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5 ideas for weathering the storm while the going is tough

This week I spoke at the finale event for the NSW Women in Finance mentoring program for 2008.  No doubt the program participants will look back on 2008 in years to come as a time when many great lessons were learned – both from their mentors and the financial crisis unfolding around us.

It’s always easy to ponder the learnings after the event, once the dust has settled.  I expect that the usual “Monday’s experts” will emerge soon enough, telling us all with hindsight what we should have done differently to sure up our businesses.  But for the time being we’re in the midst of a pretty unsettling time.  And I believe how we respond will determine our futures.

So this is what I’m doing at sphinxx to weather the storm, and with the goal of emerging out the other side even stronger.  Please post your comments at and share what you’re doing too so we can all benefit from the collective wisdom of our community.

1. Dare to be different.  What could you do differently to be memorable in these tough times and how can you set the pace instead of following the leaders?  At sphinxx we’ve launched our new “Get Togethers” – a range of practical 90 minute workshops, case studies and mentoring sessions to help our women leaders look at business issues in a new light.  Topics range from Negotiation Successful Outcomes to Turning Your Contacts into Clients to Preparing for Your Next Performance Review to Managing Your Staff to Keep Them.  Sessions are commencing in November in both face to face and webinar/teleconference formats.
2. Deliver value.  As spending tightens, the one with the best offer will win.  That won’t necessarily mean being the cheapest, but it is about delivering value.  Can you bundle products or offer guarantees that will increase the value you offer, without increasing the cost.  At sphinxx we’ve increased the value of our membership program to reward our loyal members who’ve supported us in the good times and the bad.  They’ll be getting access to Get Togethers in their membership package.  For anyone else, they’re just $38-50 per workshop.  How’s that for value!
3. Stay in touch.  This is not the time to cancel meetings or go to ground because in tough times, relationships and support structures are what will get you through.  It’s not just about business development; even the simple process of discussing what’s on your plate and what you’re challenged by can generate new ideas and perspectives to help push on in these tough times.  At sphinxx our Get Togethers will include “Get it off your chest” sessions in we’ll share the collective wisdom of the community in these open forums.  Like I’ve said before, we already have everything we need within our community, we need only draw on it.
4. Look for opportunities.  In tough times all sorts of opportunities present themselves that might not otherwise have been possible.  You might be able to extend your role description, make acquisitions, negotiate better terms, outsource or insource to best utilise your resources, or extend up or down the supply chain to achieve economies of scale.  At sphinxx we’ve secured amazing new premises in East Sydney that will become our own little haven for women leaders and home of our events in 2009.  If markets were still booming this wouldn’t have been possible so it’s certainly an opportunity we couldn’t resist!
5. Do nothing!  If it’s all getting to be too much, then don’t forget the value of stepping back, taking a breath, and doing nothing – at least until you’ve slept on that idea before you act.  After a few days off last week, I’m certainly feeling the benefits of this strategy!  And if the idea of doing nothing seems too much for your busy life, then look no further than the men around you – have you noticed how good they often are at doing nothing when it really hits the fan?!


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