Top motivational speaker Dan Clark discusses how small businesses can recover — and thrive — in a post-pandemic world.
CEO, Clark Success Systems
The world continues to navigate unprecedented challenges, and nothing has been hit harder than small businesses. In fact, compared to 2019, 80% of small businesses are still experiencing significant challenges, with 63% reporting lowered revenue.
Clark, renowned corporate coach, motivational speaker, author, and CEO of Clark Success Systems, advises these businesses to take a hard look at their strategies and approach. “Frankly, one way-overused cliché comes to mind: If you keep doing the same thing and expect a different result, that’s the definition of insanity,” he says.
Back on track
Clark offers several points for struggling businesses to consider. “Number one, is your business still relevant? Kodak invented the digital camera, but they didn’t see its value — and now they’re out of business. You have to ask yourself, is your business currently relevant? If not, how can you modify it?”
Next, Clark advises that businesses ask how they’re differentiating themselves. “The way we gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace is by doing what our competition is not willing to do,” Clark says. “There’s a realtor down in Dallas, Texas, and whenever she sells a home to someone, she gives the buyer a year’s worth of lawn care. The reason why her clients choose her and not just another realtor is that she’s willing to do what her competition is not willing to do.”
Retention and attraction
Clark’s third piece of advice centers on something many businesses are struggling with: recruitment and retention. Clark thinks trying to retain employees with compensation is the wrong tack. “If you come for money,” he says, “you will leave for money. The goal is to turn recruiting into attraction and training into retention,” he says. “The way we do that is to make our place of employment a great place to work, tied in with something that’s larger than ourselves, something that gives the employee meaning.”
Clark advises supporting employees, but with a reciprocal contractual understanding that in exchange for their training and development they will stay with the business for a time. But he also strongly believes that the goal of helping your employees is to see them succeed on their own. “If I do what I can to train you, and you grow in competence, self-worth, and skill set, at some point you’ll look at this business as a cocoon,” he says. “Then you’ll come to me and say, it’s time for me to be a butterfly. There’s no resentment on my part, because I encourage you to become the best version of yourself.”
The key to surviving and thriving is resiliency, a subject Clark knows a lot about. As a star athlete, Clark suffered a horrific injury that left him partially paralyzed. He saw 16 doctors and pursued physical therapy on his own, eventually regaining full movement despite a grim prognosis.
“Resilience comes from knowing that we have the ability to reset, to recalibrate, and to create what we now want the norm to be,” Clark says. “I hit what I thought was rock bottom. But no matter how tough you think it is, no one ever hits rock bottom. If your organization hit a bump in the road, if the economy went south and everything seemed to fall apart, your organization did not hit rock bottom, it hit rock foundation. The secret to resiliency is not to succumb, but to fire up.”