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When Business Is Slow, Do These 2 Things Diversifying your projects and upskilling rather than upscaling are two tried and true methods to get through these hard times.

By Taha Elraaid Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The future is uncertain. Inflation is surging, a recession seems inevitable, and war continues to rage. But in Libya, this situation isn't new. A struggling economy and unpredictable external circumstances? That's the norm for us.

Businesses, especially the tech industry, are doing mass layoffs, rescinding job offers, you name it. If your business is going through a bit of a lull, here are a couple of tips on what to try to get over the hump.

Related: 72% of Economists Predict a Recession Next Year — If We're Not Already in One

1. Diversify the projects you have on the go

When I returned to Libya in 2017 after living in the West for several years, I came home and saw many issues. They were things that wouldn't have been a problem in a place like San Francisco — getting a passport, for instance — a non-issue in the West and a non-starter in Libya. There was an overwhelming lack of modern infrastructure.

I saw these issues as problems that I could help solve, though. I just had to figure out which one to pursue first. Eventually, I landed on a project, but that didn't stop me from compiling a list of ideas for further down the line. With each idea I came up with, I would also register a domain name so that when the time arrived, I'd have what I needed to do the job.

Founders tend to avoid diversifying their projects because they don't have the resources — financial or human. But that doesn't mean that lulls don't hit. You need to be prepared to pivot when necessary — that means you're always able to provide value.

Diversifying isn't about trying to have a finger in every pot – it's more like nesting dolls really. You have to make an informed selection about which projects fit neatly with one another and make sense to work together.

Recently things have slowed down with our current project. Rather than sit around twiddling my thumbs, I returned to my old list of ideas and looked to see if there was any room to diversify my current projects. There were plenty – in fact, I had to once again make a careful decision about which angle I wanted to pursue.

The digital addressing system we'd created highlighted the overwhelming need for digitization in other realms. We had the tools and the people at our disposal to try digitizing the new frontier — digitizing the archives of private and government entities. Any time you diversify, you're taking a risk — but taking risks can pay off in big ways — trust your gut.

Related: Focus on One Thing, or Diversify?

2. Upskilling not upscaling

With the markets as unstable as they are it might not be the right time to scale up your business. But there's virtually no bad time to upskill your workforce.

The phrase, "You are who you surround yourself with," is even more true when it comes to business. As a leader, who you have on your team is absolutely crucial. Your employees are the people that you're choosing to help execute your vision; they're the people who share their big ideas with you. Ensuring you have a highly skilled workforce isn't just beneficial to your company but also keeps your staff happy.

One of the biggest reasons employees leave their jobs is a lack of growth or learning. By offering workshops and courses to your staff, you are investing in your employees and creating highly skilled workers and giving them a sense of purpose and helping them grow. Making these kinds of learning seminars beneficial on two counts — a highly skilled workforce; and better employee retention.

When we first entered this slow period, I could see my team was bored. They were feeling scattered and aimless. Since we had more time, I decided now would be the perfect opportunity to offer English lessons. And the program flopped… I had wanted everyone in the company to be fluent in English so badly that I didn't notice that some team members weren't interested in learning the language or didn't even see its value.

So, I met with all of the department heads and asked them what kinds of skills and courses they thought would be most valuable to each team. They had a whole bunch of ideas that uniquely fit within each area of the company – email skills, working as a part of a team, and yes, English. By focussing on the unique needs of particular subgroups within the company, we could offer courses that provided real value to our employees and empowered them within the workplace and outside of it too.

When you invest in your team, you mold them into better workers and create passionate, intelligent individuals who believe in your vision. There's no tradeoff.

Taha Elraaid

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO of Lamah Technologies

Taha Elraaid is the founder and CEO at technology solutions company Lamah. His mission is to bring tools and technology from the West to improve ease of living in Libya as the leading tech company in the country.

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