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7 great things about the downturn

Firstly, let me make it quite clear that I am not making light of the difficulties facing huge numbers of people as a result of the economic situation. This blog post is about making the most of where we find ourselves and recognising that we can usually control what is happening to us, especially if you are a business owner. Even if you don’t have this control we are able to control how we interpret our challenges and the meaning we give them, and ultimately to reassess what is important to us in life.

Here are 7 reasons why you should look at the downturn in a positive light:

  1. Problems or opportunities? Nearly every client I speak to in every line of business has been able to see a potential upside for their business. This creates a competitive edge for them as most business owners are too blinkered to see beyond cost cutting and working longer and longer hours IN the business.
  2. Sustainability and the environment The need to save money has made us all much more careful about the resources and energy that we consume. I hope this is the wake up call that the developed world needs to save the planet and that this rubs off on the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, China) countries too.
  3. Buy now, pay later (or never) culture My kids’ generation, as a result of their exposure to advertising on TV, internet etc, could be forgiven for thinking that it is normal for everyone to buy whatever they want on credit and simply write the debt off at a later date if you can’t afford to pay it. The idea that you have to save up to buy things seems rather quaint and old fashioned. I personally hope that credit (this sort anyway) gets even harder to obtain so that this cultural trend is reversed and my kids can grow up with a responsible attitude to spending.
  4. Survival of the fittest There are too many bad businesses out there run by business owners who are classic “E-Myth victims” (as we call them in the office). During the good times they were able to do little more than survive anyway and the downturn means they are forced to close down. This is probably in the best long-term interests of the owners, who would otherwise soldier on working excessive hours and under unnecessary stress until death or retirement with little or no money.
  5. The end of the “second hand” stigma The material benefits accumulated during the “boom” years will last us a long time. Most of these (houses, cars, electronic goods etc) are very durable and we will come to realise that they do not need to be replaced regularly- that was just what the marketing people made us believe to make us buy more. Just replace the words “second hand” with “recycled”! I have just signed up to the Freecycle web service and I am aiming to minimise the contents of my black wheelie bin even more in future.
  6. Bargain hunting There are many great bargains out there, especially for cash buyers. This includes buying in talented new people for your business. Just don’t be tempted to buy for the sake of it (see point 5).
  7. Finally, remember that it could be a lot worse Consumerism and excessive spending beyond our means was never going to be sustainable. We should be thankful that we have not come down with even more of a bang.

Those of you who are familiar with Affluenza will recognise that many of the issues above relate to the root causes of this illness. If this concept is new to you, I strongly recommend that you find out more (eg by reading the books Affluenza- The All Consuming Epidemic, which I have just read, and Your Money or Your Life, which is next on my reading list). I think there will be less Affluenza in our society going forward as a result of the recession.

Let us know if you can you think of any more positives.

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