Jan 26 2009

Living With Less…For Good?

Living With Less…For Good?

Like all companies, Return Path is battening down the hatches a bit on expenses these days.  Our business is very strong and still growing nicely, but in this environment, the specter of disaster looms large, so there's no reason not to be more cautious and more profitable.

We weren't an extravagant company before this, and we never have been. But there is almost always room to save. Less travel, leaner budgets for office cafeterias, no more pilates classes in the Colorado office.  We've been very clear internally that our three priorities are protecting everyone's job, everyone's salary, and everyone's health benefits.  Hopefully things continue to go well and those can remain sacrosanct.

We are now a few months into our various cost savings plans, and it's great to see the results on the income statement and balance sheet.  More than that, it's great to see how everyone in the company is rallying around the common cause and looking for other ways to save money as well.  We've made it chic to be cheap.  And so far, there's no impact on the business. 

It will be interesting to me to see what happens on the far end of this economic badness.  It's often said the companies that make it through times like these emerge stronger on the other side, and I think I now understand why:  it's clear to me that some of the changes will work long term and some will only work short term, which means that we'll learn during this period that we can live with less. 

That doesn't mean we were profligate in the past; but it does mean that I think we are going to retrain ourselves.  We don't have to send 10 people to a big trade show to have an impact and drive the business forward.  We don't have to be the vendor who picks up the tab at the end of the night.  We don't need to pay for half the company to have cell phones (a very 1999 policy) to retain top talent.  I bet we will learn those things — and a bunch of others to come — in the next few months.