It’s hard to believe, but 2013 is almost over — and, thankfully, things are definitely looking better than they did this time last year — and the year before that. And the year before that…
Before I go on, let me clarify that this is my opinion based on my personal experience as a business owner in South Florida. As I’ve often admitted in this column throughout the years, I’m not an economist or a financial analyst or any other kind of supposed “expert” who spends his day staring at a wall of computer monitors tracking every blip produced by Wall Street, or measuring the effects of the “fiscal drag” resulting from the supposed “fiscal cliff” we use to hear about. At the end of the day, the best advice the experts can offer those of us in the small business world is to maintain a sense of measured optimism for below-average growth based on the precarious situation we find ourselves in, and the uncertain future we face (in other words, nothing of substance).
Don’t worry, I don’t always get it, either. I’m like you. I run a business that creates value for its customers through the products and services it provides. My goal over the past several years wasn’t to merely survive the worst economic recession this country has faced since the Great Depression of the 1930s: My goal was to succeed despite that. What I can attest to is that the business plans and strategies that I have been sharing with you over the past four years have been working in my own business. At times there have been better results than others, but overall, we’re in a far better place than we’ve been. That’s real-life experience offered in real time. And I know from the emails and feedback I receive that while many companies out there continue to struggle, for the most part, your business prospects are also better today than they were a year ago.
The question now is, do we adopt the expectations of the experts and resign ourselves to below-average growth, or do we continue to forge ahead despite the blasé predictions and challenges? My personal prediction is that you will choose to forge ahead, like small business owners do, and strive for ever greater levels of success because where there’s a challenge, there’s an opportunity, and where there’s a problem, there’s a solution. We need only to find them because where there’s a will, there’s a way. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Statistics are great, but at this stage in the race, I could use a little more inspiration than analytics. Here are some of my favorite quotes that have helped me forge ahead despite the challenges. I hope they will inspire you to keep things in the right perspective:
• “We can throw stones, complain about them, stumble on them, climb over them, or build with them.” — William Arthur Ward. Each and every one of us has this choice to make. We face it daily. Will we learn and grow from our experiences to build a better future for ourselves and those around us, or will we merely throw stones?
• “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” — Martin Luther King, Jr. There was a time when I thought accepting finite disappointment meant certain defeat, until I realized that infinite hope does not accept defeat. The road isn’t perfect. The journey is never disappointment-free. But infinite hope sustains us.
• “Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what is still possible for you to do.” — Blessed John XXIII. This from an aging pope who was selected as an interim, short-term place-holder after the long pontificate of Pope Pius XII. John XXIII had other plans initiating the Second Vatican Council, which changed the Catholic church forever.
• “Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” — Viktor E. Frankl. Every time I think that things just couldn’t get worse, or that the future is dark and bleak, I remember that Dr. Viktor E. Frankl scribbled this beautiful and profound statement on a piece of toilet paper as a prisoner of the Nazi concentration camp in Auschwitz. Please. Buy Frankl’s book, Man’s Search For Meaning, and read it over the holidays. You can thank me later.
• “The best is yet to be.” — Robert Browning. Enough said.
Manny García-Tuñón is a columnist for El Nuevo Herald and president of Lemartec, an international design-building firm headquartered in Miami. He can be reached at email@example.com and at www.mgtunon.com