Through the past several months of economic strife and as we plan and prepare for Spring 2009 and beyond, we have seen the term "conservative optimism" arise. At first, I thought it was a pretty good attitude to adopt. But the more I thought about it, the more I wondered whether we should start to think about our businesses a little differently. What would happen if we changed our mindsets and put aggressive in the place of conservative?
I believe we would start to think about our businesses with less emotion and clearer heads. I also believe we would see this current downturn in the financial markets as an opportunity to develop an aggressive strategy to grow and move our businesses forward.
One of our clients recently told me he was driving to the greenhouse one day, listening to the news on the radio. By the time he got to work, he was depressed and began to wonder whether he had made the right decisions regarding the production forecast. It's time to close our ears and open our eyes and look around at what consumers are doing. Unemployment is at its highest in recent history, but the majority of consumers are working and spending money — on our products.
What Does It Mean?
We cannot change the past. Now is the time to look at what we want our business to look like later this year or into 2010.
Focus on those things that we have control over, such as production, sales and distribution. We can't control what happens to the stock market or natural-gas pricing.
Upgrade and prepare for when things improve. One greenhouse manufacturing and construction company owner recently suggested their design group was busier than ever. He said several retail garden centers as well as growers were planning on new construction projects as soon as the economy improved a bit, and they'll be ready when that happens.
Diversify your product offering, customer list and maybe even how you present your company to the marketplace. When business is good, we think, "Why should I change it? What we are doing today is just fine." Aggressive optimism might suggest that the status quo needs to change.
Good times will return, and when they do, how will your company take advantage of them? Think progressively about the future. Aggressive optimism will separate you from your competitors. In fact, it may make a difference in whether your competitor is still around when the dust settles. So, is the glass half full or half empty?