International Business Made EZ 2001, Lesson 2

by | Jul 1, 2001 | Archives

* How to Financially Focus Your Product: Three elements can create a successful business, fun (for the owners and employees), service for the customer and an eventual profit (the dot coms have proven once again that businesses cannot survive on hope alone). A recent letter from a reader below helps us crystallize this fact.

* Use collapsible overheads to protect your real wealth. Recent articles in USA Today entitled “Outsourcing Business Steps Up As Economy Slips” By Jon Swartz, shows that the downturn has prompted more companies to hire others to handle their information technology needs. There is a lesson here you should always use.

* The Golden Rule of Good Business.

Golden orange paints its first blush on mountain blue. Delicate patinas of sunrise and moonbeam start the new day, fragile as a hummingbird's breath.

On the Blue Ridge Parkway, headed north. immersed in the very beginnings of dawn, Merri and I just finished conducting a course in Orlando. Away too long with radio, TV shows and book signings for the 65th Octave we just wanted to get home. So we drove the night and the last leg, Merri snug and asleep in the back, found me at dawn embraced in gentle folds of the Blue Ridge, soft, majestic and ancient hills.

Riding through cracks and crevices, up and over the crests and into morning veils of mist, I recalled how psychologists say mountain people feel less anxiety than those living on prairies and plains. As we rose from the flat Piedmont into forested hills, my understanding of this grew. There is a seeming security nestled in these valleys and hollows. Some soft protection hides in the folded antiquities of earth, rock and moss.

Thoughts came about security in business, investing, even all of life. They are shared here with you.

We had just completed an incredible course, perhaps the best I ever conducted, and I found myself enjoying the entire process. But the numbers were low, less than half our norm. The trend in this recession for business and conferences we conduct for others has been down, as much as half. The recession, high cost of travel, etc, has taken its toll.

This can make a big dent in income but not our business, nor especially our life for three reasons. First, we have well focused finances. Second we use collapsible overheads, and third observe the Golden Rule of Good Business.

There is more about these three business ideas in this lesson for you.

Business slowdowns can be devastating if one is not economically and psychologically prepared. They can hit at every level, regardless of our place in life. For example a reader recently wrote:

Gary, I'm writing to you just because I think you may be a sympathetic shoulder To lean on. Because you are wise, happy and married.

I've always considered myself to be those things too, but recently as hard times have hit I've found myself less secure about my superior understanding.

My wife, is exceptional in her business and usually makes a large income by local standards. Whatever she does she does very well and collects accolades at every turn.

I'm good in business too, but in my work life I'm usually somewhere in my wife's shadow. Now something happened early this year. The work just dried up. People are being laid off everywhere and there's no work for either of us. So we've been forced to live off the fat of better times.

For me this is okay, but the glaring reality is that what was a moderately humble lifestyle has now left us living way beyond our means. My wife is deeply concerned. We've been together for many years and have had much harder times than these- there was never savings previously- but this time my wife has become really stressed about it all.

I'm not concerned by our situation, but I hate seeing her so irrecoverably stressed. My greater concern for her state of mind than our 'critical' situation worries her further still.

I can't disbelieve that God provides, and as far as I can see there are ample visible opportunities for God to do so, and infinite invisible opportunities also. I like to think that somehow we make our own beds with our attitudes, outlook and psychic intuition. If we're self pitying, things to justify the self pity arise, if we're angry, things to anger us occur naturally and if we're happy, life has a way of making reasons to be cheerful. But right now my outlook is causing a great deal of resentment.

Do you have feelings about reaching for your assets during hard times? Is it that bad? Is there somewhere we can go that will be more buoyant than the country where we live right now? I told my wife that if her business doesn't work doesn't come through, then mine will. If one bridge crashes, it's time to look inwards at what you really want to do to find the right direction

Well, thanks for listening,

Here was my reply.

Dear Friend, First it may help you to know that in these troubled economic times many people are feeling stress everywhere. Recessions are times of great introspection, withdrawal and transition, a time when laws of nature trim economic fat. This is good.

Though this transition is not always pleasant it does stimulate growth. We are experiencing this here in our business as well so let me share what I am doing.

First, we are letting go of all the things we have been doing. This does not mean we are stopping our business, but that we accept that some parts of our business may not make sense in times ahead. We accept that God, the forces of nature, fate (or whatever you wish to call our ultimate being) does provide and does have a master plan. We are always on some correct track and if we remain alert, follow the flow of events and look for signals, we'll be okay. In business terms this means we are ready to rationalize (get rid of) any part of our business (no matter how sacred it may seem).

And we're open to any new sources of income that may materialize. In short we are flexible and ready to shift gears almost spontaneously. We are not hung up in why us or what will we do!

Next we work harder to communicate with ourselves, our clients, suppliers and sub contractors. We try to open up, share our fears and convictions and listen to theirs, take more time with them and enhance our compassion and be more humble. When Thomas Stanley, Phd. interviewed 733 millionaires (see The Millionaire Mind) asking them the most important factor that led to their wealth, being honest with everyone at all times was listed as the most important. Good business people respect those who acknowledge tough times and do something about it. They fear people who stick their heads in the sand and act as if times are fast when they are patently slow.

Next we pull in our belts. We have had enough incredible success materially over the years to understand that material things are not us and are not our happiness. We don't try to impress and don't worry about what society thinks we should do or be. Only one point counts. We serve and in the process spend less than we make. That is the only thing that makes us feel good about ourselves and our business. This is nature's law, to live within one's means and we abide by it! Even though we have enough reserves to live on the rest of our life, when our profits stop, so does our spending!

Finally I reread the words I have framed above my desk from the Vedic texts, “Action is thy duty. Reward not thy concern.” This may seem a contradiction in terms but essentially means that if you keep plugging ahead and have your finances focused right, everything will eventually work out.

Every person's circumstances differ, yet in some ways they are exactly the same. I hope that sharing how I am dealing with these stresses at this time may also help you.