It's nearing the end of March and finally winter is ebbing and spring is slowly setting in. To me, it seemed like a long cold winter and I glad it's over. I look forward to spring and the rebirth of nature after the dark, cold, snowy winter. It's amazing how just a few warmer sunny days can lift ones spirits.
I think this may also apply to the economy. After a long dark and gloomy period, maybe, just maybe, the economy is starting to improve and this recession might come to an end this year. I don't want to count my chickens before they hatch, but I'm hopeful that I get at least some of the work I've recently prepared proposals on. Within the last couple of weeks the phones have started to ring again and there finally seems to be some work available. As there has been virtually no work available and the phones have been dead for the last six months, or so, it was very encouraging to see that the consumer is feeling more confident and willing to spend money again.
I have no doubt that the economic stimulus package and the plan to help banks with their toxic assets is starting to improve the economy, at least a little. The small business owner, such as myself, has once again been largely ignored and again taken for granted, but sooner or later, once the "shovel ready" projects get going we should see some benefits when this money trickles down through the market place. You just have to hope that you can hold on long enough to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
As Paul Harvey said:
"In times like these, it helps to recall that there have always been times like these".
Everything is cyclical and the economy will eventually improve. Eventually the housing markets will recover and go from bust to boom and everyone will forget about recessions. At first you will get more work but there will be fierce competition and pricing pressure. Then you will find, as the bubble builds that it's easier to get the prices you deserve and you will build a larger and larger backlog of work. When these hectic "bubble economy" times ensue, will you remember the lessons taught from this recession and recent bursting real estate bubble? I hope that you do.
To me, the lessons learned from the real estate bubble and recession are as follows:
- Regardless of the economy, good or bad, your focus has to be on making a real profit. I say real, because too many times I see some fuzzy math being used by companies to account for and obscure their bad business practices. You need to have a good business plan, good accounting systems and metrics, and make a profit for today and for the future. You need to pay all of your obligations (including your salary), make a profit and put money in the bank for a rainy day.
- Be lean. You may not be able to rely on money coming in through your door, so control the money going out. It's usually more effective to reduce cost than to try to earn, and collect, the same amount.
- Be efficient and productive. Your company can improve and grow with the smallest investment of capital by increasing efficiency and productivity.
- Borrow prudently, if at all.
- Put yourself first. You are not in business simply for the benefit of your employees, suppliers or creditors. You own your professional land surveying business for your own satisfaction, benefit and potential for success. You can define "being successful" however you want, but if owning and running a professional land surveying business is not financially benefiting you, then for your own good, if not for the good of the profession of land surveying, step aside and do something else.
- Be honest, provide value and trust. The biggest lesson of this recession and economic downturn has been how important honesty, value and trust are. Too many institutions rode the housing bubble, when it was growing, provide Ponzi scheme like products and service that when the chips were called in, couldn't be trusted and had no honest, or real, value. In the end three simple time-honored values crippled commerce: Honesty, Trust and Value.
Social Networking Groups Scam!
To shift gears a little, this week was a real eye-opener for me regarding online social networking. If you follow me at all, you know that I belong to and use several online social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, to name a few. I joined several groups on Facebook and LinkedIn that identified themselves as being setup for their respective professional communities. Reading their group profile descriptions would make you think they're inclusive and altruistic in nature.
Last week, however, I was banned from using groups created and run by a certain corporate publishing company known for its several trade print magazines, including land surveying. It was explained to me by the representative of this corporate publishing company that my contributions to the groups were unwanted because the corporate publishing company really only wanted information that promoted them, their advertisers, or posted links to their sites.
It would seem that the spirit of openness and sharing for which these types of social networking sites are based upon is not valued by this corporate publishing company. In contrast to the published statements of wanted inclusion to their groups I offered the following, more honest, statement of the groups purposes, " This group is managed by the Corporate Publishing Company and you, as a member of this group, are welcome to join, and join in, as long as it doesn't conflict with our self promotional corporate business enterprises". I was surprised by this patently dishonest and unfaithful manipulation of online social networking, effectively turning these online social networking groups into nothing more than an extended arm of their corporate advertising and public relations departments. Their supposed "blogs" are no different, as it turns out.
My Groups are Inclusive, Please Contribute!
Please note that you can join my groups on Facebook and LinkedIn, and I welcome your collaboration. Please feel free to start a discussion and post links that you feel may interest everyone. Also, please spread the word and let any of your contacts that might be interested know about these groups.
My Professional Land Surveying Groups You're Welcome to Join:
Coming up, I've got a Professional Land Surveyor Product Review of the EcoStake, exclusively from Berntsen, made from recycled plastic material, the Adapx Capturx digital pen and the STK Surveyors Tool Kit, which I think you'll find very interesting. I also have a couple of book reviews and a list of books I think every professional land surveyor should have in his or hers personal library. I also hope to be announcing an exciting new feature this week!
Thanks and Be Brilliant