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President's letter
Position your business for success
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Martin G. Brookes, President, National Tile Contractors Association
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After over two years of living in a COVID-19 environment, we must ask ourselves: “What is next?” The emergence of highly-transmissible variants of the COVID-19 virus continues to challenge us in every aspect of our lives.
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. economy is recovering and remains strong. Some of you may have started your business during this period, and as a business owner may have never experienced a downturn in the economy. It will happen – it is just a matter of when. I do not have the powers to predict the event, but I have been in business long enough to know the environment feels right for this to happen sooner rather than later. I hope I am wrong but current events and history tell us differently. The question is how to survive and thrive in an economic downturn?
Right sizing and being able to pivot are key. Large expenses can negatively impact your business. It’s not advantageous to your business if expenses are greater than income generated, or you are too emotionally attached to material goods that will burden you with debt. Start taking note of things you do not need that may have value today that you can use to generate income when needed. For example, the truck that sits idle, the saw that is gathering dust or unused office space. Knowing what and when to downsize will help you survive when the belt needs to be tightened.
The Great Recession was a learning curve for all businesses and a stress test for those who were able to weather a long storm – much longer than anyone envisioned. Those who survived came out wiser and poorer but still had an intact business ready to reap the rewards of making good decisions and an understanding about how to limit the impact of an economic downturn.
The memory of the Great Recession has waned for many, but it is still clear in my memory, as is the hardship that followed. A bad debt by a reputable builder who went bankrupt created problems for my company. The loss of a reliable source of income without a new account to replace it certainly stress-tested my business. With a solid, loyal workforce, little debt, and a reputation for excellence, we were able to survive difficult times and emerge stronger. Strategies to improve business practices were key to staying competitive such as creating efficiencies in work schedules, billing, and overhead costs. These best practices remain, even in this thriving economy. Remember that there are factors within your control that you can manage to achieve success in your business.