I am so glad to have the doom and gloom of the past 4-5 years behind us. And yes, frankly, I do believe it is behind us and that 2014 is going to be a great year for sales. Let me point to a few positive indicators:
1. Greater Certainty=Bigger Buyers
In the marketplace, few things slow down economic growth like uncertainty. Regulatory, legislative, and policy chaos created a paralysis in the marketplace. The headlines all had businesses asking themselves questions like:
- What will Obamacare mean to my company, costs, and employees?
- What will the impact of Sequestration mean?
- Will the government be able to work through budget issues or will their be a shutdown?
- What will the Fed do?
- How will international hot spots affect my customers, supply chain, and revenue?
- What the heck about Europe and their economic stability?
Not all of these issues are answered, but many companies and buyers have greater clarity about how they are going to address these big influences. For that reason, they are moving out of paralysis and moving forward.
2. Housing starts are dramatically up
No surprise to anyone, housing is a big economic driver. Predictions are that new housing starts will double from where they were in 2009 to more than one million starts. As per the Census Bureau, housing starts increased 18 percent in 2013 compared to 2012 figures. This engine gives expansive confidence to the marketplace and confidence means more likelihood to purchase.
3. Unemployment is decreasing
More people working means more people with confidence to buy. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the numbers are favorable and that is a good sign for sales.
4. Pent up demand for equipment, systems, and upgrades
As companies were considering their plans over the past five years, they have held off as long as they could on capital expenditures, market expansions, hiring, and other purchasing drivers. There is only so long that you can hold off if you are responsible for a business. The cost-cutting approach and its yield has run its course as a way to protect profits. Efficiency in operations is a constant drumbeat for organizations (as it should be). However, strong efforts at streamlining have been executed in most companies, leaving little room for improvement in a company's top- and bottom-line performance. Companies now need to spend and implement in order to grow.
5. You are one year smarter
You are one of the survivors of the economic downturn and have become leaner, more focused, and more effective. If you are a startup company from this same five-year period, you have already factored the lean times into your market approach. The point is, you have completed Survivor Island and are ready for growth. You know what doesn't work, what does, and how to weather the storm. The market is not the only thing that has been changing, so have you.
What I love about the readers of Inc. and this column is that they are positive, nimble, and never waited for the market to "turn around" in order to grow their business. But, if you have survived and thrived in spite of a strong headwind, think of how much better you will do with a little tailwind.