Don’t Rest on your Laurels – Have a Strategic Plan for Blue and White Collar Work

Many of my acquaintances have earned an education, landed a job, settle in, and rest. Some startup a company, get clients, and rest. Many of us have learned the hard way that this is the worst thing you can do. We have to keep our pipeline full of prospects and closed deals. I remind myself of this and work on it every day.

Even if you don’t want to own a business, prepare a startup business plan as a contingency plan to fall back on. Suze Orman advocates that we should all have 8 month emergency fund. It once took up 6 months to find a job. Now it could take up to 3 years. What is the likelihood that any of us could build a 36 month emergency fund. I have several friends that are getting crushed by not having a contingency plan.

We all know of folks that have lost jobs, lost profits, cannot carry payroll, lost homes, lost cars, and lost spouses over financial woes. Be strategic. Use strategic planning. Do a self SWOT. List your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Reflect on your knowledge, skills and abilities – both white and blue collar.

Recently, a professional acquaintance called me to ask for a job. I told him that I did not have a vacancy. He is a civil site engineer and there is very little work related to real estate site development. When we first started our firm, 70% of our work came from this arena. We did public outreach, permits, meeting facilitation, and zoning applications. The phone rang off the hook. We had to shift gears and draw on other skill sets.

This guy complained. He said he could not provide for his family and they were in a lot of trouble. I told him that he could indeed provide for his family. He simply needed to list all of the things he could do to earn money. I suggested raking leaves, trimming shrubs, cleaning cars, and teaching. He said that there was no way he could survive doing these types of jobs. I thought to myself, “how insane”. There are families surviving day in and day out off of blue collar work. He may not be able to keep his fancy car, fancy clothes, and fancy furnishings – but he could pay his rent and feed his teens.

This guy continued stating that his teens would starve. I said there is no way I would let my kids starve. I told him to go stand in a food line. He then claimed he did not know what that was. On that note, I told him I had another phone line to answer. At this point, I was dismissive. We all need clarity on how seriously poor the world economy is and what we will do to survive if all of our income goes away. If you have access to a phone and 411, you can find a food line. If you have access to a computer, you can google “food line”. No excuses.

Although my parents did not call themselves entrepreneurs, they were quite enterprising. I remember having bare cupboards once or twice – but most of the time we had plenty. We kept a garden in our back yard. Close to fall, we went to a farm and picked vegetables for the winter and stocked our freezer. We planned ahead. My dad had 6-8 people to feed with an annual income of about 30k from the post office. There were 6 of us and sometimes we had family that stayed with us. To make due, we sold used items at flea markets; we sold chicken and fish plates; we sewed; we babysat; and my dad did carpentry work. We had fun. We worked hard all the time. We hustled! When we needed to, we got in food lines and got our powdered milk and block of government cheese.

We bought from thrift stores and waited on our family and friends to give us hand-me-downs. I did not go to a mall until I was in college. We were more fortunate than a lot of our friends.

Never get too proud. Always have a handle on all of your blue and white collar skills – and local resources. Sell skills. Sell products. We sold without inhibition. Taking jobs make some of us lazy and risk adverse. Some folks simply do not want to work hard.

Someone recently questioned why I have so many profit centers. She asked why we offer so many services. Well, I believe that your niche should be a common denominator. Ours is strategic planning. But, under that umbrella, there are many things we can do to help our clients. So, we serve them up. We can offer business strategies – and if necessary, we can sew, cook, clean, paint, decorate, and garden in an emergency.

By Clovia Hamilton, President, Lemongrass Consulting, Inc.

Clovia founded Lemongrass Consulting in 2005 with nearly 30 years of government work experience and serves as a procurement counselor in the Georgia Tech Procurement Assistance Center (GTPAC). Lemongrass Consulting provides strategic planning solutions including organizational assessments, government contracting strategic marketing plans, intellectual property, social media marketing strategic plans, and other services. Contact Clovia at:
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