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Archive for April, 2009

Gather Your Acorns and Prepare for a Brighter Economy

April 29th, 2009

I have noticed in the last six or so weeks that the mood in the country is changing. Despite the fact that unemployment is high and predicted to move higher there has been some good news reported.

Wells Fargo predicts a $3 billion profit was the headline on April 9th. A bank that is making money, how can this be?

Goldman Sachs sells shares of its stock to pay back half of its TARP funds bailout and refers to paying the funds back as “its duty” to do so. What? A company paying back government loans – and so soon? The last time I heard this happened was when Chrysler paid back its government bailout in the 80’s. According to Lee Iacocca in his book “Where Have All The Leaders Gone” it took the government a month to figure out where Chrysler should send the check since no one had ever paid a government loan back before.

Since the stock market hit bottom on March 9th and closed at 6547, it has had almost a 25% rally closing at 8125 on April 16th. (Yahoo Finance) Doesn’t this give you the feeling that the panic is fading? Certainly the talking heads have toned down their gloom and doom predictions of another “depression like the 20’s and 30’s”. I have already doubled down on some of the stocks I own and have already begun to reduce the losses from last qtr’s investment massacre.

Whether you agree with the politics of the solutions or not, it’s tough to believe that dumping almost a trillion dollars of stimulus into the economic blender and pouring almost another trillion into the financial sector to loosen the credit markets will not have some positive effects.

Based on what I am seeing and reading it looks like we could be out of this funk by the end of the year. To many of you who are keeping up on current events this probably isn’t news but I for one am starting to believe it to be true.

So what does that mean to me as a small business owner? Well, if you had done what your mother had told you and saved your pennies for a rainy day when the sun was shining, you should have a nice little nest egg of reserve capital which should not only be big enough to weather the storm, but should be available for reinvestment back into your company to prepare for the next wave.

Our business, like many of yours, has felt the economic slowdown, but we aren’t wringing our hands over it. We have been using the breather the economy has given us to take a hard look at our business systems and processes to find ways to make them more efficient, streamlined and produce a more consistent and better quality product for the customer. I’m not talking about cutting the workforce to save money. I’m talking about actually hiring in the face of the economy and dumping some of the rainy day reserves into branding, marketing, R&D and infrastructure. One of the benefits of a down economy is that much of these capital investments can be negotiated at lower costs. When the sun comes out again, you will have positioned your company for growth and that is the important lesson for today. Even a down economy presents opportunities for those who have planned ahead.

In the next several articles we’ll talk about some of the ways you can use technology to improve your processes and position your company for growth into this economic recovery.

Author: Categories: Chief Financial Officer Tags:

The Great Social Marketing Experiment

April 28th, 2009

Are we late to the party? A month or so ago Marc and I and two of our managers went to a business seminar presented by Holly Green, author of More Than A Minute and she mentioned in her discussion how because of Twitter she managed to secure a guest appearance on the today show. What, the Today show? – I thought to myself. And what is this …”Twitter”… you speak of?

That day, Marc and I thought maybe we were missing out on something so we each signed up for a Twitter account and began posting – not really knowing what we were doing or how this plays in to our bigger marketing strategy. Marc being the less gullible and not as easily influenced business partner was and is more skeptical than I on how we can leverage Twitter and other social media however since then we have started formulating and weaving social marketing into our overall marketing strategy.

Right now this effort remains as ”The Great Social Marketing Experiment” but one that we have fully embraced to see where it might lead. This is what has given rise to a Productive Computing, Inc. blog that will cover some of the more technical aspects of our company’s products and a newly concocted business blog aptly named theBizBros.com.

While blogging has been around for a while, Marc and I have shyed away from anything that distracted us from the nuts and bolts production of our company. Now that much of that is being run by processes and infrastructure and talented individuals we have trained and mentored, we are looking where else we can leverage our own individual talents.

For quite a few years now we have been told that we are missing a brand that we were born with. We have noticed this phenomenon as well. Since we entered the professional FileMaker Pro scene in 1996 I think we can modestly say that we have become fairly recognizable not only as a respectable company within the industry but certainly as individuals on the trade show floor. Our, ahem, short stature and obvious family resemblance (no we aren’t twins) causes great confusion in telling us apart when you first meet us – and don’t even try to tell us apart over the phone. The fact that we don’t seem to ever be separated at events enhances our recognizability – so much so that when we walk into a room one of our favorite colleagues happily announces that “the evil twins have arrived”.

We have been wondering if this persona will be a good brand vehicle for delivering our business experience to the market place. We hope that by us sharing our business experience a dialog can develop with our followers that will lead all of us to learn something. Business is not work for us, it’s really fun and if you feel the same way, we are looking forward to sharing ideas with you in this new social medium.

Author: Categories: Marketing Tags: