It’s 1944, and we were in the middle of WWII. Japan had dropped off a young, intelligence officer behind enemy lines on an island in the Philippines. His mission was to wreak as much havoc as possible behind enemy lines. He was to take out an air strip and destroy a marina used by U.S. and Allied troops. Additionally he was to commit, what in today’s vernacular would be considered “terroristic” acts. Under no circumstances was he to be captured or surrender. Further, it was decided that he would not be placed with other Japanese troops on the island but would work alone. Lt. Onoda was to continue his mission until he was relieved of his duties.
Eight months later, the war ended but he was deep in the jungle, unaware. Other Japanese troops begin to return to home, but not Lt. Onoda. Two months later he began finding pamphlets lying on the ground saying the war was over, but he discounted them as propaganda used by the enemy. He continued his mission.
Lt. Onoda did not stick to his mission for two years, six years or even ten years. In 1974, nearly 30 years later, someone researching his story found him. That researcher returned to Japan with pictured proof that Lt. Onoda was alive, and subsequently Japan found and sent his former commanding officer to the island to seek him out. At long last, Lt. Onoda was “relieved of his duties.” Then-president Marco of the Philippines pardoned him for acts he’d committed during those 30 years, and Lt. Onoda returned home.
We can learn much from this story. While qualities of commitment and dedication are admirable, businesses must be responsive to changing times, shifts in economic forecasts and indicators that strategies need to be re-evaluated.
Our economy operates under an ebb and flow method, with an assortment of factors that affect businesses. Small businesses are more vulnerable and less able to recover a round of decreased sales or another business competitor moving into the area threatening the bottom line. Here are some strategies:
- You have to make AND spend money. Cash flow is vital for paying bills, buying product, meeting payroll. Keeping your flow consistent ensures that your business remains viable, even during tough times.
- Is your business ready to diversify or consolidate? With a fluctuating economy, you evaluate whether the gamble of diversification (offer a wider selection of product/services/choices). Do you have the luxury of time, to withstand a weak consumer confidence or poor sales? If your answer was no, you may want to consolidate. Do you what you are currently doing, but better. Let your brand work for you.
- Learn from your competitors. What are they doing successfully that you are not? Perhaps it’s time to take lessons.
- Value the customers and clients that are and continue to be loyal to your establishment. Repeat business is a great indicator as you gauge your marketing approach.
Napoleon Hill, author of “Think and Grow Rich” said, “Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” Here’s to a healthy new business year!