State of the Union 2023: What is ahead for business?

What is ahead for business leaders this year? Do you have a plan for making the most of it?

A recent study conducted by the American City Business Journals in concert with PNC Bank reveals that while the majority of business leaders (71%) expressed confidence in their business’ growth in 2023, 43% were not confident in the US economy. (Source American City Business Journals research) Confidence grew as the economic view went from macro/national with 4% extremely confident to micro/local at 16%. Asked to choose one word for their 2023 goals, business leaders responded with growthprofitability, and stability. To achieve that, 6 of 10 executives plan to invest in marketing, and half expect to spend on employee training and development.

Top business concerns beyond the US economy are the fallout of the challenged economic environment such as the rising cost of doing business (80%), the cost of health care and employee benefits (70%), and the ability to find and keep good employees (70%). Supply chain disruption is still a factor (67%) although there is evidence, at least in the building industry, that it is improving for core materials. Skanska, one of the top 20 largest commercial construction firms in the world said in a recent report that they believe the nation has seen the worst of construction material cost hikes. Customer concerns were lower on the list with 46% indicating concern about attracting new customers and 36% about maintaining their customer data base.

It is interesting to note the gap between confidence in the economy and executives’ confidence in their own company performance. Typically, in tough economic times there is a tendency to retract as a business, to invest less, conserve cash and manage the balance sheet for multiple scenarios. However, leaders are approaching this time more strategically, with an eye toward how to leverage their strengths and improve their customer value proposition, while reducing expenses through technologically enabled productivity. Companies without a strategy to guide them in identifying market opportunities, selecting clear priorities, and aligning resources to match up with their future potential will be backsliding.  If you are still relying on the game plan from a few years ago to see you through, you may be disappointed. Although I cannot attribute the source, the phrase “wishing isn’t a strategy” is altogether too common. If you are part of the optimistic leader majority, expecting to see increases, with almost half of those expecting double digit advances, it is imperative that there is not only a clear plan for added volume (what customers, what markets, what products, what prices, etc. that accounts for the supply chain hangover issues) but a team with the ability, the knowledge, and the drive to realize the goals. Hats off to one such team, the Kansas City Chiefs for overcoming adversity and taking the brass ring. Way to go Super Bowl Champs!

While people and costs top the list of concerns for good reason, we can’t take our eye off the “customer ball” as they pay the bills. Lead your solutions with what is needed to continue to advance your credibility with top customers and attract more like them. Stand out in the crowd for delivering effectively and efficiently on what customers need and avoid overpromising and underdelivering. Focus is your friend. A few big hits will win a game over too many projects that don’t return on the investment. Identify your priorities and stick with them. It makes it easier for your employees to excel if they have the time to concentrate on what will move the business forward the fastest instead of working on a mile long list of good ideas that haven’t been vetted and reflect urgency over impact.

Need help prioritizing this year? Happy to help. Call me at 816-622-8843 or Email for a free chat on what can make or break your company’s year and setting the right priorities.  

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