After the technical end of the Great Recession in the summer of 2009, I predicted the letter that would most accurately describe this recovery is not a “U,” an “L” or even a “W,” but rather, an “M” – for marathon. After working in six previous recessions, to me everything pointed to a very long and grinding economic period.
Alas, my prediction has come to pass. Seven quarters into the not-so-great recovery, GDP for Q1 2011 came in at only 1.8%, which caused economists, who had earlier projected 2011 growth of at least 3% for the year, to lower their expectations.
We wanted to know what our small business audience thought about the economy, so for the third time in a year we used our online survey to ask, “What does the economy look like for your small business for 2011?” Here are the three options, with each response followed by how similar questions were answered previously.
Those who said, “We’re experiencing solid growth and expect the same through 2011,” represented 14% of respondents. In the previous survey, 29% were this optimistic.
The next choice, “Our growth is similar to the national trend – up, but barely,” was chosen by 40% of our sample, which is very close to the 43% choosing a similar option in the previous survey. Unfortunately, 46% of our respondents said, “It still feels like a recession,” which is up from 28% making this choice in the previous poll.
Our survey, while unscientific, is supported by others that are: The NFIB small business survey indicated optimism declined again in April, and the Tatum, LLC survey has been reporting more red arrows than green ones all year. Clearly, overall small business economic sentiment has eroded.
But sentiment shmentiment! As the CEO of your small business, it’s your job to balance the force of entrepreneurial optimism with the gravity of economic reality. That means:
• Giving every customer the maximum opportunity to do business with you while serving that customer with maximum efficiency.
• Combining your service “special sauce” with every technological innovation you can find.
• Keeping your team motivated and inspired while running the most deliberate, disciplined and methodical business marathon of your life.
• Believing that it’s okay to fall in love with what you do, but not with how you do it.
Remember the ten most powerful two-letter words: If it is to be, it is up to me.
Recently on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked more about how small businesses feel about this marathon recovery. Take a few minutes to listen and leave your comments on the recovery.