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Reassess, not retreat. (Publisher's Page).

Unemployment and layoffs hover over us, making consumers hesitant, if not downright resistant, to engage in the spending that drives and sustains our economy. The stock markets, rocked by the domino effects of the terrorist attacks of September 11, continue to be volatile. Businesses, large and small, are fighting to cut costs and maintain profitability amid a deluge of falling revenues. As we enter 2002, security--both national and personal--is foremost in our minds, as we cope with everything from anthrax and war to shrinking 401(k) plans and the specter of economic recession.

Understandably, many of us are tempted to pull back: to abandon our commitment to regular saving and investing, to pass on entrepreneurial opportunities, to surrender or, at leash postpone our professional ambitions and career objectives. I say that we cannot surrender to those temptations. This is a time for reassessment--not retreat.

I am not speaking from my optimistic nature alone, but from hard-won experience. Prior to this year, we've been through three major recessions in the 31 years since I launched BLACK ENTERPRISE. The biggest lesson of these economic downturns--that they don't last forever (I expect the current economy to begin to rebound later this year)--is not the only one.

First of all, now is a great time to be a smart and aggressive consumer. Bargains--from 0% financing on new cars to deals on travel--are out there as industries compete to retain, and even gain, market shares. And speaking of bargains: There are plenty of great stocks available at truly affordable prices. Even if you choose to hold back on additional investing for the time being, you should still be observing the first principle of the BE Declaration of Financial Empowerment, and continue to save and invest 10% to 15% of every dollar you make.

Businesses, including ours, are reassessing how we can increase productivity while reducing the costs of doing business. How can we do things smarter? Faster? Better? Have we been taking our customers for granted? Have we been less than diligent in controlling spending on business travel? Are we hiring unnecessarily, or increasing payroll without a reasonable expectation of a positive impact on the bottom line? On the other hand, are we taking advantage of the great talent--potential employees, consultants, and freelancers--available as a result of the layoffs? Aggressively and selectively pursuing these and other improvements will not only help us to thrive in a tough economic environment but they will also turbocharge the performance and competitiveness of our enterprises as the economy rebounds.

Now is an excellent time to recalibrate and refocus your business, career, and investment strategies. Our focus, as individuals and as a nation, should not be to put things on hold, but to make necessary adjustments and keep moving toward our goals and objectives. We, at BE and Earl G. Graves Ltd., are approaching 2002 with the same mind-set that we've approached the previous 31 years of our company's existence--determined to make it our best year ever. We hope you are no less committed to making it a great year for you, too. Happy New Year!
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Title Annotation:business, personal financial planning during economic slowdown
Author:Graves, Earl G., Sr.
Publication:Black Enterprise
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2002
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