Category Archives: Management

Made In The USA!

Made in USA

Made in the USA. That’s still the best idea! To paraphrase an old maxim: “what’s good for the U.S. is good for the world”. Let’s take a page from our post-WWII playbook and reclaim the business initiatives and entrepreneurial spirit that gave rise to our decades-long economic prosperity. Despite baseless claims by this mostly inept federal administration and their many lapdog media shills, we’re mired at a progressively stagnant, and perhaps, systemically declining economic level. More and more, many have begun to wonder if the historic U.S. business success story has peaked and if we’re on an inevitable and unavoidable downhill slide toward national economic mediocrity. Have we lost or abdicated our world-envied economic leadership  to other fledgling countries or regions?

Bypassing an easy finger pointing at the many lame and ineffective politicians and agenda-driven bureaucrats, this group, as well as previous ones, aren’t largely to blame. Instead, we need to understand that the U. S. has been slammed even more so by an insidious triple-fisted mega punch of technological efficiency, on-shore manufacturing decline, and big business dominance. The fact remains that much of the so-called decline of the middle-class can be attributed to the unforeseen net loss of jobs or wage stagnation by this industrial paradigm shift. There are simply fewer $50,000 to $75,000 jobs to be had today.

The substitution or replacement of new-industry created jobs, lower full-time wages, more part-time, and contract positions simply doesn’t compute to what has been lost in this industrial transformation.  The indisputable fact remains that the growth in the service sector and technical jobs has not kept pace with the loss in jobs from manufacturing, business combinations, or earning power from those displaced by other newer, less employee-dependent business models. Added to that are 25% to 50% new and higher monthly family expenses needed to run the average household given today’s market configuration from as recently as 2000. Want proof? Simply look at where we are now and where we are headed. While it is inarguable and  vital that we champion our technology vision, innovation, and leadership as a nation, it’s clear now that it cannot be at the exclusion of a more comprehensive “old school” industrial skill-set. It’s time to restore the best of the “Made in the USA” model.

Entrepreneurs and small business owners need to be vigorously recruited and financially supported by our myriad financial entities, be they our currently misdirected commercial banking institutions and a largely ineffective SBA support system. Our big banks need to be led away from their harmful business model propensity to be investment bankers and real estate mortgage fee seekers. Here is a real opportunity for politicians and regulators to have a positive impact on rebuilding our national economic clout by assuring financial institutions better support job-creating businesses like those that sprung up after WWII. Banks simply have to to do more bread and butter lending like their pre-2000 counterparts.

The rise of more and  larger corporations, be they regional, national, or international, and their impact on our business malaise also needs important strategic attention. Clearly, their shareholder focus largely usurps any other broader consideration. The trend away from smaller, more closely-held businesses has had a decided impact on our economic well-being inasmuch as “big biz” can more easily dictate financial terms in the marketplace. Many can only continue to survive or prosper by cost-cutting, not by revenue growth in a no-growth economy. That’s a business model that’s simply not sustainable over time. Regrettably, there’s likely some need here for governmental incentives that put U.S. economic interests first for USA-domiciled companies. It’s highly unlikely that a corporate re-migration will occur otherwise.

Lastly, at some point, our government and the macro-business community needs to realize that depending on others, particularly China, a devious business partner at best and a self-avowed U.S. foe, is a not only a shortsighted business strategy, but one that has much broader national security implications as well. Again, hearkening back to our WWII lessons, having an ever-ready, flexible, and potent manufacturing infrastructure at hand meant the difference between victory and defeat. That is no less a potential consideration in today’s rapidly deteriorating socio-political world climate.

By focusing on “Made in the USA” we can, first, restore our economic vitality over the next several years. Many of our societal pressures and conditions stem from people not being able to sustain themselves financially. A sound domestic economic underpinning can help alleviate some of those issues and enable us, once again, to be the undisputed beacon of a free world. Our diplomacy and international largess can only come from a sound domestic footing. Go USA!

Make 2014 Your Best Business Year Yet!

“I have never worked a day in my life without selling. If I believe in something, I sell it, and I sell it hard.” – Estee Lauder. What a great quote. Simply put, you need to believe in yourself and your endeavors, and never give up. It’s been the mantra of successful entrepreneurs forever. Have a strategic plan and work it relentlessly. Make 2014 your most successful year. Have a Happy and Prosperous New Year

Small Business Confidence

An August survey by the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) indicated a downward bias in small business confidence from the prior month. This survey went on to say that reported earnings continued on a downward path with little opportunity for business owners to reprice their goods or services more favorably given weak demand.

August is traditionally a vacation-laden month so it’s not necessarily a bellwether indicator for the remainder of the year. It does reinforce the constant necessity of performing a sales result analysis. This review should tell you who your customers are, why they’re buying from you and not your competitors, and what marketing or outreach vehicles are driving them to you. You can then focus your resources on those channels that are creating these sales. Whether tepid demand or more competition are underlying root causes, the business that gets its message out most effectively will be a sales winner.

The 4th Quarter Is When You Can Win This Year’s Business Game

Labor Day’s just passed and the the 4th quarter for 2013, like this year’s football season, is upon us. Has your YTD competitve standing improved, declined, or stayed the same? Are you hitting your business plan targets? It’s fairly easy to assess: have your number of customers and sales revenues held steady or increased? Are you driving toward a bottom-line win? If your business results are up, stay the course. Do your fine tuning where it’s needed, but your focus should mainly be on executing those key strategies that are already working and will have the biggest impact on full year results.

If results don’t measure up, carefully, but quickly, determine why and where you need improvement. What can you realistically do better or different. The good news is the traditionally robust 4th quarter is when business activity is greatest for most every industry. So you have the opportunity to get back to your goals if you make the appropriate operating corrections and can drive more business to your door. Presumably, your central strategies are still in order and you largely need tactical adjustments. Now is not the time to be defensive about how you’re right and the market is wrong. It’s great to be your company’s biggest cheerleader, but you will benefit more by being your toughest critic. As former Oakland Raider football coach and owner Al Davis famously said “Just win, baby!”. You have the time you need to make 2013 a winning year by having a strong 4th quarter playbook.