>The economic data coming out over the past few weeks is confirming what I’ve been writing for quite sometime, we never escaped recession and in fact never had a recession – we had and have a depression, albeit one that has been goosed by massive government intervention to make a recovery appear to be happening. We have never dealt with the underlying issues that have caused and continue to cause our weakness, instead we have doubled-down and now we are in a double-dip….
If you are like me though you might be getting tired of all the bad news and negative stories. By no means do I think we should ignore our issues, but as I’ve stated in previous commentaries, good will eventually come from bad. Just look at the progress we’ve made SINCE the Great Depression. So….for some encouragement I present to you John Mauldin’s “Good News” from his recent “Thoughts From the Frontline,” a must read weekly e-newsletter.
Scott Dauenhauer, CFP, MSFP, AIF
So Where’s the Good News?
Ok, I could go on for hours, sorting through the problems. Where is the good news I promised?
Here’s what I should have said to Tiffani’s group: Let’s face it. Running a small business is never easy. I am a serial entrepreneur. I have started and run a lot of very different businesses. Some have been very, very good and some went down in spectacular flames. I can remember some near-death experiences when the economy was booming. I have watched a million-dollar income stream dwindle to zero and there was not a damn thing I could do about it, except enjoy the money while it was there and use it to buy the next income stream. I have had to rebuild several times from scratch as markets shifted drastically underneath my feet. And I’ve changed directions as new opportunities revealed themselves.
In all this I’m like every other small-business entrepreneur out there. It is never easy. But that is what we do. We get up in the morning and figure it out. Some 80% of startups die within ten years. But we pick ourselves up and start over.
I know unemployment is 10%. But that means almost 90% are employed. Consumers are saving more. So adjust. Figure out what your New Normal looks like.
The ’70s were a bitch. I woke up many times in the middle of the night with real pains in my stomach wondering whether to pay the rent or make payroll. So did a lot of people. But look at all the new companies that came out of that era and changed everything: Microsoft, Apple, Intel, etc. Cell phones. The internet. The list is long.
Yes, we have to make our way in this Muddle Through World. It will be challenging, but I can almost guarantee you that when we do get through there will be other challenges. If it was easy everybody could do it and there would be no money in it. Embrace the challenge!
I asked one of my really close (36 years) friends and business associates last year how his business was doing. “We are doing great!” he said. That was not the answer I was expecting. “Why? How?” I asked.
“Well, most of our competitors have folded. We survived and got the business.”
Ultimately, that is how we get out of this. A hundred million families and millions of businesses figuring it out, learning how to adapt to the New Normal. Sadly, some of them won’t make it. But most of us will!
As I said, I am a serial entrepreneur. I have a friend who designs and oversees large teams of programmers of really robust analytic software, very cutting-edge stuff. She is a winner, and I am backing her (I know nothing about software but the rule is, invest in people!). We’ll see how it goes, but my bet is that in a few years there will be a lot of people getting jobs because we take on some risk now.
We are adapting our own business here. We will soon have new websites. I will be doing (at first) an audio podcast called the Mauldin Minute and then (hopefully) by the end of the year morphing into video. That’s the wave of the future and I need to keep up.
I am addicted to information and reading . We are going to try and make some money from my addiction. What would you pay to look over my shoulder and read the 5-10 most important things I find in a week? I will become your personal reader. Will that be a life-style changer? No, but it will provide some income diversification.
When Tiffani made her presentation to her Vistage group about our business, she had a lot of charts and graphs. I was surprised how our sources of income have varied over time. Some previously large (at least on my scale) sources literally dried up within a few years, completely askew from our original optimistic expectations. It was very apparent that we cannot sit and assume things will be the same year to year. So we adapt.
I have been presented with a very different opportunity in a non-finance field that is right in my wheelhouse, as they say. Tiffani and Ryan and I are going to pursue it. Will it thrive? Be a real business in five years? We will see, but I have the ability to take that risk and I am going to do so.
And so will hundreds of thousands of other visionaries and dreamers. That is how we get through this. We work through the ugly and then we get to the 2020s, and I think we will once again be talking about the Roaring 20s! Whole new industries will come into existence. Pay attention to the advancements in robotics. Biotech will be HUGE this decade, but we need to change the rules so we don’t lose the intellectual property and the jobs. Electric cars will boom as we replace our fleet all over the world. Nanotech later in the ’20s. Green energy and nuclear. Artificial intelligence (finally!). Really cheap (I mean really cheap!) wireless high-speed broadband all over the world will open the door to all kinds of possibilities. I met last night with very credible scientists who have developed a way to filter water very cheaply. A desalinization module that fits in a cargo container. Yes, they need a lot of money to finish, but they will figure it out. And on and on. The opportunities are going to be huge. Trillions will be made.
So, we get through this. We Muddle Through. We figure it out, one business and family at a time. And as a culture, a world, we get to a better place. My bet is that in 2020 no one is going to want to go back to the good old days of 2010. We will be excited about the future and all the cool stuff that is happening.
Recessions and tough times are God’s way of telling you that you need to adjust a few things, both on a personal and business level – also nationally and globally. I am an optimist. I believe we will adjust and grow, not just in the US but as an emerging world. There are just so many opportunities.
So, don’t let the problems I write about in this letter make you crawl into a cave. Just be realistic and figure out where your opportunities are. And then go make them happen! You are responsible for creating your own future. And I hope it is a good one. I plan on making mine one.