To our friends and clients –
Glad to see many of you at the various organizations we belong to, TMA, ACG, RMA this month so far, and we always get the nicest compliments from y’all on our newsletter.  Thank you very much – that is good to hear.  But one recurring question we always get is, “Hey, do you write that yourself..?” Always cracks us up.
During uncertain periods like today, strategic planning and thinking is more important than ever to not only survival but prospering.  Most companies like to plan annually or when the “mood hits”. We would argue that strategic thinking should happen constantly. Most business owners and managers operate in “operational mode” way too much. Also, many make this process more complicated than necessary.  You can boil strategic decisions or questions down to two words: which and why.
Here is a quick exercise to get you started. Take a few hours this week (not in the office) and really think about your business. Begin by developing a list of three (which) questions. A which question is one that forces you to make a distinct choice between two demands, i.e. growth vs. profit. For example, “We have limited capital and need to decide if we should invest in software or hire more people?” You would then justify (why) you made a particular choice for each one of your questions. Good luck and have some fun!
We listened to Jon Hockenyos speak this month. A well respected economist here in Austin, his theory is that we Americans have too much stuff and that the “new normal” in the economy will result in a very sluggish recovery for the USA.  We think you should prove him wrong and go buy a new Escalade.
So…Take the poll

Seriously, we are conducting a very unscientific poll; we will release the results next month and send the results to Hockenyos.
[click here to take this quick poll]

Texas Recession = LIFO.
We entered 9 months after the nation did and we are poised to exit the recession quickly.
  • Home prices did not swing too wildly.  Thank you 1980’s.  We hate to admit it, but regulation restricting home equity loans was actually a good thing.
  • Texas Homeowners who owe on a mortgage that is more that the value of their home is 11% v. 22% Nationwide.
  • Job losses less severe. Better State Finances.
  • December 2009 to December 2010 net job gains are expected to be 120,000.
  • Oil and Gas Drilling activity is up 58% from its lows in 2009.
  • Growing investment in Technology, Biomedical, Telecom equipment.
  • Net Migration to Texas from other States continues.
We love that John Thain is now the CEO of CIT; he was heavily criticized for buying a $35,000 gold toilet, the Merrill bonuses, etc. and rightly so, but can anyone name a place where Mr. Thain did a bad job for his shareholders?  Didn’t think so.  Mr. Thain as one Factor to another, good luck, CIT is very vital piece of the American story.
How specific is your mission statement?
Check out The company states its goal as….“Wolfram | Alpha’s long-term goal is to make all systematic knowledge immediately computable and accessible to everyone. We aim to collect and curate all objective data; implement every known model, method, and algorithm; and make it possible to compute whatever can be computed about anything”.  These guys are so smart we barely know how to describe what they do.  Suffice it to say, you can ask them any factual question and they spit out an answer.

Guess it is a good time to go to work for the government.  So stop screwing around reading newsletters and such, get to work so you can support your brethren in government, who can figure out what you should be doing at work.

Have you seen these commercials for Ally Bank, where they basically ridicule banks? [watch the video here]   They have this dastardly guy trick the little girl with the real pony trick.  Wonder if this marketing is effective?  Most of the time a bank is a bank and what separates them from the competition is the people.  We think it is populist and divisive to wholesale condemn your own industry.  “It is just the right thing to do…”, blah, blah, blah, whatever!

One of the deals we have funded this year came out of Textron financial, and like CIT they ran into problems in areas other than their core business – Asset Based Lending & Factoring – which got them into trouble.  Which reminds us, stick to your knitting and don’t get distracted from what you know because all that glitters is not always gold.

is defined as the actual consequences being the exact opposite of the intended consequences.  We memorized that years ago to sound smart at cocktail parties, that aside, what is the environmental impact of all those Prius recalls that Toyota has to do?
There is too much over-complication of simple principles in your work life out there, we like this guy’s view – which is basically shut up and get to work.
The Feds said that they were not going to criticize loans that were performing but under-collateralized – many bankers we spoke with commented “Yeah… right…” there seems to be a general consensus that most regulators have their guns blazing and think no matter what Washington says, Regulators view it as a “Not on my watch” type scenario.
[read on…]
Super Bowl Champ Drew Brees, a hometown Austin boy, was overlooked by every Big 12 school and was basically thrown away after his injury in San Diego.  Goes to show that conventional wisdom doesn’t mean much, when you have a dream and believe it, anything really is possible, way to go Drew.

March 12, we will be moderating a panel in Williamson county for the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce – First Annual Williamson County Small Business and Education Summit, featuring Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade, if you want to know what is going on with Access To Capital come check it out.

And finally, here are a few things we think Obama is doing right, well not doing but saying…we will see what gets done.
  • He wants to make some (not for the so-called rich folks) of the Bush tax cuts permanent and he wants to fix the AMT.
  • He wants to slow the growth of the unsustainable Medicare and Medicaid spending, he actually argues correctly saying cost growth is the core problem.
  • He wants to approve Free Trade Agreements with South Korea, Columbia and Panama.
  • He wants more Nuclear power and he even pronounces it correctly.

Lots of caveats, but…notice most of these items will help free the flow of capital for growth.

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