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Viewpoint: Let's learn from our past mistakes

Jay Albrecht
Wednesday, Jul 1, 2009

What a year it’s been for business!

From government bailouts and TARP funds to massive unemployment and stock market variances, we’ve seen more in six months than in several years combined.
American business leaders have fought and struggled through it all, some successful and some not so. As a whole, we’ve persevered for the most part, only to be better for it as the economy starts to turn for the better.

Hopefully, many lessons have been learned throughout this otherwise negative experience, not only by those engaged in business but by government officials as well.

Here are my Top Ten Lessons (so far) from this economic downturn:

10. Save for a rainy day. When times are good, put some earnings aside to protect against an economic downturn. Often, it’s the only way to survive.

9. Marketing is an investment, not an expense. When the economy goes south and business goes with it, too often business owners look to cut their marketing budget. That’s the wrong thing to do. Economic hardships are an ideal time to set your company apart from the competition and be poised to jump ahead as the economy turns. Don’t miss this opportunity!

8. Do not take your customers for granted. It’s good, long-standing relationships that make all the difference when times get tough.

7. When times get tough, the tough get going. Difficult times often weed out the weak and make the strong stronger. Do what it takes to be one of the strong in your particular field.

6. Your employees are your number one asset. Do what you can to take care of those working for you – they are your key to long-term success. It’s much easier (and less expensive) to keep them happy than it is to replace them regularly.

5. There’s no replacement for hard work - except maybe smart work. Either way, don’t be afraid to put in the extra effort along the way. Now is the time to solidify your future. It won’t happen on its own.

4. Shop at home first. Keeping your hard-earned money local helps your community exponentially. Remember, times are tough for everyone – let’s take care of our own backyard first.

3. Think outside the box. When the environment around us changes, we have to change to meet the new demands facing us. Doing things the same way likely won’t work in a challenging economy – just ask GM and Chrysler.

2. Be careful whom you elect to positions of importance. If they don’t have a record of being pro-business, they likely aren’t going to be strong proponents of business once elected.

1. Home sweet home! I’m happy to live and work in the Upper Cumberland region, where we are largely insulated from the “usual” issues affecting this country. Sure, we’ve seen the negative impact, but overall not nearly as bad as in many areas of the U.S.

Here’s hoping for the remainder of 2009 to continue in recovery mode as we apply these, and other, lessons learned. Only we are to blame if we allow this country to plummet into another recession in years to come.

Jay Albrecht is the publisher/editor of the Cumberland Business Journal. He can be reached at (931) 528-8852 or jay@ucbjournal.com.

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