February 1st is a great day to look at the various start-of-year economic and business predictions, and at our business resolutions and plans to profit from them.
Famously, the Chinese word for ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters, respectively signifying “opportunity” and “danger.”
What a great description for 2017 one month in!
Opportunity. With the new administration in Washington comes high hope for reform in five areas of strong business interest and concern: Corporate Taxes, Regulation, Infrastructure, Healthcare, and Education.
Real movement toward positive change in any one of these areas would have profound impacts on whole swaths of the U.S. and global economies.
To the degree that all of these areas were to be successfully reformed, well that could result in the kind of 3% - 4% annual GNP growth not seen in America and in other developed economies in 25+ years, which in turn would mean a whole new ballgame as to business opportunity and money-making.
Danger. Concurrent with its pro-business tenor this new administration has consumed much precious airtime on agendas both tawdry (size of inauguration crowds, media fights, etc.) and depressing (impractical and "small" executive orders on immigration and trade).
Quite simply, the businessperson’s hope is that the distractions and discouragements of the latter don't crowd out and forestall action on the great promise of the former.
Opportunity. This week's announcement of Snap's IPO, combined with the expected public offerings later this year of Airbnb, Spacex, Spotify, Lyft, and Uber, reminds us yet again that more than any other factors technology and innovation drive the business and financial world.
Yes, if there is a business process in need of improvement, whether it be to increase marketing effectiveness, sales conversion, customer engagement - or to reduce their cost in a meaningful way - then there is a technology service out there to help us do so.
This is truly awesome, and we should not let our justified frustrations with modern technology’s complexity and capacity for distraction cause us to lose sight of the massive business opportunities it alone makes possible.
Danger. Right alongside its promise is technology’s massive threat.
The threat from cheaper - and oftentimes better and faster - overseas competitors that technology empowers.
The threats of cyber-security and cyber-warfare.
And the fundamental threat of technology to just eliminate the need for us altogether (see travel agencies, brick and mortar retail, taxi cabs, etc.).
So we all must develop strong processes and disciplines to build our companies such to be “technology hammers and not technology nails.”
And if you don’t know how to do this - how to build and act upon a technology strategy that protects and grows your business, then find someone to help you that does.
Promising. The best business people I know stay informed as to the wider world and its political and technology trends. They are also blissfully untouched by them.
They intuitively know that on a fundamental level businesses still succeed and fail as they have always done so - in the micro and by its leaders working very hard, and focusing and striving on just being a little bit better every day in some meaningful business way.
And February 1st is a great time to look back at those start-of-year goals and plans (or make some if you don't have them!) and recommit ourselves to both dreaming big and backing those dreams up with daily hard and intelligent work.
Dangers. There's nothing dangerous about the above. When in business doubt, or anxious from the political and technological changes and upheavals all around us always - let’s come back to those few timeless, simple business principles.
Value, Integrity, Hard Work.
Those work on January 1st, February 1st, and Forevermore!