Businesses learning to recover
Will Katz’s presentation in Tonganoxie City Council Chambers at Thursday’s Tonganoxie Chamber of Commerce lunch meeting differed a bit from when he spoke this past November at another chamber meeting at the same venue.
The title for the November meeting was “Thriving in a challenged economy.”
When Katz returned Thursday, the presentation was titled: “Economic recovery and what it means for your business.”
Katz, regional director of the Kansas University Small Business Development Center, said small business is what will pull the country out of current economic struggles. He said about 80 percent of business growth is attributed to small business.
During his presentation, Katz outlined tips for small business owners. He said owners should practice cash flow management, among other things.
“Never stop selling and understand change that takes place in your industry,” Katz said.
Katz said he’s also advising people on what to spend and where to cut back.
In the spending department, he noted marketing and selling anything to increase the top line, hiring, customer service and technology as areas in which to spend. He said green technology was an important area, as it helps to reduce unnecessary expense.
Areas to save: Rent, developing new product lines, office furniture and gadgets that do not reduce expenses.
He said businesses should stay where they are, unless a move to a new site will benefit revenue.
Furthermore, he urged business owners to “never stop selling” and that businesses have a tendency to cut back on marketing expenses.
Instead, they should measure marketing efficiency and “whatever is working, do more.”
Citing a recent survey, Katz said the biggest concern for business owners was health care. Now, it’s revenues.
At Thursday’s lunch meeting, stimulus money was discussed as well. Katz said he thought the stimulus plan was providing some good in helping the economy, but also said businesses needed to continue to trudge ahead.
“All this talk about stimulus money and the SBA (Small Business Association) program, I’m here to say to you there’s no savior around the corner riding on a white horse,” Katz said.
He went on to say people need to continue to work through the difficult times because there’s no “stimulus cavalry to come and save your business.”
Katz commented stimulus spending might have taken on too much debt, but he said it was better to have that funding and not “run out of money and starve.”
Reflecting on his meeting in November, he said “on the inside I was pretty scared” about inflation but said he is not as concerned now.
Still, he said in coming years it could be a problem, as inflation could increase faster than wages.
Trying to be a “political agnostic” when it comes to discussing the current situation, Katz said he thought the major players in addressing the economic woes are doing what they can.
“I think in all honesty we have some of the smartest people in the world working on this,” he said.
Discussion also touched on Cash for Clunkers, the real estate market and the gross domestic product, which has had negative growth for four consecutive quarters for the first time since the Great Depression, Katz said.
Assistant city administrator Kathy Bard was asked at the meeting how many building permits were issued this year. She said permits being issued were down considerably. On Tuesday, she said official numbers showed nine issued permits so far in 2009. There were 66 issued in 2007 and 31 in 2008.