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2012: A Year Destined for Entrepreneurial Success

By: Guest | December 27, 2011 | 
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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.

36 comments
ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

I don't know that the economy will rebound this year, but I think you're right in that we all have figured out the new way of doing things. The past three years have allowed some of us to become innovative and creative in ways we never considered before. That foundation is now built and 2012 will offer a way to begin building on top of it. It's certainly a marathon and the past three years haven't been easy, but I see big things coming, if only because last week we closed more new business than we did all year.

Latest blog post: What’s Your Number?

kategroom
kategroom

Those are excellent questions, and I shall be asking all of them of myself. And for my two cents ... (which are on the tough love end of the scale)

Obviously it's not always practical to take time out straight away to answer these questions, but if we're going to make 2012 a big year, why not start right now? For many businesses, just a few hours spent on these questions could transform their results. What is there to wait for? How soon can you do this?

Also, an observation ... businesses that are stuck in that "it will be OK, and my focus is not changing" mindset are very often (usually?) not treading water, they are going backwards. Tread water for long enough and you'll eventually be unable to keep nose above it. So, absolutely, let's get on with leading our businesses forward!

Thanks again for the questions!

BusinessPlanningNews
BusinessPlanningNews

Well said. Historically, challenging times have always been an opportunity for innovation (regardless of one's outlook). Being innovative in terms of building relationships and keeping engaged with new and existing customers while looking at ways to improve one's own processes and practices is a great place to start.

EricaAllison
EricaAllison

Love this! Sounds just about right to me! I especially liked the list you gave to move us from treading to swimming. I'll incorporate that into my end of year planning, especially given the fact that I now have until Jan 23 to get it all squared away. ;)

byronfernandez
byronfernandez

Loved this! Esp these sections: The Time is NOW...stop treading and start swimming. Onward and upward ...

Rieva
Rieva

And thank you @ginidietrich for giving me the opportunity to do a guest post here.

Rieva
Rieva

Every day I see more and more signs that the economy is improving and consumers are feeling more positive. This is a good sign for small businesses, but the key is to act on these facts, and not wait for the "uncertainty" to vanish.

Speaking of vanishing, I would actually like the word uncertainty to disappear. The word has become a political statement, and doesn't really mean or measure anything.

JoelFortner
JoelFortner

I love how much optimism I'm seeing for 2012! I'm a firm believer that attitude, conviction and hope will always win the day.

ChristineDurst
ChristineDurst

Gini - I work @DecalGirl. It gets a tad confusing I think. Trying to bridge it all. My point now: does seem the climate is changing as we enter 2012. Election year as well - should be interesting as we approach that mark.

Rieva
Rieva

@ginidietrich Congrats on the new business. None of us really know what will happen, and the fact it's an election year makes it even more of a crapshoot, but so far, the signs are good. Consumer confidence was up 10 points from Nov to Dec to 64.5. That's a very good sign.

Rieva
Rieva

@kategroom Thanks Kate--and I don't disagree with you. I am not good at waiting myself, but some people are not comfortable jumping in right away.

Rieva
Rieva

@BusinessPlanningNews I agree. Innovation is often like adrenaline, rising to the surface at unexpected times, brought on by some stress, whether internal or external.

Rieva
Rieva

@byronfernandez Thanks Byron. I think most people don't realize how much energy treading water takes. Why waste all that?

Rieva
Rieva

@JoelFortner Yes, and the new consumer confidence numbers just released are even more positive.

RogerFriedensen
RogerFriedensen

@ginidietrich From your mouth to God's ear, Gini (though gosh knows we can't complain; our revenues doubled over 2010). Happy Holidaze, G!

Rieva
Rieva

@KenMueller I think more and more people share that "good feeling."

byronfernandez
byronfernandez

@Rieva Right?!? One of my favorites from Mr. Exupery: "Vision must be combined with Venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps...we must step up the stairs"