Finding Optimism in a Pessimistic Economy
Entrepreneurs are generally an optimistic group, but a recent plunge in the Wells Fargo/Gallup Small Business Index suggests that small-business owners are more pessimistic about their operations now than they’ve been since 2010.
“Twenty-eight percent of owners expect to be in a ‘poor’ financial position 12 months from now — the highest Gallup has measured to date,” notes Dennis Jacobe, Gallup’s chief economist. What’s more, 21 percent of small-business owners expect the number of jobs at their companies to decrease over the next 12 months.
Still, amid all of the uncertainty and negativity, it’s important to stay positive. Why? A business owner’s bleak outlook can spread to employees, lowering morale and further impacting the bottom line. An owner’s positive attitude can be equally contagious, encouraging employees to work harder and drawing in customers, even during tough times.
Here are a few tips for staying optimistic in the coming year:
- Make your own luck. Instead of bemoaning the fact that new clients aren’t lining up for your products or services, try generating a few leads. Network with local businesses and create partnerships that will help you to flourish.
- Think local. In contrast to Wells Fargo report, Bank of America’s Fall 2012 Small Business Owner Report [PDF] found small-business owners to be optimistic. Many believe their local economies will pick up in 2013. Do you agree? Increase your community involvement to position yourself to benefit from any uptick in spending among area residents.
- Motivate your employees. Even if your outlook is grim, don’t let your employees know it. Try to see the positive in everything. If your business is not in a position to grant raises, find other ways to help keep employee morale high, such as organizing an appreciation party. Even letting an employee leave a few hours early on a Friday can show your gratitude for his or her hard work.
- Put bad news in perspective. As noted above, for every negative news report you read, there’s a positive one to counterbalance it. Stay focused on your own situation, which may be relatively unaffected by larger trends. If business starts to go south, you may be able to turn things around or avoid layoffs through job sharing or other means.