Uncertain Times

Cynthia Kay

Uncertain Times

It seems that everyone is focused on closing out 2013 and thinking about the New Year. There are countless media reports that look back at the big stories. There are editorials about what people want to change or accomplish in 2014.  Even though it might seem trite I wanted to add a little to the conversation.

2013 was a tough year for many small business owners. There were a lot of issues- rising healthcare costs, access to capital, regulations, concerns about cybersecurity… and the list goes on. Many of these issues were not new. One thing that I noticed with almost every single issue is an overarching theme- uncertainty.

I believe that most business owners are planners or we have planners as part of our resource team. We plan budgets. We plan for hiring. We plan our marketing efforts. We plan for new products and services. We are smart enough to know that the plan is a starting point. It needs to be fleshed out or adjusted. But, more and more I am hearing from business owners that are not making plans or decisions about critical business activities. They are sitting back and waiting to see what happens with the economy, taxes and regulations. There is this sense that if we make a decision we will regret it, have to backtrack and undo things that we put in place. As a result I see people putting off hiring that new employee or buying that new equipment.  Some business owners are hesitating to fund research and development. Others are waiting to launch new products.

At my company we decided to buck the trend and go for it in these uncertain times. This past year we added a new higher level employee for a position we had never funded- business development. We bought a significant amount of equipment to make us more technologically advanced and improve the quality and efficiency of our operation. Is it risky? Yes. But I believe sitting around with a wait-and-see attitude is even riskier. The truth is that there will always be issues that are unresolved. I think taking the bold path, a least in my case, means that we will be well positioned in 2014. If you are putting off doing the things that will move your organization ahead- it’s something to think about now.

Happy New Year, may it be a prosperous one.