The current economic crisis is a monster – no doubt about that. If you are under the age of 80, this is shaping up to be the worst market downturn of your life. Cautious and prudent fiscal, managerial, and operational policy in our personal and business dealings is critical. But what many companies and managers, in the midst of a crisis like this, may not recognize is this: Downturns are significant opportunities that don’t come along very often.
I am not suggesting that the current economic situation is anything other than an unmitigated disaster--it is. Blame whoever or whatever you want for the mess we are in--government, mortgage brokers, Wall Street, hedge fund managers--everyone had a hand in it. We didn’t ask the hard questions when times were good. Home values were up, stock funds were delivering strong returns, money was cheap, and debt skyrocketed. We turned a blind eye to the fundamental economics that govern markets. Only after those very fundamentals reminded us just how far we had drifted did we stop and look around and ask each other, “how did this happen?”
Now we’re in a mess and the question everyone needs to ask themselves is: What am I going to do about it? How am I going to grow my company? Win new clients? Retain current clients? Make money? Grow revenue and profits? Invest in innovation?
Great Moves In Bad TimesHP’s was born during the Great Depression. Amazon, ridiculed and left for dead in the wreckage of the dot-com bust, rose from the carnage to become the innovative, industry behemoth it is today. IBM, during the downturn of ’79-80, bet big on a thing called the PC. Microsoft, a small software company that successfully weathered the downturn in ’90-91 emerged to become a household name around the world.
What did these companies have in common through tough economic times? Innovation. Vision. Risk-taking. Market awareness. Confidence. Belief in self.
It is critical to the current and future success of our collective businesses and companies to continue to innovate during challenging times. No IT channel companies are better positioned for innovation than MSPs. Indeed, MSPs have been on the bleeding edge for years. Now is the time to capitalize on those innovations and attack your competitors who have not made such investments relentlessly.
Stay AggressiveBe prudent and manage carefully, but do not abandon the innovation and aggressiveness that is required, not only to persevere through the downturn, but to emerge from it stronger, faster, and further ahead of your competition. Don’t succumb to the temptation to hunker down and wait it out--let your competitors make that fatal mistake. Focus on your value proposition to your clients--reduced costs, high quality, predictable budgeting. The downturn plays to your value as an MSP--companies need what you have to offer.
In the book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell illustrates that successful people and companies, through years of preparation and dedication, capitalize on that preparation when they find themselves in the right place at the right time. We, as MSPs, have spent the past few years investing, building, and learning. Suddenly we are confronted by a significant challenge, but one that we are well prepared for with a killer value proposition to leverage.
We are in the right place at the right time.
Justin Crotty is Vice President Services North America at Ingram Micro, Inc. He oversees Ingram Micro Seismic. Guest blog entries such as this one are contributed on a monthly basis as part of MSPmentor.net’s 2009 Platinum sponsorship.