Saturday, November 7, 2009

What Will Santa Bring Us This Year?

Neiman Marcus is cutting merchandise orders by 20 percent in anticipation of weak Christmas sales. Saks Inc. is dong the same. American Eagle Outfitters says it expects to hire fewer temporary workers this Christmas.

This year, I'm betting we'll see a steep hike in unemployment across the board, starting with a rash of retail bankruptcies that will begin in March or April.

You aren't hearing about this in the media, because most of it will involve small companies (i.e., with less than $500 million in revenues). But those companies are a huge part of our economy -- and they account for most new hires.

The government won't provide any useful help. On the contrary, the Obama administration is spending most of its time cranking up regulations. That makes doing business more expensive and less productive -- especially for the small guys.


Unemployment is already at 11 percent or 16 percent, if you do the right sort of accounting. In this type of environment, people lose jobs. Even good, hardworking, loyal people.

Don't make the mistake of thinking your job is secure. You don't want to get to work one day and find a pink slip on your desk or, worse, the front door padlocked.

There are two things every smart working person must do immediately to secure his or her financial future.

* Become an invaluable employee.

* Develop valuable skills that can be used to get another job or start a business.

There is a difference between a good and an invaluable employee. Good employees come in to work every day and do a good job. They have a good attitude. They work overtime when asked. They don't complain.

Invaluable employees are instrumental in producing profits for their business. Salespeople, marketers, copywriters, and profit center managers -- if they are really good at what they do -- are invaluable.

If you are working in customer service, accounting, or engineering, your salary is on the expense side of the ledger. You may be great at what you do -- but when a business has to cut expenses, employees who fall on that side of the line will always be let go sooner than employees who are bringing in the bacon.

But if you demonstrate a superior attitude by volunteering to do extra work and showing an interest in the profit side of the business, you may be considered "potentially invaluable" when it comes time to chop off heads. (When I consult with clients about cutting down payroll, I ask them to focus on individual people and their potential, not their current roles.)

The core profit-driving mechanisms of every business are salesmanship and direct marketing. So I recommend that you study one or both of these skills. The more knowledge you have of them, the more potential you will show for becoming invaluable one day.

This is also a good time to look into home-based business opportunities. If you have spare time in the evenings or on weekends, why not put it to good use by developing a second stream of income?

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