"An economist's guess is liable to be as good as anybody else's."
--- Will Rogers
I'm certain we've told the story of the man who was so successful at selling hotdogs that he was in the process of buying another hotdog cart and taking another spot near Wall Street. His son, a Harvard graduate, came to visit him and when he saw that his father was getting ready to buy another cart, he protested. "Dad," the son said. "What are you dong? Don't you know that we are in a recession? You can't make it selling hotdogs here!"
The old man thought, "Well, my son is a college graduate with an MBA. I guess I'll close up my operation." So, the old man took his cart and went home leaving all those people lined up around the block waiting for his famous hot dogs.
"I like to tell people that all of our products and business will go through three phases. There's vision, patience, and execution."
--- Steve Ballmer
So the economy appears to be tanking. The media has been reporting for months now that we are either in a recession or heading there quickly. The obvious signs are in the price of a loaf of bread, vegetables, and of course, gas.
Those of us who've been there before have the patience to wait this out. We know that it comes in cycles and that the influences to economic changes are greater than oil prices, the President, or wars. It is a complex combination of things, but we always get through it and are soon again enjoying the "good times."
"A business with an income at its heels furnishes always oil for its own wheels"
--- William Cowper
During this economic slump, there are at least three things that you can do (and should do) to secure the future of your business.
First, your business may reach a point when it is time to make some cuts --- to tighten the belt. There are several areas that you could find to cut to bring the belt up a couple of holes, but one that shouldn't be cut is your marketing budget. Most people erroneously cut this line item first and that is why you shouldn't. You can often get some great deals on advertising during these times. You are also in a position to offer some great deals. People are looking for your kind of advertisements.
"Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed."
--- Peter Drucker
Second, rethink where your time goes and the time of your team members. Watch closely for quality, what goes out of your shop. Also watch how you spend your time. Are you and your team being as productive as possible? Are there other products and services you could be offering with your time?
Remember, we're always preaching about diversifying your portfolio. Have you done it, or are you planning on it? At a large tradeshow a couple of months ago, I talked with countless shops, suppliers and distributors who shared that were either crying in their soup or had more business than they knew what to do with. The one thing in common with the success stories was that they had a well diversified portfolio of clientele and product lines. Regardless what the media drudges out on a daily basis, the split on "Business is great" and "Woe is me," was a 50/50 split at the beginning of April 2008.
"I get to play golf for a living. What more can you ask for - getting paid for doing what you love."
--- Tiger Woods
Finally, use this downturn for an honest assessment of you and your business. Are you married to the right business? Does it fit your talents, knowledge, and skill set? This is the time to determine what you want to do when you grow up. Do some research in your downtime and try to determine what is the next big thing in this industry and what it is that you can offer to be a part of it.
"The other thing is quality of life; if you have a place where you can go and have a picnic with your family, it doesn't matter if it's a recession or not, you can include that in your quality of life."
--- Jim Fowler
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As seen on a apartment trash compactor somewhere in TN:
"Caution: This Machine Has No Brain. Use Your Own!"
A sign from a zoo in San Francisco:
"Do not sit, stand, or lean on zoo fences. If you fall, animals could eat you and that might make them sick. Thank you."
Sign in front of bankrupt store:
We know those funny signs are out there. Take a moment and send them in to us and we'll share them with the world. Send all hysterical observations to: firstname.lastname@example.org.