As we face the prospects of another new year, we lament with Dickens, “It is the best of times and it is the worst of times.” In many ways, things have never been better in the entire history of the world.
When you look at the explosion in technology and the tremendous opportunities that brings with it, you have to wonder how people did business even just a few decades ago. I mean, seriously, can you imagine doing business without a cell phone and email? I still remember the first time my chief information officer came to me and insisted I have an email account. “What would I use that for?” I countered? Now I can’t imagine being without it 24/7.
Not only that, but the world is smaller now than it has ever been. My dad would have no more thought about doing business with China, India, Europe or South America than he would have spent his days thinking about going to the moon. And yet today, everyone does business abroad. If we’re not buying, we’re manufacturing or selling. No matter which way you slice it, there is an opportunity relative to international business that has never before existed to the extent it does today. In those (and a hundred other) respects it it the best of times.
But the other side of the coin is as dark and tarnished as the first side is bright and shiny.
Never before has the national debt put a burden on small business to the extent it is today. Small businesses, by any measure, are the golden goose. They create the jobs, the wealth, the security, the opportunity, etc., etc., etc. They very literally carry the vast majority of the tax load of the country. And now, the government — in its infinite wisdom — is hell-bent on killing that goose, golden eggs and all.
Small business taxes are increasing at an unprecedented rate. New taxes appear daily. Government regulation has run completely amok and small business is its primary target. With government mandated (and soon to be government sponsored and government administered) health care looming like a specter on the horizon, small businesses will be asked (no, not asked — demanded at the peril of prison) to shoulder another very large brick in a load that is already nearly impossible to carry.
The bottom line is this: with our freedoms disappearing at an alarming rate, and with government intrusion into our lives at unprecedented levels, and with a national debt so large it will likely never be paid off, and with the rise of marxism and the death of capitalism in America, it is going to take some creative thinking to realize the American dream.
So. . . . am I discouraged? Giving up? Throwing in the towel? Crying uncle? Not even a little bit. The glass has always been able to hold more water. Whether it’s half empty of half full depends on you. You can see the good, leverage what you can where you can and still see the success your parents and grandparent did, or you can focus on the bad and freeze solid in fear and despair. It really is the best of times and it really is the worst of times. You just have to decide which it’s going to be for you.
Your future is whatever you make it. In my estimation, this would be a poor time to give up. There are opportunities here that business people have only been able to dream about for a hundred years. Those opportunities are yours for the picking. But there are pitfalls for the unwary our ancestors could never have even dreamed of.
The Chinese symbol for “crisis” is made up of two characters: opportunity and danger. So my advice is beware the danger, but don’t let it deter you from seizing the opportunity. Don’t let fear rule your heart.
Move forward with boldness — leveraging opportunity and avoiding the danger — and you’ll find success.
That’s my prediction for the coming year (and many more.)