Tag Archives: GFC

Economic lessons for US, UK and elsewhere


“GDP per capita in the UK is lower than it was before the crisis. That is not a success.”

Nobel prize-winner Joseph Stiglitz is the world’s foremost critic of economic and political inequality. He thinks the lessons of the global crash are being ignored, and he’s not much taken with the UK’s recovery either…

Clean Energy legislation in Australia

Today the Australian Clean Energy legislation package passed the senate. What it does is change the tax system (in line with the Henry tax review recommendations) so that companies/products using non-renewable energy sources see higher costs – this works through to citizens of course, and the other end of the change is compensation measures for them (such as a much higher tax free threshold) as well as initiatives for wider deployment of renewable energy sources. In focus it’s fairly similar to what’s been happening in Europe over decades, moving away from taxing income towards taxing consumption. So in a nutshell, if a consumer picks cleaner alternatives, they’ll be much better off than before.

The opposition is still harping on about it, including vows to repeal it (even though they’ve quietly already conceded that a number of related laws would stay – so if they were to repeal, they’d have a budget hole). I find that vow more of a threat, and very problematic. What business tends to like more than anything is certainty about the environment they have to operate in. Stability. So whether they liked the new laws or not, having them now is a clear state and they can work with it – the laws also create new opportunities for existing as well as potential businesses, and there too having the certainty is very important.

As an entrepreneur myself, I don’t want bet my business initiatives on having a low energy price – since regardless of the above mentioned legislation, the price of energy is going to keep going up, and likely quite significantly. I could, as others have done, go out lobbying for lower prices – but I see that as a less efficient way to spend my time.

Instead I aim to make sure that any business model preferably works independently of things like energy price, but at least works out even with a much higher price. I believe that’s the sensible way to go about it. I set up Open Query before the GFC, and because of its Upstarta way of operating it was in much better shape when other companies and independent consultants ran in to trouble. So the concept has been proven in that respect also.

On a psychological level, I reckon it must be hard to on the one hand oppose something and on the other hand build your business to deal with what you oppose. It’s a conflict that will compete for your time and attention, and from my observations the opposition work tends to win and the business work loses – then particularly if the opposition fails (which is always a real possibility) the business is in a much worse position than if it had focused on dealing with the issues. Somehow the chance of a favourable outcome is grossly misjudged and/or the cost of the business change is over-estimated. Either way, that strategy is damaging. Think carefully before you go such a route.

What do you deal with external change (such as govt legislation) in your business environment, what are your strategies?

On US joblessness and economic change

An interesting read: How a new jobless era will transform America (The Atlantic). It doesn’t paint a particularly rosy picture in social terms, it’s rough. But, I reckon times like these there are great opportunities for being entrepreneurial, just not relying on the predominant methods.

I started my business (the one the Upstarta principles were derived from) before the GFC, and when it hit I actually found myself better positioned and my business continued growing and in fact flourishing. I find that inspiring, not just economically but also socially – as my life is better for it.

In the end, I think that recession and joblessness is a state of mind on a very personal level – if you wait for work to pop up in your area or your government to do something, indeed things can look bleak. But you could also take the initiative, and start something yourself, differently. There’s always opportunity, you only need to look around you with the right mindset. It won’t be a get-rich-quick goldmine, but it’s likely to be profitable enough for a decent living and a lot of satisfaction.

If you need some help with this, that’s what Upstarta is for. Doing it all on your own is hard, slow, and actually much less fun. What are you going to explore?