Today’s a great day to put on a smile, enjoy the blue skies and stay for a while. We have been fighting, clawing and climbing our way back from the downturn seemingly forever. But now, we have so many reasons to be optimistic. Not only for the improving temperament of the times, but also the conditions, opportunity and activity.
My mantra and attitude looking ahead is all about leading with optimism — a powerful, transformative energy.
People are finally feeling optimistic enough to invest more in themselves, their businesses and others. The “recovery fatigue” many of us have been feeling is finally lifting and shifting from recovery to growth and people want in and to enjoy it more.
We can always find and focus on the negative aspects of anything. But, when it comes to looking at our big picture, there are a whole lot of positive trends, news and reasons not to.
My colleague Gene Marks, a small business writer, journalist and business owner himself, published a roundup of small business surveys. He points out “there is one group feeling successful and optimistic, even in the midst of alarming events that will emerge anyway. They are small business owners.”
Good Reasons to be Optimistic
1) Positive Small Business Surveys and Trends
Hartford’s Small Business Success Study (October, 2014) reported 77 percent of small businesses feel successful about their business operations, up from 70 percent in 2013. The Sage Business Index (2014) indicates 58 percent of business revenue will grow in 2015 by an average of 2.5 percent.
The Financial Well Being Index found that 40 percent of small business owners are optimistic about the upcoming year (up from 26 percent in 2012). Payroll company ADP’s survey (October, 2014) of mid-sized companies found that more than half expect their industry to improve in the coming year.
While optimism was strong with the business environment, hiring lagged a bit behind. But most of the surveys indicated an increase in hiring in 2015 and beyond. Vistage (October, 2014), a private advisory board facilitator, also surveyed executives of mid-sized companies and found that their optimism is at a two-year high and 58 percent of those firms planned workforce increases.
This energy and mindset are the perfect storm for businesses to launch, grow, tweak or change.
2) A Greatly Improved Economy
According to Rob Garver of The Fiscal Times, there are good reasons to be optimistic about the current economy. Businesses are investing, consumers are spending more, state and local government spending is up and there is more momentum than previously thought with revisions to the GDP for 2014 and 2013.
3) Looking Ahead at More Jobs and Hiring
If there is one person and career professional who can keep you in the loop, thinking and challenging yourself in your career process and journey, it is my colleague J.T. O’ Donnell, founder of Careerealism, Career HMO and a LinkedIn Influencer. “The trajectory of our careers is 90 percent our effort and 10 percent luck” she says.
We are truly the masters of our career direction and destiny. We have the ability and tools today to decide what kind of career we want, who we want to work for and the kind of work lifestyle that fits and suits us best.
According to a survey published by Dice Holdings (DHX), approximately 60 percent of employers expect to increase hiring next year, yet 4 in 10 companies report struggling to find qualified job candidates. Make sure you are updating, upgrading and refining all your key skills for today’s work and job space so that you will be a top candidate for whatever you decide to do.
4) Consumer Confidence Continues to Grow
Although events, conditions and reports tend to impact consumer behavior in the short term, overall consumer confidence is at a 6 year high. The Conference Board said its index of consumer attitudes dipped slightly to 82.3, but is still the second-highest reading since January 2008. We seem to just feel better about where things are and where they are going.
5) Can the Stock Market Hit 2000?
Many people still feel a disconnect between the current stock market levels and people actually feeling the impact of it being at its highest level ever.
According to a Wells Fargo/Gallop Poll: 4 in 10 Americans are “more optimistic” about the economy in the next 12 months post-election. Investors were asked if the results of the November elections make them more optimistic about the economy. Forty-three percent say they are “more” optimistic. Twenty-nine percent say they are “less” optimistic. And 28 percent say the elections have generated “no impact” on their outlook.
6) Lots of Small Business Tools and Resources
There is a wealth of tools, resources, information and learning options for small businesses all over the Web, social media and in person today. From the SBA to this site (Small Business Trends), American Express Open, LinkedIn Pulse and many others to small business development centers; information is plentiful. Get referrals from others about proven consultants and programs they recommend and are having results and success with.
Here are 15 of the top small business websites where you can find the most current trends and information about all areas of business.
7) More Robust Business Activity
Starting a business in a downturn or soft business environment can be a daunting task, but can be successful. I did it in 2007, just before the bottom fell out when I left corporate (after 24 years) in 2006 and launched my social media consultancy in 2007. I had to stay laser focused on what people needed to help them through, and by doing that I built a market and following. Fortunately today, we are in a much more active, robust business environment, that everyone should take advantage of. Focus on your strengths, a niche that people need and want that you can provide, and become a solution provider.
Here are hot industries to consider if you are thinking about starting or buying a business.
8) Trends and Innovation Drive Consumers and Business
Technology, social media, Web, cloud, content marketing, small business services, business education, health care, family and lifestyle are all prominent areas impacting all generations. Check out the top trend sites for the latest worldwide and domestic consumer trends to stay informed.
The most important assets you can offer your customers and community are relevance, information and value. Don’t fall behind. Get ahead of trends and keep up.
9) Networking and Referrals Personalize Business
Hands down, people are more engaged, socially interactive and involved. Getting active in selective networking groups and activities and taking the initiative to connect and introduce great people to each other can only yield positive residuals. As always, it’s important to qualify people as much as you can.
That’s why solid referrals from trusted sources are so important. People are sadly not always what they appear or seem to be. Networking in person and getting personal in a digital world will always provide an edge and should be a priority for building relationships.
10) An Awesome Attitude is Everything
We have worked really hard at having as good an attitude as we possibly can, given circumstances we have all been through. It has not been easy showing good face and faith at times, but we must. Leadership is all about this. Be a powerful example of professionalism. Lead with a positive attitude and be authentic. These qualities will attract the right people to you and you to them.
There is no better time than now to ride the wave of optimism and take advantage of the environment of positive energy. Be someone people want to be involved with, feel good about and someone people can’t wait to talk about and refer.
The joy truly is in the journey and, for now, the journey is just more fun. Today’s a great day to put on a smile, enjoy the blue skies and stay for awhile.