One of the great icons of Americana is Hollywood, including all the epic movies with almost breathtaking titles, like “Gone with the Wind.”
Among my favorites is a war movie with such a title, “In Harm’s Way.” A more recent one that isn’t a war movie, but has a compelling title is, “Against All Odds.”
If anyone ever made a movie about the American small business, either of these three would be a perfect title. Creating something from nothing in a rude marketplace - often with little or no capital, in the face of entrenched Big Box, local and Internet competitors - is as close to “in harm’s way” as you can get without dodging enemy fire. And against all odds, less than half of small businesses survive five years while less than one-third of those make it to the second generation.
If your small business has come through the Great Recession and the Not-So-Great Recovery, you’ve gone in harm’s way and survived, against all odds. And based on recent surveys - the very sophisticated and the not-so-very - many small businesses still have harm to avoid and odds to challenge.
The most recent and very sophisticated NFIB Index of Small Business Optimism reported that while optimism has spent many quarters below the 100-point historical baseline, the recent 0.4% rise to 94.5% score, means while we may not like the number, we like the trend. When most small business owners report optimism about their future, the gold standard NFIB Index will hit or exceed 100.
Recently, my not-so-very-sophisticated online survey of small business owners answered this question: “With two months of 2011 behind us, how is the recovery going compared to last year?” Those who said, “The economy is definitely improving” represented 28% of respondents. Those who said “Sales revenue is better, but the recovery is still slow,” came in at 43%. And the group reporting “Sales revenue is not growing,” was 30% of our sample.
Remember my two admonitions about dealing with this recovery: 1) It’s going to be a marathon. Pace yourself with discipline and patience; and 2) If you’re in the majority that isn’t feeling the recovery, find out what the apparently very happy minority is doing.
Here’s another epic war movie title I think you’ll agree would fit that small business movie, “The Longest Day.” It’s about what it takes to avoid being gone with the wind.
Recently on The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked more about The Small Business Movie - click on the link below to listen. I also talked with Bill Dunkelberg, Chief Economist at NFIB about their most recent Small Business Optimism Index. Click on one of links below to listen to our discussion. As always, please leave your comments.
NFIB reports on slow job growth and weak capital spending featuring Bill Dunkelberg
The NFIB index on sales, pricing power and credit featuring Bill Dunkelberg
Possible titles for a movie about small business featuring Jim Blasingame