It’s a simple and enduring piece of advice that’s helped many a meeting professional brave tough times. “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”
It’s also passé. And at the risk of sounding insensitive, I’m pretty tired of this old cliché.
The problem is that everyone is trying to “make lemonade” right now. Belts have been tightened and sales focus has been heightened. So why are we all still frightened?
The question is what are you doing to be successful during our industry’s economic downturn? Here are four places to start:
1. Invest in yourself…
…or “When life gives you lemons, build a better lemonade stand.”
There can be a true upside to the idle time that many people are facing. It’s a perfect opportunity to make investments in yourself and in your organization. Dust off that strategic plan and start considering areas where you can improve. What operational processes can be enhanced? Does your brand identity still match your reality or is it time for a face lift? How about finally going for your CMP or CMM certifications? These are examples of basic building blocks that will create more long-term demand for your services.
2. Explore new partnerships…
…or “When life gives you lemons, find a partner that has straws.”
There is strength in numbers. The right strategic partnerships can open doors and create economies of scale that you may not be able to achieve on your own. New sales channels could be one little conversation away. Don’t be afraid to ask the question. All you are risking is a “no thank you”. A great example of the power of partnerships: ten years ago, the Meetings Industry Council of Colorado was formed under similar market conditions and created a lasting benefit for all parties concerned. Happy 10th anniversary, MIC!
3. Think beyond your core business…
…or “When life gives you lemons, twist some of the peel into a martini.”
Change can be daunting to consider. But give yourself a moment to consider new possibilities. There are real rewards to be had by moving outside your comfort zone. In the meeting planning industry, our customers are always asking for things that aren’t listed in our corporate capabilities brochure. At Kinsley, we’ve found that 9 times out of 10, we are up for the challenge…if we only give ourselves a chance. It simply requires confidence in yourself and an adventurous spirit. Stagnate or innovate. The next time a unique request comes your way, your answer should be “let’s figure it out!”
4. Get the right people on the bus…
…or “When life gives you lemons, hire people who love lemons the way you do.”
In his bestselling book Good to Great, author (and Boulder resident) Jim Collins dedicates an entire chapter to the concept of finding the right people for your organization. He’s observed that the very best companies focus their recruiting efforts on hiring the right people and then determining the best role for them to play.
First who – then what. It sounds kind of backwards, doesn’t it?
I’m not suggesting that you ignore skill sets. The “what” is a prerequisite to get in the door. But how much experience would you be willing to trade for a hire that’s a perfect fit for your culture? For someone that’s eager to contribute while learning? When the MPIRMC looks at the nominations process, this is a key consideration.
So what are you going to do with all of those lemons?
Written by Steve Kinsley