Entrepreneurs are America's chief optimists. But I'll readily admit that the past couple years have made even the most positive small business owners wonder how much longer they can still look at the glass as half full. My company's monthly optimism surveys prove it.
While on the surface 2010 may be another year with more problems than progress for America's small business economy, I have found some silver linings. As you carve the turkey (or fish it out of the deep fryer), consider what you have to be thankful for.
Your employees. They were at your side through another tough year. And they've remained faithful with extra responsibilities and smaller raises than normal — at least mine have. Your employees are your company's greatest asset. It's a cliché, but it's true. Can you imagine what 2010 would have been like without some of your key players?
A chance to relax. In my industry, business really starts heating up right after Thanksgiving and doesn't cool down until the end of Q1. Cherish the time to recharge your batteries and the opportunity to rethink how you can keep your small business growing. The novelist Phillip Roth called Thanksgiving 'the American pastoral par excellence and it lasts twenty-four hours,' so enjoy the holiday to its fullest.
Economic stability. I didn't say marked improvement, I just said stability. At present, hiring and paycheck growth have both increased year to date. While I've written that we're in the midst of a 'new norm' where a sluggish economy with little growth is to be expected, in my book that beats 2009's downward spiral. Stability provides an emotional calm that, after surviving all the fluctuations and stress of 2009, small business owners can all be thankful for.
The Small Business Jobs Act. I know this legislation (and the HIRE Act) had a minimal impact on small businesses, but it does contain a few worthwhile provisions. Many small businesses don't qualify for loans from the $30 billion lending program, but those who do will reap the benefits. The bill's tax cuts, as well as new or larger deductions for start-up expenses, cell phones and health insurances premiums, can give some financial help to most small business owners.
There's much to be grateful for in 2010. I only hope my Thanksgiving 2011 blog post will contain even more positive notes.