Guest post from Verizon Author Series with featured author Gene Marks, who wrote five best-selling books for small business owners and managers. His latest book is called In God We Trust, Everyone Else Pays Cash – Simple Lessons from Smart Business Owners.
Want to track a few cool metrics outside of your business? Try these...
To keep track of consumer activity I recommend two places. First, pay attention to the Conference Board’s Consumer Confidence Measure. Trust me, when they release this number on the last Tuesday of each month you’ll be hearing plenty about it in the media. A nice chart plotting the CCM can be found here: http://www.market-harmonics.com/free-charts/sentiment/consumer_confidence.htm. When you see things start ticking up, that’s a good sign.
Or… go to Alexa.com and check out page views for Expedia. Alexa’s ranking system isn’t perfect, but here you can see how many people are visiting this travel site over the past year. Activity has been picking up significantly since the end of the last recession. Also, keep an eye on auto sales.
I also look at commodities. Like raw materials. And the prices of steel, copper and oil. Low commodity prices means low demand. I don’t want to see $140/barrel oil again, but seeing the price of oil rise is actually a good sign of more economic activity. And that will mean more business for my business.
And have you ever heard of the Baltic Dry Index? This one of those little known indexes that economists like to track as a leading indicator and is probably the only useful thing to come out of the Baltic since….since….well, I’ll think of something. The index tracks the prices of moving raw materials. When it’s moving up it means economic activity is increasing.
Finally, I present the biggest indicator to watch that will tell us how the economy is doing.
And that’s the Media. The media will have a big impact deciding when our country emerges from this recession. Go to Google Trends (www.google.com/trends) and search for both “Recession” and “Recovery.” This will give you a good indication of what’s being talked about in the press.
And finally, follow a few good economic bloggers. I personally like Mark Perry (http://mjperry.blogspot.com/), Ezra Klein (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein) and the guys at Capital Risk Blog (www.capitalriskblog.com). These sites give up to date economic analysis and thoughts and perspectives, in plain English, so that a dope like me can even understand what’s going on in the world.
Following this information is important. As business owners, we’re responsible not for just meeting payroll this week, but making decisions now that will affect ourselves, our employees and families in the years to come. That’s why we make the big bucks, right?
I’ll be discussing these and other cool metrics when I host a live free webinar presented by the Verizon Small Business Center next Wednesday (Dec. 14) at 2 p.m. ET. To register click here to go to http://bit.ly/v5ONVJ.
Editor's note: To get a free copy of Gene's latest book be one of the first 15 to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org (with your full mailing address information).
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