My State Of The Union

Chris LoCurto asked the following questions in his post, State Of The Union.

If you didn’t watch, what do you think anyway. How is your “State of the Union” as you or your business stands right now? I don’t care which side of the aisle you’re on, I would like to hear your thoughts, and your comments.

I have a long tradition of not watching State of the Union addresses. I disregard this event regardless of the party in power. This week was no different. Like most people who responded to this post we have a much greater interest in our own assessments of our “State of the Union.”

This year my wife and I will have been married thirty years. Like most married couples we had our rough times but for the most part we have been happy. Although I am not looking to growing old in this brave new world she makes my day a little brighter. I cannot imagine doing it without her.

My job and by extension the business I work at are in a more precarious situation. Although my skills as a web developer are in demand, my specific skills with ASP and SQL have a more limited appeal. Although I do not expect a pay raise this year our family finances are strong with a good savings record. Since most of our basic necessities have gone up in price, the challenge for us is how to cut costs elsewhere. An expanded and more productive garden is one of the more attractive areas of opportunity. Each year I have expanded the garden and improved my skills. At this stage of our life our financial plan is focused on saving for retirement and a significant part of the plan for saving for retirement is to stay healthy. Hospitalization or extended illness could easily extinguish our savings. With our continued good health and affordable health insurance, we can continue and possibly accelerate our savings for retirement. So far the Affordable Care Act and the Individual Mandate has not caused the dramatic increase in insurance premiums in the individual insurance market that many have predicted.

The bad news is that the business I work at  has declined significantly from four years ago. The good news is that the decline stopped last year and we showed a small increase over the previous year. Our sales seem to follow national retail sales figures so our sales forecast for next year is for small gains. In this scenario our business will be playing a zero-sum game with our competitors. The market is not big enough to afford marketing or inventory mistakes. Although we are a small business who competes with Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot, and Lowes on some products I do not expect much of change. It probably is not profitable segment for them and it will take a lot of work to expand their modest efforts.  Price, product selection, and having the “right” inventory in stock always separates the men from the boys. Our strong financial condition combined with better better marketing and inventory management in our market niche should allow us to take market share from our competitors who are not up to the task. You snooze, you lose!