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For the past few weeks I’ve been doing a lot of navel gazing. Why, I hear you ask. Well, simply put, there is nothing on TV. It is more than that though. I don’t know about you, but elections and election debates and promises aren’t riveting viewing for me. I’d rather watch paint dry to be perfectly frank.

But, when an election is called, my business tends to go on a holding pattern. Historically, elections tend to spook people, making them uneasy. They start worrying about their future, worrying about their investments, worrying about their retirement funds and generally worrying that the ‘other’ party may secure government. Negativity takes hold.

Small business owners are often the hardest hit during the election process. Either Federal or State, when it comes to an election, it is a given that business momentum will suffer.

It’s not hard to understand why either. The media is filled with negativity and actually feeds on it. Each political contender is always happy to share a negative story about their opponent, whether it is true or not. There is rarely a positive story in the press during any election campaign. Added in to the mix we are all bombarded with special interest groups wanting concessions, more this, less that. More negativity and accusations usually result from these groups trying to help a political party get in on the promise of a better deal from the other lot.

Is it really any wonder business often stagnates during an election period? No not really.

I’ve spoken to all sorts of industry representatives since this most recent election was called. All say the same thing… business has slowed. Those who deal with government contracts are no better than those that don’t. Once a government is in caretaker mode, nothing proceeds.

Speaking to a gentleman today from one of Australia’s largest hire companies, he tells me that negativity in the press quickly affects his sales figures, almost from day one of a campaign. People hesitate, waiting to see the direction of the economy.

I’ve spoken to government employees too. They stress over their jobs when an election is called. Will the status quo be maintained or will a new government come in and change the job prospects? Nothing is a certainty any more. They usually change their spending habits like everyone else. Only essential purchases are made.

So, what can we do to stabilise our small business? How do we compete with the increased negativity in the market place?

Well, largely it depends on our own attitude. That goes a long way to restoring the balance with our client base.

Generally, if we have a negative attitude, our clients will respond in the same manner. If we have a positive approach, they will feel that we are more in control of our business and that will subconsciously give them confidence.
A simple smile can relay a positive approach. We don’t have to lie about how bad business is, but we don’t have to tell them either. Keep it positive.

I’m not going to pretend it’s easy either. I can have a classic whinge like the best of them, but it really doesn’t help the situation we find ourselves in.

Author Lindsey Rietzsch is quoted as saying “A negative attitude drains, a positive attitude energizes.” She is right.

We have all experienced it I’m sure. If you have had a bad week, things aren’t going as planned; it is easy to get into a negative frame of mind. When we do, we also experience tiredness sooner than normal. On the other hand, when things are going well, and we experience a lot of positive experiences, we can often just keep going and let sleep wait for another time. I’m sure you have probably experienced that at some time.

So in conclusion, even though most of us are experiencing a down turn in trade for the short term, perhaps we could take the opportunity to follow up on clients we haven’t seen for a while or make some positive changes around our working environment.

You could even take the afternoon off and spend it with family.

We are all going to be affected by negativity at some point. Some things we can’t change. But if we can, why not find a positive and dwell on that instead.

On that thought, I’m going back to my navel gazing. There is still nothing on TV.


Shane Drew