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+++ S P E C I A L R E P O R T +++

"Maybe Smaller is Better"
by Dale Minard
President/CEO of Smith-Dale, Inc.,

an international sales representative and fulfillment company.

January 10, 2002

In the aftermath of the tragic events of September 11, 2001, there has been an outpouring of patriotism and charity never before seen in American history. However, the big question remains Ė how much will these events change our country as they relate to our personal and professional lives? The answer, while not entirely obvious, is that our personal reactions will shape how we move about in the marketplace.

Given the fact that consumers drive two-thirds of our economy, it makes sense to focus first on consumers. Then, after making an assessment (or guess) of what matters most to consumers, we can stand back and analyze where, what, when and how we direct our businesses.

To make this assessment work from a business viewpoint, I feel we need to review not only what has happened in the wake of September 11th, but also the year 2001 overall. I submit that the retail sector of our economy was in big trouble prior to September 11th, and there is plenty of evidence to support this contention. Thus, the impact of September 11th had the effect of making a bad situation worse. Or did it?

Initially yes, but in the 6 weeks or so since the terrorist attacks, I think we all would agree that America did a magnificent job of getting back to business. And itís the indomitable will of Americans, and our ability to adapt rapidly, that is key to the assessment I'm about to make.

Letís start out simply with a blank page, at the top of which we head up two columns. Then letís start filling in the columns with what trends appear to be emerging. I've "flavored" my list with what I see happening in my companyís business:

Rising in favor

Diminishing in favor

Go ahead and come up with your own list, adding your own "flavoring". After all, your perspective may be quite different from mine, depending on the nature of your business and your observations of our society today. Whatís really important is that you look for patterns when you're done.

In the case of my list, the primary pattern I see is "smaller is better". One of the messages this may have for my business is to focus more attention in our companyís sales and marketing efforts to sell family and home related product lines to specialty retailers, by relying more on our sales reps and the Web than on large trade shows.

One word of caution is in order. Anytime you re-think your business, be careful not to implement strategies that end up "throwing the baby out with the bathwater". Itís always best to make evolutionary, not revolutionary, changes to your business. Don't abandon your existing business. Instead, build on it.

And finally, try to turn the negatives into positives Ė from the jar half empty to the jar half full. There are silver linings out there. You just have to look for them

About the Author
Dale Minard is President/CEO of Smith-Dale, Inc., an international sales representative and fulfillment company he founded in 1978.

Mr. Minard has served on the board of directors for the Kansas City Gift Mart, as the Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Atlanta Gift Mart, and most recently as Co-Chairman of the Atlanta Market Center Global Trade Partners.

Mr. Minard retired from 20 years active duty in the U.S. Air Force as a lieutenant colonel in 1979. A graduate of the United States Naval Academy, he also holds postgraduate degrees in electrical engineering and business administration.




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