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New Economy Inter-Views: Snapshots of Change

 By Jack D. Deal ( )

 During the past two months I have been interviewing owners o a wide range of businesses about the New Economy.  The owners have been promised anonymity to ensure the open and honest opinions. The responses provide thumbnail sketches of different industries, how these industries are undergoing fundamental change and what changes in strategy must be taken to remain competitive.  The results clearly show that even non-tech industries are beginning to change at the New Economy pace.    

 Regional Internet Service Provider (ISP)

We are getting squeezed from the big boys, the national ISPs and the little guys, the local ISPs.  What is bad is that we have to buy services from the same phone company that has also now become our competitor.  We see a major consolidation of local ISPs and we will most certainly have to totally redesign our business to survive.

 Structural Engineering Firm

Our biggest problem is building code compliance and all the paperwork that goes with it–just takes up so much of our time.  Business is good–we have plenty of work in these boom times.  We really can't afford to get too high-tech though or the guys on the construction site won't be able to read our plans–we are forced to stay behind the tech curve.


We get hammered from all sides.  The city is always on top of us, checking the girls, making sure we're not running dope, carding all our younger patrons–they don't even want us to smoke inside now. Smoking is the last health problem the girls need to worry about.  Somehow we're supposed to make it selling drinks…give me a break.  My patrons can't drink enough booze to cover my overhead.  Adults are supposed to do what they want, no?  They've got all sorts of computerized records on us. I could make a lot more money if they'd let me just do my business and stay out of my face.

  Used Musical Instrument Store, Harmony Central, Musicians Friend and other auction sites have hurt us.  There still are those customers that must feel and play before buying and we obviously cater to them.  Our business is down and we need to find some new revenue sources.

 Virus Protection Software Company

Our edge is that we can act as a second line of defense right behind your regular virus protection plan.  We also can detect worms and other problems that most protection programs cannot.   Other programs can only protect you from known viruses–we alert you to anything out of the ordinary.  There was 10 times as much virus-related loss last year than the year before so we feel the market will be coming to us.

 Business Machine Repair Company

When electronic business machines first came out, they cost as much as mechanical machines but were not reliable. As time went on, the electronics became cheaper and the mechanical died out.  Oddly enough, banks still use electric typewriters and we have the only guy around that can fix them.  So much of what we see in the new age here is paying big bucks to track pennies.

Nature Photography Company

Photography has gotten more competitive as everyone is doing it.  The big buyers want everything digitized and sent overnight.  Prints are going digital.  One advantage we have over the large companies is we don't have to do it all...we can pick and choose.  But being small does have its drawbacks, especially when looking for skilled employees.

  Commercial Interior Designer

We do hotels and hospitals mostly and since the Silicon Valley region is jumping, we have more than enough work. We regularly turn down work.  Room space is so scarce that conventions are now beginning to book elsewhere because they can't get the space.  The architects give us their plans on AutoCAD but we haven't yet gone totally digital.  I am looking for software that will allow me to scan a fabric and have color and pattern be replicated exactly on the furniture and drapes.


Where we are there is an oversupply.  We all struggle but some barely make it.  We need to market and run our practices like they were businesses.  These are some of the changes I have had to make: 1) Don't take cases in which I will not be paid (unless it is a voluntary pro bono matter).  2) Avoid ``business contingency" cases because they are impossible to predict and often end up as cases in which you will not be paid.  3)

Bill timely and regularly and get a written fee agreement in all cases in which you anticipate aggregate fees to exceed  $1,000 (it's not only required by law, but keeps clear the responsibilities of both lawyer and client); 4) Keep my clients informed on a regular basis of everything I am doing for them.


I used to have three guys working for me but they were under the table.  I had no worker's comp so the state shut me down.  Three guys lost their jobs.  I work with my 3/4 ton now and do just about as well as when I had the four trucks with a lot less hassle.  Unless you get to the spot where you're big and got lots of work...staying small with just a few employees is just not worth it.

 Jack D. Deal is the owner of the Deal Consulting Group (831) 457-8806 / , which assists companies in the transition to the

New Economy.  Related articles may be found at



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