Monday, October 28, 2013

How Bleak do Entrepreneurs think 2014 will be?

I couldn't help but fixate for a moment on the headline atop a recent article on the Bloomberg Businessweek site. In bold letters the editor's proclaimed: Post-Shutdown, Small Businesses Foresee a Bleak Economy.

Scary stuff. That might have been enough to get me to click through from my Feedly account to the article, but the editors wanted to make sure so they included a summary:

"Confidence has cratered among people running companies with $1 million to $20 million in annual revenue, according to a new survey"

Cratered? I've read about this kind of thing. The dinosaurs ran afoul of this kind of thing once. Once. Naturally, I clicked through.

It turns out the story was written around the most recent monthly survey of Vistage International, a peer advisory organization for high level executives usually working in smaller businesses. According to the survey, which hit during the second week of the government shutdown, about 12% more executives thought that the economy would get worse during the next 12 months then did the previous month. Last month 15% of respondents thought things would get worse.

Wait a minute. During a partial government shutdown, arguably one of the worst things you can do to a country while it's trying to recover from the worst recessionary event since the Great Depression, about 10% more top level, small business executives think things are going to get worse. Meanwhile and despite the Beltway Shenanigans, three-fourths of American small business executives aren't worried about things getting worse.

Somehow, this is supposed to be a cratering of executive confidence? More like the pitting you might see in the fender of a very old car.

This is just one more example of how data can tell all kinds of stories -- and they really don't care what you say about them. If it sells more magazines or gets more eyeballs on your site, it's fine with them. I'm not sure it's fine with me.

Yeah, the government shutdown was a stupid move perpetrated by a group of politicians who we hope thought they were executing a last ditch attempt to do what is best for America when what they were actually executing was their careers. It will be interesting to see how many survive their next election. Of course, if it's more than 18 months from now, most American voters will have forgotten.

Oh, now I'm just getting cynical. Here's my bottom line -- and thanks for reading this far: I don't want to know what some "reporter" thinks about politics by reading what I think is a fact-based article just to see them tell me that a 12% increase in pessimism means that American small business people are ready to throw in the towel on the future. They're not. They won't. That's not what they do.

If you want to tell me that you're angry about the methods our elected officials use to get their way in Congress, with not a care to the impacts their actions will have on the rest of us, just say it. I'll agree with you. Don't take a wrench to a dataset and try to tell me how it says the sky is falling. It's not.


Here is a source that agrees with me. Of course, they have a study to back them up.

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