Another new year Featured

9:21am EDT December 20, 2002
January marks the beginning of another new year, but this column is going to sound very similar to the column I wrote last year.

Many companies would just as soon forget about the past two years, but we can't. It is crucial in times like these that a company's leadership remains focused and calm. Don't panic.

Last year I shared a friend's story about a pilot flying during a bad storm. He said that no matter how bad the weather, the pilot is trained to remain calm and stay focused on the end result of landing the plane safely.

As CEOs, we are piloting our planes through the business storm. I didn't know then was how long the storm was going to last, but the principles remain the same.

Here are some recommendations to help keep you focused.

1. Make the tough decisions. Leaders should not be afraid. People want to be led and know that the person leading is making decisions for the good of the company. The slow economy means more difficult decisions lie ahead. Be prepared to make them.

2. Manage profit. To exist today, a company must be profitable. Focus on areas that bring in revenue and re-evaluate those that don't. Drop less profitable products and services.

3. Be innovative. Know what separates you from your competitors. In order to serve your customers, it is critical to offer something that differentiates you from the pack.

4. Be patient. Good things come to those who wait. The farmer sows the seeds and has to wait the entire season to see the results of that labor. Remember, slow and steady wins the race.

A new year brings new opportunities, and with new opportunities come new challenges. The economy may improve or it may get worse, but either way, it's up to you to remain calm.

You are the pilot of your business, and people's livelihoods are depending on you. Stay the course, and good things will happen.