I LOVE good news. Even if it’s just rumors and I don’t know for certain yet if it’s true, it’s still encouraging, and sometimes that’s all we need to get through a down time. How often do we EVER know for certain anyway?
So when I was listening to NPR (National Public Radio) this past Monday, I was encouraged by some positive news I was hearing on their daily program “Talk of the Nation”. For those who don’t know, NPR is heard by around 30 Million people a week and “Talk of the Nation” is one of their daily programs that is always very well done and thought out. So I’m a regular listener. The guests on the show that day were Christine Poon, Dean of the Fisher College of Business: Ohio State University, Marilyn Geewax, Senior Business Editor at NPR and Bruce Lackey, CEO of Happy Chicken Farms.
Here was their premise, which I copied directly from the NPR website:
“So-called “middle market” companies added 2 million workers in recent years. The middle market includes businesses with annual sales between $10 million and $1 billion. Despite their growth, they tend to lack the lobbyists, government supporters and associations that small and big businesses enjoy”.
Three things crossed my mind when they started the discussion.
First, I thought, RIGHT ON! Finally some good news about the economy, from a reliable source, and they are talking about US, the mid-market, which includes not only Fishbowl, but the market we sell to as well.
My second thought: Who the heck is Bruce Lackey at Happy Chicken Farms, and why am I listening to HIM on NPR instead of David Williams at Fishbowl???
My third thought, “I think I’ll call in.” So I did, and got right on the show. I won’t go into detail about what I said. You can click Here to Listen to the Recording or Here to Read the Transcript. What I found interesting was what the panelists said.
Their first panelist, Bruce Lackey, CEO at Happy Chicken Farms, started off by saying that “business is mixed, margins are flat, payroll costs are up, fuel costs are up”. What??? Seriously??? They have a program centered around how the mid-market is booming, and their first mid-market representative sounds like he’s considering Chapter 11? Maybe they accidentally brought in Bruce Lackey from Depressed Chicken Farms by mistake?
Again, how cool would it have been to have OUR CEO on that show instead? He would have had LOT’s of information to support their argument that the mid-market is booming, and not just Fishbowl by itself. He could have talked about how we sell to the mid-market and how our lead flow has tripled and sales are up 50% year over year. Companies in this space would not even be considering a substantial investment like ours unless they felt their business could support the investment, or would soon be able to support the investment. In this sense you could look at Fishbowl lead flow and sales as leading indicators for where the entire mid-market is going.
The next two panelists sounded much more upbeat and talked about the National Middle Market Summit at Ohio State University earlier this month. They said that the mid-market has added 2 million new jobs in the past couple years while big business and small business have lost jobs. What I found really interesting was that the characteristics they gave for mid-market companies were a perfect description for Fishbowl. Mid-market companies:
- Have a niche product (We DO have a niche product because unless you are familiar with QuickBooks, odds are you wouldn’t run across Fishbowl. When I got on the show I had to describe to them what QuickBooks was because they didn’t know). Yep.
- Tend to be located in a single community. Yep.
- Tend to have strong ties with the local community, like sponsoring local sports teams (or humanitarian causes). Yep.
- Are rarely publicly traded. (We are employee owned). Yep.
- Not a lot of turnover. They keep their employees. (Well, the GOOD ones at least!) Yep.
- Focus on innovation. Yep.
- Have close relationships with their customers. Yep.
- Tend to hire slowly. (Well, at the moment we are hiring fairly fast, but that’s what our market currently demands.)
- Fairly stable. (10 years in business sounds stable to me!) Yep.
In other words, we can look at Fishbowl as a kind-of poster child for this booming market segment, and on top of that, we sell our product into the same booming market segment. It just feels like everything is coming together for us and at just the right time.
Our company slogan is “Great People + Great Product = Great Company”.
Maybe we should add “Great Timing” as well.