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Hilary Kaye, NAWBO OC  

                                                                          Click here for bio.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Not ‘Grown Up Digital’
No pink or red slips for me
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about being a small business owner and what this means in the face of the never-ending news barrage about unemployment, massive pink slips, work furloughs and the like. Sheesh, it’s not safe to pick up a newspaper, flip on the evening news, tune in to talk radio or glance at the news feeds coming in from Google, Yahoo or MarketWatch. You can’t even escape it in idle chitchat, whether in person or virtual. Understandably, it’s the talk of the day.

As a business owner, it’s the classic good news-bad news story. Yes, I am immune to getting a pink slip. That’s the good news. But if I were to get a pink slip, it would be red – colored with the red ink of a company gone bust. And that’s the bad news. Strangely enough, I rarely think about the bad news. I guess I have a do-or-die mentality. So, if I don’t think about not having a job, what do I think about?

I think about being responsible for keeping our team together, for continuing to give them jobs. And I think about what I need to do to make this happen. In reality, this year probably won’t be our best yet; but for me, success will be measured by having no layoffs, no shortened workweeks. Our team at HKA is superb, and the thought of losing team members to the economy is gut wrenching. But not just because I value their work – they truly need their jobs, their paychecks, their medical insurance. While some small business owners may be cavalier about keeping their folks gainfully employed, I suspect many of my business owner colleagues feel exactly as I do. And when push comes to shove and they have to do layoffs, there are many sleepless nights. I don’t envy them.

As we progress through 2009, I confess that I’m not entirely sure how to keep unemployment from our door at HKA, but I think I have a pretty good idea of our priorities. One is keeping our clients happy. They need to know how important they are to us (and they don’t know unless we tell them), and they need to know how important we are to them (results speak loudest here). Another priority is maintaining a steady flow of new clients. Even with the best attention from us, some clients will bow to economic conditions, and we will lose them, at least temporarily. New clients are an agency’s lifeblood. And a strong referral network is our oxygen. Our third priority is morale. If we are enjoying our work, we are going to be much more successful – individually and as a company.

So, when I’m tossing and turning at night, I’m not worrying about keeping my job. I’m simply going over in my head the best ways to keep our clients happy, keep our prospects coming, and keep our HKA team excited to be at work. I guess this is my own little contribution to the employment picture.