A new business year is beginning and everyone is polishing up their crystal balls, hoping to catch a glimpse of what the future may hold.
And CONTRACTOR Magazine is no exception. Our feature story this month is a wealth of information on the residential/commercial construction market, on tariffs and trade, and on what moves the federal government might be making in the days and months ahead.
Our Forum this month is a more compressed economic forecast that argues (in part) that materials might be a more pressing issue than manpower. And hey, check out page three with articles that predict more advanced technology, more green technology and higher salaries for construction workers are going to be part of everyone’s future.
Basically, every forecast comes in one of two flavors: the way things have been going is the way they will continue (for example, the manpower shortage is only going to get worse) OR, the way things have been going is about to radically change (after years of growth, will 2019 see the U.S. economy dip into recession?).
Forecasts are popular. They’ve been popular since the days when ancient Romans studied the flight of birds to try and tell the future and for just the same reason: everyone wants that sense of control that comes from knowing what will happen next.
But there’s no way to know what happens next. Not really. The world is changing too rapidly, and everyone in it has become extremely inter-connected and inter-dependent, which means the unexpected is always right around the corner.
All any of us can really do is prepare, inform and educate ourselves; so that when the bad times come we can manage and when the good times come we can take advantage.
Take a quick look at Al Schwartz’s column this month. Is it possible that some large, well-funded company or group of companies — “Angie’s List on steroids” is the phrase he uses — might come in and sweep up all the talent (and by extension all the business) in the next few years? Well, anything is possible. We are living in an age of disruption where old business models are being discarded left and right. Look at taxi cabs, travel agents or even (gulp!) magazine publishers.
More importantly, everyone has to live their own circumstances. Say your business was located in Boise City, ID (America’s fastest-growing city according to Forbes Magazine with a population growth of 3.03 percent and a job growth of 3.58 percent). You probably had a good year. The same might not be true if you were located somewhere like like Johnstown, PA, or Charleston, WV, which had negative population growth.
Or hey, let’s get even more granular. Say you get sued. Say you win the lottery. Say your star technician is going through a messy divorce. Say Amazon moves their new headquarters right next door. Say you or a loved one gets cancer. There’s no forecast that’s going to predict any of that.
All any of us can really do is prepare, inform and educate ourselves; so that when the bad times come we can manage and when the good times come we can take advantage. Check out Matt Michel’s column this month. He talks about how contractors managed to actually grow their businesses during the Great Recession by investing when their competitors were pulling back.
So take any forecast — even ours — with a grain of salt. The biggest factor in the success of your business is always going to be you.