Determination over Awareness

IT Business
10 Comments

Over the course of the past week, two of my very dear friends Karl and Marx have blogged about how they will not let the negativity over US economy interfere with their business direction this year. Among the notable quotes:

Mark:

“I may have slept through economics but I do know what my peers and customers are telling me.  Between the news and the fear manipulation being done for the sake of votes I’m done listening to negativity.  Now if you will excuse me, I’ve got a profitable business to focus on.”

Karl:

“I don’t understand why the media want to talk us all into a recession. This morning I turned on CNBC. What’s the story? Target same-store sales are up. Walmart same-store sales are way up!!! Walmart’s dividend is 95 cents a share. That’s huge.”

Now, don’t let these guys fool you. They are not ignorant by any stretch of the imagination, they have both done very well with the basics of American capitalism in that they have both built successful businesses, they have both given jobs to a bunch of people thereby fueling more than just their own pockets, through their companies they have given a lot of businesses a chance with the latest technology without the surprise costs.

They are not saying that things aren’t going in the wrong direction.

They are not disputing that we lost 68,000 jobs on Friday.

They are saying that they have a business to run and that playing into the fear and propaganda is not something they want to engage in. They are not letting the pundits distract them from their mission.

Does that mean that just if you wish upon a star hard enough and if your heart is pure you won’t see your customers go out of business? Does it mean that Mark and Karl have been sprinkled with pixy dust or that prince charming kissed their articles of incorporation so their companies can life happily ever after? No.

Business leadership is a delicate combination of determination and awareness. Know what is going on around you and work hard towards your goals. They are not mutually exclusive traits. (see posts on “execution” – being a determined and driven idiot does not guarantee success) Determination and awareness need to be in balance and most importantly, they need to be ongoing.

Most people let their circumstances dictate their direction, they believe that because they are agile they will be able to adjust to anything that comes their way.  Thats like saying that it’s OK to hit a wall at 60 mph because you have car insurance. Business success does not come as a result of tiny adjustments over the course of time – maybe business survival at best.

Business success comes from seeing an opportunity (or threat) before everyone else does, giving your customers/clients an insight into what is going on, presenting different options and showing that you are basing your recommendations both on your expertise and your awareness for what is going on.

So back to Karl Marx. Obviously successful guys. What are they seeing and saying that the others are not?

10 Responses to Determination over Awareness

  1. Mike S says:

    I never listen to what they are telling me to think becuase it is only the wrong direction if you cannot turn around. In the last year i have seen the majority of our competition lock the doors for good only because they were still thinking in 1999…

    Our company has changed the way we operate our support and moved to innovative software solutions. If we can be more efficient so can our clients and that is how we have grown 600% in the last year!

    Mike

  2. It would do people good to actually read the labor stats instead of tossing out numbers such as 68,000.

    http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

    So my question is this: Who is to blame for these job losses? And please be warned if you blame the President, I’m going to vomit. How about people stop blaming everyone else for their lot in life, put on your big boy/girl pants and take some freaking responsibility for your actions and works.

  3. Oh and another gem overlooked: Professional and business services employment was little changed for the second month in a row; job gains had averaged 26,000 per month in 2007.

    Interesting.

  4. vlad says:

    Michael,

    I’m not a politician, so the blame game really does not do much for me. I do run a business, so the results do a LOT for me:

    “Employment
    fell in manufacturing, construction, and retail trade. Job growth continued
    in health care and in food services. Average hourly earnings rose by 5 cents, or 0.3 percent, over the month.”

    Now, 63,000 non-farm (what that means is “not seasonal work”) jobs were lost. This means that 63,000 that used to have a job at Christmas, no longer have one today. Other areas are unchanged.

    What that means is that there will be less taxable income, more wellfare, less state revenue, more expenses. These things tend to reverberate through the economy, causing the slowdown in business spending as everyone sits on their hands.

    Conversely, it causes me to work harder, market more and hire less. I look to spend more money and I look for big ticket items. Technology spending is always among the highests costs after labor, wages, rent and insurance so whats a quick way to quickly cut my costs?

    I welcome all opinions, this one is mine.

    -Vlad

  5. Amy B says:

    As an econ junky I know that there’s one thing that continues and deepens a recession. Pessimism. If everyone moves forward and spends smartly then the recession will be less severe than it would be otherwise. I’m of the same opinion that Mark and Karl are. I’ve been putting out good news reports to our clients for months now so they can keep positive too.

    This is not to say that it’s all in our heads. On the contrary, to oversimplify there are two contributors to this recession. Dumb consumers and a government not grounded in reality. Consumers fell for the mortgage salesmen and have spent themselves into bankruptcy because they didn’t like the reality that if you make $70,000, have zero downpayment and a bunch of credit card debt that you can’t afford a $300,000 house, two leased cars, 2 kids and a 54″ television. They preferred the snake oil. Now they find it tastes a little bitter. Our national government acts as if they don’t know that our major corporations and national debt is significantly owned by foreign government and investors. If they don’t like our International policies no matter what we think our ‘might’ is, it isn’t. A little dip in confidence by those investors and we plummet.

    I hate to be the one to break it to you but we aren’t the alpha dog anymore. We’re a member of the pack and it’s our own fault. It will be interesting to see what happens if we choose a president that is not welcomed by our investors.

  6. Amen Amy. Look out U.S., here comes China. The funny thing is, the Country has their back turned worried about Mexicans. We are being flanked.

    Vlad, I know you dont do the blmae game and I know you run a business. So do I, but really, how much will 63,000 unemployment individuals hurt your business? I would suspect not at all. In a perfect world, we would have ZERO unemployment. But there is not a Walgreens on every corner is there (see commercial)? So we have a astonishing 4.8 percent. Really, are you kidding me? We are talking about 4.8 percent. This is going to cause you to, “work harder, market more and hire less.” Just sayin’ brother — from one Floridian to another. Hell at least you have Mickey in your backyard bringing in the money. We got the Jaguars. Hmm, I wonder who will when that revenue war?

  7. vlad says:

    The issue is that these massive job losses wash through the economy and eventually make an impact.

    Yes, we have a walgreens on every corner, but why the fuck are you not working in one of those? Because they pay $8/hr.

    When people lose jobs because big companies downsize, high paying jobs get replaced by the low paying jobs until there are wealthy and the rest of us at McDonalds.

    How’s that for some entreprenurial motivation?

    Don’t think you’re not affected. If they are cutting jobs they are cutting IT infrastructure, they are cutting support costs and you go from making $80,000 to making $40,000. Take out business expenses, etc and see where you end up at.

    -Vlad

  8. 63,000 losses didn’t even change the unemployment percentage is my point. And if I were one of those 63,000 individuals, I wouldn’t think Walgreens at $8/hour was a bad idea for the interim. The part I get upset about is the 396,000 discouraged workers who are not currently looking for work specifically because they believed no jobs were available for them. Translation: Everything out there is below their standard; except what they think is OWED to them by the Government, i.e. Entitlements.

    “If they [companies] are cutting jobs, they are cutting IT infrastructure, they are cutting support costs…” If that’s the case, what happens when the shit hits the fan with their IT infrastructure? They have to get it fix, or not do business – as productively or not at all. Enter the relational commitment you and your client have invested over the years. If it breaks, they will call.

    “When people lose jobs because big companies downsize, high paying jobs get replaced by the low paying jobs until there are wealthy and the rest of us at McDonalds.” People lose they job for different reasons. Incompetency (regardless of employer or employee) is a big reason. A lack of commitment, dedication and pride in one’s word and works is another. Another factor, the biggest of all in my opinion, is that there is little to no loyalty from the company, to the employees, right down to the customers/clients. Why should there be? The American President is one of my favorite movies. Trying to convince the president to be more aggressive, he says with great conviction: People want leadership. They’re so thirsty for it they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand. The President responded with: People don’t drink the sand because they’re thirsty; they drink the sand because they don’t know the difference. In the absence of company service, employee service and customer service; we settle for shit and come back again and again, as long as the shit is tolerable. That’s a problem.

    “Business success comes from seeing an opportunity (or threat) before everyone else does, giving your customers/clients an insight into what is going on, presenting different options and showing that you are basing your recommendations both on your expertise and your awareness for what is going on.” I think that is part of a whole. For me, consistency is a large part for my success. My customers/clients can get IT support anywhere nowadays. But I listen to my customers/clients needs; adjust my vision to incorporate their needs, and providing consistent service. That is why they will call me back again and again – even when 63,000 people have lost their job in the month of February. Perhaps they were not as dedicated or consistent in their duties.

  9. Karl’s comment about same store sales being up at Target and Walmart leaves out the point that consumers are looking for low prices (aka “value”).

    It’s certainly possible to spin value in the MSP/SP world. A big selling point would be to encourace more internal FTEs be replaced by outsourced IT from an MSP. It will be an avenue to growth for us MSPs. (obviously not good for the FTEs, though)

    However, capital expenditures are BOUND to go down. Credit is harder to get, and if your business (like mine) gets 25% of its revenue from new implementations, then it’s important to have something to fall back on… either that, or be ready to cut back.

  10. Jay, writer Memberspeed.com says:

    Life has its ups and downs. But the idea of fearing a down so much that we freeze and stop moving forward altogether is ridiculous. We have to accept that the negatives are part of a business. Besides, once you’re down, the only way to go is back up. Just keep that in mind and go your way.

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