By Mark Buckshon
Interim publisher, North Carolina Construction News
We’re in the middle of summer, and as things get hotter outside, sometimes it is a good idea to cool down and rethink our businesses.
Despite reports of an impending recession following an incredible (and highly challenging) year with inflation and supply chain disruptions, I’m overall quite optimistic.
Probably this is because I’ve seen plenty of ups and downs in almost 35 years in this business. Technology has changed; business cycles have not (though their character and duration is never 100 per cent consistent).
When I launched our first construction publication in 1989, finding a way to deliver color images proved to be challenging. We needed to go to a special service bureau with mammoth equipment to convert the images to printing plates, at a cost of $100 or more per photo. Today, I upload high quality images taken with my camera-phone, and our designer converts them the digital magazine, all within minutes and at virtually no cost.
I also made my first blunder, arranging with a professional photographer and model to take a picture of a scantly dressed woman wearing a hard hat. I thought the image would stimulate and engage the readers.
Instead, one of our earliest advertisers (who is still a customer today) called me to say that I shouldn’t take the idea any further — and the next issue we published several letters to the editor complaining about the cover..
I had learned my lesson, but there were plenty of other blunders and mis-steps in the decades to follow.
Rarely are conditions 100 per cent perfect. In fact, when things seem to be too good to be true, we should always prepare for problems ahead. Conversely, the best time to launch a business or embark on an expansion or growth strategy is when everything seems to be doom-and-gloom.
Of course, I wouldn’t mortgage my house or deplete retirement savings for a “maybe this will work” idea; we certainly should use some common sense in deciding on how much risk we want to take. But we shouldn’t paralyze ourselves with fear.
Are there new markets you can serve, new technologies that will save you time and money and produce better results, or do your employees, contractors and customers have ideas about what they would like you to do? You can certainly say ‘no’ but if you can weigh the risks and plan accordingly, this is certainly the time to take action.
Mark Buckshon is president of the Construction News and Report Group of Companies, which publishes North Carolina Construction News every second month. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org