Deep Breath Time – Surviving The Recession

main1.jpgIt’s 9:00 a.m. on Monday morning. You have your cup of coffee and you sit down at your computer; time to check the email. And it’s it’s warming up, it’s logging on, and it’s checking, checking… checking an-n-n-n-n-n-d, there’s nothing. You decide to check again because there’s probably something wrong with the server. ——- Still nothing.

You take a deep breath- no email isn’t that big of a deal.   You’ll spend a few moments checking job boards. Board #1-nothing. Board #2-nothing. Board #3-nothing; in fact-there’s been nothing new on this board for two months.

You begin to hyperventilate.

This has been the same scenario for two weeks now. You’re wondering if you can get your old job back. Yes, you called your boss a balding, stupid, lazy idiot-but that was a while ago, maybe he’s forgotten. Your friend is quitting her job, maybe you can leap into her space.

Stop. Take another deep breath and begin to think clearly. No one ever said working for yourself was going to be easy. All businesses face tough times but you have to be a survivor. Remember all the advice that you’ve given your clients and remember all the great work that you’ve created. It’s time to put all of your talent into yourself.

First, don’t take the set back personally. Everyone is experiencing pains right now and the lack of work has nothing to do with your capabilities.

Secondly, keep working. Whatever you do, do not give up. Do work on commissions, reduced rates or even volunteer. Anything is better than nothing. Your mind will stay active and who knows what other great leads or ideas you may stumble across.

Start reading. Read every trade magazine/journal for your expertise. You’ll ensure that you have only the most up-to-date information and these publications can be an incredible source for business leads. You’ll know who’s expanding, who’s shrinking and what new projects are on the horizon.

Touch Base with all of your old clients. Make sure they remember you and the fantastic work that you performed for them. You might hit at just the right time when they could use a little help.

Start cold-calling-become the salesman that you never wanted to be. Selling yourself can be the most daunting task but you have to become a superstar. Remember, the worst that can happen is you can be told no. We’ve all heard that word before and it’s not that bad.

Expand your skills. Use this time effectively, if you’ve never built a website, try. If you’ve never submitted to search engines, do it. If you’ve never designed a database, give it a shot. The more skills you have the more marketable you become.

Remember, this too shall pass. The economy is based on peaks and valleys and what goes down will come up. Be ready for the next upswing.

More Support For Telecommuting

cio-logo_180x109.gifBig Thanks to CIO’s  Meridith Levinson  for sending in this link :

“How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Telecommuting” 

It’s a detailed account of how Dr. John Halamka developed a flexible work arrangement program for CareGroup. It gives great info on the programs, processes and systems he’s utilized to make telecommuting a success for his employees.  I urge all employers to at least look at the information he has provided. 

What I found really interesting though was the fact that the first thing Dr. Halamka discusses is how “the travel required to bring employees together in an office has become burdensome and expensive.”

With any luck, more companies will follow CareGroup’s lead, and something good will come out of these skyrocketing gas prices. 

Telecommuting – A Simple Solution for Many Problems

telecommute.jpgWe talk about economical slow-downs, we talk about the environment, we talk about innovation, but we’re overlooking the most obvious, immediately available solution to all these problems: 

Telecommuting 

We are supposed to be operating in a global business community but we can’t let go of the cubicle, or the hours every day in highway hell.  In Canada only 10% of Canadians telework, in the U.S. it’s 15%. The average Canadian spends 288 hours every year commuting to work, the average American, 100.  

We’ll email the person sitting next to us – we’ll hear about company updates on the blog – we’ll have access to all company records through an online database – but we’re still to nervous to trust employees to work from home – even after study after study has shown that telecommuters are actually more productive then their in-house counterparts.

Many managers are still under the false impression  that employees will only work if they are being watched. Well, from the amount of chainletters that arrive via Facebook daily, I can pretty much guarantee that they’re not working while they’re being watched.  But companies like Intel, who have 50% of their 85,000 workers telecommuting, have shown hat a progressive, productive workforce is the result of happy, motivated people.  And who wouldn’t be happy and motivated, not spending entire days of their lives in their cars, not spending a small fortune in gas, and having that extra time to use for both work and fun? 

Companies that work with telecommuters are reaping the benefits, they’re saving thousands in office rent and overhead, they’re attracting a highly qualified workforce, they’re finding the right person for the job, not just the closest, and they’re keeping 10’s of thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide out of the air.  

But don’t just take my word for it, here’s an excellent report from The Globe and Mail , and great resources from Innovisions Canada  .  The future, both near and far, is not going to be dominated by modular desks and matching grey carpet in concrete office towers.  Any company who’s not looking towards telecommuting, is not looking towards staying competitive.   

add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank :: post to facebook

Daycare = Increased Productivity

j0422577.jpgIt’s 2008 and we are no longer just Canadians, we are part of the global economy.  Unfortunately, as part of this economy, Canada’s productivity has been lagging significantly behind our economic partners and peers.    Our average productivity growth ranked 20th in the OECD; and we’ve slipped from 5th to 10th place in GDP per capita over the last 15 years.  Not surprisingly, as we’ve been slipping, so has our commitment to our childcare programs. 

In 2007 alone, federal transfers to provinces and territories for child care services dropped $350 million dollars, going from $950 million in 2006, to just $600 million last year.   While the average OECD country spends  .7% of GDP on childcare, Canada spends only .2%.  While parents across Europe pay 25% of childcare costs, Canadians pay 50%. 

Even if daycare fees weren’t an issue, there aren’t enough spaces. Fewer than 20 per cent of all Canadian children attend licensed facilities, and right now, Ontario alone has 17,000 families on childcare waiting lists.   Without adequate childcare, families, and particularly women, are held back. 

When we support childcare initiatives, we are supporting wealth creation, not wealth distribution. By placing emphasis on safe, affordable daycare, we’re helping women today while preparing our children for tomorrow.  We have to allow every single citizen the opportunity to have a full time career.  Doing this will ensure that our GDP grows and our child poverty declines. 

This is a fact that has not been overlooked by other nations around the world.  By spending $18 million annually on childcare services, Switzerland receives $29 million back in additional tax revenues and reduced spending on social aid.  By providing easy access to affordable childcare, the rate of hours worked by mothers almost doubled with the most significant increases coming from single parent households.   

Today in Canada, 65% of all women with children under the age of three works, while 68% of single mothers work.  However, with women accounting for nearly 70% of all part-time employees, we can conclude that these women are not reaching their full earning potential. This recognition becomes even more pronounced when we accept that 43% of children living in poverty are living with a single female parent. How can they work more; how can they raise their families out of poverty, if they have no one to look after their children while they’re gone?   

How can we, as a country, compete globally if some of our greatest assets are unable to complete a full days work, because there’s no one to look after their greatest assets?  We need to allow Canadian women the opportunity to go to work everyday, without worrying about finding, and paying for, daycare.   

The CCAC (The Child Care Advocacy Association of Canada ) has laid forth 3 recommendations for the Harper government to include in their next budget.  The recommendations cover unity for childcare standards across all provinces and territories, $1.5 billion in annual funding and an overall plan for family life balance.

What we need to do as women is to urge our government to follow these actions.  We need to convince our Prime Minister that spending money to ensure easy access to quality childcare will allow Canada to compete with the rest of the world.  We have to make this government understand that by guaranteeing excellent care for our children, we’re guaranteeing Canada’s future.  With our present day workforce fully utilized, and our next generation workforce fully equipped, Canada could become the economic superpower of the 21st century.          

add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: add to simpy :: seed the vine :: :: :: TailRank :: post to facebook

You’re Firing Me?!! I don’t think so!

Had a good chuckle with this one. A woman in Jacksonville was flipping through the classifieds and sees, what she thinks is her job, being advertised. She convinces herself that her boss is about to fire her, so she walks into the server room and deletes 7 years worth of files .

Well, turns out she wasn’t being fired, she was just paranoid. Surprisingly, an “oops,sorry”, wasn’t quite good enough for the employer, and they had her arrested. She’s currently out on bail.

You know though, if she had of been right, and she was about to be fired, she would think it was all worth it. Hell hath no fury….

read more | digg story

Suzie Homemaker or Ms. Powersuit?

images.jpg 

Whether we like it or not, the single biggest obstacle between women and career success, is the overwhelming responsibility that most of them have on their shoulders.  Women look after their families, their households, and many are facing the reality of looking after their elderly parents (1.2 million in the U.K. alone).  Women don’t have time to shower, never mind finish payroll, put together sales proposals or travel extensively for business. 

It is amazing that after 40 years of independence, women are still being overwhelmed by their daily lives.  The question of course is why?

Our spouses, partners and families are perfectly capable of helping, so why is it still on our shoulders?  Are they shirking their duties or are we still living with a superwoman dream?  Do we still want to be Suzie Homemaker at home and Ms. Powersuit at the office?

It’s probably a combination of the two.  Our families our more then happy to be waited on, while we want to be looked upon as nothing less than the most organized and resourceful woman in the world.  This is completely unhealthy though and is destroying us on physical, mental, emotional and professional levels.  It’s time to start taking real steps to gain real control of our lives. 

Step 1:  Realize that you can’t do everything yourself. 

I realize that this is probably the hardest step to take, but it’s o.k., that’s why there’s more people on the earth besides you, so they can help out.  Rome wasn’t built in a day and it wasn’t built by one Empress.  It’s time for a family meeting, where you can tell everyone exactly what you need, to make your life easier.  This is going to be a big change for all involved, but it’s time to make it clear that things are going to change, why they’re going to change, and what everyone is going to do about it. 

Step 2: You’ll Actually Need to Verbalize the Requests

I know that we often expect the men in our lives to read out minds, but science has shown that they do not have telepathic abilities yet.  You will actually have to say: “Can you pick the kids up from soccer, I’m busy.”  Surprisingly, if you put a note in their palm pilot, they’ll usually show up at the field on time, and everyone will make it home safe, without you. 

Step 3: Realize that nobody’s house looks like Martha Stewart’s, except Martha Stewart

The world is not going to end if you leave the house and there are dishes in the sink.  Your children are not going to die of malnutrition if they eat peanut butter and banana sandwiches for supper.  Stop feeling so guilty.  

I realize that our mothers and grandmothers had floors that you could eat off of – but is that really necessary?  Are you ever going to eat off the floor?  Why’d you spend $2 grand on that dining room table?   And let’s not forget the five second rule, you’re always covered by the five second rule.

Your family should be more worried as to whether or not you’ve had 15 minutes to rest in a day, then if there are clean socks for the morning.  It’s not illegal for a 12 year old boy to wear the same pair of socks for two days; in fact, he’s probably doing it anyways. 

Step 4: Realize that your children have hands. 

Did you know that children who are raised on farms, get up at 5:00 a.m. to do chores, before they go to school?  And do you know what – they actually survive!  I haven’t heard of a rush of farm children, running to the psychiatrist’s office, because they had to do some manual labour. 

I’m not saying to hire your children out as farm labourers, but I am reminding you that they are perfectly capable of folding some laundry and washing the dishes.  Realistically, helping around the house will turn them into adults who can actually look after themselves.  Their future partners will thank you.   

The Recession is Coming – Now What?

main.jpg“I’ve Not Failed – I’ve Just Found 10,000 Ways That Won’t Work” – Thomas Alva Edison

I stumbled across this quote, at the bottom of a chain letter actually, and as soon as I read it all I could think was: “That pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it.” 

The economic news gets worst every day,  over 2 million people are going to lose their homes to foreclosure,  and Wall Street is in full skid, with the Dow losing over 4%, the S&P dropping 5.4 % and Nasdaq dropping 4.1%, just last week. 

We’re all reading the news with knots in our stomach, but inevitably, what are you going to do, roll over or roll with it? Do you give up or get smart? 

The news isn’t all bad.  Reuters is reporting that 1 in 4 small/medium sized business in the U.S. have at least 1 position that they can’t fill.   That’s alot of jobs.  Yahoo Finance reminds us that there was a 6 year high of $29.4 billion in VC investment in 2007.  That’s alot of money. 

I’m not suggesting that we throw on the rose coloured glasses and pretend that the Emperor has clothes, but the sky isn’t falling either.   This is the time for preparation, not panic.  If you’re employed, figure out what you’d do if you lost your job – could happen – have a back up plan – you always have to have a back up plan. You could start a whole new career, you could start a new business, the back up plan could actually become the best thing that ever happened to you.

If you already own your own business, this is just the time to play hardball.  Find new markets for your products/services, and sell like you’ve never sold before.  Let your market know you’re the best and never back away from it.  Keep your competition in mind, but envision them as small dots behind you in the race.  Ask for help when you need it, learn to say no when you have to, and make your suppliers treat you as well as you treat your clients. 

This isn’t the first recession, it won’t be the last.  Our grandparents survived, our parents surived, we’ll survive.  But there’s no reason for this to be a time of just survival, handled properly, this can be a time of change and transformation.