Business has been more interesting and challenging in the last few months (September, October, and November) than it has ever been before. I'm learning more, sacrificing more, and honestly dreaming a bit more than I've done in several years.
I'm busy in completely new ways than I was six months ago, some more detail level and some more high level but much less in between. It's exhilarating and exhausting at the same time.
I'll work to fill in some blog posts in the next few weeks to cover some of the fascinating things I've been involved in over the last 90 days. Some of what I'd love to share falls under competitive secrecy which makes something as simple and relaxing for me as a blog post just a bit more calculated and regretful for what I have to keep inside.
Speaking of competition, three weeks ago I actually met the CEO of our single biggest competitor in person. Apparently the pleasure was all mine. The inventor in me hates being in the same industry as anyone else. The entrepreneur in me understands that competition means legitimacy.
The winner will create a new industry I'm still convinced. The next 48 months will tell a lot.
The economic downturn has become a topic I almost cannot stomach to talk about. I heard a great parable a few weeks back about a man with a hot dog stand. The hot dog stand story is referenced in a more extended version in some places but the short summary is that a father with a successful roadside hot dog stand follows his educated son's advice to cut back since the economy is bad.
The man reduces the quality of his product and the effort he was putting into advertising and his business must eventually shut down as he reaches an outcome brought about by his false impression of the world around him. Furthermore, the economy may have been bad for everyone else but the economy did not destroy the hot dog stand business.
On the bright side I've been reached out to via LinkedIn and email and phone by a large number of friends and contacts who are starting their own businesses now. Unemployment in North Carolina is high and the number of unemployed people in North Carolina rose 50% in the last 30 days.
This level of unemployment is driving innovation by giving people a new perspective on risk. When you cannot trust that the company you work for will maintain your position through the end of the year going out on your own doesn't look so bad. Or if you get laid off you may have no other choice. These new entrepeneurs have a tough road ahead of them but they will face similar challenges as those of us running companies already. These challenges can be overcome.
I'm trying my best to face the brutal facts and make good decisions in the midst of all the distraction. And that's all most of it is. Distraction. The companies with the coolest heads will make it through and on the other side will be a lot of pent up budgets ready to be unleashed. Be ready, be still here.
Until then position your product as a cost savings not a time savings. Businesses have got plenty of time on their hands right now. And invest heavily in R&D, that's what I'm doing. Hopefully when we emerge from this slump we'll have left the market entirely behind us.