What makes America great

Columns - Industry Voices

May 1, 2013
Jim Huston

Jim Huston

I just completed a consulting trip to Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana where I worked with approximately 35 landscape entrepreneurs, all under $3 million in annual sales.

These individuals had put it all on the line believing in the opportunity that America offers. They had created a business and hoped to improve their lot in life.

They all were keenly focused on improving themselves, their operations and their bottom lines. Their backgrounds varied but they all were taller because they stood on the shoulders of the generations who went before them.

You could not find a better sampling of the American spirit than this group. Some had been blessed this past winter with an abundant snowfall. Others were blessed because they happened to be in a good market. All were blessed because they weren’t born lazy.

The present determines the future.
The clients that I met with on this trip were doing well, in spite of the economy.

Admittedly, some were doing better than others but all were doing reasonably well considering the economic climate of the last five years. They were also looking forward to a new year – a new opportunity. Here are some of the things that we worked on during my visit this year:

  • We reviewed financials and budgets from 2012 to see how well we were able to forecast the previous year.
  • We reviewed the strengths and weaknesses of company personnel.
  • We analyzed market opportunities and threats.
  • We then established their budgets, sales goals and spending limits for 2013.
  • Once we established our budgets for 2013, we then adjusted our pricing as needed.

In addition, we scrutinized the need for purchasing new equipment; training new, as well as existing, personnel; reducing debt; improving accounting and job costing systems.

We also reviewed company benchmarks and made sure that expenses were in line with revenue for the various divisions.

It was an arduous process, one that I’ve repeated thousands of times with clients over the last 25 years. In an attempt to improve their operations and bottom lines, these entrepreneurs spent numerous man-hours analyzing every aspect of their businesses, from top to bottom, in order to ensure that they were being as efficient and as effective as possible. In short, they wanted to maximize their profitability – their bottom line.

The future belongs to the prepared. Think about it. These men and women were determined to get the most out of the resources at their disposal. They were doing what every household and small business in this country has to do.

They were getting their financial house in order. Their reward for doing so, especially the past five years, was to stay in business and survive the worst economic recovery since such statistics have been kept.

There is no reason why your company cannot grow in spite of an anemic economy. However, you have to do your homework and adequately prepare for the future.

The entrepreneurs that I worked with in the Northwest have proven that preparing for the future really pays off.

Entrepreneurs vs. politicians.
I’m convinced that we entrepreneurs can face and solve any problem that gets in our way. However, virtually all of the problems that we’ve had to face the last five years were created and perpetuated by bureaucrats and politicians. The housing bubble that burst, the stimulus program that didn’t, the lack of credit for small businesses, the federal deficit, ad infinitum all of these were created by politicians and bureaucrats.

The revenue from all of the entrepreneurs that I will work with this year totals about $200 million. The federal government spends just under twice this amount every hour. As a percent, this is .000000074 of the federal budget. Assuming an irrationally optimistic percent waste factor, our federal government wastes this amount every three hours.

What makes America great? It ain’t politicians and bureaucrats. It’s the men and women who have a dream and believe in the opportunity that America provides. It’s the readers of this magazine, the small business entrepreneurs who constantly strive to improve their businesses, operate more efficiently and be more competitive with the resources under their control.

The federal budget is 13,500,000 times larger than the collective $200 million budget for all of my 2013 clients. Do you think that government bureaucrats spend 13.5 million times the amount of hours my clients spend ensuring that their operations are efficient, balanced and effective? No way. If they did, we’d have no national deficit, a balanced budget and a booming economy. Now you know what makes America great.

JIM HUSTON runs J.R. Huston Consulting, a green industry consulting firm. See www.jrhuston.biz; mail jhuston@giemedia.com.