Thursday, August 14, 2008

Its all about the money!

Credit crunch. Everyday for the last three weeks to date, there has been something on the news about how the countries population is snowed under with debt and struggling to repay things as important as mortgages, car repayments and even food. Worse still, the banks are not loaning as they used to, mortgage lenders have withdrawn the 100% mortgages and energy and fuel suppliers are increasing their prices far faster than the rate of ‘usual’ inflation.

So what about our businesses? Is this the time invest and grow? Or should we all be consolidating our income and waiting it out? Is this the time to spend thousands of pounds on equipment? Or should we all be looking for the cheapest equipment? Is it really all about the money?

At first glance the current situation in the UK looks Bleak, bleak enough to turn the average home owner into a swivel eyed lunatic waiting for the impending recession to hit, but lets take a closer look at what this means for the self employed business man.

Without delving deeply into the endlessly fascinating subject of economics, we can safely assume that the problem is people in general are spending dangerously to close to maximum amount of money they earn. Which is bad. However, there is some good news for the window cleaning business owners.

Window cleaning works well as relatively small amounts of cash are taken from a large number of people. Even though window cleaning is not a typically essential bill, it is usually very small, usually £2 or so pounds per week. Most people loose more than that down the sides of their sofas. So things have to get really tight before the average home owner will cancel the service. This does happen of course, but when it does, the window cleaner looses a very small percentage of the income that can be replaced relatively quickly.

Look even closer and it gets even better for the window cleaner. Most of the cliental that make up a window cleaners round will inevitably be of the cash rich time poor sector of the general public. This sector is made up of professional working couples or singles that work full time and choose to relax on the weekends rather than carry out the household chores. According to HSBC in a recent survey, that market is worth some 6 billion pounds annually to the UK economy. It makes sense then that these individuals are not usually the first to be hit in any downturn of the market.

Think about this for a minute. As stated by a well respected economist, recession could be defined as more companies shrinking or down sizing than are growing. Its easy then, for people to panic when large companies put hundreds of people out of work at a time. The good news is referring back to the same HSBC survey 80 percent of the income from businesses is due to SME’s (small to medium enterprise) the days of giant British companies has gone and now the smaller more adaptable businesses are here. This in turn has given rise to the same cash rich time poor sector where the window cleaner spends most of his/her time.

The result of all this is simple, businesses still grow, employ staff, and reach record levels of growth in a down market the same as in an up market. For every negative, there is a positive. Take the fuel prices for example. Many businesses have suffered as a result of high fuel bills, cutting staff and some have gone under. The result for LPG conversion business and all the associated businesses of that industry tell a different tale. They have seen previously unimagined growth, with one firm experiencing a 1000% growth in one year! That’s not a printing error or typo, one thousand percent growth!

The truth of the matter is that with such a varied economy and such a massive amount of capital income coming directly from the smaller more adaptable business, the chance of a devastating recession is very, very small indeed.

This is a time for happy expansion for a window cleaning business. people will get laid off, find new jobs with thriving companies and the circle will continue as normal. Growing your business in a down market is such good business sense. The silver lining for us? -while your competition is shaking in the shadows believing the worst, you can be expanding with little or no competition.

Go for it!

Best Regards

Carl Phillips
Clear View Plus Ltd

Thursday, August 7, 2008

the power of support

I hate Ikea. No really I hate it with such intensity, I cannot explain. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like the store, the cafĂ© is cheap with some different but not unusual food, the products are mostly cheaply made but don’t cost the earth, and I kind of like the European style layout.

My wife however is the polar opposite. If she could move into the Ikea store she would. She loves it to death. Whatever mood she is in, if I suggest an Ikea trip, she is instantly transformed into a puppy, bouncing around outside the car door waiting for me to unlock it, and set off. I’m not complaining of course, some wives are far harder to please and a lot more expensive too.

So at this point, you would think that I have the most blissful happily married life. After all I know the magic ‘happy key’ of my wife. But no. life is never that simple.

If you could just pick up that new funky-looking cabinet from off the shelf, man- handle it to the checkout ,squeeze it into the car and then into the house, fine. But no. everything comes in flat-pack.

You could not think of a word that instils so much fear into me than ‘flat pack’ for two reasons. One I have to put them together and two the instructions always lie. You would think that because of my wife’s obsession with Ikea that I would have plenty of practice, but as each one is different, and I have a memory like a goldfish, I have no clue.

I approach a flat pack box as though it was a dangerous snake, or a large dog with big teeth. I know quite well what pain awaits. Each time I bring one back I decide that this time, I will follow the instructions. I will work them out. But each time the same thing happens. I lay out all the bits, then carefully unwrap the instruction list. Whereupon I am presented with something that resembles a very large fold up origami map. There are diagrams but some are upside down some are the right way up, some instructions are in Dutch, German, French, Italian and other exotic languages that I don’t understand.
After some flipping and turning, I find the English instructions but they still don’t make sense. Insert 2:1.3 into side B, slot C, flip over and repeat…. some very sadistic people live in Holland.
So I do what I imagine every other male in the country does, carry on without them. I look at the picture on the box and try to make all those bits into the closest resemblance possible. The worst part is my wife repeatedly asking if its done yet, then finally loosing her patience and trying to help, spoiling my chi in the process. We argue and end up with some very unstable furniture.

Business is a lot like Ikea. We choose what we want to do, spend money on it and are then left to work out the pieces to get the desired result. Is it any wonder then that sometimes business can be frustrating.

Certainly, we all know support helps, the word is used quite a lot. But the power of support cannot be underestimated. Just like having a flat pack genius helping you to put your furniture together, a helpful supportive company pointing you in the right direction can have a dramatic effect on the outcome of your business.

As usual post a comment if you wish

Carl Phillips
Clear View Plus Ltd