How’s business?

As I have talked with small business owners across the country over the past few months, the abiding topic of discussion is the economy. “How’s business?” I ask. The answers I get depend upon many factors:  Some industries are not good across the country, like anything connected to real estate, for example. Some markets are having a tougher time than others, with almost no industries or sectors escaping the local economic blight. Las Vegas comes to mind, as does Detroit.

But just as one person tells me things are tough, if I do an about-face and ask another small business owner, the news may well be very good.

We thought a good way to get a handle on what’s really happening in the small business sector of the economy would be to ask about growth plans for next year, so we asked this question last week:  “Based on what you see now, what are your business growth and investment expectation plans for the new year?” Here’s what our respondents told us:

One-in-five — 20% — said they were doing so well that they were definitely making plans not only to make new investments in their businesses in 2011, but also to hire new people. The next group, representing 45% of respondents, said business was improving slowly, but they expected to be able to make some upgrades of people and stuff next year.

So, the good news is, a plurality — 65% of respondents — were feeling at least some reason to be optimistic about
the future. The bad news is that more than one-third of respondents were still in bad shape, including 11% who are still experiencing a decline in business.

I’ll leave you with two thoughts that you’ve heard me say before: 1) This recovery has been rated by me as an “M” recovery, which stands for marathon; 2) Take a hard look at yourself and your organization to see of any failure to execute might be coming from within. You might need help from an outside observer to accomplish this step. Good luck.

Thanks for being part of my community. I’ll see you on the radio - and on the Internet.

To participate in the current poll question, visit and vote.

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