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What are the Top Three things you have learned from 2009's extraordinary economic cycle?

As the great John Lennon wrote: “And so this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over and a new one just begun.” As one year comes to a close, and another is nearly upon us I am sure many of us are reflective on what we have learned throughout 2009. What lessons will we take into 2010 to make us better people for both our businesses and ourselves personally? I am sure we would all welcome the opportunity to learn from each other as to what we will be taking forward with us. My Top Three would be:

No matter how much planning you put into your forecasts, action plans, strategic sessions and the like, they can turn on a dime from elements completely outside of your control. Entering into 2010 this helps me relax a little more, realizing I can’t control every single issue. Now, as a self confessed control freak, it won’t mean I plan any less! But, it will allow me to view those plans for what they are: appropriate for the time I’m making them, with the facts I have in front of me at that time, but not rigid enough that it equals failure if they are not adhered to.

Sometimes blind faith and confidence are entrepreneurs’ only friends! Tangible economic news during 2009 could have made many more companies give up and walk away. I have learned as a business leader that I possess an inherent strength to deal with decidedly choppy and unchartered waters. For 2010 this will allow me greater confidence that I and my business have the skills to navigate whatever ups and downs (hopefully more of the ups!) that come our way as the recovery takes hold.

Every situation, no matter how painful, presents learning opportunities. I think this is more of an obvious one as I have always held this view, not just specifically from this year’s cycle. I know that as a business, due to the constraints placed upon us with weaker revenues from clients in 2009, we are now: more streamlined in our costs, more focused on return on investments and time, more accountable for our expenditures, and that the VIP individuals we have been trying to sell services to over the years that we hold in high regard are simply human, just like us, and that we’ve all weathered a really bad storm together. I feel this latter point has provided a greater partnership ethos amongst not only my existing clients, but those we hope to work with in the future, the competitors we have in the market, our sister industries and ultimately all individuals who now feel a camaraderie that maybe didn’t exist beforehand.

In conclusion, I think all business people whether running their own organization or working up the corporate ladder will all look back on 2009 as a pivotal year in shaping them for the cycles that lay ahead. So, what have you learned...?

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