn't particularly well educated, but he sold great hot dogs and his customers loved him.
During the early morning rush hour, he'd wheel his mobile hot dog stand to position it near the exit of the central railway station in town. A year ago he'd added a bacon and egg roll to his range and sold scores of them to this breakfast crowd every day. At lunchtime, he'd move his stand to a popular park where he had lines of regulars.
In the afternoon he'd be back at the station entrance and then later most nights he knew a great spot near a nightclub where young patrons rushed him off his feet. He had even installed special lighting and a flashing neon sign. Even people driving by would stop.
He'd worked hard for years and done well enough to put his only son through university who later became an accountant with a large accounting firm.
One day his son warned him that a recession was on the way. The old man asked his son what this meant. Being an educated man his son gave a very detailed explanation of how the recession would severely impact everyone in the community, particularly small business people like his father. There would be enormous unemployment; people would not be able to afford to spend money as they did now. He painted a gloomy picture of the future and warned his father that it would be wise to cut back on his expenses and "tighten his belt" financially and prepare for the worst. The old man didn't know much about the economy or interest rates, but he trusted his son. After all, he was an educated man. Recession mentality kicked in...
The old man began to cut back on the quantity of sausages and bread rolls he bought. He didn't want to get caught with stale rolls as business began to drop off. But it was hard to judge and some days he actually ran out of sausages and rolls earlier than he normally would. So he went home early and spent more time worrying about this recession that was coming.
Soon he knew that what his son had said was right. He noticed that his takings were indeed falling. This depressed him more and so he tended to get out of bed later each day. After all, why get to the station so early when obviously more people would be eating at home rather than spending money on breakfast in the city. He decided that his bacon and egg rolls were too expensive for most people now. After all, they were twice the price of a hot dog, so he cut them from his menu and his sales continued to plummet.
Wow, his son was right, this recession was hitting hard!
He decided to save more money and not replace the batteries that powered his neon sign and lights at night. Now because he was in the dark, fewer people bought from him and soon he decided that it wasn't even worth his time setting up at night. Eventually he decided to sell off his equipment and his trolley. He was in luck though because the young woman who bought his trolley didn't seem to know how bad business was, or how severe the recession was going to be. He managed to unload the trolley for more than he thought he would get. Now day after day he stayed at home, depressed, and occasionally his son would visit him and they would discuss how bad the recession was, and how lucky the old man had been to have an educated son who had warned him in advance about this terrible recession.
So what's the moral of this story?
Recession mentality starts in one's own head. If you believe that a recession is coming and that times will soon be tough, then they will be for you. Like the old man in the story, you'll start to change your successful behaviour patterns and replace them with less resourceful habits. You'll sleep in later. You'll take longer lunch breaks, make less phone calls and go home earlier.
But it needn't be that way... Walk to Your Own Drummer!