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The Government Shutdown: One Company’s Perspective

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Image via Orhan Cam/Shutterstock.com

Now that we are into the third week of this shutdown, I wanted to give a perspective on the shutdown from a small federal contracting firm. My partner Ron and I have spent just over 6 years creating our company, building and serving our clients, finding and training amazing employees, and building a culture that I would stack up against any company in our industry. It’s been an adventure, a huge learning experience, and something I would never trade for anything. That makes the shutdown and the potential for a debt default all the more wrenching.

Work on many of our contracts is stopped and the ones that continue won’t pay us until after the shutdown. We had to make the decision to put our unbillable staff on vacation starting last week and have begun furloughs this week. We’ve talked with colleagues and read enough stories to know most other companies are going through similar issues. That is small comfort when you're looking at someone with a family or a young person living paycheck to paycheck and telling them that there isn’t one coming for a while. It’s also difficult to face a situation where we feel like we are being forced to partially dismantle the very thing we spent 6 years building.

I don’t want to turn this into a pity party. There are many Americans who are out of work and have been for a long time. There are also hundreds of thousands of federal employees going without pay until the government reopens. Although they will be paid retroactively, that will not help those living paycheck to paycheck right now.

Mine is just the perspective of one company trying to cope with the situation. If we had lost clients because of poor service or other failures, it would be painful but that is simply the market dynamics any company must deal with. This situation is more discouraging because there is very little we can do about it.

I am hopeful that we can move on beyond this impasse, reopen the government, and get back to work in the next couple of weeks. I am confident our company will emerge stronger than before. Each searing experience (and there have been many) has a way of stiffening your resolve to succeed. What’s your experience with the shutdown?

Alan Pentz is Director and Co-founder of Corner Alliance.

Image via Orhan Cam/Shutterstock.com

Alan Pentz is co-founder of Corner Alliance, a Washington, DC based consulting firm that focuses on helping government clients manage the fire hose of expectations, communicate their value, and stop the endless cycle of meetings. Before consulting, Alan worked on Capitol Hill as a speechwriter for Sen. Max Baucus. Follow him on Twitter at @apentz

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