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In the recession, it is common to hear about the high numbers of people who are unemployed or the many people who are under-employed based on their qualifications. However, CNN recently interviewed several people around the country who earn over $100,000 each year in surprising ways – things like window washing, renting out porta-potties, driving trucks, and videotaping sporting events.

What sets these people apart? They are challenging the status quo. Instead of being satisfied with business as usual, they creatively found a niche for their own particular skills and interests. Take Eliza Kendall, aMassachusetts woman who makes up to $120,000 each year renting out porta-potties. She worked as a corporate event planner, but she wanted to run her own business. When she saw a porta-potty business for sale, she bought it, but she gradually developed the business into a luxury porta-potty rental company that specializes in weddings and upscale events, based on her knowledge from her upbringing as well as her previous employment. Now Eliza runs an extremely successful business because of her willingness for challenging the status quo and redefining an existing industry.

Such a move is all well and good for an entrepreneurial individual, but what can a business learn from Eliza and her well-to-do peers? It doesn’t take a thorough performance management analysis to figure it out.

4 Tips for Challenging the Status Quo and Improving the Bottom Line

1. Encourage creativity. Thinking the same way about the same problem will bring about the same problems. Give your employees the freedom and flexibility to think about their jobs in new and creative ways, which might uncover new avenues for developing your business and increasing your profit.

2. Fill an existing need. What are the unmet needs in your industry? If your company offers a product or service, do your competitors offer this product or service for a range of income levels, or is there already a need for a budget version or an upscale version that you could encourage your company to pursue?

3. Tap into existing skills and interests. You know your employees. You know what their strengths and weaknesses are. Take full advantage of the skills, strengths, and interests of the individuals in your department. If you have any artists working for you, for example, allow them some creative freedom to think about a new marketing plan, even if marketing is not technically under your jurisdiction. Save the performance management assessment for later.

4. Transform gradually. Rome wasn’t built in a day. If you find a new direction for growing your business by challenging the status quo, start small and expand as you find success. This way, if your experiment is not successful, the business won’t be in trouble as a result.

Beat the Business Slump by Challenging the Status Quo

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