Friday, January 30, 2009

92% of Americans Employed

I'm usually a glass-half-empty kind of person. I can't help it, but I'm generally a pessimist.

But, right now I'm a firm believer that one of the only ways we as Americans can help lead ourselves out of our financial crisis is to be optimists. As Aaron Patzer points out in his guest post on TechCrunch today, Americans (who use are spending an average of $400/month less. Of course, layoffs aren't helping. But, the fact remains that 92% of Americans have their jobs still. Many of these people haven't even taken any pay cuts. They are just spending less - maybe out of fear of what's to come, acknowledgment that they should have been saving more in the past, or just from a lack of optimism.

I'm not an economist (far from it) but it seems pretty clear that the country could start turning itself around if the 92% of employed Americans simply started spending again - maybe not all of the $400/month they aren't spending now, but how about half of that. Of course, in the long term Americans need to have better savings habits, but now is not the time to go that route. We need money flowing through our economy and getting average Americans to spend is one of the best ways to do that.

In fact, Finland is on the cutting edge of this scenario. They are running a national ad campaign that encourages people to start spending. Read more about that story at

Free webinar on simple marketing tactics

John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing fame will be giving a free webinar on Simple Marketing Tactics on February 11, 2009 at 12:00pm CST.

"Let's get back to basics and start utilizing simple, effective and affordable marketing tactics to create momentum that carries your business through the tough times and allows it soar in the good times."

Reserve your spot today!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Fail Gracefully

Tim Berry's blog post today on "failing forward" reminded me of one of my favorite engineering/application design phrases: fail gracefully.

What does this mean? It means that you should design your applications and web sites to provide the end user with useful and informative information when it runs into a problem. Failing gracefully means:
  • Providing useful 404 pages on your web site
  • Not displaying only error codes when your application crashes. Provide information that will help the user fix the problem.
  • Not letting engineers write your error messages. (see point 2)
  • Making sure errors behind the scenes don't bring everything else to a screeching halt
Beyond writing code and developing applications, the "fail gracefully"concept is useful in business. This means:
  • Having good backup plans if things don't go as you originally planned.
  • Knowing what your alternatives are.
  • Planning ahead for optimistic and pessimistic scenarios
  • Learning from your mistakes
Not that any of us ever want to fail, but it's inevitable in business, entrepreneurship and life. So, failing gracefully is a much better option than just failing.