February 2012 Overcoming Business Challenges
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Overcoming Business Challenges

By Steve Strauss. ARCHIVE:

One of the things I really appreciate about working with Greatland is that it is their mission to make our life easier. That is, most small business folk don’t have a great handle on W-2s, 1099s, and other such tax related issues. But Greatland does, so they can step in when necessary and make an entrepreneur’s life simpler and easier.

And that’s important for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is that small business people have plenty of challenges already, without having to learn or otherwise deal with something like a tax issue with which the may be unfamiliar. Which begs the question: What do you do when business gets rough? How do you handle the inevitable challenges that crop up when you are an entrepreneur?

In this month’s blogs, that is what we will be examining.

The first thing to consider when business gets tough is that, while unwelcome, some problems can actually be the proverbial blessing in disguise; your issue may actually hold the very seed of your renewal. Like a Phoenix rising from the ashes, sometimes the best ideas occur during times of trouble.

This being an election year, let me give a political example:

In 1984, Ronald Reagan was running for reelection against a younger Walter Mondale. At the first of their presidential debates, Reagan looked and sounded like an old man. The buzz was that if he didn't do dramatically better the next time, he might lose the election.

Came time for the second debate and everyone was watching the 73-year-old President closely. Soon after the debate began, Reagan took the initiative and broached the subject. The President promised everyone that even though age had obviously become an issue in the campaign, he “would not exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience.”

With that quip, Reagan reversed his fortunes and regained the momentum. The issue evaporated and he walked off with the election. It was political Jujitsu.

If you think about it, businesses can also use a form of “business Jujitsu” to handle problems and challenges as well. The basic idea behind Jujitsu is to use an opponent's weight and strength against him. By turning the tables on it, a problem becomes an opportunity.

The prototypical example of how to do it right in business comes from Johnson & Johnson. In 1986 its star product was Tylenol, which at the time accounted for about 15% of the company's profits. That year, someone laced some Tylenol with cyanide and seven people died. A panic ensued. Instead of making excuses or hiding, Johnson & Johnson became proactive. They pulled all Tylenol from the shelves and invented tamperproof packaging. So rather than being associated with a disaster, the company was praised for its quick and decisive actions. Sales of Tylenol actually grew after its use of business jujitsu.

So that is the lesson. Part strategy, part mental trick, and part ancient plan of attack, business Jujitsu is the first thing to consider when business gets tough. It can help you reverse fortunes and actually take your business to new heights.

(For even more business tips and strategies, check out the new podcast on iTunes that I am doing in conjunction with Greatland called Small Business Success with Steve Strauss, Powered by Greatland.)