Lots of uncertainty right now. The "fiscal cliff" combined with the typical holiday/winter slow down in our industry is a tricky cocktail. Can shake the confidence of our clients which means smaller projects and/or projects being delayed. It can be hard to pay the bills with either of those scenarios.
I'm focused on two things. First, be nimble. I don't like to be trapped - ever. But especially when there are uncertain waters ahead. So I have and continue to work on giving our company options. Lease coming up - see if you can go month-to-month rather than long term. If you have to invest in some things see if you can do it in bite sized pieces rather than spending all that cash in one chunk.
Second, I'm watching closely to see how things develop. My gut (today at least) is telling me this uncertain period will last until Spring. Then the haze will thin and things will improve back to where they've been the last 3-4 years - not a huge pick-up but more stable than what we'll see the next couple of months. If that holds true, now is a good time to pursue some opportunities (in a numble way - in bite sized pieces leveraging variable rather than fixed costs). Capture some market share, invest in some new initiatives, search for a strong new team member (but wait to bring on for 30-60 days so you can be nimble today). But if things turn into another deep dive like we saw in the Fall of 2008, that's an entirely different matter. Rather than pursuing some opportunities, now is the time to gather and hold onto cash to help get through the tough times.
One remodeler I spoke with the other day said he develops a number of budgets - let's call them bronze, silver, and gold. Bronze is if things fall significantly, gold is if things improve, silver is in the middle. Great advice to force proactive thought, to remain nimble, and to pursue appropriate opportuntities