Now is the time we traditionally take stock of ourselves and businesses, which is immediately followed by a long, hard look to the future. Typically this means that if the good times are rolling, it seems as if they will roll on forever. And if a gloom has descended on the business landscape, we try to puzzle out just when it will give way to sunshine and rainbows. Needless to say, the pundits are there to chime in on their findings.
I always find it fascinating that, when survey data are released, it is the small businesspeople who almost inevitably score among the most optimistic. They may feel as if the world is going to hell in the proverbial hand basket, but still resolutely believe they will muddle along and even prosper at the end of the day. This is a markedly different attitude I hear from friends who work in large corporations. It is also different from what you most often hear from CEOs of large corporations in carefully prepared statements.
As a secret optimist, I've always felt the small business owner's positive outlook was quintessentially American. Sure, there is plenty of complaining and things could always be better, but there is an underlying, bedrock belief the future will be brighter.
I've seen this attitude expressed time and time again in coin-op. Whether it is by bulk vending or music and game operators, there is a belief in a brighter future. And if tomorrow doesn't quite turn out as well as expected, then at least there's the next day, and that's sure to be a winner. Admittedly, sometimes that belief burns just a little brighter, but it never completely fades for the vast majority of small business owners.
Perhaps it is because, as businesspeople, they are closer to their customers than their corporate cousins. It may also be because they have experienced the direct correlation between effort and success. And let us not forget, they also have firsthand experience with the risk-reward formulations. For America's small businesspeople, the attitude is work a little harder, work a little smarter and eyes open for the next opportunity.
As we begin a new year, that small business optimism becomes particularly pronounced. We toast, high-five and even verbalize our best and fondest hopes for the coming year. It remains one of the few times of the year when small business people feel free to openly express their optimism. By February or March, just as the new gym memberships and dieting are showing the first signs of lapsing, the world is once again in that supercharged, high-velocity hand basket heading you-know-where.
With that in mind, I'll make the bold proposal that operators continue a good faith effort to maintain those expressions of New Year optimism for as long as possible into 2017. Let the diets and gym memberships gracefully fade from memory, but give a good effort to preserving the fresh start attitude that comes over us as the calendar turns to a new page and a new year. The coin-op industry may not boom as it once did during the coming year. There is certainly more than enough change out there in the world to set nerves jangling with uncertainty about the future. However, we should at least stand ready to admit the possibility that we may not be remembering those long-ago halcyon days all that accurately, just as we might not recognize the accumulation of good news and opportunities presented to us every day.