I'm writing this post from my hotel room in Sydney, Nova Scotia. It's the big city on Cape Breton Island. The scenery and the views are amazingly beautiful.
What Sydney is famous for though is its poor economy. Years ago there was a steel mill and coal mine here. The fishery has always been here and is still going strong but the mills and mines are now closed.
They should have closed 30 years ago but the provincial and federal governments kept pumping money into them in an effort to 'save jobs.' What they ended up with was an economy based on old industrial-age industries and the companies that served those dinosaurs.
Before coming here I called about 25 companies who Dun & Bradstreet says do over $5M in annual sales. Almost all of them told me that they now do less than $1M because of the loss of those big industries.
Today though, I met with a businessman who has had year over year increases in his business. It's doing better than ever, he's even re-invested in growing the size of his facility. How? Why? If the economy is so bad is this man managing to grow? Simple. The trend is your friend.
This business sells products that cater to baby boomers who are entering retirement. There are lots of them around and with Cape Breton's low housing costs, many who moved away earlier in life are coming here to retire.
Making steel is definitely against the trend in North America. Helping grandpa with his garden is a much better business to be in.
I guess the story just reinforces that no matter how much you try in any business, you'll have a much easier time if the trends are in your favour. Even if everyone tries to tell you that the economy sucks.
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