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Views from the Prairie

June 08

Profit in a slowing economy

In both sports and war, a successful action has both "defensive" and "offensive" parts. A football team has the line men to protect the quarterback (defensive) while the receivers run down field (offensive). Warriors know that they have to be able to mount an attack while protecting their flanks and those left at home. The same thing happens in business.

Whether or not we are officially in a recession, we can all see that the economy is slowing down. So, how do we make a profit in this situation? Every time we ask that question, we need to make sure that we ask both about the "defensive" part of making a profit and the "offensive" part.

The first thing is to make sure that we are doing the "defensive" actions - making sure that what we spend is being spent on the right things. We get sloppy when the times are good. People take time to play when the money is just rolling in. So, tightening up both spending and where we spend our time is the first step.

The next step is to look at the ways where we could lose a lot of money. During the 1930's, Bonnie and Clyde robbed banks all over the Midwest. Today, criminals are robbing your data. There is a report that organized crime is giving up drugs to go after data theft because there is more money in that. So, protect what you have with firewalls, encryption, and control over who is actually looking at your data.

Those are two "defensive" actions. We need strategic "offensive" actions also. During the 1930's, a lot of companies did well on the "defensive" actions yet went under. A few companies thrived during that time. They tried many different new ways of business or offered new designs to their customers. To thrive in hard times, creative and well designed products and services are required.

The main "offensive" action will be changing what we offer to our clients and finding new clients. If you are not making plans to obsolete everything that you are currently offering, be aware that someone is. Let's get the new products first and get that business.

So, what are you doing both "defensively" and "offensively"? If you would like us to help you evaluate your company, give us a call.

Business in Motion

You want your business to crush the competition? Learn from warriors. The Art of War was a popular book a few years back. Other books borrow from military organizations all throughout history and from every part of the globe. Yet, the crux of good military action is to put your opponents on defensive and keep attacking while they react.

So, how do you do that in a down economy? The most important decisions we can make is the decision of which places to spend money. Most of our competitors will cut development efforts when the economy is down. Many will cut marketing efforts. They act as though the most important part of the organization is manufacturing or headquarters. That is totally wrong.

Peter Drucker stated the truth many years ago: The only reason for the corporation to exist is marketing and innovation. Your competitors will be cutting out the core when they should be expanding them.

But the nuances are important here. If you want to conserve the amount of money you spend, spend it on listening to your customers. Yes, they complain a lot. No, the facts of their complaints are not the important thing they are saying. Listen to them in order to get the proper perspective of the ideas that the developers are suggesting. Make your developers listen to the complaints and often, they will come up with suggestions that would more than solve this one complaint.

A down economy is an opportunity that some companies will be able to exploit. It is an opportunity to produce the new ideas that will attack the market. Go for it!

Open SSL Risk

Recently, a major bug was found in the Open SSL library. That library is used in a lot of different places for internet security. It also was used to generate master keys for other programs. The fix to this problem involves both code updates and going through our systems to make sure that the keys used are renewed. This would be a good time to update all keys used for internet communications.


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