Friday, March 1, 2013

“It’s not the economy….”

Fiscal cliff, sequester, debt-ceiling, meteors crashing down on Earth’s surface…..

From the headlines, it seems that the end of the world is near. Maybe the Mayans really knew the world would end in 2014 but just told us 2012 so they could get the last laugh. Despite this, we still have to get up and go to work in the morning, but one cannot help but wonder about the always dreaded R word - recession.

The truth is, if you are worried about the possibility of another recession and its impact on your business, you are normal just like the rest of us. However, if you constantly worry about it, even if you are in a more cyclical industry, there is something wrong with your business. If you truly believe in what you are selling, and you are providing something of value at a reasonable price and treating your customers right, you should not be worried about another recession. Even now current economic conditions do not meet the requirements to be classified as a “recession” but my opinion is that the economy is slightly contracting or extremely weak at best (maybe 0.2%-0.5% GDP growth if any).

But I majored in Economics, so what the heck do I know? Especially when I am only at the Bachelor’s Level and most renowned economists with PhD’s still get it wrong. I seriously considered underwater basket-weaving but almost drowned when I accidentally weaved my hands together in UBW 101.

Back to the economy…uncertainty from Washington’s theatrics, Europe’s sovereign debt woes, and China’s banking system reminiscent of ours in 2006, has driven many consumers to curb spending and businesses to curb investment. Credit is also hard to come by and consumers do not seem to be rebounding back to their pre-recession spending tendencies, even those who have deleveraged (another factor behind weaker demand).

So we can say there is less demand in the macro economy. This means there are probably fewer prospective customers out there now than there were a year ago. But this is by no means a death sentence. You simply have to work harder to keep existing customers, and work smarter and harder to get new customers. You are competing with other businesses for fewer and fewer customers. Separate your business from your competition and you will do fine. Again, the businesses that sell something of value that is needed or desired will do fine regardless of the economy.

Clearly, all of us would prefer the economy be booming with 5% GDP growth but like that classic song, “you can’t always get what you want”. Maybe a tougher environment could be “what you need” to kick-start your creativity. Maybe you will come up with your next big idea.

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