I have enjoyed the good fortune of working with great people during my career. Many of those people dedicated their time, talents and leadership serving on the boards of directors of numerous organizations in which I have been involved.
Having access to, and working with, community leaders brings with it many positive experiences, especially for young professionals.
I became good friends with many of those people. Some became mentors. I learned something from each one of them.
I remember one man for his one-liners. He had some good ones and their timeliness was just as good as the delivery. He was old school to say the least, and was as genuine a person as I have ever met.
One of the lessons he taught me came just before the economic recession hit in 2008. At the time, every revenue was being exceeded and little attention was being paid to expenses.
"It’s only money…we’ll keep making more,” was a typical Gen-X response at the time, which was the result of just naïve arrogance.
Before my ignorant bliss could continue, the man cut me off and said, "It’s not what you make, it’s what you keep.”
That statement has resonated with me time and time again, especially during the last four years when the ultimate reality check crashed the party uninvited and decided to stick around for a while.
I clearly remember when the good times came to a screeching halt. It felt like the music stopped, the party ended, and all that was left were the caterers and band who needed to be paid.
When revenues dried up, we all began to look at our reserves and wondered how long would it be before the next wave would arrive - three months, six?
Now, here it is four years later and many of us feel like we have aged in dog years. The upside of that could be that we have perhaps gained 28 years of life experiences.
During this time, we have become so much more aware of expenses. I guess that’s what happens when the focus shifts from hitting it out of the park to finding yourself in survival mode and trying to preserve what is left.
I know many of you reading this are nodding your head because you know exactly where I’m coming from.
Fortunately, businesses today have more options than ever to help reduce costs and keep more money. This is especially true for small businesses that previously did not have the purchasing power that exists for them today.
Trade associations and chambers of commerce across the country are now focused on leveraging the collective purchasing power of their members to provide them with lower pricing and better. terms
Vendors of products and services like it because these associations provide them friendly access to their target market. They sell their product, and the discounts they give are recouped from decreased marketing expenses. It’s a win-win for all concerned.
Like many trade associations, the Arizona Small Business Association (ASBA) has gone through some changes in recent years. What came out of it was a robust program to help members save money on many of the products and services they are already spending money on.
ASBA now has a subsidiary called Arizona Small Business Benefits that leverages the purchasing power of thousands of small businesses across the state to help them reduce costs and increase their bottom line. Many of these savings are on essential business products and services such as insurance, credit card processing and office supplies. Each vendor is carefully selected to provide pre-negotiated pricing.
ASBA’s mission has evolved, and one of our top priorities these days is to help businesses save money. We also recognize our good fortune to have so many well-run chambers of commerce, trade groups and leads groups in Arizona helping local businesses make money. We support their efforts and encourage you to belong to your local chamber of commerce and the trade association that represents your industry. These organizations work and they help you make more money.
Moving forward, let’s keep in mind the lessons learned during the economic recession and take advantage of opportunities to save your business money.
It’s not what you make, it’s what you keep.
Jerry Bustamante is senior vice president of public policy and oversees the Southern Arizona office of the Arizona Small Business Association, 4811 E. Grant Road, Suite 262, in Crossroads Festival, phone (520) 327-0222.
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