About 299 days ago, I decided that I would commit to publishing 365 consecutive days of posting. Somewhere along the line, I ran across a motivational speaker, who said something like “If you can commit to 365 days of anything, you can succeed.” I don’t know if that’s true or not, yet. To be honest, my other website, www.penguinate.weebly.com, which I can’t access from my current location, is still doing better than this blog in terms of income and in spite of the fact that I haven’t published anything new there for more than a year. I even pulled the most popular post from that website and put it here: Internal Communications of Southwest Airlines.Continue reading 298 Consecutive Days of Posting
Coronavirus and the resulting restrictions have devastated and frightened the American people, businessmen, and entrepreneurs. Small businesses are going bankrupt and closing their doors forever. Larger businesses aren’t faring very well, either. Only a few mega-businesses have gained market share and profitability, including Wal-Mart and Amazon. However, this flies in the face of what we’ve been told about smaller businesses, and it means that every business has to adapt to a new, different model of accomplishing its core tasks. In short, we need to find a new way to do business.
Small Businesses and Entrepreneur Advantages
In a healthy economy, small businesses and entrepreneurs are supposed to have the advantage of being able to quickly adapt to market changes. They can pivot to offer new products and create new strategies because they aren’t tied down by bureaucracy and traditions. The ability to change on the fly has been touted by experts as the reason why small businesses survive and disrupt large businesses. It has also been emulated by larger businesses to stay competitive. Unfortunately, the ability to change seems to have been unable to help small businesses survive COVID-19.
Disadvantages of Small Business
In an unhealthy economy, which the U.S. is experiencing due to coronavirus and the exacerbating political policies put in place over sound medical advice, small businesses don’t have the capital to sustain themselves or their employees. Brick and mortar stores rely on foot traffic and in person sales to boost their bottom line. When those things fail, what can a small business do to survive, especially one that was already hanging by a thread. It’s clear that many retailers don’t have the answer as well-known brands declare bankruptcy.
A New Way to Do Business
Small businesses need to change the way they do business. This will require an adjustment time, a change in mentality, and a whole lot of effort and learning. In order for small businesses to survive the next few months to year, they need to embrace the power of the Internet, figure out how to deliver the personalized service and convey that it gets delivered, and partner with other businesses to create synergy. Fans who love a small business need to help by getting the word out, leaving reviews, and making purchases when possible.
Power of the Internet
Some small businesses don’t have a website or have one they don’t use. Don’t let this be you. Weebly (if you’re not worried about international pageviews) and WordPress are easy to use and can get you started without too much trouble, even if you’re Internet inept. Your website can host a blog and be monetized with ads to provide additional revenue. Depending on the package you get, you may be able to sell digitized products as well as your regular stock on hand. If you’re not great at writing, hire someone to provide you with regular blog posts. Make sure you find someone who is willing to work with you, knows search engine optimization techniques, and can help you with keyword decisions.
Power of Video
You may also want to look into starting YouTube channel to promote your products with video and provide engaging content. (This can be monetized more fully later.) This can be especially useful for businesses that have moving, visual components. If you need more personal interaction, you might consider Zoom. Karaoke bars, for example, could host a sing off. Magicians, like Paul Draper, can offer their shows online. Musicians can do the same. Video offers a personal connection that photos can’t convey.
Power of Service
You need to meet your customers where they are. Some will be at your Facebook page. Others will be on your website. Some will want to pick up their items. Some will prefer delivery. Your business needs to provide these services without hesitation and with joy. Being able to process credit cards is something that you already do. Get a Paypal account or other electronic way to take payments as well. Provide your customers with better service than ever if you want to retain them.
Power of Connection
The Internet provides one form of connection, your business needs to make sure it provides another. As people have to stay inside and are less likely to go out, when your business has to remain closed even when people are out, you still need to provide that personal connection. An email list is good, but it’s not enough. You need to connect with each one of your customers and find out how things are going for them. If you’ve built this connection in real life, it should be a small matter to take it to the Internet. If you haven’t, you’ll need to work hard at finding an approach that delivers your personality and positivity.
Power of Partnerships
Every small business around you is in the same boat. If you can team up with one or more business to provide each other with services and to refer your customers to, you’ll be ahead of the curve. When people work together, their returns become greater than what they would have gotten on their own. Rather than looking at each other as competition for limited funds, start seeing how you can come together to synergize. Create something greater than the sum of its part, and you will be more successful.
It’s about Thriving not Surviving
As a small business if you’re thinking about surviving, you’re in trouble. The stress of surviving will cause you to make poor choices. Instead, you need to think boldly and figure out how you’re going to thrive in the new paradigm. You didn’t get into your business to survive, you got into it to be successful. In order to do that you need to be able to make clear-headed choices that take into account the information on hand. Then you need to apply your abilities to pivoting into new and better modes of doing business. At some point, you may find the old model isn’t even worth keeping. If you’d like a consultation for your business and how to move it forward, contact us.
In Sep. 2018, we applied for my wife’s green card to live in the U.S. We thought we would go about it the right way, so we sent in our money and waited. Then we waited some more. Then we waited some more. In between all the waiting, we spent time in the U.S. with her tourist visa. By Sep. 2019, we still hadn’t heard anything, and we decided to book a trip to New Zealand. It would be easier to get to than if we flew from the U.S.Continue reading Coronavirus Delays Our Journey to the U.S.
This whole thing comes down to your real values. You have a simple choice. Do you value money or life? And you can see by the reactions and the calls those who truly value life and those who value money. As an individual in a system that requires you to have money to have life, you have to make a decision. How much do you value your current level of living and how much are you willing to sacrifice to not have to put your life and the lives of your loved ones in danger?Continue reading For the Love of Money or People: COVID-19
When protesters go out, against the government orders to shelter-in-place, they are clear about what they are fighting for: the economy, their jobs, their freedom, or against government overreach. They don’t believe the threat to them is important or valid, and they’re willing to take their chances without realizing the threat they are exposing everyone else around them to. Unfortunately, their actions and protests make it more difficult for those of us who are staying inside and trying to mitigate the spread of coronavirus. Where these a—hats have us beat is two-fold: they are united physically, and they have a clear goal. So, why are the rest of us staying home?Continue reading Figure out What You’re Fighting for and Why You’re Staying at Home to Successfully Defeat COVID-19
Protesters gathered in Michigan with their weapons and their privilege to complain about the stay at home orders issued by the governor there. They waved the Confederate flag, gathered in groups brandishing their weapons, held signs saying they would not comply, and blocked ambulances from getting to the hospital. Live free or die! “I’d rather get coronavirus and die than… see a generational company be gone, let America die, let the economy die, GIVE UP MY FREEDOMS!” These selfish a—holes don’t understand what they are doing. If they would like to die, then they better do it quickly and decrease the surplus population. They don’t have to wait for coronavirus; they have guns. It’s the selfish way out, but it’s a lot better than their proposed solution because getting coronavirus isn’t about them dying specifically. It’s about them passing the virus on to someone else and that person dying, and then multiple people dying from one a—hole who decided he or she didn’t want to be inside.Continue reading The Selfishness of ‘I’d rather get coronavirus and die, than…’
In 1918, the Spanish Flu killed 50 million people worldwide. Its second wave, probably spread by the movement of troops during the end of World War I was deadlier than its first incarnation. We’re facing the same type of problem if the Open American Now people have their way.Continue reading Open America Now, Emotionally not Economically
Abraham Lincoln gave a blueprint for the death of the United States of America in a speech that included this excerpt:
Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us with a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force take a drink from the Ohio or make a track on the Blue Ridge in a trial of a thousand years. At what point then, is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer: If it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we ourselves must be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time or die by suicide.– Abraham Lincoln, Young Men’s Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois on January 27, 1838
Little did anyone suspect how literal his case would be. As coronavirus springs up amongst us, we are its authors and its finishers. As long as we continue to spread the virus, we will be responsible for our own destruction.
The United States is facing, what Surgeon General Jerome Adams is calling, this generation’s Pearl Harbor moment. We are at war with an unseen enemy, and we have all been drafted to fight against that enemy.
Still, draft dodgers abound as they claim bone spurs, bathing in the blood of Christ, and it just doesn’t seem to fit with my style, to help them gather together at church, in parks when the sun shines, and with friends and family they could just as well see over an app on their phone. These draft dodgers burn their hoarded toilet paper and cry, “We aren’t going to follow the recommendations of the experts!”
These unpatriotic individuals with false bravado wave the flag as if they were doing their duty and on the front line. While they are out partying or visiting their congregations, they are ignoring the directions of the generals put in charge to fight this war. Worse, they are putting the actual people on the front lines at risk.
No one is being asked to go and kill people on foreign soil. In fact, we are being asked to do the exact opposite. We are being asked to save lives. We can protect fellow Americans and to keep people from dying by doing one simple thing: stay at home. That’s all we have to do to win this war: stay at home. If you have to go out, wear a mask, wash your hands, and stay six feet away from other people.
What are we fighting for? Our grandparents, our parents, and our children’s future. We are fighting for the very essence of America – its people and their safety. This fight is on our home turf, literally, and the more draft dodging nimrods there are, the worse its going to get, the longer the process of healing is going to take, and the more loved ones we are going to lose. Do your part. Stay at home.
All we have to do to get through this pandemic quickly is stay at home, work from home, and be nice to each other. If everyone did that, we’d be through this in a month or so because the virus wouldn’t be able to find new hosts to spread to. As easy as that sounds, staying at home is a lot harder than anyone ever thought. Props to the stay-at-home parents and sedentary retirees.
But what’s going to happen after we get through this? Is it going to be business as usual, and by usual, we’re looking at business as it was done before the environment was protected since the protections were rolled back while we weren’t paying attention? Are we just going to go back to the same habits and systems that got us to where we couldn’t protect ourselves from a virus in the first place? Where states and the federal government are fighting over medical stockpiles and which entity they belong to? Where the most vulnerable are still vulnerable, economically and medically? Maybe, but they don’t have to go back, and some things won’t be able to go back. We can choose a direction.
Making a Habit
It’s been said that it takes four weeks to make a habit. After four or more weeks of staying at home, people will have gotten used to the convenience of having things delivered. Ordering from the Internet for everything will become the new norm. It’s going to take a lot to get people to come out of their homes and get them into restaurants and other businesses, especially if there’s any lingering fear of the infection. People from the Great Depression era had a tough time throwing things out and severely rationed for much of their lives even when the economy was booming. The economy will no longer be driven by brick-and-mortar profits but by Internet profits, including website monetization, video commercials, and sales.
Even if the U.S. Postal Service stops working in June (as its budget projections show it may), Amazon (affiliate link) will have its fleet of contractors. UPS and Fed-Ex will likely be around. Your local restaurants and other businesses will probably have delivery in place. In some places, cab drivers will become more than just a mode of personal conveyance.
People will support the arts through page views, Patreon and other sites as they realize the value that arts have to everyday life. They will have read more books, binged more movies, and surfed the Internet looking for more ways to entertain their children at home. Entertainment springs from the arts, and a more aware citizenry may be willing to fund their favorite creators.
Human nature will likely trump habits at least for a time. Within the first couple of weeks after restrictions are lifted, people are going to go out more than ever. The deciding factors that will temper this urge to hit the restaurants and theaters are the actual amount of discretionary income everyone has, what the weather is like, and what kind of job advertisers have done to stoke the desires of those experiencing cabin fever.
The first few movie weekends, for those movie theaters that are still around, are going to be huge. As long as people have confidence that they won’t be getting ill for going out, they’ll likely show up in droves. Chances are that these movie-goers will still be wearing masks, which could put a damper on concession sales and movie theater profits. The same could be said of sporting events and concerts. The only question will be whether or not movie companies have figured out how to capitalize on Internet releases. Hollywood, i.e. Disney, may be willing to forgo releasing movies to the theaters if they can get more people to subscribe to Disney+ or to pay for premieres in their own home.
Restaurants will fill up as people look to get away from doing the dishes and worrying about what to make. Malls will see an increase in mall-goers, if not actual consumers, especially if the weather is bad. While city parks may have been widely used, their use will sky-rocket as everyone has already created the habit and can now congregate in larger groups.
Finances and Politics
Financial pressures are going to be problematic. People who have put off their bills for a month or two and find them coming due just because the situation has been declared safe may face a mountain of debt they can’t overcome. Paying one month of rent is hard enough. If they are required to pay two months at a time to cover back rent, the country will be looking at a lot of people becoming homeless. Bankruptcies will increase. Homes will get foreclosed. The problems most associated with financial issues, alcoholism, suicides, and domestic violence will also increase.
A president may see the best way to relieve these problems is to convert the economy by starting a war. This could come from the outside where other countries are seeing the U.S. response to the virus as weak and untenable. They may think that the U.S. won’t recover from the damage that this virus and other policies have done to the country, and in its weakened state, is ripe for an invasion.
Many are already comparing the U.S. to a third world country. It won’t take much to convince the president of a former world power and now third world country to go to war. War brought us out of the Great Depression, it could cure our economic problems again.
As Americans get back on the roads, commuting to their jobs or heading to take a break from their immediate area, gas prices will increase. This will further depress the economic growth of the country and create a target in the Middle East for a war to free their peoples (and liberate their oil in the process).
No End Game
There is a possibility that there is no other side. As people, states, and the federal government refuse to put into place the necessary restrictions to eliminate the virus, the infection rate will continue to grow until everyone has been exposed. Companies will have to figure out how to replace ill employees. Funeral parlors will be a booming business, and old people will continue to be at greatest risk for infection and death due to the infection.
At some point, we’ll have to figure out how to continue, what an acceptable mortality rate is, and who will pay for the treatment for those who are hospitalized due to coronavirus. We could figure out a new way to do things to minimize the possibility of death and disease, or we could throw up our hands, as some pundits and pseudo-news people already have, and say, “F… it! We failed. I never really liked my grandparents or parents anyway, and since they’ve retired, they’ve been nothing but a drag on the economy.” In doing so, we may sign our own death warrants as the virus mutates.
We Make the Choice
The point is, we get to choose what happens at the end of this, but only if we make conscious choices to change for the better. Now is the time to think about what you want for the future and to start putting it in motion. Going back to the way things were isn’t an option, just like it was never an option after Sept. 11. If you want things to get better, you can’t cross your fingers and hope for good luck. You need to be the initiator of that change, large or small, for you, your family, the country, and the world.
If you choose not to direct the change, you’ll have to deal with whatever someone else creates to fill the voids. If you know what you want the future to look like and have some starting steps to get there, leave your suggestions in the comments.
Man, it’s a crazy time! I hope you’re doing everything you can to keep you, your family, your community, and the people of the world safer. It’s hard with some of the mixed messages coming from different news and not-news sources, but listen to the experts. Stay at home, get regular exercise, practice social distancing, buy only what you need for two weeks, and limit necessary trips to the bare minimum.
To paraphrase Winston Churchill: Never have so many been asked to do so little to save the people of the world. To be fair, it’s not so much a paraphrasing as a butchering, but it still works, especially since we’re being asked to do so little to save each other.
Stay at Home
All we have to do is: Stay home. How hard can that be? For years, stay-at-home moms got a bad rap for being at home all day with nothing to do but watch daytime soaps and feed themselves into oblivion. (Maybe now we have more respect for people who choose to stay at home over getting a job. Just like we should have more respect now for teachers.)
Think about it. Even with the difficulties associated with staying at home, many of us are getting exactly what we wished for: a chance to grow and be at home away from our jobs. That’s amazing! Stay at home, play video games all day, and eat cheese from a can (if you can find it). Read, binge watch something on Netflix or your other favorite streaming service, and start a new hobby if you have the supplies or can order them through Amazon (affiliate link). Stay away from any of the hobby stores that are open; they aren’t necessities and you shouldn’t be going to unnecessary places.
People before Profits
Still, there’s a core section of the population that is finding it difficult to stay at home. They want to work, or they want others to go back to work, or they want you to go back to work, so they can prop up their portfolios and profits. These men, and some women, are a—holes. You should ignore them. They aren’t doctors. They don’t know anything about how the virus is going to progress. Most of them aren’t even economists. They are pundits or talk show hosts, who have somehow disguised themselves as journalists or they are business people, who have somehow found themselves in a position of authority for something they know nothing about. These talking heads are putting profits before people.
Worse, even though they claim to be pro-life, they are advocating killing off up to five percent of the population, most of those being old people and those with compromised immune systems. That doesn’t make them heroes even if they are willing to make that sacrifice. These same advocates of exposing people to a deadly disease make their proclamations from their isolated basements or the sanctuary of their knowledge that their money and position will get them a test and a result in 15 minutes while the average person has to show signs of the virus and wait much longer than 15 minutes to get any results. They continue to doubt the experts and suggest that people do things that will end up in their own deaths or the deaths of loved ones. The longer they encourage people to go outside and come in contact with others, the longer this pandemic will last.
As long as people keep partying with their friends, keep going to their non-essential jobs, keep leaving their homes for no real reason, America will keep facing the deadly consequences of a view miscreants ill-advised acts, and the healthcare system will continue facing an overwhelming job that will result in life and death decisions due to a lack of resources. Communities can’t wait until they see symptoms and confirm that there is a case or cases in the area. It’s like a horror movie or ninjas. If they wait to act, and the action is to stay at home and do nothing, it will be too late. Getting ahead of the curve and shortening the effects of this virus means acting now.
Stay at home, stay away from others, wash your hands, don’t touch your face, and wear masks if you have to go outside. If your work requires you to go in and your job can be done from home or is non-essential, consider telling your boss, “No. I don’t want to be responsible for transmitting a disease that could kill someone.” It’s difficult to stand up to your boss, especially if you need the money. However, someone is going to have to do it. Maybe it starts with you, and it might help to send your boss a poem or that video with Samuel L. Jackson (see below). Be safe, my friends and don’t let anyone trade your life and lives of those you love for money.