In June 2008 I was on holiday in America. We visited San Francisco, Los Angeles and a few other places in between; as a UK businessman I am always interested in global economies, especially one so inextricably linked to us as the US.
My overriding impression from the visit was that they are in deep trouble. Just by talking to store owners and everyday Americans it was apparent that they were feeling forces of recession that most had never experienced before.
I also always talk to the taxi drivers as they are a good barometer of how local economies are performing and are always willing to share their views with you, as I am sure you have experienced. I could not get one taxi driver to give me a positive outlook. They feel recession quickly, as people change their habits to adapt to difficult times. They start using public transport, they don't go out to restaurants quite as much and they definitely don't tip in the way they did when they felt prosperous. I am sure our Chancellor uses far more sophisticated barometers to measure how the economy is doing but I don't have his resources; in fact, I would argue that if the Government looked more closely at what is happening on the ground instead of relying on statistics, they may just find not all economic problems are complex and that answers are available.
Anyway, when I left the states I had an overwhelming feeling that things really were very bad, and as the old saying goes, when America sneezes we catch a cold; from what I had seen they already had pneumonia.
On my return to work I felt so compelled by what I had witnessed that I called a works meeting and shared my concerns with everyone from managers to delivery drivers. I remember telling them at the meeting we all needed to brace ourselves for the difficult times ahead, that I was fairly sure were already well on the way.
We all know what followed, and like many businesses we have had to cut our cloth accordingly and find new markets to drive our business into. I own and run a printing business that prints, amongst other things, high quality business cards and other business stationery, and some of our primary markets have receded enormously. Marketing budgets have been cut and direct mail has reduced in the last 18 months, probably by 30%. Consumer confidence is still low and people are worried about their jobs. But as with everything in life the economy is cyclical and gradually normality will resume; I don't think however that we should confuse a resumption of normality with the idea that 'everything will go back to how it was', that just can't be.
Over the last ten years a large part of our growth as an economy has been fuelled by consumer debt, and so if we are to have long term sustainable prosperity we must change our debt habits. For me it does not matter; whether we're talking about countries, international businesses, small businesses or even just householders - people cannot and must not continually spend more than they generate in income, otherwise everything they own will be built on sand. Now of course I am not advocating that we should never borrow money, but in the future we must borrow more wisely than we have done in the past, or the difficulties we are facing now will return to haunt us.
For these reasons I am in the camp that thinks recovery will be slow and gradual. The election is just around the corner and once this is out of the way I think we will start to witness those green shoots of recovery that have been so widely predicted. However, whichever party forms the next Government it is inconceivable that they will not raise taxes and cut spending; we will all have to pay more tax and receive less in public services for the tax that we pay, this is inevitable.
Just Starting out in Business?
So are you in business or thinking of starting out in business? If so you will need to have your wits about you and will need to develop new tactics that can keep your business ahead of the competition if you are to prosper in the future. For my part, I have been developing a new internet site that will be launched in June 2010 that brings to the market contemporary and exciting business stationery designs that are easily adapted to all types of industries and professions. The site even allows customers to design their own business cards and order in bulk online.
Simple things like high quality business cards enable companies to leave a lasting impression with their clients - don't give out cheap flimsy feeling cards they won't do your image any good!
If you want to receive more information and special offers when the site is launched please send me your email to email@example.com or visit Betterprint.
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