“In This Economy”

Oh heavens! How I hate these words.

I know. I know there are areas where the economy really does suck. I live in California. You know how deep in poo California is? It's a mess, seriously.

Mostly what I want is to not hear anyone use the economy as an excuse for their businesses not doing well. And I sure as heck am sick of people saying that OTHER businesses shouldn't be doing well "in this economy." I'm sorry if you're not making as much money as you used to, as much money as you'd like to, or as much money as you need. And I'm sorry that you are suffering whatever circumstances are causing it. But you gotta stop passing the buck to the economy and you gotta stop expecting every other business on earth to stagnate and wither with you.

First off, it's disempowering. It's like throwing your hands up in the air and waving a white flag. It says that you have given up. You've given up and you're not taking any responsibility for giving up — because you've chosen to blame someone else. And that gets you off the psychological hook; it's not your fault that things aren't going well, and therefore there's nothing you can do to make it better.

Secondly, it's a [email protected]$$ copout excuse for not making an effort to take power over the situation. Since you've relieved yourself of all power over your situation, passing the buck on to the Economy gives you an excuse to just let it go and walk away.

Two  years from now, you'll be admiring the nails on your customer's hands as you give her back her change — right before you ask if she wants paper or plastic — and then you'll tell her about how you used to do nails, but there just wasn't any money in it. Or there was too much competition. Or the economy was so bad. But it's good that you'll have found yourself a regular job with a secure paycheck. Believe me, there's no shame in finding secure employment! And there's no shame in doing something other than nails. There is a lot of competition in this business, the economy does ebb and flow in ways that not all of us can weather, and being self-employed is just plain stressful most of the time for most people.

There's more than one reason for not making it in the business too (in any business, for that matter): Some of us are unimaginably talented but have lousy people skills, poor decision-making skills, can't manage money, etc. Some people just don't have the risk-taking personality required for entrepreneurship; it won't matter how skilled you are or how successful you are at business, you won't sleep well at night until you have a guaranteed paycheck to look forward to. That doesn't happen when you're self-employed. Some people need to make a certain amount of money NOW, not two years from now. They just don't have the time needed to get through the start-up curve. Some people get out here only to discover they'd really rather do something else.

But when you say "in this economy," you don't just defeat yourself and your business, you give not just yourself an out, but you also give your customers an excuse to not buy your products or services, and you're also telling them that it's OK not to buy mine. You let the entire consumer base — the entire nation — off the hook. You do your own tiny part in the vast cosmic way-things-work to put off recovery by letting everyone around know that you don't expect them to buy goods and services that would stimulate a slow economy.

That stuff gets inside people’s heads. If you've heard yourself use the term "in this economy" — whether you are griping about the price of gasoline, or the fact that Disneyland has raised its ticket prices, or assuring yourself that your empty appointment book has nothing to do with you — then that's proof enough that it's already gotten into your head.

In this economy, it's important to get creative! You gotta try harder. You can't just make a living by hanging a shingle on the door; you have more competition for a smaller market share. You have to figure out how to stay competitive and survive the downturn, because, believe me, if you plan on making doing nails a lifetime career, this won't be the only economic downturn you'll have to weather!

I'm so sick of hearing it that I can't listen to someone say those words in even the most casual of ways without visibly cringing — and I'm sorry (not really) if it offends your ego to hear it, but shut up already! If you want to roll over and give up your business, that's just dandy with me, but stop telling MY clients and MY potential clients that it's OK not to buy stuff, do stuff.

It's not OK. It's time to get your nails done and go to Disneyland!


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