The political timing of Finland’s admission into NATO

Management Consultant and Economist Dan Hadley The political timing of Finland’s admission into NATO in Australian Business Executive

It has been a few weeks since the world watched the proverbial ink of approval dry on Finland’s application to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). Joining as the 31st member (on the 4th of April 2023), Allied nations signed Finland’s Accession Protocol the following day on the 5th of April after a unanimous vote from all 30 member parliaments. NATO was originally founded on 4th April 1949 by a dozen European nations and several Northern American nations with a collective spirit of solidarity and commitment to unified defence. But why has Finland joined now? Why after so long a period of sitting on the fence, has the application form been hurriedly submitted as well as ratified?

“Tomorrow we will welcome Finland as the 31st member of NATO, making Finland safer and our alliance stronger,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told Brussels based reporters. This bold declaration has had the instant effect of placing NATO right on yet another doorstep of Russia with Finland sharing a 1,300 km (810 mile) border with the red Bear. Finland’s declarations of independence in 1917 is not easily forgotten after a century of Russian rule and twice fighting off Soviet forces during World War 2 before ceding approximately 10% of its nation’s geographical territory.

“We will raise the Finnish flag for the first time here at NATO headquarters.” “It will be a good day for Finland’s security, for Nordic security, and for NATO as a whole,” Stoltenberg stated. But this stance flies directly in the face of the Finno-Soviet Treaty of 1948 (ironically signed on the 6th April that year). The eccentric numerologist might think that early April is a time for making and breaking treaties particularly since the original 1948 treaty forbade Western or Allied Powers from attacking the Soviet Union (now Russia) through Finnish territory. Finland’s aim at that time was to increase its political independence from the Soviet Union whilst maintaining a continuity as a liberal democracy that lives in the shadow of Russia.

Strategic and political implications

Finland (much like Sweden) has previously refrained from joining the NATO alliance and has instead pursued strategic policies of nonalignment and neutrality. It has been an effective policy for some time that can be largely boiled down to a “we don’t take sides” stance. But neutrality doesn’t necessarily mean inaction with Finland reintroducing conscription and ramping up defence expenditure ever since Russian annexation of Crimea in February of 2014. It surprises many people outside of Northern Europe to learn that Finland’s defence force ranks 51st in the world (according to the Global Power Index), placing it almost in the top 25% internationally. By comparison, this is small compared to countries like China, Russia or the United States but considering they hold a population of only 5.5 million, this is quite the achievement.

Finland has logistically kept its strategic relations with Allied military powers very distant and NATO in particular. But that was until the Russian-Ukraine conflict erupted. The recent decision by Finland to join NATO has been seen as a major response to Russia’s actions from Putin’s perspective. Despite reactive rhetoric, the West is yet to truly see how President Putin will react to this recent development.

Despite engaging in a proactive and realistic approach to the ever growing NATO reach and expansion, President Putin has not been able to prevent NATO’s growth in the region towards his borders. With continued growth, particularly since the end of the Cold War, NATO has enlarged its membership and strategic-political reach despite extensive Russian protestation. Now with NATO’s border doubling in length next to Russian boundaries, Finland’s move to join the Alliance holds major implications for Russian power and influence.

There is a risk that Putin may respond to Finland’s NATO welcome in a similar manner to the response provided to Ukraine’s attempts to join NATO. The brutal and unprovoked invasion represents a clear and deliberate move to prevent them from joining the alliance. The aim here, on Putin’s part, is to continue a regime of strong-pressure influence in the region. With a possibility that President Putin may use military force to bully and intimidate its neighbouring nation of Finland back into Putin’s line, the world watches with baited breath to see what happens next.

Conversely, there still exists the strong possibility that Russia may take a far more diplomatic response to Finland’s acceptance into NATO given the country’s historical ties and connections with Russia. Finland has specifically emphasised that its decision to apply for NATO membership is not an action specifically made in response to Russia but rather a broader based policy aimed at achieving higher levels of overall security.

Will Sweden also join NATO?

Sweden’s long-standing opposition to joining NATO has been far more ideological in nature when compared to Finland. The country’s foreign power policy following WW2 has been based on constant and consistent open-multilateral dialogue and peaceful nuclear disarmament promotion. The country has positioned itself as “mediator to the conflict” for decades of international politics. The ever-present neutral fence sitter that works to get people to the discussion table, Sweden has traditionally pinned its security on pure and absolute neutrality combined with progressive peace talks.

Notwithstanding this tradition of playing peace-maker, the Swedish Government decided to apply for NATO membership On 16 May 2022. On 5 July 2022, all NATO member countries signed the Accession Protocol for Sweden, but until all NATO countries have ratified Sweden’s application for NATO membership, it remains invitee country in status only. Turkey continues to hold up the application approval process claiming that Stockholm is harbouring members of what Ankara defines as terrorist groups. Sweden has consistently denied this while Turkey continues to demand the legal extradition of said terrorists in order to finalise and ratify Sweden as a member of NATO.

Hungary also represents a roadblock in the ratification process with robustly submitted grievances and criticism of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s policies. Recent NATO diplomatic events have seen indications that Budapest would be likely to approve Sweden’s bid if Turkey was seen to be doing the same simultaneously.

Economic consequences?

With everyone focusing on the geopolitical implications of this shift in northern European allegiances, the possible economic consequences are worth noting. Economists generally consider that war is bad for an economy and peace treaties are a great stimulant. Long-standing Australian Business Academic and Researcher Dr. Darius Pfitzner commented on interview; “There is a chance here that this membership will improve consumer confidence in Finland and broader Europe widely whilst simultaneously potentially motivating greater defence investment.” Pfitzner’s optimism speaks to the hope that Finland’s acceptance into NATO holds a greater benefit for Europe as a whole than the risks it may present.

“Although this may inflate the spectre of threat from Russia it is also likely to raise the confidences of other non-NATO nations within the EU to consider joining the alliance” Pfitzner further commented. This points to the new deck of cards, both positive and negative, held in Finland’s hand post NATO welcome. With increased hostility from Russia on one hand comes greater friendship and unity on the other hand for the Northern European nation. On the balance of things, the probability of warding off the bear from their doorstep so Finland can enjoy even greater prosperity looks somewhat probable. Peace has nearly always been a positive for economic activity and in this instance there is an incentive for Finland to continue increase defence spending and investment.

Final thoughts

Irrespective of Putin’s rhetoric and response, it is evident that Russia will need to engage in new policies or strategies if it seeks to counteract the effects of Finland’s acceptance into NATO. Increased military spending, a larger deployment of troops and military equipment along border zones and increased strategic alliances with non-NATO nations is likely as Putin feels the tighter squeeze of NATO around him. But the optimistic diplomat also sees a possibility that Russia may choose dialogue over destruction and even some level of collaboration with NATO. The need to restore stability to the region and bring the current Ukraine conflict to an end is self-evident. Restoring positive relations and avoiding a potentially critical escalation must be paramount.

The world has been watching a chess game this last year with pieces moving across the board of world politics and strategy. Every move seems to bring with it a countermove which is in turn reciprocated. It isn’t possible to predict what will happen as a result of each and every move and global war remains a real possibility. Finland has faced a choice of standing alone against a possible future Russian conflict or the option to stand together with NATO allies. Although a difficult choice with no perfect alternatives available, a collective alliance for Finland with NATO seems the best choice politically, strategically, and economically. When one has a bear on one’s doorstep in winter, it is perhaps better to step outside to face it with friends than to confront it alone…

Dan Hadley (MBA, BCOMM, CMC, IML) is a Management Consultant and Economist based in Adelaide, South Australia. His services include strategic advisory services, risk management and consultation in Quality, Safety and Environmental Management systems as well as economic consultation, www.linkedin.com/in/dan-hadley.

Washed up elites need to stop lecturing the people

Noel Hadjimichael Washed up elites need to stop lecturing the people in Australian Business Executive

The ramblings of ex-Prime Ministers, Presidents and CEOs is a feature of all political life, history and cultures.

From a previous leader being led away by aides in a show of brute dominance by the incumbent (China only recently), the media catching antics of Boris Johnson caught in a web of confused accountability (UK) or the bitter comments of Australia’s Paul Keating on all things geopolitical, the challenges of today are rarely neatly dealt with by those out of power or relevance.

Political leadership is tough and harsh. It breaks you down in spirit, health and perspective – if you read between the lines of many biographies of former holders of great office. It is not often that they find peace or purpose with dignity.

De Gaulle and Churchill were able to dominate their “retirements” by force of personality, circumstance and a less critical media. Presidents Reagan and Carter were able to slip into dignified retirement as they chose to be “away” from the cut and thrust of their successors period of office.

Whitlam and Fraser were on a unity ticket in the end for the Australian Republic referendum (1999) only to see it crash and burn. Elites coming together to “tell” the people which path is correct was never easy.

The recent outburst by Paul Keating – commonly given the Aussie slang term a “spray of venom and vindication” – on China, America and the AUKUS defence arrangements is an example of the danger of taking ex PMs with anything other than polite respect.

Without the benefit of current briefings by the relevant agencies (ex-Presidents still get their secret agency briefs) and questions of commercial, personal and ideological bias, Paul Keating caught our attention in Australia like a shooting star.

Bright and prominent for a few moments, then slipping away to historical oddity status.

The AUKUS deal (the name that many in the media give it) is a long-term strategic reaffirmation of long standing security, defence and defence industry alignments.

It is no surprise that Australia’s oldest ally (the UK) and its great and powerful ally (the US) have joined up to secure multiple gains. To protect and preserve regional and global security, good friends need to be closer.

Taiwan, a blue water PLA Navy and cyber/space incursions all tell us that China is not behaving other than a strident “rising power” … think Kaiser’s Germany or Napoleon’s France.

The Keating outburst was manna for the journalist class: here was a leading ex-PM from the left (hardly the left when he was the poster boy for centrist third way social democrat politics) prepared to question, criticise and condemn a newish Labor Government for its commitment to a previous centre-right government’s strategic position.

We have had rubbished ex-PMs strive for relevance: Liz Truss or David Cameron (UK), Silvio Berlusconi (Italy) or Ehud Olmert (Israel). Presidents as weak, controversial or discredited as Sarkozy (France), Steinmeier (Germany) or Zuma (South Africa) have all struggled. It is about a loss of authority in office, defeat by public opinion or casual disconnect with the following political circumstances.

Keating was his best and worse: strong and direct narrative laced with a dismissive contempt for media, stakeholders or current experts. The strategic need for AUKUS was downplayed and the cost/impact of the program of technology transfers expressed. More importantly, it was intervention from a voice from the past which countered the strong bipartisanship of today’s huge security challenges.

Commentators, policy geeks and media contributors recognise one thing about ex-Prime Ministers (Rudd, Trudeau, Blair) … they get airtime, airplay and accusations of relevance. To get attention in a crowded info space is priceless. To get continued debate, review and engagement is worth dollars to business or culture opinion leaders. To be even questioned as to your continued ability to contribute to the big debates is an asset.

Easily, the Paul Keating of the 1980s was an unquestionable Cold War warrior of the right of social democratic Labor politics. Nothing better than to beat up the Left (be it the soft woke kind or the hard semi-Stalinist hard liners). But when uncomfortable geopolitical ties and links to other regimes remain, it is a problem of dignity and often insight.

We can adore our political leaders from the distance past – the “greats”. We can use them to “mobilise” our contemporary campaigns of reform, renewal and resistance to dictatorship.

The political leader that has seen his or her own best days is better seen and not heard on hard issues that require a nimble understanding of the current. Embarrassment over East Timor (Whitlam), disquiet over war measures with respect to Quebec (the older Trudeau) or problematic Iraq War decisions (Blair) all contribute to the cynical observation: they need a platform to continue to be relevant.

The here and now of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the PRC’s reckless steps in the Indo-Pacific and the continued Iranian colonialisation of certain minorities in the Middle East all demand clarity of response.

In a pre-war/ pre-conflict environment, old or tarnished voices are a luxury of pluralism. In a near conflict time, it is obligatory that past leaders shoulder some of the loyalty and discipline that they demanded when in office.

Free societies have a fight on our hands. It is not going away.

Noel Hadjimichael is a London based public policy consultant in the security, defence and civil society space with relevant experience working in politics, the civil service, industry and the charitable sectors.

Jack Lang, NSW’s most tumultuous Premier

David Clune in Jack Lang, NSW's most tumultuous Premier in Australian Business Executive

Jack Lang is one of the best known of New South Wales Premiers, leaving a legend of mythical proportions. He was also one of the most damaging in terms of his impact on the economy, politics and social cohesion of New South Wales.

John Thomas Lang was born on 21 December 1876, the sixth of the ten children of James, a watchmaker from Edinburgh, and his Irish wife, Mary. Jack had an impoverished upbringing in the slums of inner Sydney.

Lang had an unusual early career for someone who became a Labor messiah. Initially working at unskilled jobs, he aspired to white collar ones. In 1893 he was a junior in an accountant’s office and three years later a real estate agent’s clerk at Auburn. In 1901, Lang established an estate agency and auctioneering business. He prospered as Auburn grew. 

Lang joined the Labor Party at the turn of the century and rose steadily to local prominence. In December 1913, he won the local State electorate of Granville. He was to represent the area until 1946. Lang was a hard-working MLA who took parliament seriously and mastered its forms and procedures. However, his remarks often featured unpleasant insinuations and personal attacks.

In 1916, Lang became Caucus Secretary and the following year Opposition Whip. He was developing a canny understanding of the Labor Party and the Caucus and how to manipulate both to his advantage.

Lang used his business experience to build a reputation as an expert on public finance which led to his appointment as Treasurer in the 1920-22 Labor Government, a position in which he performed competently. 

After Labor lost office, Lang was elected Opposition Leader on 31 July 1923 by 21 votes to 11. His bullying, authoritarian manner quickly alienated many of his colleagues. Just over 12 months later he narrowly survived a leadership challenge, 18 votes to 17. 

At the 1925 election, Lang campaigned on an attractive program: widows’ pensions, increased assistance for the unemployed, more expenditure on public works. Labor won 46 of the 90 seats and Lang became Premier and Treasurer on 17 June 1925.

The first Lang Government passed beneficial measures in areas such as fair rents, workers’ compensation, widows’ pensions, and child endowment.  Although much of the hard work had been done by his ministers, Lang took the credit and used it to bolster his heroic image. The unions and branches responded with adulation. Lang realised that he could use his fanatical following to dominate the labour movement.

Lang’s increasingly vindictive, devious, domineering leadership style resulted in vicious infighting which destroyed his Government. At the election held on 8 October 1927, a conservative Ministry under Tom Bavin took office.

It was Bavin’s misfortune to become Premier as the Great Depression started to bite. He relied on orthodox financial policy to combat the growing crisis: balancing the budget, cutting public expenditure and reducing wages. It was a perfect situation for Lang to exploit. He styled himself as the selfless servant of the labour movement – a sturdy warrior doing battle for the workers. Most fell into line behind their champion.

In the 1930 election campaign, Lang unscrupulously promised to maintain the standard of living, reduce working hours, and increase unemployment relief and social security payments, without any real idea of how he could achieve this. A Labor advertisement unsubtly said: ‘Gloom under the Bavin Nationalist Government. Joy if you vote for the Lang Labor Government. For brighter times change the Government’.  Labor won a landslide victory at the 25 October 1930 election, with 55 seats to the Coalition’s 35.

New South Wales was particularly vulnerable when the Depression hit as it had a high level of overseas debt and a heavy reliance on exports of primary products. The debt could not now be serviced by new borrowing and the value of exports declined, as did government reserves and revenue. 

In June 1931, the Commonwealth and all State Premiers adopted a deflationary plan to combat the economic crisis. The chief elements of what became known as the Premiers’ Plan were cuts in government expenditure, increased taxation, and reduction of interest rates.

Lang countered with his own plan. The main features were suspension of interest payments to British bondholders and replacing the gold standard with a nebulous ‘goods standard’ based upon the wealth of Australia. It was a theoretically and practically defective propaganda stunt. 

Lang was between a rock and a hard place: he could not implement the wage and expenditure cuts in the Premiers’ Plan without alienating his base; his much-touted alternative plan was unworkable. The inability to raise loan funds, the sharp decline in revenue and Lang’s failure to reduce expenditure meant that the financial position of New South Wales became increasingly critical. The budget deficit for 1931/32 was a massive £14.2 million. Unemployment in New South Wales reached 32 per cent in 1932.

The Government Savings Bank of New South Wales failed on 22 April 1931 after a run on its funds, with a calamitous effect on many small depositors. On 6 August, 23,000 New South Wales public servants were not paid their fortnightly salary. Government cheques for unemployment relief and other payments were not honoured.

Lang’s solution was debt repudiation. On 1 April 1931, he defaulted on interest repayments to British banks. In February 1932, Lang again defaulted. Joe Lyons’ conservative Federal Government was determined to recoup the money owed by New South Wales and destroy Lang in the process. It legislated to allow the Commonwealth to recover directly from a state funds owed to it for interest repayments. Banks were required to pay to the Federal Government any funds belonging to New South Wales. All State revenue was also to be paid to the Commonwealth. In a pre-emptive move, Lang ordered that New South Wales assets be withdrawn from the banks and kept in the Treasury vaults. The public service was instructed to forward revenue to the Treasury which became a de facto bank. 

This slide into financial chaos was accompanied by growing civil unrest.  The inflammatory, populist rhetoric that Lang increasingly resorted to in an attempt to preserve the support of the Labor faithful exacerbated an already tense situation. Fears of class warfare and ‘Red revolution’ became widespread among the middle and upper classes. Ordinary workers, the unemployed and the destitute became increasingly radicalised.

A Labour Army was formed to defend the Lang Government. Far more formidable were the conservative secret armies. Eric Campbell’s New Guard was a fascist-leaning, paramilitary organisation. It had a membership in 1931 of 36,000 in Sydney and 3,000 in the country. Its effective military strength has been estimated at just under 11,000.

More powerful and secretive was the Old Guard, established by prominent figures in business, the professions and the pastoral industry. Unlike the New Guard, its main strength was in the country, where it had an estimated 25,000 members across all regions, compared to 5,000 in Sydney.

By May 1932, the situation had reached flashpoint. Large parts of rural New South Wales were threatening to secede unilaterally. The defence forces were mobilising for a possible confrontation with Lang. The Old Guard was committed to throwing its resources behind the Commonwealth. The New Guard was plotting to seize Parliament House and forcibly overthrow the Lang Government. The New South Wales Police Force was ready to act as a military force to resist any attempted coup against Lang. The Labour Army was spoiling for a fight. New South Wales was dangerously close to civil war.

It was at this stage that Governor Sir Philip Game intervened. He had become increasingly concerned as the situation threatened to spin out of control and was under enormous pressure to act. On 13 May 1932, he used his reserve powers to dismiss Lang. His justification was the illegality of the instructions Lang had issued to circumvent the Commonwealth’s legislation to seize New South Wales revenue. Unlike Sir John Kerr in 1975, Game warned Lang that if he was not prepared to rescind the offending instructions or resign he would be dismissed. Lang accepted his dismissal and departed office peacefully.

Some have argued that Game’s action was improper as the alleged illegality of Lang’s actions could have been resolved by the courts. Others argue that more attention should be paid to the realities than the legalities in assessing the Governor’s action. New South Wales was close to being ungovernable. The economic situation was catastrophic. Bloodshed in the streets seemed imminent. In the circumstances, Game had to act quickly.

The Governor commissioned Opposition Leader Bertie Stevens to form an interim government, pending an election on 11 June 1932. It one of the most hotly contested in New South Wales history. Stevens claimed that Lang would further impoverish the State and lead it towards socialism and Communism. Lang branded Stevens a ruthless exploiter of the workers and agent of the bankers. 

The result was a decisive repudiation of Lang. Labor won 24 seats compared to 55 in 1930. The primary vote dropped from 56 per cent to 40 per cent.

After this, Lang was a spent force politically and electorally. However, he clung to the Labor leadership with all the destructiveness and ruthlessness he was capable of. The electorally damaging divisions in New South Wales finally forced the Federal Executive to intervene. The supporters and opponents of Lang came together at a conference controlled by Federal officials to determine who was to rule in New South Wales. The unity conference, which met on 26 August 1939, was a rout for the Langites. It was a victory for those who wanted to restore Labor’s heritage as a democratic organisation committed to moderate reform through the parliamentary process. 

The moderate, experienced Bill McKell replaced Lang as leader in a Caucus ballot on 5 September 1939. McKell decisively won the May 1941 election, initiating a record-breaking 24 years in office for Labor.

Lang devoted the rest of his long life to defending and embellishing his record. Egotistical self-justification and the pursuit of grudges were much in evidence. He produced a series of memoirs, almost certainly not written by him, notable for self-aggrandisement and inaccuracy. In person, Lang harangued any person or group prepared to listen about his achievements.

Jack Lang died on 27 September 1975, just short of his 99th birthday.

Dr David Clune is an Honorary Associate In Government and International Relations at the University of Sydney, and the author of Jack Lang, published by Connor Court: www.connorcourtpublishing.com.au.

How to manage the stress of making the right business decisions

Stan Popovich How To Manage the Stress of Making the Right Business Decisions in the Australian Business Executive

It can be stressful when you have to make important decisions regarding your business. We all want to make the right decisions and this can create a lot of anxiety. But to get ahead of the game, it is a necessity.

As a result, here are some suggestions on how to make the right business decisions without getting stressed out.

Know all the facts regarding your company

Gather all of the facts and necessary information that impacts your business. This is important, because you do not want to miss critical information that could make a difference in how you run your business. Also, by being part of the information-gathering process, you can eliminate biases or opinions others may have.

For example, understanding how your competition is doing business is very important. Finding ways to improve customer satisfaction is another example of knowing the facts of your company. A business owner can talk to their employees and customers to get the necessary information regarding certain business operations. It is also important to read all of your important business reports and keep abreast on the media coverage of your business. These are just a few of things a business owner should know about his or her company.

Focus on the results

Think about what you want and consider the possible outcomes of your decision. A person needs to focus on the short-term and long-terms goals regarding every aspect of their company. For example, keeping up to date on the company’s financial statements is very important. Keeping abreast on your employees’ morale is another example on determining the direction of your company. Looking for ways on improving how your company does business will go a long way in accomplishing your business goals and mission statements.

Get everything in writing

Sometimes it is your loyal customers who are most difficult. It is important that you get everything in writing when dealing with them. Misunderstandings will happen, expectations will not always be met. In dealing with anybody, put everything down in writing to save money and heartache down the road.

Ask around

It is important to consider other viewpoints other than your own, so get advice from your friends and business peers.

For example, a good technique is to talk to your important business colleagues and managers to get their opinion on how to manage your business. For instance, you have to make a decision on which client should manage your marketing campaign. Ask your business advisors and other managers on what they think regarding who would be the best fit in managing your campaign.

In addition, a business person can join a local business support group to network with other professionals in the field. This is a great way to get valuable information regarding your industry.

Relax

Do not try to do everything all at once and when things get hectic stop what you’re doing and take a 10 minute break. Take a few deep breaths and try to do something that will make you feel more relaxed such as taking a 10-minute walk, listening to the radio or doing some stretching exercises to help de-stress. You will feel better and gain a fresh perspective on your current situation, whether it is dealing with your employees, giving a presentation or improving your company’s marketing plan.

Learn to communicate effectively

Get into the habit of talking with the people you do business with. Ask questions and make sure that everyone is on the same page. Effective communication with your customers will prevent misunderstandings down the road.

In addition, your clients want to work for those companies who are fair, honest, and willing to admit when they’re wrong. Be willing to admit any mistakes you may make when doing business with others. Your customers will respect your integrity.

Prepare for unexpected surprises

Sometimes, things happen that take everyone by surprise. When unexpected things happen, deal with them immediately. If some of your employees call in sick on one of your busiest days, don’t get stressed out. Just reassign some of the tasks to others or take it upon yourself to handle your customers directly for the day. Learn to find the solution instead of being the problem.

Don’t assume anything

Do not assume anything when being an effective leader. Ask questions and be aware of what is happening under your watch. If a problem comes up, then deal with it right away. Communicating with your other team members is vital in having a successful business – and don’t assume that everything will go according to plan.

Stay the course

Managing your own business involves a series of ongoing business decisions. Don’t put off important decisions, and don’t worry about your past mistakes – just keep focusing on what is best for your company. To determine the best outcome for your business, always listen to your customer needs and have your finances and expenses organised. Customer satisfaction and making sure your company doesn’t run out of money are some of the important priorities of any business. If your business is going in the wrong direction then you need to re-evaluate how you run your business.

Learn from your mistakes and re-evaluate

Making a business decision is not a life or death situation. If you make the wrong decision, then the next step is to learn from your mistakes and go from there. Learn what you did right and learn what you did wrong. The key is not get so worked up that you do not know what to do. Be patient and eventually you will be able to make the right business decision. Do not let your fears get the best of you.

For example, your company decides on a marketing plan for a certain product, however you don’t get the expected results in terms of sales and customer satisfaction. When this happens, learn what went wrong and use this knowledge the next time you market your other products.

Be open to new possibilities

Do not get into a rut performing your business services. A customer can provide valuable advice on how you do business and its important to remain flexible enough to consider their suggestions. If a customer tells you a similar company in another city handles their marketing campaign a lot differently than your business, don’t get upset and offended. Listen to what your customer is telling you. Be willing to improve and make changes as needed. Do not assume that you have all of the answers and always remain committed to doing things more efficiently.

Remember that you make decisions all the time. It would not be the end of the world if you made the wrong decision. You can always re-evaluate your situation and do something different. Do not put a lot of pressure on just one decision. You will have other opportunities to correct the situation.

Stan Popovich is the author of “A Layman’s Guide to Managing Fear”. For more information, visit: www.managingfear.com.