Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Business Owners: Team Up, Buy Local and Be Upbeat (a Recipe for America too)

Turn off the radio and sell your TV on ebay if you have to. No, not because times are too tough for one to have such things, but in order to avoid the doom and gloom that have become the drumbeat of the news media.

My experience with the media has been this: When they tell you to buy a stock, commodity or whatever, you’re usually better off selling it. When they tell you to sell, it’s often a good time to buy.

Now that contrarian theory holds true within reason. And even when it does, it may take months or even a year for the reverse of their advice to come to fruition. But in general, the media is often a day late and a dollar short. They look to the past and present it as the future. Their outlook may be true in the short term (except when they actually tell you that they’re making short term predictions – you can usually do the opposite of those quite safely), but the general trend is usually about to go in the opposite direction.

Now, I’m not making any predictions here. What the point of all this is, is that we are not tied to the media. Our individual fates lie within the domain of our Creator and are helped by the paths that we follow, not by some talking head with a red tie who’s shouting that the price of Jell-O is about to go to $500 a pound or that the Icelandic Krona is the new Swiss Franc. Okay, no one is saying exactly that, but you get my drift. When the media tells you that all is lost, it’s time to put a smile on your face.

Business owners generally do need to be mindful of the general monetary climate and economic trends, but only in so far as they help in planning a business model, services and pricing structure for the short term. What business owners don’t need to do is to start becoming depressed by a media that reports that all is lost, which they typically do only at the very end of a recession, or run around sniffing daisies when the media hypes a great economy, something they do most intensely at the very end of an upturn.

Being a contrarian isn’t always right. That said, being positive always is. Keeping a positive outlook is also essential to good business practices and to having a motivated outlook. No matter what one’s political stripes, we can all appreciate how Rush Limbaugh sums it up: “There may be a recession. But I’m not participating and I suggest that you don’t either.” Business owners need to adapt their models based on prevailing economic conditions, but they don’t need to be distraught or resolve to be affected by them. In fact, in certain economic climates, they should resolve not to.

To succeed in this economy, one thing is crucial; business owners must band together. They must do business with each other and they must go beyond just doing business as well. They must band together in order to strategize, learn from each others’ experiences and, yes, do business. The perfect model for this is quite possibly the Association of Entrepreneurs, an organization that BusinessGrowthTrends regularly promotes. The Association combines learning and business training with networking and allows each member to share and discuss his or her business issues with other members so that all may gain strategic insights and advice. When one owner has a particular issue, he or she can often find the answer from another entrepreneur who dealt with the same issue in the recent past. The Association is a perfect conduit to this type of collaboration.

This model holds true for America as a nation, and therein lies the best program for its economic recovery. The focus must be on small businesses, the backbone of jobs and the area of industry that most readily has an affect on the lives of Americans. Strengthening small businesses by concentrating on how to get their owners the resources that help them succeed should take priority over furthering international agreements or to bailing out large companies.

This idea is not new. Presidents Benjamin Harrison and William McKinley spoke of the need to protect American workers and their standard of living over a hundred years ago. This idea should be of paramount importance to America as a nation. But whether it will or won’t be, our business models can and must be based on local cooperation and locally centered trade. Looking to local small businesses for your products and services is a good idea. All business owners and service providers benefit when we resolve to do so.

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