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It is better
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John Sumser

is more
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Who Is Losing
(March 30, 2001) The New York Times Company says it expects to see its advertising sales grow at a rate of 1% to 3% this year. In a long article for Forbes magazine, author Betsy Schiffman postulates the demise of the online job board industry. Citing the 15% layoffs at HotJobs and a short quote from their new CEO contributing to the noise, Ms. Schiffman appears to believe that the online Recruiting industry only involves venture funded enterprises.

We agree, generally, that VC Money is like any form of narcotic. In the right (and trained) hands, it's the energy required to transform things. In the wrong hands (and this happens far too often), it's a recreational drug. For the recreational crowd, the hangover begins when the drug runs out.

But, 95% of our industry was built without the aid of venture financing. The rugged, small shops are plugging away with banner sales months this quarter. Somehow, the VC based firms, with their hearty appetite for other people's money (OPM) are struggling because times are getting tough. These are the teams who are cutting back on advertising expenses when the market is a bit constipated. Any fool with a little experience understands that right now is the most important time to advertise.

It all stems from reading too many magazines like Forbes instead of picking up the phone and making more sales calls.

What happens when the economy shifts is that your sales percentages decline. That means "add more sales people". Market share, abandoned by the recreational players is up for grabs right now. CEO's who engage in pondering and restraint at this juncture risk failure in order to avoid making a mistake.

We have little doubt that the Newspaper web sites are having a little bit of difficulty. After all, this is the sales team's first experience with the normal shedding that every economy needs to maintain its vigor. It's no surprise to hear of the panic and over-reaction in their ranks. Businesses that thrive sell when it's hard and prune when it's fat. That's how you tell the difference.

In each of the 256 major Metropolitan statistical areas, there are four or five region-specific job boards who never received OPM and are growing today. Their expectations of going public and becoming gazillionaires are a wee bit tarnished. But, small entrepreneurial teams of five to eight can man these operations while they turn a profit in the gloomiest of times. Who'd want to sell a business like that?

- John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.

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