I'm getting lots of reports on the ground that the economy has been hijacked…small to mid-size businesses are hurting big time.
Restaurants in this area are down 30% in the last month, as confirmed by a vendor who sells to them.
Marketing people continue to find it extremely difficult to find work – even those who are internationally recognized. Interesting, though, I'm told China, Russia and the Middle East are studying American marketing publications with a vengence.
Technical writers have been seeing some small movement (a very slight improvement over the last 2-3 years). It seems that India now wants to broker the jobs that were sent overseas back to the locals here in the States. The deal is – you work for 1/2 of what beginners are paid — and, you must work onsite like a W-2 employee under the title independent contractor. What about your years of experience, your own corporate business and IRS? You have heard that you can't have your cake and eat it too? Such a deal!?!
Those of us who have been around awhile have seen tough times before. And, we've weathered through them. Heck, we've learned that almost every small business has a down time…in tool distribution it's February. What to do? That's easy, we schedule our vacations during slack times!!
Seriously, though. This downturn has been singularly pervasive and long standing. Too many are now running on empty. And, it looks like we're here for the long haul. We may well see several more years of this.
Don't despair! The pendulum will swing…it always does…eventually.
Meanwhile, this is a super great time to take on those hobbies and personal interest projects (you know, the ones that require hands-on time and attention). Get in there and really enjoy them. Even write your memoirs…your grand kids will get a kick reading about the wild and wooly technology era and how desperation leads to extreme measures.
Consider taking up indoor gardening. You can, even in winter, grow some pretty nifty vegetables and fruits to supplement your diet. While those pollution-eating wonders help cut your grocery bill, they will be delightful additions to your decor. Check your local nursery.
Speaking of which, this is prime time for getting back into great physical health. Skip a meal (or two) a day. Schedule time to walk or bike – forget that gas guzzling car. It will absolutely do wonders for your health, appearance and mental outlook.
Better yet, you may well discover, as I have, that some of your greatest talent and best sources for whatever you really need can be found right in your own neighborhood after all. At very least you will finally be able to talk face to face with the individual you're doing business with.
Of course, the best practice, I've found is to stop buying anything you can do without. Sure we all like new things…but do we really need them? Generally speaking, no. It's surprising how much "stuff" we accumulate in good times. And it's downright scary how much we're paying for some items right now that 50 years ago we were throwing in the trash! Well, now's a great time to repair, fix up and recycle. If you're like most of us, you'll find a lot of things, you just don't ever plan to use again…That's fair. Try joining one of the recycle newsgroups that are so popular right now…You give your cast-offs and out-grown items to those who can use them…and can find some pretty nifty things that are free for the taking offered by others.
And don't forget, you now have time to learn a new skill. Get re-acquainted with the public library or go online to learn pert near anything your heart desires. Best of all, now you have the time to actually practice the skills you learn. Practice, you recall, makes perfect. It was in a downtime such as this that I actually was able to learn to play some of the work of Bach and several other of my favorite composers…you can too.
Most important, stop beating your head against the wall. The dollar is down and cash flow is at a trickle at the lower rungs of the economy. It's pointless to keep hounding others who just can't afford your services or products. And it's foolish to keep giving them away free. There's no point fighting it. If you find yourself in a dried up market – Do something constructive – Something that will bring you results now and when the pendulum swings back again.
And let your mantra be: Cheers … And here's to a better tomorrow!!