The Signs Were There Already

Being a business center that has office space for lease, I have an interest in, well, space. I’m always on the hunt for a bigger space so that when I outgrow my current location, I’ll be ready. So in light of my situation, I’ve kept an eye on the local landscape here in Burlington. And it’s full of signs. No, not mystical shaman signs. For Lease signs. There are sections of Burlington littered with For Lease signs to the point where you wonder how Burlington is still functioning. Then I heard it on the news: we are officially in an unofficial recession. I think the signs were already there.

A friend of mine who works for the government actually spilled a bit of the beans about a month ago. And all of a sudden all the For Lease signs made sense. Businesses had not prepared for this unofficially official recession. Something had gone awry in their situation where surviving this “recession” (sorry but writing officially unofficial all the time is going to take up a lot of wordage) had negatively impacted their business to the point where they could no longer keep the doors open. Where did the planning go awry? Right at the beginning, then the middle and then just before the sign went up.

Now I have absolutely no idea why these signs are up for those particular businesses. On a positive note, it’s possible that the business that used to occupy a space has moved on to BIGGER space because they are doing so fabulously that they needed to. Fantastic! But more likely is that they scaled too quickly, didn’t market themselves properly, weren’t able to pivot and subsequently the For Lease sign was on the lawn before they could recover. Why? The same optimism that has me hoping that they’ve moved on to a bigger space to house all their success.

This is where pragmatism is more useful: Plan to fail. Plan to have to pivot. Plan to market aggressively.

Why do I offer this opinion? I opened my third business with optimism though there was a healthy dose of pragmatism there. I’ve kept things simple with the single largest expense being training tables that have already proven the worth of the angst it took to get them. But thanks to this “recession” I’m finding things tough too and having to go to my business plan and evaluate what tactics I need to tweak. I’m actually doing this for all three of my businesses which are all active right now. Why? Because I’m planning to succeed. And success necessitates the desire and ability to embrace change including failing, pivoting and marketing.

Am I saying that the former tenants of the For Lease properties didn’t do these things? Nope. I don’t know their story. I just know the one their sign and today’s news inspired me to share. How will my story end? My plan is to have it end years from now very successfully by failing, pivoting and marketing over and over again.

  • Failing doesn’t have to mean the sign on the lawn. Instead it can mean trying new things and pursuing new partnerships despite the chance that you might fail.
  • Pivoting is identifying new niches that your service or product can fill that you might not have tried before. It’s amazing  how facing that sign on the lawn can take away the limitations you might have placed on your business before.
  • Pivoting can also mean deciding that your current location was a bit too ambitious and you need to downsize. The sign might still go up but by then you’ve moved on to be that example of optimism we discussed earlier.
  • Marketing is something that you have to work at every day and is the last thing you should ever consider cutting. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in – the minute you stop marketing you just took a huge step towards offering the agent the hammer to nail that For Lease sign to your door.

The signs are there – all over Burlington. And nobody is immune to the perils of a recession, official or unofficial. So – if you’ve had to consider the impact this “recession” is having on your business, I strongly encourage you to have that difficult sit down and discuss how you’re going to fail, pivot and market.  Otherwise, you might want to add a hammer to your office equipment.

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