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Half-time in the main game

Troy Hazard
5 August 2010

With mid-term elections just around the corner here in the United States, we’re coming up half to the half time hooter in the main game. Let’s look at the scoreboard.

  • The healthcare bill still confusing small (and large) business
  • The small businesses stimulus package not so stimulating to many
  • The banks still holding on to their cash despite repeated calls from Capitol Hill for them to help small business
  • And the future seems bleaker in the eyes of the average small businessperson still slogging it out on the street.

This week the National Small Business Association released its midyear economic report. Based on a survey of 400 small business owners, the report found;

  • A decrease in optimism and confidence of small business growth
  • Small business owners and managers are less confident than they were in December 2009
  • Only 11 per cent of small businesses have hired, while 25 per cent have cut jobs
  • 41 per cent say they are unable to secure financing
  • 45 per cent believe the economy is worse now
  • 25 per cent predicted drops in revenue in the next 12 months
  • 26 per cent of businesses are reporting higher revenue since the last report compared with 22 per cent in December.
  • 24 per cent of the businesses reported that rising heath insurance costs have led to a reduction in work force, up from 20 per cent in December.

What’s causing this sentiment?

Well, here’s my take. As a speaker and author, I am lucky that I don’t really have a full time ‘job’ anymore – I get to choose my day and how I invest it. And, as a result, I spend a lot of time researching, reading, learning, and seeking to understand more about business in general, global influencers on business and, in particular, business in the US.

Some days that means I get to spend anything up to three hours watching, reading, listening to information. And I am confused about so much that so many governments of the day are trying to achieve. Translate that to what the average US small businessperson is trying to adsorb in probably a tenth of the time and, of course, you can only end up with a perceived bleak view of the future.

  • They are confused about health care, despite education – and the relevant taxes that will inevitably creep in to pay for it
  • They are confused on potential tax changes
  • They are confused on potential credit card or debit card changes
  • They are confused on the market – is it up, down or sideways?
  • They are confused on who is helping them. The administration appears to be pro-small business, but continues to conflict this message with some of their decisions.

In short, the unknown is frightening. It stands to reason that you can’t plan around something you don’t know! So, therefore, your only friend is fear.

If the US economy is to come good sooner than later, it is going to be driven by small business stimulus. In the absence of any of that stimulus coming from any external source, there are simple things small business can do to get moving again. Step one is to take responsibly for their destiny and just get on with it!

  • Work on the things they can influence, such as cost reduction, cash flow, management, staff morale or personal responsibility
  • Set aside the things they have influenced as much as they can and stop letting them clutter their day and their progress
  • Stop thinking about the things they cannot influence
  • Seek alternative methods of business development. Stop waiting for a change in sales through traditional sales methods – that’s what everyone else is doing
  • Seek alternative ways to structure your business in preparation to be more resilient next time a change like this comes around.

I am a firm believer that business happens in cycles, and your ability to manage these cycles successfully lies in how you interpret information from the past, deal with it in the present and prepare for the cycles of the future.

In the absence of any clear and concise message coming from any government of the day, take the responsibly on your own shoulders to analyze the information you do have at hand in your own business and use that to chart your course to a better future.











Troy Hazard is the former global president of the elite Entrepreneurs’ Organization, and Switzers’ resident alien in the United States. He has owned managed and run ten companies in the last two decades; is an international speaker and author of Future-Proofing Your Business.

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

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