This is a frustrating weekend, in some respects. The January cash flow blues have struck, coupled with the unwelcome consequence of last year’s good luck to receive a $25,000 windfall from unexpected one-time copyright clearance fees. That revenue, which had the most welcome association with absolutely no business costs — and thus created a rather rare 100 per cent profit margin — of course, boosted the year’s overall profitability and, yes, taxes. These were due and paid a few weeks ago. Now the cash, however, is running on low.
Add to this woe, my laptop computer keyboard became unusable. The choice: Throw the four-year machine out and purchase a new one, or find some other way to solve the problem. Thankfully, I remembered a private repair shop in town, and I took the machine in yesterday afternoon. Cost $150 — but it won’t be ready for a couple of days. (I could have walked into a store, plunked my Amex card, and walked out with a new machine in a matter of minutes — but do I want the added stress of paying for it next month!)
There’s of course backup, both machines and data storage — but not everything is in its right place. One backup computer is tied to an ethernet cable and the Chromebook (on which I am writing this blog), has limited email capacities. (I could plug all my email accounts into a massive gmail.com system, but the weight of conflicting and bouncing messages would be overwhelming.) So I go back and forth — between the Chromebook, an old Macbook Pro operating on “safe mode” and a windows-based computer connected to the wireless router.
Frustration, yes, but not anger, nor defeat. We’re not quite at the peak of the monthly production cycle, and the backups provide some resources and communication capacities. So all is not lost.
Yet, times like these cause me to wonder if things could be better. Why ANY cash flow challenges? Why can’t the backup systems be really good and not patched together with, in some cases, loose wires? Surely we can do better.
The answer of course, is that we can. I have the responsibility to solve the two biggest business challenges — increasing revenues while increasing costs at a lower rate; and managing the cash flow so that we don’t run out of money while bringing in the additional sales. We have some special challenges in that our business has traditionally generated most of its earnings from print-based advertising; and that is not exactly a growing market in the wireless Internet era.
I believe the solution encompasses continued recruitment for effective sales/marketing representatives with a highly performance-based compensation model, diversification of our product/service offerings so that we can continue to provide effective marketing for the AEC community, and the nurturing and delivery of genuine value to both current and prospective advertising clients.
So we’ll follow the plans, and move forward.