Are you ready for the spring thaw?

By Gail Z. Martin

This has been the l-o-n-g winter.  No one seems to have been safe from weird weather.  (When the Dallas airport is closed by snow right before the Super Bowl, things are definitely weird.)  We’ve been hit by so many cold days and snow that we wouldn’t blame that famous ground hog for packing his bags and moving south (although here in the south, it hasn’t been too cozy this year).

The last couple of years have been like nuclear winter for business.  There’s been one fallout after another, from the housing markets to the banks to specific regions and industries that have been hit hard.  Many business owners are feeling a lot like Punxuatawney Phil, the famous ground hog, afraid to see their shadow.  And yet….we know that sooner or later, the spring thaw will happen.

Will you be ready when it does?  Winter (and recessions) come on a cycle.  And they leave pretty much on a regular cycle, too.  When you anticipate winter’s arrival, you prepare: weather stripping, stocking up on firewood, grabbing some ice melt at the hardware store, buying a new shovel.  Smart homeowners and gardeners also know that spring follows winter, so they make preparations of their own regardless of how gloomy the sky looks or how late spring seems to be in a given year.  They plant bulbs, prepare the ground for planting, order seeds and starter plants, clean out the greenhouse, gather their tools and get ready for planting season.  Homeowners start thinking about outdoor projects, sizing up new maintenance needs, and take the lawnmower and other tools in for repair.

How about with your business?  Maybe you saw the freeze coming, and did as much as you could to hunker down and stay warm.  Two years after the crash, are you still in your burrow with the covers pulled over your head?  That’s a short-term solution, but it won’t work forever.  There are some signs, however faint, that an economic spring is coming, but too many people are still burrowed in for the winter.  Here’s a clue—smart business owners are sharpening their tools for spring, because they know the thaw will come.

Have you used this “winter” time to prepare?  Did you revise your web site, re-think your strategy, shore up your distribution channels, get reacquainted with your vendors and customers, build your skills (and those of your team), cut costs without sacrificing investment in the future?  Most importantly, have you maintained marketing visibility so that when consumers poke their heads out of their burrows and want to spend some money, they haven’t forgotten about you?

Time to get started!  Spring is coming!

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