BNIBusinessIndex.com has released its worldwide business survey findings for the first quarter of 2011. Almost 1,500 business people participated in the survey—people from every populated continent around the world—and the results (see graph on the right) indicate that, overall, the global economic state is improving. 69.4% of the respondents for the first quarter of 2011 feel that business is growing or growing substantially (compared to this time last year). This number has increased since the prior BNI Business Index Survey which was conducted during the last quarter of 2010—respondents to this same question at that time weighed in at 67.8%.
Furthermore, half of all business people who took the survey (see the pie chart below) for the first quarter of 2011 (50.2%) said that they would, or possibly would, be hiring people over the next few months. The retail sector (not shown here) responded with a strong 61.2% to this same question. This is definitely good news for the global economy and certainly a move in the right direction for the recovery.
What was most interesting in this survey however, were the hundreds of comments offered up by business people and entrepreneurs around the world.
I’ve broken these comments down into six primary categories:
- Government Regulation
- Changing Target Markets
- The Credit Crunch
- The Yo-Yo Effect
- Natural Disasters
- Creative Responses
Frustration relating to government regulation was adamantly expressed by many respondents and this topic was commented on by more people than almost any other. A particular comment from one of the survey respondents summed up the frustration best. This business owner said, “I’m tired of politics and power trips!”
This type of frustration was mirrored by many individuals who complained forcefully about “tax increases killing business . . . serious government intervention . . . the loss of tax credits . . . mismanagement of government programs . . . and serious regulation.” It’s significant to note that these complaints were not limited to simply one or two parts of the world; on the contrary, these comments were echoed by entrepreneurs based on virtually every continent. Business owners everywhere unanimously expressed great frustration with taxes and government intervention.
Changing Target Markets
The need to change one’s focus in the marketplace is another theme that cropped up in the recent survey responses. As one respondent put it, “I’ve changed my target market to one that has both a greater need and a willingness to do something differently.”
Another entrepreneur said, “(Although) business is growing, the comfort zone of (keeping) a client has been lost. There is a feel of uncertainty for business in the next quarter. The style with which the world does business is changing fast.”
This respondent went on to describe how some businesses are tweaking their target market in order to add on new “market segments” for additional revenue streams.
The Credit Crunch
Many observations were made about the credit crunch. One was a complaint that seriously resonated with me. The respondent stated, “I have great credit but Amex has still dropped my credit line by more than 50% in the last two years!!! It’s hard to run a business without a proper credit line.”
Another business owner said, “(There are) still not enough cash reserves or (enough financing) from banks” to support the business. One individual put this a little differently, stating: “This is just another (line) in the chorus of ‘it is really hard to get loans.’ We tried to get a business loan and got rejected despite great credit because of our lack of a track record. We are only three years in business and were not considered a good risk. Instead, we are taking out a personal loan and will be lending the money back to the business ourselves. Strange but true.”
The Yo-Yo Effect
Many entrepreneurs spoke of the Yo-Yo like market place—business starts looking up and then things slow down. Things start to go up again, only to fall back down the following month.
One person said their “billable hours more than doubled late last year” only to see them drop during the first quarter. They went on to say that things are moving upwards again.
Another respondent said, “The adjustments and contractions are still occurring and it has naturally forced many of us to change and adapt. We’re not out of the woods yet.”
The long series of natural disasters have been a big issue mentioned by many entrepreneurs. In North America, one person lamented, “My area has been getting pounded with snow, more snow, sleet, and freezing rain which has certainly had an impact on store traffic.”
A survey participant from New Zealand said, “Business here is incredibly tough, particularly since the earthquake – everyone is traumatised and there is a ripple effect through to all corners of the country. However, we are a resilient bunch, and there is an amazing ‘can do’ culture here- so we will overcome this tragedy.”
Many people from Australia wrote about the flooding in Queensland and challenges created because of weather in the country that has dramatically impacted their business. One respondent stated that the natural disasters in the country have made “people much more reluctant to spend money on services that they perceive aren’t absolutely necessary.”
Despite the obvious anxiety that exists, many entrepreneurs were hopeful. People said: “There is greater optimism out there, it is noticeable with clients and prospects . . . since I’ve spent much more time networking I’ve felt the results more than double.” One person said, “I am on track to match last year’s revenue in the first quarter of this year!!!”
Another individual stated, “Consumers are willing to start spending more . . .” He went on to say that he has really focused on building a stronger referral-based business. He said, “What was good enough three years ago is not good enough today. This recession has motivated me to get better.”
The following statement from one particular respondent sums up the situation well: “I believe that it is important to not get caught up in what you are being fed. That doesn’t mean hiding your head in the sand, but not getting caught in the hype. Things are always changing, so stop and think how you can be a part of it. Reinvent yourself if you can, or think outside the box. Refusing to participate in the recession and looking to where you can grow are important strategies. If you don’t get caught in the negative (aspects) of change, sometimes you can see opportunity.”
Despite some of the written responses expressing negative perceptions of the economy, the survey results are promising. With 69% of the respondents saying that business is better today than a year ago, things definitely appear to be moving in the right direction. Now, if only the government and the environment would cooperate!
What are your thoughts about the results of this survey???
Also – take the 2nd Quarter 2011 BNI Business Index Survey Here.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are based on survey results from BNIBusinessIndex.com. The data, information, opinions, and comments documented here are not necessarily the views of BNI, its franchisees, members, or this author.