We have all watched changes in the economy over the last year and we have been forced to readjust our approach to our businesses. We wonder what we can possibly do to return things to the way they were two years ago. We may think things would be different if we had done things differently but the reality is, we have what we have, and looking back only hinders your progress.
I remember during the last recession and I beat myself up pretty bad about expanding and opening up a second location only to be met with the worst recession of my working life. I thought I had made a poor decision to purchase a building and open a second location only to find myself in a financial crisis. After three years of beating myself up I finally realized that every decision I made was a “good one,” based on the information I had at the time. I quit beating myself up and began to make decisions once again with the information I had at the time; I had to close one shop so I could sustain the other.
I quit waiting for things to return to the way they used to be and began to deal with the problems at hand, I closed my second location and immediately things began to get better. Emotionally I felt much better because I was doing something that I needed to do but kept putting off. I can compare this to meeting the school yard bully instead of dodging him by taking a different way home. Sometimes it’s better just to meet the bully face to face and take your licks and get it over with. Confronting a difficult decision and getting it over with is much better than dodging the problem and feeling the pressure in knowing that sooner or later a day of reckoning is coming.
No one has all of the answers and hindsight is always 20/20 so when you make any business decision make it based on the information you have at the time and then get on with it. So many times we know what we must do but fail to do it for a number of reasons, this is not a time for indecision but a time for action. Create a new business plan for 2010 that is well thought out based on what is going on right now, not on what you think or wish was going on. If you need to adjust your payroll don’t put it off, I was so sold on “going lean” that I failed to put my body men back on commission as soon as I should have. When I finally decided to make the change, production immediately got better, and my techs started to produce 25% more work that cost less and we didn’t lose a single tech.
When we decided to go “lean” we put everyone on a salary so we could create a team atmosphere but as things slowed down I had no way to adjust payroll so I just kept waiting to get busy again instead of doing what needed to be done. These decisions are not easy but they are necessary if you want to remain a profitable company. I’m not heartless, but I didn’t create this economy, nor do I have any control over its recovery, so I must make decisions based on the information available to me today.
“Fantasy” would be to think that there are no ups or downs in business but the “reality” is that in business there are many ups and downs and how you deal with them and learn from them will define you as a businessman. Fantasy would be to think that in business you get to work less and make more money but we all know the reality of that, we usually work harder and make less and when we finally get to the point that we really do make more money there is always someone there trying to take it from us.
After the last recession I learned that so many things were out of my control and there is really no one to blame, so with this recession I would like to think I am a little better prepared both emotionally and financially. Did I learn from my mistakes? Sure I did, but I still made a bunch of poor decisions just prior to the recession because I made decisions based on the information I had at the time. I expanded at the worst possible time, I made investments in real estate, I quit over 3 million dollars a year in DRP contracts, so yes I made some bad decisions, but at the time they were the right things to do.
I don’t know what the future holds but I do know that today things are good and I’m glad to be in business, and if I have learned anything in the last 30 years of business it is to take life one day at a time and to enjoy the good days because they will be few.