It is a safe bet that when you turn on the news today you will find yourself being tossed a whole lot of bad news. Stocks are bad, companies are laying off another round of thousands, banks are failing, and the list goes on. But now and again you will turn on the news and there will be stories of hope and courage from entrepreneurs and business owners who have managed to keep their head above water and pull their business through the storm in good shape. So how optimistic are business owners and entrepreneurs about the coming year? Or does pessimism win out in the end?
Rescue a CEO and CEO Blog Nation asked entrepreneurs if they were optimistic of pessimistic about the future of business.
Photo Credit: Shel Horowitz
Socially smart businesses will prevail
I’m optimistic that *smart, socially conscious* businesses will continue to thrive and prosper. Businesses that recognize that environmental issues not only have to be addressed, but present vast opportunities for profit. Businesses that see conscious business leading the charge to shape a better world, driven by service to their market AND to the planet. Businesses that understand the need to evolve, and reinvent themselves as markets–and our understanding–change. And I have personally evolved and reinvented my business several times in its 31-year history. I have considerably less optimism for businesses still stuck in mid-20th century thinking.
Thanks to Shel Horowitz, Green And Profitable
Photo Credit: Brig. Gen. Jim Melin
No challenges, just opportunities
Some call them challenges, others call them opportunities, a different way of saying the glass is either half full or half empty. However, in business it makes all the difference in the world. As a senior care and independent living provider, I see ever expanding opportunities at Air Force Village West and our prospective residents. The senior population around the globe is the fastest growing segment of any population and those of us that provide services to those seniors are only limited by our commitment and imagination. As a not-for-profit provider we are able to mirror the life of service our residents have given to their country or community with unique and flexible lifestyle options that we constantly adjust to meet the desires of our prospective clients. That flexibility and our commitment to meet the needs of our residents and their families will be the key to adjusting to the larger economic climate around us. No challenges, just opportunities.
Thanks to Gen. Jim Melin, AF Village West
Photo Credit: Jeffrey L. Reynolds, Ph.D
Adapting makes is easier
While there have been bumps in the road for most businesses given the recession, I think most entrepreneurs adapted to the times, working harder, smarter and making their businesses leaner. As an e-commerce company, we cut our costs, expanded our product line, made some critical staff decisions, revamped our marketing strategies and became laser-focused on customer service. Those changes will serve us well as the economy turns around, more customers turn to the Internet for great deals and mobile shopping really takes off. We had our very best holiday shopping season ever this year, not because people spent exponentially more this Christmas, but because we were firing on all cylinders. I’m excited about the months and years ahead and I think those business owners who planted seeds, rather than whining through the recession will reap huge rewards.
Thanks to Jeffrey L. Reynolds, Ph.D, AmericanFlags
Photo Credit: LaKesha S. Womack
Optimistic about adjusting
As a small business owner and small business consultant, I am optimistic about the future of business. I believe that many small business owners are starting to adjust their expectations for their business and realizing that becoming profitable is more important than having the appearance of a large business. I see fewer people concerned with being in trendy locations or opening a store front if their business can be run from home or online. Also, I see more small business owners because savvy with using social media to promote their products and services. In the past, it was difficult for small business owners to attain a global presence without a budget rivaling their corporate counterparts. However, having a strategic marketing plan that includes a mix of social media and some traditional media is allowing more business owners to compete nationally and globally. I believe that 2013 will be a great year for small business owners.
Thanks to LaKesha S. Womack, Womack Consulting Group
Photo Credit: Chike Uzoka
Business spurs the economy forward
I am very optimistic about the future of business. I say that because that is what spurs the economy & that is what creates jobs – business. Even though there are seemingly numerous things one could worry about regarding the economy, there will always be people willing to take a huge risk and start a company. For many reasons – getting laid off, providing more for their current and future families, and for others, simply wanting to control their own destinies. As much that is going on with Congress changing a lot of rules regarding businesses, they would be crazy to completely wipeout business deductions, etc. They say big business runs America, and to a degree, they are correct. I believe even more businesses will be created because of everything going on in Congress and with the American economy.
Thanks to Chike Uzoka, Valentine Global
Photo Credit: Irene van der Does de Willebois
Always moving forward
I am optimistic about the future of my business, but this does not give me permission to be passive or to take a step back and watch what my business does. Every day I question everything as part of my process of constant innovation and improvement. When you are prepared to make frequent changes in your business you are then better prepared for the unexpected and unpredictable things that can make business difficult or circumstances challenging. This process is part of a way of thinking called Design Thinking, and it is being used by companies such as Apple. To take a Design Thinking approach to problem solving within your business, you can start by looking at the past and working out if any of the problems that you have faced could have been handled differently. Move on to current problems and commonplace activities and processes. Could they be approached differently? Doing this will get you in the habit of continuously being on the lookout for better ways of doing things. Then you can rightly be optimistic about the future, and your business will be more adaptable to whatever comes its way.
Thanks to Irene van der Does de Willebois, Leading by Design
Photo Credit: Jeremy Levitt
A mixture of the two
Our optimism comes from seeing our business double in size every year for the last 3 or more years. We’ve also seen the rush to online with no end in sight and are now happy to count more than 70,000 SMEs and 600,000 customers as users. We are pessimistic about the role of government in supporting start up businesses. It is true that setting up a business in Australia is easy compared to doing the same thing in other countries (we’ve also had experience setting up companies overseas and there’s typically much more paperwork). In Australia, once you’ve got your business name, incorporated with ASIC and registered a trademark and domain name, yo u’re up an running. You can do all of that in a week or less. That said, the experience we had recently with the government’s Commercialisation Australia program was negative. The program established by AusIndustry purports to assist early stage businesses develop and commercialise their products. We submitted an application to obtain funding to take our business to the US, where we had not yet traded. We were rejected because the Program Conveners thought we could obtain outside funding if we dedicated more time to raising capital, despite the uniqueness of our business and our stellar growth rate. It seems this program only rewards those businesses that have no access to capital or prospects generally. We’re also disappointed with initiatives like the governments Early Stage Venture Capital Limited Partnerships Program. If you have $10m or more in committed capital, the government will offer significant tax benefits (i.e. no tax payable!) on equity investments in start-ups with a value not exceeding $50m. Why do you need to be rich to participate? If the government is serious about supporting start up businesses, they would offer the same benefits to anyone who wants to invest in a start up venture.
Thanks to Jeremy Levitt, Service Seeking
Photo Credit: Craig Griffiths
A quiet optimism
I am quietly optimistic about the future for Australian small business. The GFC was a repositioning of our marketplace. People have adapted and the current economic climate has become the norm. Fear has left the community which has stimulated some spending. During the down turn small business had to get clever with their marketing dollars. This prompted small business owners to look for smarter ways to market their business. This discovery of new marketing channels has seen an increase in the small business sector. Small business owners are also smart and rather than wasting their own time learning new disciplines they are hiring businesses that already have the skills. This frees them up to do what they do best, which is run a profitable small business. Small business has always been more nimble than big business. This teamed with lower operating costs will see small business thrive in this new economy.
Thanks to Craig Griffiths, Griffiths Creative
Photo Credit: Nick Psaila
The year of renewed optimism
I believe 2013 is going to be a great year for renewed optimism. 2012 was a testing year for most business owners struggling with the aftermath of global downturns in the economy, elections and uncertainty from the Mayan calendar through to the mining sector minimisation. The new year has bought with it a new start, however the set point for most businesses will be slightly different. There seems too be an air of change in building sustainable business. For business owners connecting with their audiences on a more personal level by sharing their story and being a part of something bigger and more connected. Apple is the perfect example of this. (Steve Jobs story and the product) Money is still important but more secondary in nature. In 2013 the business owners that get on board will see good growth measured in engaged clientele that become tribe members. However for businesses that fail to “renew” their thinking, marketing and client engagement in the year ahead will be fought with struggle. Old methodologies of doing business collapsing before them. I believe the key to an optimistic outlook is engage and believe in your client so they can support you as a business owner in your journey.
Thanks to Nick Psaila, Nick Psaila International
Photo Credit: Michael Fox
Just make it happen
2013 is a year of making it happen, there are fantastic opportunities as technology permeates business enabling better communication, it is all in the sky/cloud. One can now do business globally from your home office or the airport,, with careful analysis of your business capacities, your customers [current and new] are closer to you than before, it is a fantastic wave to ride; so hop on or? You can reduce business costs, provide more to the customer base at no extra cost, show you care with paying them more attention using systemised communication methods – watch the content and regularity is positive so not to be seen as spam…… This opportunity also has a “double edge sword” attribute – ensure you are sensible in evaluating what suits you and your business so you provide the best services for customers. The real down side emerges from the cloud security influences on your business – do it properly or not at all . Remember only do what is good for you providing better services or products to your customers in a cost effective manner empowering your profitability.
Thanks to Michael Fox, KMT Partners
Photo Credit: Dr. Greg Chapman
Strong concern about the trend
I am very concerned about the trends. The media has never been more negative about entrepreneurial effort, and profit is very much a dirty word. This is echoed in our educational institutions, with few teachers having ever been exposed to the effort required to build a business, never having left school or government employment. If it was easy to build a business, everyone would do it rather than working for incompetent bosses in a soulless bureaucracy. Unfortunately, for those who want to escape the Dilbert Cube, our education system has only prepared them for that fate. It takes extraordinary faith and discipline to escape the prison walls, and if you do, you will be vilified as an exploiter of the masses. Why would anyone bother? But in spite of all this some do. I salute them.
Thanks to Dr. Greg Chapman, Empower Business Solutions
Photo Credit: Tarran Deane
Optimistic in every way
Our business is about optimism in every way. We’ve made the decision to help leaders flourish, equipping and empowering them to shake the status quo, develop brilliant teams and delight their customers. That to us, makes great business sense. We’re also really clear on safeguarding our values and working with people that are a great fit! Intrinsic to our success is the core belief that all things are possible. Do we sometimes feel a little torn by the news reports of fiscal cliffs, increasing taxes and an occasional niggling doubt? Of course we do. But we refuse to pitch a tent there! We know that for businesses and leaders to excel, individuals and the company culture must more than ever embrace a sense of family values, great fun, innovative thinking, a willingness to ‘fail fast’ and be commercially savvy. Our company is Corporate Cinderella and we believe in the future of business.
Thanks to Tarran Deane, Corporate Cinderella