The United States of America has been a superpower for the better part of a century partly because of its spotless credit rating. Since its inception, America has always paid its bills on time, but for several generations the federal government has gone into more and more debt to pay its obligations. But we’re in danger of defaulting on some of our bills because we can’t seem to reach an agreement on borrowing more and/or spending less.
So now, instead of being the superhero we should be, we’re in danger of being capped in America. I don’t just mean capped in terms of spending, but capped in terms of economic growth, productivity, business success and innovation.
We can learn a lot from the government’s financial woes, especially in business. We should take several steps in our businesses to make sure we don’t jeopardize our creditworthiness both financially and professionally. This means paying our bank loans on time and also meeting all our customers’ expectations. Ordinary people can do extraordinary things in this country. So here are five ways I suggest we use to be Captain America, not capped in America.
Stay Out of Debt. Given the trouble America is in because of its national debt, this should be an obvious solution. Businesses need money to start up and grow. But there are alternatives to going into bigger amounts of debt each year. There are angel investors, college entrepreneurial programs, personal assets and many other options. When debt is necessary, try to pay it off as quickly as possible and always keep financial independence as your goal.
Focus on Smart Growth. Going along with the first idea, don’t try to grow too fast. If you don’t have the funds for a new facility or something else that would be nice to have, weigh the pros and cons of waiting until you do have enough to afford it.
A recent example of a company that grew too fast is Borders. They thought the right strategy to beat the competition was opening new stores instead of moving their business online. They grew to nearly 400 stores, but their strategy proved fatal and now all those stores are closing. Fast growth doesn’t always equal smart growth.
Don’t Overpromise. Overpromising is a recipe for default and disaster. Be realistic in your product expectations and be honest when you talk to customers. Many people like doing business with small companies because they’re more personal, not because they have the most advanced products and services ever made.
Hire Smart Problem Solvers. One of America’s strengths is that its leadership can change every few years. Fresh faces are brought in to deal with old problems and, because of their unique perspectives, they are often able to come up with new solutions.
You can do the same in your business. Don’t be afraid to hire employees who are better than you in some areas. Managers who hire smart employees are the ones who look the best because their teams are so successful. Empower your employees to come up with creative solutions to problems and make them accountable so you’ll ultimately control how your business is being run.
Stay in Control. Change is always going to come, so you can’t always be in control of every aspect of your business. But you can prepare for change by being creative. Use smart inventory management to plan ahead for demand trends. Keep track of your accounting so you know how much cash you have to work with. Maintain your products’ quality by using strict quality control guidelines. These might seem like insurmountable tasks, but they don’t have to be if you have the right tools.
Much of what makes America great is its ingenious people, not its credit rating. We are captains of industry and masters of our destiny. By following the advice listed above of staying out of debt, growing strategically, keeping your promises, hiring bright employees and maintaining control, you’re much less likely to face the kind of crisis the American government is struggling with.
To those who think America has reached its cap of talent or economic success, I say: Put a lid on it.
The photo of Captain America is the copyright of Marvel Studios and Paramount Pictures.
Robert Lockard is a copywriter with Fishbowl. He writes for several blogs about inventory management, manufacturing, QuickBooks, and small business. Fishbowl is the #1-requested manufacturing and warehouse management software for QuickBooks users. Robert enjoys running, reading, writing, spending time with his wife and children, and watching movies.