Government leaders need to take a page out of the businessman's playbook when it comes to making decisions and managing budgets, according to Overstock.com's (OSTK) chairman, who is making a run for public office.
Jonathan Johnson, the former president and acting CEO of Overstock.com, is attempting to unseat Utah Governor Gary Herbert in the state's Republican primary. "There's a host of principles that we apply in business successfully that can apply to government," said Johnson. "At Overstock we get some of our best decisions and ideas from our call center agents and from those that are working in the warehouse. They're the ones that know how to get things done."
One of Johnson's key issues is fiscal responsibility and self-reliance. That includes having state governments come up with financial contingency plans. "At Overstock we have a budget every year, but we also plan ahead of time if we don't meet budget, what steps we'll take," he explained. "I think governments need to do that more often, particularly at the state level, where so many states are reliant on the federal government to fund anywhere from 15% to 40% of their budget."
Johnson used a business example to further explain the idea. "It's kind of like a business saying we have 25% of our revenues coming from one customer. What happens if the customer goes away or reduces it?" At the national level, Johnson said the number one issue is dealing with the national debt.
Moving away from politics, Johnson discussed what's ahead as the holiday shopping season approaches. "We start planning for Black Friday and Cyber Monday as early as February," he said. "We've got great deals, some are being pushed out in pre-Black Friday events. Our board went through and got a tour from our merchandisers of the specific Black Friday deals. They're going to be steep and cheap."