The more difficult the economy, the greater the opportunities -- but only for those who are strong, well-prepared and persistent. Many people are fixated by national or even global economic doom and gloom. Many wait for a magic fix, only to realize it will never come.
We are now in what I like to call an "eat what you kill" environment, where the people who win are those who take the initiative without waiting for permission to create their own success.
Here are five ways I have found to ensure success in any economy:
1. Depend on no one.
Success will elude you until you realize that no one is the cause of your problems and no one can ensure you will achieve your goals. Your destiny is up to you and no one else. I began on the path to making a real difference in my professional life only after I decided I would not take the crumbs the government doles out through unemployment benefits and would get a job no matter what I had to do. As a college graduate schooled in accounting, working on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico was not my idea of a job, much less a career. But because I was willing to do whatever it took to begin producing and making a difference in my life, I gained the confidence that led to major career advancements.
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2. Assume the economy will not improve.
Be on full alert DEFCON 3 and do not take anything, especially the security of your job, for granted. You need to make yourself so valuable to your employer that there is no way the company could consider firing you. The new economy demands a shift to an entrepreneurial mindset that goes beyond the scope of work in your job description. The most powerful thing you can do is to figure out how to drive revenue or contribute to the bottom line. You also might consider taking on a second job or starting a side business from your living room. Have a meeting about your career and finances with your family and let them know they need to pull together with you and may need to make sacrifices.
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3. Become more active.
When I started my first company, I experienced so much resistance due to a tough economy and other factors that little by little I felt like giving up. It wasn't until I tried making 30 or 40 sales calls a day instead of just three or four that I began developing traction. After that, I took a hard look at everything else I was doing and set targets to increase the activity in my struggling business tenfold. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying you aren't already working hard, but you could make a big difference over time by finding ways to get even more done. For example, you could plan your workflow better, put that new efficiency app on your smartphone or set limits on time spent in meetings.
4. Be bright.
The future is brilliant for those who are positive. Be the most optimistic person in the game, and that will separate you from others more than anything else. We live in a world rocked by a thousand little shocks interspersed with periodic economic and natural disasters. And at no time in our history, have I seen so many people turning to vices designed to relieve stresses and strains. Now, it seems that people who stay positive and have a can-do attitude are the exceptions. But you can be one of them by staying focused and learning to smile no matter the circumstances.
5. Become omnipresent.
Now is the time to be everywhere, to be seen and talked about. Obscurity is the single biggest challenge in business. You can't succeed if potential customers don't know you, or existing clients are not thinking of you often enough. The good news is that you have more opportunities than ever to become omnipresent thanks to social media. I write a blog daily, create five videos each week, contribute at least 200 original posts on social networks every month, as well as continue to use traditional press releases, advertising and direct-mail marketing campaigns. The upshot: More prospects now reach out to us than my sales team contacts through outbound calls.
A stagnant economy is not something anyone would wish for, but let this be an opportunity for you to stand out and take market share. Don't be afraid to show the world how passionate you are and how unwilling you are to take "no" for an answer. Know that you, your attitude and your ability to cut through the noise around you will determine your destiny.