With the desperate bailing out of AIG and Merrill Lynch accompanying the collapse of Lehman Brothers it is clear America's financial institutions are going through an enormous crisis. What nobody knows yet is how deep or how widespread the impact on the rest of the world is going to be or how long the resulting economic depression will last. That will only be revealed in hindsight and that's not much use now.
Even in the midst of economic turmoil, however, there are some certainties. Unemployment will rise while average house prices and incomes fall. But most people will not be homeless, starving or unemployed. Some will even prosper through the economic catastrophe.
The other certainty is the breakdown of global financial institutions will have a massive impact on the way businesses are run and people are employed. The collapse of Lehman Brothers, the takeover of Merrill Lynch and instability of what was the world's largest insurer AIG shows how global companies can effectively disappear overnight.
Although few us are directly affected by the problems of these institutions, such is the complex interrelationship of the of world financial markets that nobody can say their job is secure. But that doesn't mean we should simply wring our hands and cry: 'We're all doomed.'
Instead we need to look for the lifeboats. At worst we have to find ways to keep afloat. At best we may find ourselves somewhere better than the place we inhabit now. That's where we like to think Ki Work fits in.
It's a truism that companies which thrive after an economic downturn do so because they've emerged leaner and fitter. But, in common with most truisms, it's only partly true. Companies that become too lean either starve to death or they are not strong enough to take advantage of an upturn when it comes. And that assumes they recognise the upturn and respond accordingly.
Every downturn is followed by a series of false dawns. Move too soon and the market may not be ready. Leave it too late and chance being left behind by the rush. Ki Work offers a way of both reducing the risk and being nimble enough to take advantage of opportunities.
A 'traditional' company that has weathered the economic storm is likely to find it a struggle to expand. Its premises could be too small to accommodate additional staff. It may even lack the experts to recruit new team members. Ki Work offers businesses the opportunity to employ virtual teams who are accredited, used to working together and do not require a physical space to complete projects. But that's the old-fashioned way of doing things.
Far more exciting is the possibility that Ki Work offers of creating entire virtual businesses that are flexible, economical and bring together the best people in the world, regardless of geography. If you have valuable skills, there is no point in waiting to start developing these relationships, getting the accreditation and exploring potential opportunities that this brings.
Nobody is suggesting Ki Work alone has all the answers to surviving and thriving through an economic crisis. There are many ways of developing the relationships that will see you through. Social networking with LinkedIn, Facebook or Ecademy, for instance, are all valuable. But we believe Ki Work offers the best combination of tools for building virtual outsourced businesses.
The point is to get involved now even if you still have a job or a contract. As the global economy turns downward the social networks are going to get quite crowded with people trying to make their mark and post their resumes. Now is the time to make friends and influence people.
It doesn't take a crystal ball to see we're going to be going through a period of painful economic change for some time to come. Change also brings opportunities for those able to grasp them. And they're not necessarily out of reach, even from a lifeboat.