I go to industry events searching. Seeking. Pleading for good news. The first question I ask is, “How is your business?” What I’m anxious to hear is “sales are shooting up and we’re looking at a great year.” Honestly, I’d settle for “business is growing again.” I assume many of you share my feelings. I‘m just tired of participating in this recession. It’s exhausting constantly pondering the doom and gloom – the growing unemployment, the hard-hitting impact on the manufacturing sector and the projections for a very slow recovery. After 15 years in the industry, I’ve seen several down cycles come and go, and I know this one will too. But the waiting is the worst part.
Mark Vitner, an economist with Wells Fargo shared the realistic yet sobering news of the projected recovery at the AEM Annual Conference. First, the news we’ve all been waiting to hear: Economists believe the recession ended on June 30th 2009. That means we are officially in the recovery phase. Vitner said that though growth in the economy is predicted for 2010, half of that growth will come from government stimulus – not real growth. The true grass-roots recovery will happen in 2011. That year’s projected growth is a modest 2.2%. However, modest though it may be, all the growth will come from the private sector. Probably even more sobering is the information he shared on job loss. Economists predict a total count of jobs lost at 9 million by April of 2010. If we start gaining jobs in May at the same rate we have after every other recession, statistics say that it will take until the fall of 2016 to replace all the jobs that were lost.
I know. You didn’t come here to read more doom and gloom. And that’s not what I’m trying to deliver. I’ve always believed that adversity builds character, and it’s through difficult times that we grow the most. This is an opportunity to grow. I choose to focus on the positive rather than dwell on the negative. I’m the eternal optimist. I believe in the resiliency of the American spirit and the strength and ingenuity of the American business. It’s not really a question of “if“ we will recover, but rather a question of “when.” Therefore, the bigger question that accompanies recovery is the question of “who.” Who (which companies) will not only survive, but also thrive and emerge a stronger company with increased market share? These are the times that show the true character of companies and their leaders. It’s a time when those that risk much on nothing more than a sound plan, good business sense and faith, attain great reward. It’s in these times that small businesses take flight.
So what is your strategic plan to do more than “survive” in this economy? What are you doing to continue to grow market share and brand awareness in a time when profits and sales may not be growing? What will your market share and company look like as you emerge from this recession?