I want to take a departure today from my usual format and talk about something that’s been on my mind lately. It seems appropriate to do so because I received 2 emails about this topic today, and today’s homily in church was on the same topic.
Any time I get hit with something from 3 different directions, I pay attention!
One of the emails opened like this:
“I’m sure you’ve noticed that everyone today is talking about “the economy” in worried tones.
“Where is the economy headed?” “The economy is up.” “The economy is down.” And on and on and on.
Commentators look for “signs” about where things are headed. Politicians beat their chests and present bogus solutions.
Here’s the deal for entrepreneurs:
There is no such thing as “the economy.”
There’s only your market and your customers…and the whole game of entrepreneurship – the whole game – is adapting successfully to circumstances whatever they may be.
So let’s face the Big Fear and get it out of the way right now:
A deep recession, or even worse a full-fledged Depression.
The other email opened like this:
“If you saw the news today, you know that the jobless rate climbed to 5.7% in July as 51,000 more jobs were lost.
It seems no matter where you turn, the media is bombarding us with “doom and gloom” news about:
– the bad economy
– high gas prices
– falling home values
– and the recession
It’s during times like these that the decisions you make about your
life, business, and career become more important than ever.”
After reading these, I started to think about this: could the worst really happen? Could we end up in a something like the Great Depression? The answer that came to me was sure. Anything can happen in reality, even a recession turning into a depression.
We have all seen pictures of the bread lines and may have heard stories from family members that lived in those times. If you are a baby boomer, your parents lived through the Great Depression and that experience colored your childhood: “Waste not, want not”, “Eat everything on your plate” and so on.
So, I did some research. (Google is your friend!) The Great Depression is generally credited with beginning on October 29th, 1929 when the stock market crashed. Many factors lead up to the crash, not the least of which was the huge love affair that Americans had with the stock market. Many people bought stocks on “margin” or credit … money that they didn’t have…and were wiped out when asked to pay for stocks they owned. Sounds eerily similar to the past few years doesn’t it? Just think real estate instead of stocks and you’ll get the connection.
But, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. At its worst, there were 24.9% of Americans unemployed. That was in 1933. Looking at it a different way, even at its worst, over 75% of Americans were working and held jobs! Over the next six years the jobless rate continued to steadily decline. The Great Depression is generally credited to be over during 1939 as we entered into the war time economy.
Time for a pop quiz. What do the following companies have in common?
Peerless Cleaning Products, Yellowbook, Airstream Trailers, Olan Mills, Walden Books, American Airlines, Roto Rooter, Trailways Bus, GEICO, Harrahs, Krispy Kreme Donuts, Saxe Real Estate, Owens Corning, Seeno Homes, REI Co-op, Marvel Comics, Hewlett-Packard and many others.
If you said that they were all founded in the years between 1929 and 1939, during the Great Depression, you would be 100% correct.
They were all started by entrepreneurs. People who had a dream and a vision and saw opportunity where others only saw despair.
Back to email number one:
*** The so-called Depression was boom times for many
During the Depression entire industries experienced explosive growth. “Little” ones like broadcasting.
Now, if you depend on a J-O-B and you have a limited skill set that ties you into one industry, like selling sub-prime mortgages or making gas-guzzling SUVs, you may be in trouble.
But the issue is not “the economy.” It’s never “the economy.”
It’s where YOU are and what you are doing.
Here’s the reality:
No matter how bad things get, they never go to zero everywhere.
There are always big winners in every “economy.”
The entrepreneur’s job is to go where the action is.
You and I are entrepreneurs. We are the masters of our own businesses. We have an unprecedented opportunity now to serve our clients at a very high level. We have an opportunity to add to our personal portfolio of holdings and to help others do the same.
Interest rates are still low enough to be attractive. Inventory levels are still high enough to provide real choices for people. Savvy investors are coming back into the market, and in areas where the prices for homes is at very affordable levels it’s actually possible to realize a small positive cash flow with out the need for huge down payments. Rentals are in demand again. It’s not only in your best interest to communicate this to your clients, it’s in theirs as well!
What does all of this have to do with technology? Plenty! Over the past 6 months, this blog has given you many ways to utilize technology to take your show on the road, to work where the clients are, to streamline your activities to become more efficient and therefore more productive and profitable.
It’s time to pick the tools up and employ them. Let other people moan about the price of gas, the economy, the bursting bubble. You know better. You are an entrepreneur. You see the opportunity and you are equipped to respond. Remember, the entrepreneur’s job is to go where the action is.
Or do you see the glass as half empty?