The third quarter survey of the BNI Business Index was not very promising for business around the world. The survey included responses from over 1,200 business people representing every populated continent in the world.
The number of people who said that business was growing or growing substantially in the third quarter of 2011 dropped to 66.9% compared to 70.4% in the second quarter of 2011. More notably, the number of people who said that business was declining or declining substantially almost doubled from 5.4% in the second quarter to 9.6% in the third quarter of 2011.
In addition, the number of people who said they would or possibly would be hiring in the next few months dropped from 53.9% in the second quarter to a low of 45.9% in the third quarter of 2011.
Almost 300 respondents left open ended comments on the survey. There were at least three common themes throughout the open ended responses: problems related to government regulations, developing new services to offer, and increased networking efforts.
Once again, government regulation came under fire in many of the open ended comments that business people shared in the survey. There was a fair amount of frustration about “anti-business policies having a very negative effect” on the business environment.
One respondent said that his business was “down 80%” because of government “bungled schemes.” Another response said, “Today’s business has been hurt from the government’s restrictions on business in this country.”
This kind of frustration was echoed by many respondents throughout the survey.
On a positive note, people who seemed to be doing better often discussed new services or target markets that they were developing. One respondent stated, “We re-evaluated our strengths, costs, and profit. We realigned our costs and added new services to our offering.”
Another person said they were “offering new service features and distinctly communicating our target market to our referral partners. We’ve had to adjust to the market. It’s not ‘business as usual’ anymore.”
One respondent stated, “I’ve had to change my business strategies due to the economy. I have added more services at more price options that will appeal to a broader scope of people.”
Another person summed up this theme well by saying, “We have grown because we are embracing change.”
Networking and referral marketing strategies again came up as positive ways to deal with the economy. One person stated, “Business is picking up due to my learning more and more about developing word of mouth and other referrals.”
One respondent combined the “new services” and “networking” themes by saying that he was doing well due to “a combination of new innovations on my products and increasing my networking relationships.” He expressed that these things “contributed greatly to this year’s business.”
Other people made statements such as:
- “Networking and sponsorship of corporate events is the key to growth at the moment.”
- “My referral base is responsible for the growth of my business during the economic downturn.”
- “We are working hard at building a strong network of positive people.”
One respondent in particular summed up the general consensus of many of the respondents very well when she said, “There is less confidence in the marketplace now than there was during this same time last year.”
Another survey respondent made what could be considered a somewhat prophetic statement—“The financial industry is out of control. The protesters have the right idea!”
Hmmm . . . Wasn’t it Thomas Jefferson who once said, “Every generation needs a new revolution”? It might be time for businesses to pull out some poster boards and markers.
To take the next BNI Business Index survey, click here. I’d love to have your thoughts about how business is doing.