The economy in recent years has been less than stellar. Many people have lost their jobs. Lost their savings. Lost their cars. Lost their houses. And some have even lost their businesses. Enough is enough. We must help each other.
Take a close look at some of the top stories in the Indianapolis Star today:
- WellPoint 4Q income drops, tops Wall St. forecast
Indianapolis-based WellPoint Inc. said today that its fourth-quarter net income fell as the prior-year period included a large gain related to a sale, but the company’s adjusted results beat Wall Street expectations.
- Caterpillar to lay off 84 at Greenfield facility
Caterpillar Logistics has decided to institute a mass layoff of employees at its facility in Greenfield, according to a letter sent to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.
- Ivy Tech surpasses 120,000-student mark
Ivy Tech Community College said today that it posted another record enrollment numbers with 120,574 students in for spring classes.
- Fed likely to keep $600B bond-purchase plan intact
The Federal Reserve is all but certain today to maintain the pace of its Treasury bond-buying program because unemployment remains high and sinking home prices are eroding Americans’ wealth.
- Dip in Indiana’s jobless rate sends hopes higher
The good news: Indiana’s unemployment rate fell to its lowest level in nearly two years. Not-so-good news: The state’s private sector lost nearly 10,000 jobs.
- Legislative panel OKs bill to fix unemployment system
Unemployed workers and businesses would share the pain of fixing Indiana’s bankrupt unemployment system under a bill that passed a House committee Tuesday.
- Group sees a rebound in spending on business travel
Skype can be nice, and conference telephone calls can be an inexpensive way to communicate. But companies are beginning to spend again on travel because sometimes business-to-business communication just has to be face-to-face.
- Purdue’s cuts to define it, says president
Taking on the challenges of state budget cuts will define Purdue University in the future, President France Córdova said in her State of the University speech Tuesday.
- Senate passes bill to cut state’s unemployment costs
The Senate on Tuesday approved a bill pitched by Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, to cut unemployment costs.
- Brownsburg School budget plan will cut up to 25 jobs
Brownsburg — About 10 certified staff members and as many as 15 instructional assistants will lose their jobs at the end of the school year under a proposal by Superintendent Jim Snapp.
- South Bend rejects list ranking it as ‘dying’ city
South Bend — South Bend officials are dismissing a list on a Newsweek website that describes the city as “dying.” The website ranked the Northern Indiana city No. 8 among 10 cities with bleak futures.
- Celadon’s net income jumps in 4th quarter
Indianapolis-based truckload carrier Celadon Group on Wednesday reported a nearly 180 percent increase in fourth-quarter net income from the previous year.
- KeyCorp reports $320M quarterly profit
KeyCorp, Ohio’s second-largest bank, posted a fourth-quarter profit, beating analysts’ estimates, as lower credit costs helped the company rebound from a loss.
As I looked at this list this morning one thing was abundantly clear.
The economy is in bad shape.
Look at the positive news in the list and what do you see?
- Non-traditional higher education is up (most likely because so many people don’t have jobs & traditional higher eduction is so expensive).
- Some business travel may be increasing (which is probably more of a business decision, not an economic one, since face-to-face communication is much easier).
- Shipping increased at the end of 2010 over the previous year (take that for what it is since it wasn’t good in 2009).
As I’ve been talking with other small business owners recently, most people who are open about “how it’s going” have admitted that things are not looking good. Yes, they are scraping by for the moment, but they are buckled down tight & preparing for the worst. Some small business owners are fearful of not only having to lay off employees, but of having to fold the business, losing their car and their home and possibly even declaring bankruptcy.
This is not good.
These are the very people whom America is built upon. If it weren’t for small businesses over half of the country would not have jobs. If it weren’t for small businesses there would never have been big business. If it weren’t for small businesses many people would not have learned the skills needed to obtain a job with a big business. The list could go on and on.
But what can we do about it?
Five Simple Rules to Helping Each Other Out
I propose that we as individuals do the following whenever possible to help each other out every day, and even more so in a bad economy (in order of importance):
- Take care of yourself and your family first and foremost. This is an obvious one, but it’s worthy of emphasizing. If this is not taken care of first, everything else will suffer.
- Find out what your neighbors and extended relatives need. While most of us are too proud to admit that we need help, most of us need something, and when asked directly we will usually tell someone. Maybe we don’t need anything right now, but down the road we know who we can go to if and when we do.
- Find out what everyone in your personal network does for a living and ask how you can help them and their business. Call this “Networking 101”. If our intent is to help others, people take note of that. And in the event they run into someone who needs something that you do, you will likely come to mind first (which is a byproduct, not the purpose).
- Support local small businesses. It’s often easier and cheaper to go somewhere other than a “Mom & Pop” establishment of any sort. But these operations, be it a local independent restaurant (1)(2)(3), a small grocery market, a local Indianapolis dairy, a self-employed MOBILE mechanic or anything in between (1)(2)(3)(4)(5), are all invested in the local community. These are the types of businesses that come and greet you by name and don’t see you as a number, but instead as a friend and a relationship. Without the support of the community none of these small businesses would survive.
- Support local big businesses. Do you know the chef or waiter at a local chain restaurant? Is the cashier at a store in the mall your cousin? Does your best friend from high school work at an electronics store on commission? Even if you cannot answer yes to any of these, by going to the local big businesses, you are still support local individuals.
If we practice these five steps and encourage others to do the same, I’m sure we’ll all reap the rewards.