In the children’s board game Chutes and Ladders, players strive to systematically make it to the top of the game board. Through rolls of the dice, they can have their route accelerated with ladders for shortcuts or hindered by chutes, which drop them back in their progress. Unlike games of strategy and choice, the game is driven by luck.
In reality, having played the game and others like it in my childhood, I saw that the secret to being a regular winner is persistence.
Hanging in there, improved my odds.
You see, being the victim of bad luck and factors outside your control is extremely frustrating. Nothing throws off a game like a string of bad luck.
You play enough games, though, and you realize that all those lucky and unlucky rolls even out. Everyone has good luck and bad luck. In the end, most games really are won by a few squares, even if you are knocked down again and again.
I saw that, if I could remain focused and unperturbed, even in the face of a long slide down the chute, other players would become vexed and wonder what I had up my sleeve, putting their attention on me and not on the game. Often, players would give up and stomp away, leaving me the winner by forfeit. I happily accepted the victory on those terms. It helped me learn to play harder games that required strategy, courage, bluffing, and, yes, persistence.
This year of years has been a game of Chutes and Ladders.
I have accepted a heavier client load than in normal years, piling everyone on my back as we plod up the game board, trying to avoid the chutes and taking advantage of every ladder. Working our way back up when we slide back. Dealing with unexpected blows.
- Two clients put their businesses on pause. One needed to make time to homeschool her children, and the other needed to increase his income because his wife was laid off. We packed up each business judiciously so they can continue to have an online presence and not backslide after our marketing efforts. Each one will do their best to work on weekends, with help from contractors I have recommended, for now, and maybe for quite a while.
- Another client in the printing industry pivoted, launched a new business and worked three times as hard while carrying his own load of clients, partners, and independent contractors like me. Every month we are recalibrating, beating the bushes for paying customers and trying to market and sell more quickly than his competitors.
- Still another client, who was laid off from his printing job, shook the dust off a business I helped him market a few years back. He’s having me adapt his business to today’s reality, strengthen it in the marketplace, and bring in new providers.
- One friend and client packed up everything into a van and hit the road, looking for new markets and learning to live on less.
- A friend who was a constant cheerleader and referrer for my business died, out of the blue, at the beginning of all this, before anyone knew what we were dealing with.
Everyone is climbing and sliding.
Like no time in my 40-year career, I have had to set aside my normally polite demeanor and be brutally frank with clients.
- You MUST learn to sell successfully and efficiently.
- You MUST duplicate yourself in some way within your business, in case something happens or you get sick.
- You MUST set aside ego and reach out to others.
- You MUST build a multi-dimensional presence so you can attract customers, in case you have to step away from the business for a time.
- You MUST keep going.
To stay in the game, we all must have guts, optimism and creativity.
Be patient. Be determined. Keep climbing.
To read more from Sandy, click here.
Sandy Hubbard has been author and contributor at Print Media Centr since 2011. She is a Marketing Strategist and Business Growth Advisor who consults with owners of print and media businesses of all sizes. Sandy guides clients in building visibility and increasing sales using solid techniques and a proven system.
Connect with Sandy on LinkedIn and find her on Twitter at @sandyhubbard every Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET, leading or co-hosting #PrintChat with Deborah Corn of @PrintMediaCentr — Join the fun at social media’s most popular chat for the global printing industry!
I invite you to leave a comment below and tell me how things are going in your world.