A Business Model for Surviving Armageddon
By Bill Willard
The Issue: It’s official: The nation’s financial meltdown and economic nose dive made 2008 one lousy year, deep-sixing everything from banks and airlines to scores of retailers whose brands we all grew up with, and dragging untold numbers of once-secure jobs along with them (sudden unemployment stinks out loud: been there, done that; did not like the tee-shirt). Then there’s the self-inflicted train wreck that was once the nation’s newspaper business, whose third-quarter ad revenues fell some 18% last year–the worst drop in 40 years, and one from which it may not recover.
What I Think: While many once-thriving businesses are walking on the portholes, many others are doing remarkably well in spite of it all. Case in point: A good buddy of mine—I’ll call him Hank–works for a small, Central Indiana manufacturing company. Nonstop! The question is how they do what they do so successfully in today’s troubled economy?
Successful Business Models: Doing the Right Things the Right Way
While his neighbors, many in the hapless auto industry, twiddle their thumbs waiting for the UAW to save their bacon one more time (fat chance, that!), Hank is digging his car out of the snow bank in front of his house, pointing it West, and wheeling the 30-plus miles to work: 70-hours a week!
In one of our weekly email exchanges before Christmas, I chided Hank about needing to thank his lucky stars for his employer’s good fortune; then asked why the company is doing so well when so many others are floundering?
Turns out, the company’s success is no accident and the reason why has nothing to do with luck. It has everything to do with the company’s business model for creating value. Here’s what Hank had to say about that:
“We are indeed thankful that we’re off-the-charts busy where I work. How do we do it? It’s a combination of things: We make a really good product; it’s very reasonably priced, our order turnaround is amazingly quick, and we have a great location in the middle of the country. Plus, we have trumpeted the “Buy American” theme; we speak ENGLISH; we work the same hours as our customers, and our main competitor, China, has problems with lead poisoning, mistreating workers, long transit times, and increased shipping costs.
“What’s more, customers connect with our products, and we have very few competitors left here in the U.S. In fact, we’ve already purchased equipment from three competitors who’ve assumed room temperature.
“It’s kind of cool strolling into Wal-Mart or Target, looking at their shelves and being able to say: ‘We make this, and this, and this.’ Not everyone can say or do that!”
Armageddon While the Geddon’s Good
Indeed they can’t! And while Hank is paid by the hour, he has the work ethic, instincts, energy and drive of Freestyle Entrepreneurs everywhere. In fact, I’d say that small, Central Indiana construction company is as fortunate in having Hank on the payroll, as Hank is to be working for a moneymaking business that still has one!
What Do You Think? How much of the successful business model Hank describes can you apply to make your business more flexible, more agile, and less likely to lose ground (or worse) in a bad economy? Here’s wishing you and yours a happy, prosperous 2009! Your comments are welcome. Have you registered?
Bill Willard is a freelance writer in Clearwater FL. He has been a high-impact writer and editor for over 30 years. In addition to his byline pieces, Bill’s beat includes ghostwriting and editing for businesses of all types and sizes, professional practitioners and individuals, and is a www.thefreestyleentrepreneur.com Contributing Author. Visit his Website: www.writergazette.com/WillardAssociates.shtml
Or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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