Why your business needs a good downturn

Comfortable profits. No worry in sight. We’re all pretty good at our jobs.

F*ck! The Google Analytics realtime counter displays 4 active users online. Something must be wrong… with Google Analytics obviously.

Two hours laters you convinced yourself it’s a simple Google Dance. Things will quickly return to normal.

But the reality is… your business just got kicked from the Google index.

Whether it’s a Google penalty or something less sinister but with an equal impact. The obvious signs: Growth has stalled, all KPI’s are trending downwards. For a while now. No new incoming leads. It all sunk in. You — and everyone in the office — got this uncomfortable feeling. Unease. Unrest.

So, congratulations! You are now in a downturn. But cheer up. Nothing makes your business better in the long run then a good downturn.

The 10 reasons why this is a good thing …

  • Priorities. That list of priorities, which your were ticking of one-by-one? Yeah you can throw that in the garbage. The number one priority is right here: action! Either pivot, acquire, call, or act. No time for tuning that feature to perfection. What we need now is a viable solution.
  • Focus. Remember when your brain was able to do all this random stuff during a workday? Yeah, well no place for random stuff now. Work got real. When the business started, it was doing this single one thing better then any competitor. Then you owned the market and you started doing all these things on the side. You know, it made sense, it was generating some extra money. The core activity though, where you excelled, the stuff you assumed always worked, you let it slip. And all the other fluff that was shiny and fun but eating all your time… it is hardly able to keep the lights on.
  • Creativity. The old boring stuff where everything else was build on top of, now failed. People come together, discussions follow with all assumptions off the table. We need to find a new way to move forward. What if we combine that idea, with this, and what about if we integrate that. Brains start lighting up across the table. 1 + 1 equals something new. Something that might actually work. Something never done like this before.
  • Productivity. What if you focus on a single goal with a hard deadline? Let me tell you, that will increase productivity. A lot. All those meetings?Somehow they disappear from the calendar because you are too busy. Too busy being productive.
  • Risk. “Lets not do that because it could hurt our business”. Yeah, that ain’t an argument anymore, given in a few weeks there is no current business left. The way is paved for risky ideas.
  • Energetic. A problem kicking you in the face. I can’t think of a better way to get me up in the early morning. Some doodling during breakfast, a fast paced walk to the office. Who ever knew you didn’t need to grab coffee every hour?
  • Help. Everybody around you has no idea what to do now. They were all hired to maintain the status quo. But there must be a solution. Somewhere. What if we talk to our customers, friends, and competitors. Maybe they will be able to help us. Provide us a lead. Get us back in the game.
  • Pivot. Doing the same thing that worked so well, but every time a little better. MBA’s call it progressive enhancement. It doesn’t work. No tweak is gonna save us at this point. We need a new solution. Something we can execute on ASAP.
  • Resources. We have an email list with over 100,000 users who previously paid for our product. Our last mailing: 12 June 2011. There must be a way we can leverage that resource to help us survive. What else do we have laying around other companies would kill for?
  • Now. A strategy. A five year plan. A vision. Things in the future. Nobody has to worry about that anymore. How can we act now?

Heck. That all sounds too good to be true.

There is no conclusion to all this. But try to sit back and think about what would happen if the cash cow runs dry. Profits are gone. That thing that you would do then… do it now.

Get too comfortable and you set yourself up for being surprised. In a bad way.

For me, well, eventually it all turned out fine. It was a Google Dance after all. Rankings returned, free leads start calling us again to spend their money. That uncomfortable feeling disappeared as quickly as it arrived…

Finally some excess time to write some blog posts.