I spend a lot of time on the road, visiting remote rural towns and big cities alike. All are feeling the affects of this financial crisis in some way, even if they don’t think they are. As I go about doing my business in these places I often ask people the question “what have you learnt from the GFC?” There are lots of responses to this question and of course none are right or wrong, but it is a question we all need to ask ourselves.
I guess if I am going to ask other people the question I need to ask myself the same thing. So what have I learnt from the GFC?
Firstly, every single business either has had tough times financially or they will have tough times financially, it is simply a matter of time. Whether they survive or not depends on how fundamentally strong they are behind the scenes. It is also a very convenient time for lots of unsustainable businesses to blame their woes on the GFC, when in reality the problems existed long before we have ever heard the term GFC.
Secondly, the bigger you are the harder you fall and the louder the noise you make when you hit the ground. In Cairns and North Queensland we have certainly all felt the flow on affect from some of our giants falling over. Sometimes big is not necessarily better.
Thirdly, every good time comes to an end. We have had it easy for a long time and now we have to work harder for our money. Sitting on our hands doing nothing or moaning about how tough it is will do nothing to make things better. We have to roll up our sleeves and get on with it.
Fourth, we have to treat our customers as the most important part of our business, in good times and in bad. Without them, we don’t have a business. Every business owner needs to ask themselves just how well have they been treating their customers lately? This is a big problem in Cairns, like many tourist towns. After a while the sea of tourists become sheep. For many people the trip to Cairns is their holiday of a life time, we need to play our part in that and tell them and show them that we appreciate the fact that we know they had a lot of other places to choose from, but they chose Cairns.
Fifth, challenge brings out the best in all of us. All over the world people are getting very creative and it is paying off. The way we have been doing business is in many instances no longer working. If your business doesn’t evolve now it will die, simple as that.
And last but not least, with every negative situation there are always upsides and positives, even if they are not that obvious at the time. Eventually they will become clear and it might just be the realisation that your own self worth is actually far more important than your net worth.