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How to Make Money During the Worst Times

“The 21st century leader sees adversity through the lens of opportunity.”

That quote really resonates for me and for so many of my clients.  After all, any leader who can look at adverse circumstances and connect the dots of opportunity within those circumstances can potentially neutralize the adversity and realize revenue.  Why?  Because when the company’s resources are not encumbered by battling adversity, they can be effectively utilized by strategically embracing the opportunity the adversity obscures.

And in the case of macroeconomic adversity like a recession, the company that reaches for the hidden opportunities within those macroeconomic conditions, can soar past the competition that has hunkered down rationing the very resources that should have been deployed to realize revenue.

Don’t believe me?  Here’s a true story.  In 2008, at the start of the recession, a national furniture company came to me asking to increase their revenues.  As you may know, furniture, (and RVs for that matter!) are probably two of the least purchased items in a recession. Nevertheless, I agreed to take on the project, provided the company was willing to invest into potentially contrarian strategies during the growing recession.  They agreed.

We identified two ways the recession manifested itself at retail – little or no onsite/near-store excess inventory with long lead times for replenishment, and reduced in-store sales personnel.  We consequently developed two strategies that proactively addressed these two adverse retail conditions.  The strategies, which are still being used six years later, gave retailers strong incentives to buy excess reconfigured inventory SKUs that, when merchandised in the way suggested by the manufacturer, offered customers a highly interactive, high-value self-service experience.

Consumers responded immediately and enthusiastically.  The result?  Sales for the furniture manufacturer grew from $55 million to over $100 million in the ensuing three years with continued healthy operating margins.  Meanwhile, sales for the rest of the furniture industry as a whole continued in a much different way – with year over year double digit declines during the same period.

Take a moment and think about the adverse conditions affecting your company.  What opportunities lurk beneath these adverse conditions.  And most importantly, how can you seize these opportunities and mold them into an action plan to realize more revenue?

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