Friday, May 8, 2009

Reporter's Notebook

- Steve McDonagh can be contacted at


The economic forecasters are all starting to sing the same tune: “We are at or near the bottom of the recession – but it will be a very slow climb out.”

The key to the climb for business owners is consumer confidence and, more accurately, consumer action. Plenty of business owners who are, of course, also consumers, have been sitting on the sidelines watching and waiting – but mostly worrying. Worrying that it might get worse, worrying that they will have to lay off employees, worrying that their bank is going to cut their credit limit.

Perhaps it is time to stop worrying and start wondering. Wondering what you can do to grow your business. Wondering about what opportunities have presented themselves as a result of the economic downturn – there might be less competition as others have folded up shop or there might be new laws. regulations and programs that you can take advantage of. Wondering what will happen if we all decide to start the climb out in earnest without waiting for the forecasters to announce the recovery.

Most (not all) economic forecasters primarily rely on statistics generated by the government or trade associations that detail what happened the past few months. They then tell us what they think is going to happen based on the statistics. Essentially it is trend spotting and very educated guessing as to whether the trends will continue.

The trends for months have been showing that the decline is slowing, money is slowly starting to move, homes are selling again and the stock market is well above 8,000. Earlier this week, media mogul Rupert Murdoch said he believes the worst is over and, “I'm not an economist and we all know economists were created to make weather forecasters look good.”
Well, we carry an umbrella in the trunk even when the forecasts call for a sunny day. Business people who have weathered the current storm do need to be prepared for a rainy day, but the savvy business owner sees sunny days ahead is planning how he or she is going to thrive when we climb out of the hole.