Building Business in the New Economy

Right now, people who run their own businesses are very, very busy.  They are either experiencing a little surge because so many of their competitors have gone belly-up (think about 10 printing companies going down…the one that is left will possibly have more business than it can handle), or they are working very hard to keep an existing business going, or they are playing squirrel, and trying to store up as many nuts as they can to make it through the next bump.  No matter that economists are seeing hints of expansion, rather than recession.  The repurcussions of last year’s economic disaster is still cascading down. 

Most small business owners I’ve talked to (this is completely unscientific, by the way), feel that there has been a small boost of consumer confidence over the summer but are all expecting a serious slump come early October.  I feel that way, too.  My summer has been very, very busy because I’m a service provider, rather than a product seller.  But, I expect that the next wave of foreclosures (coming fast and furious) will result in a serious downturn once summer’s optimism has passed.

Corporate employees are also very, very busy — more often than not, now covering the work of 2 or 3 colleagues who have been let go.  They can’t let up, because there are perhaps 5 or 600 candidates waiting for them to leave their position so that their resume might get consideration.

And then there are those who may or may not be busy.  Many of the unemployed (now surpassing 13% of documentable unemployment in California — although some people are quoting as high as 25% unemployment) are either frantically busy sending out resumes, networking, making contacts and trying their darndest to find employment.  Then there are the unemployed who’ve really lost hope and are trying to figure out who they can live with for a few months or so, now that their coffers are dried up.

As a small business owner, even though my summer has been very good, I’m finding myself having sleepless nights, trying to prep myself for the next downturn…whether it will be real or imagined.  Knock on wood, I’m grateful that I had the time to build a business before the economy tanked.  I’m grateful that I have loyal and caring clients.  I’m grateful that I had 20 years of executive experience to give me so many tools to fall back on.  And I’m grateful that I’m able to employ others and help them cover their rents, pay their bills, take care of their children.

It is a new economy — one that embraces value over profitability.  Environment over bottom line.  Health of the people over corporate bonuses.  One in which those with jobs are profoundly grateful to have them.  One in which small business owners are thankful if they can still put dinner on the table for their families. 

I wonder what October will bring?

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