Are You Ready For Takeoff?
Like many of you, I keep close tabs on the economy – hopeful of for any signs that a real turnaround's on the horizon. More often than not, I'm met with disappointment, confronted as I am with the torrent of bad news surrounding home sales, investments and consumer spending.
It's enough to make even the staunchest optimist gloomy. I know because I'm one of those hopeful optimists, always thinking good news is on the horizon. Lately, however, I've started to focus less on what's ahead and more on what we can all do to be better prepared for it.
We hear every day about companies doing more with less, employees doing the jobs of three and four people, budgets being reallocated and buildings being designed to use less energy. All of this is aimed at the new reality: High gas prices are here to stay, home values will likely never return to 2005 levels and the days of low single-digit unemployment figures are likely over. Efficiency, whether in cars, buildings or jobs, is the way of the future, and you'd better not be the last to figure that out.
If you're a little late coming to this party, here are a two strategies you can start employing today that could put you in much better shape when things start to look up.
1. Cut your losses. If you're like other business owners, chances are you've made a gamble that isn't paying off, but you're choosing to stick it out. Maybe it's a new line of products you took a shot on but it isn't panning out. Maybe it's sponsoring a pro who's exceeded his worth in expenses, or maybe it's biting off more than you can chew in deciding to make a go at fishing the pro tournament circuit. I have three words for you: Let it go. Today, it's not about what you'll have in the future. It's about right now and the resources you have on hand. If you've made an "investment" that isn't paying off, don't be stubborn, especially not in this age when cash (liquid assets) are paramount. Get out of that bad decision as quickly as possible, for it could free up resources you could put to use in any number of areas, including infrastructure updates or repaying a loan.
2. Get Lean. Seems that all around us folks are making the decision to take better care of themselves – losing weight by exercising and eating better. Makes sense, too, given that we only have one body. Approach your business the same way. Take an impartial look around, with an eye for identifying those things you could do without. Do you really need a new company vehicle? Is now really the best time to open a second location? Think about lopping off as much expense as you can, even if it hurts to do so. I talked to one business owner a few weeks back who was making the decision to pare his company vehicles from four to two and choosing to break the habit of getting a new boat every year. He felt that those two decisions would save him over $20,000 this year alone. But mainly he said, "It helps me get my mind right for the rough days ahead." Folks, especially fishermen, keep asking when this thing is going to turn around. I tell 'em, "'It ain't, so you'd better adjust, go with the tide and cut back lest you find yourself in an even bigger hole." The days of bigger and better, more and more are over. It's about doing the best with what you have."
After talking to this retailer and guide for 20 minutes, I knew he "got it." Sadly, many others do not and will pay a heavy price for learning a tough lesson too late. Don't be a member of that group.
(Image provided by Astirn)