Today’s guest post is written by Rieva Lesonsky.
Although I’m a bit superstitious, I’m going to go ahead, channel iconic 1950s television personality (and songwriter, who knew?) Steve Allen, and say I think 2012 is going to “be the start of something big.”
I know there are naysayers out there who will disagree, and point out the numerous reasons I’m being too much of a Pollyanna, but frankly I don’t care. There are plenty of signs the economy is finally on the rebound.
Consumer confidence (as measured by The Conference Board) soared in November (December’s numbers won’t be out until the end of the month) to 56 (on a scale of 100), from 40.9 in October.
Although 56 indicates consumers are still feeling fairly uncertain, a 15-point jump in a month is a good sign, which is amplified by the “Expectations Index” part of the survey hitting 67.8, an increase of nearly 18 points in a month.
Perhaps even more important is consumers are feeling better about their financial futures. They have a more positive outlook about their job prospects and potential salary increases (up about 3 percent and 4 percent respectively).
That will likely translate to more consumer spending, which is exactly the kind of boost the economy needs. (And don’t worry, at least yet, about consumers incurring debt; the Fed reports credit-card debt is lower than it has been since 2004.)
But a true recovery is going to take more than just a change in consumer sentiment and behaviors.
No worries: The business numbers look good as well. As The Wall Street Journal reports, “Looking at the data, the economy looks poised to keep growing at a good clip. Consumer spending has picked up and manufacturing is increasing…inventories are lean, energy prices have slipped and, to judge from a drop in unemployment claims, the job market is picking up.”
I apologize for getting a little wonky there, but I wanted to ensure you my sunny outlook was based on more than just my gut feeling. All that said, however, I have an area of concern.
In a recent survey my company conducted with Zoomerang, 40 percent of the SMBs (small and mid-sized businesses) said they were feeling “very optimistic or optimistic” about their company’s performance in 2012.
Sounds great, right? Not so fast—64 percent have no plans to diversify their businesses next year, and 74 percent don’t plan to change their business focus. This suggests that next year will be “business as usual”—despite the fact that business hasn’t been very usual for the last four years.
If this sounds like you—if you’re still wary of taking risks, and intend to spend another year treading water, I have some advice for you: Snap out of it!
Treading water is hard work; you’re constantly in motion trying to keep your head above water. Why would you want to exert that much energy to gain nothing? If you’re going to work endless hours, expose yourself to financial risk, and worry 24/7, shouldn’t it be for something?
We all know entrepreneurs are the ones who create, innovate, and disrupt the status quo. So let’s reclaim our natural role. Let’s all resolve to make 2012 the start of something big. Now’s the time to start thinking about how you’re going to stop treading and start swimming.
To get you started, here are a few things to think about:
- How can you attract new customers?
- How can you cement your relationships with your existing clients?
- What worked for your business in 2011, and how can you expand on that success?
- What new marketing methods/markets should you test?
- Is it time to upgrade your technology to increase productivity?
- How can you motivate your employees to keep them on staff, and engaged with your customers?
Obviously, given the timing, you can’t have a plan in place by January 1. How about January 23? That’s the start of the Chinese New Year—the year of the dragon. Here’s this year’s forecast: “This will be a year of great opportunity and many achievements, but these gains will require investments of many forces and labor.”
Sounds like 2012 is a year destined for entrepreneurial success.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog at SmallBizDaily.com. Visit her website SmallBizTrendCast to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.