The Real State of the Economy - Small Business the Economic Engine

The new economic report is good news for small business.

The National Association for Business Economics released a new report indicating that America's economic is continuing to recover. This is great news, especially considering recent uncertainties.

Here are the basic numbers.

- 31% of businesses increased their number of workers in the past quarter.
- 39% of businesses plan to increase workers over the next 2 quarters.
- 50% fewer companies reported layoffs during the past quarter compared with the same period a year ago.
- 52% of companies reported increased demand for goods and services resulting in improved sales.

But not all the news is good.

- The stock market continues to be unstable as it absorbs and interprets new regulations.
- The housing market and real estate in general continue to be sluggish.

This information is not just academic. There are clues here indicating how to best invest you time and money to take advantage of changes in the economic climate.

First, the stock market is a poor place for your money. This is no surprise to anyone who has lost half of their retirement investment in stocks or mutual funds. Unless you are a very adept trader who can capitalize on market volatility, the stock market should be avoided. But don't confuse the ups and downs of the market as an indicator of how the economy is doing. The stock market is largely driven by emotion and speculation. Economic data may fuel the emotion, but the market will almost always over react, then over correct. So if the market falls 2000 points, it is not an indicator that the economy has collapsed any more than its 2000 point climb late last year indicated that the economy was completely healed.

Second, real estate is not where you should invest - yet. Some apparent relief earlier this year was largely due to government programs that have expired. Now, foreclosures are continuing to climb, and there are fewer new home starts. Real estate will likely bottom out in a year or two, but recovery is likely to be slow as the huge foreclosure inventory is absorbed by the marketplace.

So where is the right place to invest? Consider new business investment. As the economy strengthens, companies will be hiring employees and contracting new service agreements. The technology and business services sectors are likely to recover at a faster rate than the overall economy.

Express Employment, a franchised employment services company, reported an all-time record for weekly sales volume in June.

Intel reported increased sales for server chips, an indicator that US businesses are spending money on improved technology. They are also predicting a 20% improvement in PC sales, largely driven by companies increasing workers.

The BNZ index, an index of the business services industry, rose 2.2 points in May (most recent data available). This indicates continued expansion in the business services industry.

So if you are considering starting a new business, or just looking for a place to invest your money, business services is worth a close look. Besides employment services and technology, consider starting a business that focuses on consulting, marketing, supply management, sales training, and facilities management and maintenance.

If you are nervous about venturing into entrepreneurism, there are franchises that will assist you in setting up your own business in each of these sectors. A franchise will also provide your new startup with an established name and 50 year reputation. These are big plusses when approaching businesses for new business. Also, each franchise has developed a proven success formula that can be verified by you during your investigation and validation period.

However you approach your investment, it is time to quit worrying about the future and start creating your future. The tide is rising. Catch the wave.

Ed Wills is a franchise and small business startup consultant with WFA Franchise Consultants. He specializes in helping people identify business opportunities that will help them reach their personal and financial goals.