Times Are Good, What is Your Business Doing About It?

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Try these latest measures of business and consumer confidence:

  • Last week, the National Association of Manufacturers released its Manufacturer’s’ Outlook Survey, showing 93 percent of manufacturers feel positive about their economic outlook. This is the highest in the survey’s 20-year history, up from 56.6 percent one year ago and 77.8 percent in December.
  • A report released by the Pew Research Center on Tuesday showed that 58 percent of Americans say that the current economic situation in the country is either “very good or somewhat good,” up from 44% a year ago, the largest one year improvement in the survey’s history, and the most positive assessment of economic conditions since 2007.
  • Gallup’s US Economic Confidence Index, which measures whether Americans feel the economy is improving or getting worse, has remained positive for 20 straight weeks, the longest positive streak since Gallup began tracking the measure in 2008.
  • The Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Survey increased sharply in March to its highest level since December 2000, with “Consumers expressing much greater optimism regarding the short-term outlook for business, jobs and personal income prospects.”

I'm less interested in the reasons why (political and otherwise) these numbers are so rosy as I am as to how businesses of all types of sizes can benefit because of them.

On this April 5th, here are three of my favorites:

#3. Be a Bearer of Good News. At some point, in large swaths of American Society it stopped being "cool" to outwardly express optimism and confidence in both the economy as a whole, and in one's own business in particular.

To heck with that!

Great business leaders are almost always great business cheerleaders.

A habit I love is to start every business conversation with both concrete statistics and heartfelt enthusiasm as to the unique and sustainable opportunities allowed by current economic conditions.

Tone setting like this is always beneficial, but is especially so now because of all of the political noise that too often spills into business conversation.

The sweet spot here is to pull the business positives from the present political landscape, tax and regulatory reform being at the top of the list, and to offer no opinion on anything else (which, in our role as business people is almost always ineffective to comment upon).

#2. Get Granular. Once our “there are windfalls to be had” point of view is out there, then our focus should turn to the “micro-specifics” of delivering to our customers higher quality at a lower cost so to actually earn these windfalls for ourselves.

Delivering higher quality requires examining our products and services under a harsh and microscopic light and asking - “Do they really deliver “wow” experiences and outcomes?

For far too many businesses, the unfortunate answer is either "not really" or that maybe they once did but have become sadly outdated as technology and more innovative competitors have passed them by.

And then doing something about it.

As in tearing our products and services down to their studs and rebuilding them in line with updated technology and evolving customer needs and demands.

And then let’s use that same microscope on the business cost side -  ruthlessly looking at all of our processes and personnel and finding the fat and waste and inefficiency and just cutting, cutting, cutting, and optimizing, optimizing, optimizing.

Attacking one of the two sides of the “higher quality / lower cost” business coin will yield good results.

Attacking them both, rapidly, in these great markets well...

...you just may need a wheelbarrow for all the money you'll be making. :)

#1. Run Free. When we combine the stance and mindsets of optimism and confidence with the hard, granular work of products, service and business process improvement...

...from this inspired and healthier base, we can let our entrepreneurial, creative, and innovative business minds and spirits run free.

Run free in how we market, how we sell, how we deliver.

In how we build and sustain a vibrant company culture and team.

And run free in the expanse of possibility and accomplishment we dream for ourselves and our businesses.

Not pollyanna dreams, but dreams grounded in the opportunities of today's markets, and dreams possible because we're willing and eager to do the hard, daily work of continuous, business improvement.

And always with a smile and a skip in our step.

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