By Stephen Rhodes
Yesterday I talked about the divergent views around whether or not Canada`s economy is in recession.
It`s made worse by campaign theatrics around who can better manager the economy, like anyone has control over the price of oil.
Consumer spending is up, employment is up. Energy sector is having a rough time.
The concern is that all this political rhetoric can have a significant impact on small business in what for many should be the best quarter of the year.
I spent 30 years in the newspaper business and weathered two recessions in that time. The first indicators of an economic downturn in both cases came in the automotive and real estate sectors. Both were major advertisers and both cut their advertising budgets by significant amounts.
The Globe and Mail reported Tuesday – ` Excluding the oil, gas and mining sectors, the economy actually grew in the second quarter, thanks to higher consumer spending on the strength of the housing market as well as a modest jump in exports, led by the automotive and energy sectors.`
So, let`s take the optimistic view for the sake of small business in this country.
Make no mistake. We are open for business.
By Stephen Rhodes
Are we in a recession and how do you know? Unless you are employed by the oil and gas industry either directly or indirectly, it’s hard to tell.
Canada’s economy shrank for the second straight quarter, the weakest six-month period for growth since the Great Recession, sending the country into a technical recession even as strong growth in June suggest the pain may be short lived.
While two consecutive quarters of economic decline qualify as technical recession, both trade and employment numbers have shown positive signs this year, suggesting much of the downturn has been confined to investment in the energy sector.
“If this period is ultimately deemed to be a recession, it will be of the mildest variety and one of the strangest recessions ever,” wrote Bank of Montreal chief economist Douglas Porter in a research note. “Consumer spending was up in both quarters and so too was employment, far from a widespread softening in the economy.”
So, forget the political rhetoric on the campaign trail.
By Stephen Rhodes
Every business has problems. Half the battle is acknowledging that something is wrong. The other half is figuring out what it is and to do about it.
Acknowledging involves some type of analysis, measurement for sure. If you don’t measure you are unlikely to figure it out. So, if customer service is bad, talk to your customers. If sales are dropping look at your sales team or what your competitors are doing. Are your priced right? Do you have good relationships with your customers? Is after sales service good? You can’t fix the problem if you don’t understand it.
Once you understand the problem you need to figure out if you have the smarts (experience) to fix it. If you do, then get on with it. If not ask for help with someone who has the expertise.
By Stephen Rhodes
The start of a new year is a time of renewal and for many a period of optimism, hopefully building on the success of last year.
Ideally, 2014 is the next stepping stone in your long-term plan. For some, it might require an adjustment because plans often require tweeking. Maybe you are ahead of where you expected to be at this point. Maybe not. Either way the start of the year is the perfect time to set in motion a plan that propels your business forward.
If your plan in 2013 fell short of expectations, I hope you were able to assess what went wrong, and adjust. For that to happen you had to set measurable goals that can be evaluated all year long. Quarterly analysis is a good milestone. You also needed to look at the external environment– the local economy and your competitors for example. And talking to your customers for their input can help you determine what you might have done differently.
If your business is ahead of where you expected, it’s important to understand why so you can continue to build on that momentum. So, set goals and measure quarterly. Adjust as required.
By Jeff Bowman
T ‘is the season for the holiday office party! Yes, those parties that many employees look forward to attending, looking for opportunities to climb the org charts, charm their co-workers or simply enjoy the festivities and the holiday spirit. Then, there are those who dread the mere mention of an external social gathering with co-workers. They fear the unwanted conversations about anything but work, the mingling with others they may dislike and the drinking and carousing that seem to be associated with these types of gatherings.
There have been countless cases of those who sought to climb the ladder of success stumbling on the rungs and falling flat on their face at such parties. I have put together a few quick tips that will allow you to get the most out of your office party this year without having to worry about going back into the office on the next business day.
- Drink responsibly or not at all. We have all seen those individuals who have a little too much of the spiked eggnog and say things or do things that they would never have normally without the liquid courage in them. And by all means if the party is in the office, unplug the photocopier!
- Proper attire – Most holiday party invitations will advise of the dress code, however if it simply says business attire or festive outfits, then dress respectably. Holiday colours are good, dressed down jeans, t-shirts etc are bad. Try to find that balance between festive and professional if you can.
- Time is of the essence – Arrive in a timely manner. It is just as noticeable by those you work with whether it is at a staff party or a regular office day, how punctual you are. If the party is a “drop in” that isn’t an issue however if it is at a specified time, be there. If you are going to be a little late, advise the organizers beforehand so they are not left wondering if you will show up at all. I also make it a point never to be the last one to leave.
- Mix – Holiday parties are all about mixing and mingling, meet people you don’t know, go out of your way to speak to those you rarely get a chance to speak to a the office, be congenial and always polite. Avoid the regular office water cooler cliques. Try to avoid bringing the office to the party and separate those office/work issues with outside socialization. Use your finest networking skills.
- Frame of mind – Please keep in mind the party is for everyone. It is a sign of thanks for the great work you do during the year. Even if you don’t like these types of parties, try to have the best time you can, and don’t spoil it for others. Your attitude will have a huge impact on the entire event. Recognize those who have put so much planning into the event on your behalf, and toast to their efforts.
A few small tips that will allow everyone to enjoy your holiday office gathering. My grandmother used to say “Don’t say or do anything that you wouldn’t do in front of me!”
Have a safe and happy holiday.