The Economy Stinks – Now What?

It’s been a pretty quite month here in our house and with business. No major overnight trips, crazy deadlines, or scheduling issues (you know those client calls when kids are wailing in the background or pounding on the heating vents.) While you would think that’s a good thing, I’m definitely uneasy. As most of you know, I always have some major event happening or on the horizon. You figure, in just the last three years our family has experienced the birth of two children, moved once, launched two businesses, traveled to Europe, and my husband has changed jobs twice. And that’s just what I can think of at the moment.

I guess what I’ve really be pondering is the current business and economic climate. Let’s face it, it hasn’t exactly been roses out there. Yet, when I’m in talking to my clients, many of them are doing well or at least they’re holding steady. They don’t seem to be getting hammered like the talking heads on the evening news or Pres. Obama would lead you to believe. That should be a good thing, right? So why is it that they are skittish about investing to improve their operating processes? I do have a few clients that are really going on the offensive in this market. Incredibly focused on eliminating the waste in their processes, improving their quality, and taking market share away from their competitors. These clients are fun to work with – they have an amazing energy, great leadership, and a clear vision. Then I have most of my other clients who might actually be in a better position with their backlog and cash flow but are afraid to make any changes. They are pushing out projects, holding off on training, all the things that could help them improve their profitability. I don’t get it.

I’ve been talking to my clients since about August or Sept. about investing in these areas during slow times so they are in a better position to weather these economic storms and emerge stronger. It’s not just talk either, I’ve been looking at my own business to make sure I’m offering the services clients want, watching my costs, and actually expanding (I’ll be bringing on my second person next month.) At the same time though, I’m holding off on finishing my basement/office. I really think my clients would rather I use the funds they’re paying me to provide additional services to help them instead of carpeting my floor. Plus, my kids love that they can draw on my office floor with chalk (it’s still concrete.)

Ok, so this really is not my best blog entry, but it’s just something that has taken up so much of my thoughts lately. I believe so strongly in manufacturing and the American work ethic and I want so desperately to see these companies succeed and grow. I guess I just get frustrated when I know I could help them and they don’t want to invest in helping themselves. On the other hand, are those clients I would really want to work with? I don’t know….. Thoughts?

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