Peering into the future is fun, especially in the first week of a new year. In October of 2007 I wrote a blog gazing into a mythical small business crystal ball which you can read in the archive section here. Over the years, several of my social acquaintances and a couple of business associates have demonstrated strong intuitive abilities that have fascinated me. I don’t pretend to be a relative of the noted seer Nostradamus but I do believe that the tumultuous times we are living through right now were well predicted by him. He is best known for his book Les Propheties (The Prophecies), the first edition of which appeared in long ago in 1555.
So, here is my view of some aspects of 2009.
In America, we never seem to let history get in the way of creating the future.
Our system of commerce and exchange for large and small businesses has been built around readily available credit. That easy credit approach hit an iceberg in 2008 and I think it will be slow to recover. “Credit, the disposition of one man to trust another, is singularly varying,” Walter Bagehot, the financial journalist, wrote 135 years ago. “In England, after a great calamity, everybody is suspicious of everybody; as soon as that calamity is forgotten, everybody again confides in everybody.”
When people are feeling dispirited and insecure about their futures, they have traditionally sought out emotional relief in various forms. I don’t think it will be in the form of $200 seats at a Los Angeles Lakers game, but in affordable pastimes such as movies, food and drink. I predict that affordable recreation and pastimes will thrive in the new year.
I see many areas of opportunity for small businesses, especially in financial matters. A friend of mine lost millions of dollars in the Bernard Madoff scandal and is now working his way through learning where he can put his remaining dollars with a feeling of safety. The business of helping people navigate the confusing maze of investment and insurance matters will be a growing segment.
Whole health healing is another area where I see growth. Learning about natural supplements, homeopathic medicine and natural healing is becoming increasingly important as traditional insurance health care moves out of reach for many. I’m expecting to see clinics devoted to whole health grow into a serious business category.
Going green isn’t just about the environment. Saving some green by shopping at consignment second hand stores is a healthy area for small business owners. That is the way I furnished a vacation home and the owner of that shop tells me that her business is booming. It will be a year when what we actually need begins to trump what we simply want.
Having mentioned Nostradamus at the beginning of this piece, I have to also bring in longer term predictions involving the Aztec calendar. There is a large group of people already looking beyond 2009 to 2012 and making some very dire predictions based on what they say is Aztec lore. Part of the 2012 mystique stems from the stars. At the winter solstice in 2012, the sun will be aligned with the center of the Milky Way for the first time in about 26,000 years. This means that "whatever energy typically streams to Earth from the center of the Milky Way will indeed be disrupted on 12/21/12 at 11:11 p.m. Universal Time” writes journalist Lawrence Joseph.
Astronomers generally agree that "it would be impossible the Maya themselves would have known that," says Susan Milbrath, a Maya archaeo-astronomer and a curator at the Florida Museum of Natural History. University of Florida anthropologist Susan Gillespie says the 2012 phenomenon comes "from media and from other people making use of the Maya past to fulfill agendas that are really their own." So I’m not yet part of the “apocalypse right on schedule” crowd.
In general I see 2009 as a time of testing and realignment for business in America. With every stumble of the business giants like Ford Motor or Dell Computer, opportunities are created for small business. At every level we will all be tested on our resourcefulness, persistence and clarity of thought. Entrepreneurs are nothing if not resourceful and disdainful of obstacles. Certainly ‘09 will have some troubling stories but I predict that there will also be noteworthy stories of survival and great new beginnings. Also a numerologist acquaintance told me 29 years ago that “9” is a good number for me!