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When Business Gives You Lemons

August 26, 2022

The current economic slowdown doesn’t have to be bad news for your company. Learn how you can leverage this slowdown into something that can be productive for your business with the latest episode of TrendsTalk with ITR Economics Senior Forecaster Connor Lokar.




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The below transcript is a literal translation of the podcast audio that has been machine generated by Rev.



Hi folks. ITR Senior Forecaster Connor Lokar checking back in for another TrendsTalk. Today, we're going to be talking about making lemonade, metaphorically, as we've progress through this economic slowdown. So good, it's bad. Business is so good that it's bad. It's a comment I received from a client on the road at a keynote presentation in the summer of 2021 and that has really stuck with me for the last year. I feel like it's just a really simple way to describe what so many businesses have gone through in the last 12 to 18 months. For the most part, really emblematic of the overall economic market and condition that was just filled with all those good problems to have. We can't keep up. We can't hire enough. We can't ship enough. Our suppliers can't get us enough fast enough. You can't raise prices quickly enough and on and on and on.

Certainly those are preferable to the problems on the other side of the coin, which would be, we hire too much and we have to fire. We have too much downtime. We have too much inventory. We have to cut our pricing and on and on and on. Those types of problems might be creeping back into the conversation on the margins for some folks, particularly if you're positively correlated to the economy over the next year, year and a half, but it doesn't have to be all bad. How can we leverage this slowdown into something that can be productive for our businesses? What I want you to do is I want you to think about what are all those things that you couldn't do because we've been so busy over the last couple of years, because we were dealing with inflation? We were dealing with supply chain. We were dealing with shutting our businesses down and then ramping them back up and chasing the demand title wave.

As we know, 2020 was busy in its own way, depending on where your business was, surviving that pandemic, navigating ever-changing state and federal COVID guidelines, laying workers off, apply for PPP funding, bringing those workers back and on down the line. And then that quickly transitioned of course, back into ramping up for that runaway economic and business growth that we've seen most of our client base struggling to keep up with for the last year or two. So ask yourself, what have we pushed to the back, back, back burner over the last couple years because we just haven't had time? We haven't been able to afford that interruption. Maybe it's an ERP transition. Maybe it's company-wide training, employee-specific training. Maybe it was moving buildings or facilities that we ultimately pushed off, internal reorganization so we just felt like we just can't take that interruption right now. It could be anything.

But that's what we want to be thinking about as we look at 2023. You and your executive team, we need to dig through what are those things that you have shoved off in recent years because you simply did not have time or the executive bandwidth to deal with it. As we head into budget plan season for 2023, those are the priority items that we want to identify and start laying out for next year from a timing standpoint, from an expense standpoint, because this slowdown is going to afford a lot of businesses that opportunity. And I know that sounds weird to say, the slow down's going to afford us something, but at ITR we always say that there's opportunity in every phase of the business cycle and this time is going to be no different.

I think it could be something as simple as maybe letting employees take more time off next year. Maybe they've been afraid to take it off or haven't had the opportunity. But I had a client just this past week say, "Connor, it hasn't just been inflation or a challenging supply chain or the crazy demand at the macro level, but at the human level. If this business owner could see that their organization is just burnt out and tired at the human to human level." In 2023, we offer PTO bonus or vacation day bonus. Maybe just four next year, the same way some businesses are offering cash bonuses or stipends just this year to deal with this year's problem, which is of course one of the big ones is inflation. Something that maybe doesn't get embedded as a permanent cost, but something that reflects the realities of next year's business cycle and what your business is going to be feeling next year. So things to think about. I know that the headlines are largely doom and gloom right now, but let's dig a little bit deeper. Think about how we can turn some of those lemons into lemonade in 2023 and help our business and our employees get ready for what's next. Thanks for stopping by. See you on the next one.



Since 1948, we have provided business leaders with economic information, insight, analysis, and strategy. ITR Economics is the oldest privately held, continuously operating economic research and consulting firm in the US. With a knowledge base that spans six decades, we have an uncommon understanding of long-term economic trends as well as best practices ahead of changing market conditions. Our reputation is built on accurate, independent, and objective analysis.