By Meridith Elliott Powell
Although actuaries don't control the events that caused the recession in the United States and around the globe, they can grasp the opportunities for success that didn’t exist under the previous economic regime.
Actuaries are well aware of the importance of understanding risk and uncertainty. The current economic climate presents challenges in those areas as never seen before. To succeed in the new economy it is vital to develop the ability to navigate through these changes and to adapt nimbly to new circumstances, never losing sight of the historical perspective―this is not the first time that major events have shaken the world and certainly it won’t be the last. Below you'll find three deceptively simple secrets that can put your business on the road of continued success in today’s challenging economy. Read carefully.
The economy has evolved. The successful professional will evolve with it.
Let’s go back to the age of dinosaurs. Watching them go about, a spectator might have thought that these massive creatures were indestructible and that they would always be a permanent part of the landscape. But their time of dominance eventually came to an end, and with it struggle and confusion for some, change and opportunity for others, much as in today’s economic environment.
Similarly, the recent events that sent shock waves through the global economy ended the reign of a number of corporate dinosaurs and severely crippled others. The days when a single massive corporation could dominate and devour smaller companies through sheer size and financial prowess are nearly over, at least in some sectors. It is becoming increasingly apparent that the old way of doing business no longer works.
Analogous to how the dinosaur extinction gave rise to a new age of mammals, the recession and other financial changes have paved the way for those who will seize the moment and learn to thrive in the new business landscape. This is good news for small, independent companies, because they will have the opportunity to compete like never before.
Get to know your new neighborhood—the global village
A key feature of the new economy is globalization. Whether you own a multi-million dollar corporation or you’re an independent consultant, the marketplace today is the world. Our customer base and our competition know no boundaries.
Being global also means that we are no longer isolated from what goes on in the rest of the world, good or bad. The events that occur “somewhere else” now influence our lives and our businesses. What happens in Brazil or Greece can have just as big an impact as what’s happening in our local town.
Now everyone is your customer … and your competitor
For those willing to embrace the paradigms of the new economy, its increasing inter-dependency brings great opportunity along with the threat of competition.
In the past, customers who were interested in hiring an actuary were limited to dealing with local professionals, or with those willing to relocate, or with those willing to travel extensively. Similarly, consumers who lived in rural areas had limited choice of products and services. Once a relationship with a client had been established it became protected by geographic entry barriers. As a consequence, a business like yours did not have to spend much time and effort getting above the “white noise,” building trust and offering consistent value because the availability of human talent was limited. Today, in our increasingly interconnected global village, buyers have more choices on how to spend their money. The rising popularity of Internet businesses, emails and teleconferencing have greatly expanded consumer choices, bringing together players that in the past could be conveniently ignored. Today’s connectivity means that a potential client does not need to be in the same city, state or even on the same continent to hire your services.
The downside of globalization is that it is difficult to stay competitive in the background of a challenging, sometimes unforgiving environment. For example, you must monitor competitors who are located well beyond the radius of your traditional geographical limits, which can be tough. However, there is an upside too, a big one. You can reach out to potential clients, some of whom may be very attractive―potential clients that in the past could not be considered serious prospects. It gives you the opportunity to work in a larger market and the chance to build a clientele far bigger than you could have imagined just a few years ago. This new economy may have broadened your scope of competition, but it has also greatly expanded your customer base.
Step Into A New Age
The marketplace has changed irrevocably. Successful businesses and professionals must evolve right along with it―no exceptions. The tried-and-true business principles that dominated the U.S. economy for many years are no longer relevant in this global landscape.
The very same shifts that spell disaster for businesses and corporations stuck in their old ways present a world of opportunity for entrepreneurs who take the time to learn the ins and outs of the changing economic climate and who develop the ability to capitalize on them.
Meridith Elliott Powell is an international speaker, certified coach, and strategist who helps businesses and people master the relational skills needed to be successful in today’s competitive environment. She is the author of three books including the recently published “Winning in the Trust & Value Economy” (Global Professional Publishing, 2013). Meridith hosts the “Secrets to Success Podcast” on the award-winning, international Ambitious Entrepreneur podcast network and is a featured writer for SOLDLAB magazine, ReCharge! magazine and the Women’s Advisors Forum. For more information, visit www.motionfirstnow.com or learn more about her book on Amazon.