Don't Fall Off the CliffSpend too much time reading the headlines, and you’re to be excused if you feel like climbing back into bed and pulling the covers over your head.

Certainly, there’s a lot to be unsettled about on this planet at the moment. The early 2016 economic, geo-political and weather indicators suggest that this lap around the sun will be interesting. And remember, “interesting” isn’t necessarily good.

While the glass might not be half-full, there’s always something left to be positive about. Instead of falling victim to the psychology of the herd and withdrawing or hunkering down in your business, seize upon the positives and make some of your own good news.

6 Tips to Help Your Firm Prosper in a Period of Doom and Gloom:

1. Grow closer to your customers: they need your help now more than ever. Customers still have needs and problems and will spend and invest to solve those problems. The question is how good are you and your team at identifying and solving those challenges. Strengthen your sales and marketing operations and challenge them to lead the way.

2. Use the force…or, the tools. We’re rich in powerful tools to help us work smarter. The tools, technology and data available to you to help your firm work smarter are truly remarkable. Leverage technology and data to pin-point audiences, assess performance, gain early insight to trends and out-maneuver your clunky competitors.

3. When everyone is playing defense, go on the offensive. Well-managed firms survive and even thrive in difficult circumstances by playing offense while others play defense. Look for opportunities and don’t become paralyzed by the specter of failure. Your tendency is to hunker down and wait out the storm. The right thing to do is put all hands on deck looking for the opportunities.

4. Your competitors will do stupid things. Guaranteed. Exploit these opportunities. As long as you avoid mimicking your competitors, you will find ample opportunities to move some of there business to your top and bottom lines. Be there to capitalize when they cut marketing budgets or eliminate entire teams of engineers. And when they back away from that early, promising market, it’s time for you to plant your flag and begin building.

5. Quit waiting for the spark of genius to ignite innovation in your firm. You don’t need the reincarnation of Steve Jobs to innovate. Innovation is as much (or more) a management challenge as it is an outcome of inspired genius. Put eyes and feet in your customer’s offices and focus your filters on identifying opportunities to remove burden from their operations. Burden relief must be your new mantra.

6. Hire the gray matter. Expect a buyer’s market in gray matter to emerge. As said competitors move down the stupid-decisions path, there will be an incredibly variety of talent available for the picking. Get strategic about your talent recruitment and internal top-grading.

The Bottom-Line for Now:

Humans follow the herd, and when the herd runs toward doom and gloom, we make stupid decisions. While it never pays to have a Pollyannaish view in a time of challenge, there are ample reasons and opportunities to not race pell-mell off the cliff of despair with everyone else. Frame the economic and industry challenges as opportunities and fight like hell to exploit those opportunities while your competitors jump off the cliff.

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Art Petty serves senior executives and management teams as a performance coach and strategy facilitator/adviser. Art is a popular keynote speaker focusing on helping professionals and organizations learn to survive and thrive in an era of change. Additionally, Art’s books are widely used in leadership development programs. To learn more or discuss a challenge, contact Art.