In the printing industry, sometimes we get defensive about the business we are in (“print is not dead”), or we use phrases like “when the economy turns around____”, trying to be positive about the future. What we are experiencing in the printing industry is two fold: radical technological shifts (think e-books, web advertising, lights-out Prepress, 10 minute makereadies) coupled with a global restructuring of economies. Riots in Turkey, the downturn in housing, outsourcing issues, unavailability of bank credit, clients paying their bills slower, etc. – ALL have the same underlying results/causes: Leveling the playing field for the middle class around the world; and the U.S. will be squeezed the most of any country.

There is no “getting better” for the economy, in the traditional sense of the term. We are not going to have dramatic increases in Revenue and earnings, unless one has invented a new product (like iPads). Any “recession” predictions for 2012 are somewhat humorous – of course it will be a tough year, and
you will scrape and claw to survive – not because of any recession, but because the WORLD is changing and equilibrium has not yet been established.

Markets will continue to go up and down for the classic reasons (product life cycles, consumer confidence, monetary policy, etc). BUT as a business manager you MUST constantly be looking for ways of reducing your costs, run lean, and be nimble or you will not survive in the long run. Translation: cheaper products, high unemployment continues, stagnant housing markets, shorter prosperous business cycles (weeks and months instead of years), clients going bankrupt. And, perhaps most importantly, this new economy requires every employee to be willing to change more rapidly, learn and apply more skill sets. A complacent or stubborn employee will eventually be unemployed, because the rules of the business world have changed. Learn, adapt, change or become extinct. That is the new world we live in. Business is very Darwinian, now more so than ever.

We will have to PERMANENTLY deal with having less in this country. The world has changed, we need to all get used to that. Stop waiting for the
rainbow – it’s gone and not coming back. I am neither bear nor bull – just a realist with lots of experience on an everyday basis in the business world. This is a different business climate now, and not like any other I have experienced in the last 35 years in my industry. It’s not impossible to succeed, it is just more difficult and requires a higher degree of industry knowledge and acumen, as a manager and as an employee.