How To Handle the Current Economic Downturn – Guest Post by Jeffrey Paul

Double exposure financial indices and stock market in accounting market economy analysis with graph business concept background

This is a repost of a post in the Screen Printing Masterminds Facebook group by Jeffrey Paul, Director of Global Printing at the Youngone Corporation, a $2.5 billion dollar global textile manufacturer.

To all of you owners out there, I can not imagine what you are going through right now. Although I no longer sit on the same side of the desk as you do, I did at one time. At the height, we had nine autos with the payroll and overhead to go with it. In 2008 a slow and steady business decline crippled many in our industry and those of us that survived learned a hard and stressful lesson. It was sobering.

What you are each going through right now is many times worse than what we experienced in 2008. Our domestic screen printing industry is driven by event, government, tourism, and educational spending. Three of those have slammed to a screeching halt; not over a few months but in a matter of days. Even the smartest among us could never have planned for something like this. Sobering does not begin to describe what is happening.

I have fielded a few calls and messages today, and for what it is worth, my advice has been the same, albeit unpleasant. You need to make tough decisions now. Not next week, not tomorrow, but right now. It is the hardest thing you will ever do as a business owner, but your business, your family, and your employees need you to make the right decisions, not the easy ones.

If your business is in the position where it has stopped or declined at dramatic rates, you need to make dramatic choices right now. Those include furloughing as many people as possible, working at night to conserve energy costs, staying late yourself and doing the printing like you did when you first started. You need to have those tough face to face conversations with employees about delaying any bonuses or compensation that you legally can. These talks are hard and unpleasant, but if you wait to have them two months from now, it might be too late. You should call your suppliers and have an open dialogue with them and address your payables now instead of later. Talk to your landlord about reduced rent. Talk to your banker about the current state of your business, so when you need him a few months from now, he already has what he needs to help. Conserve cash at all costs. Talk to any lender or lessor you have about deferring any payments you can. They know that you staying in business is a much better alternative, even if it means you make some partial or delayed payments.

I am not saying you need to panic; I am saying that you need to make preemptive decisions now instead of having the decisions made for you later. If four weeks from now this curve has peaked and schools begin to open, and orders begin to flow again, then this will simply be a case study in how to plan for bad times. However, if those schools do not begin to open, and those orders do not begin to flow again, it could be too late to make the decisions you should be making right now.


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