Wait for the Monday night news

As the national media mobilises its falling sales around coverage of the gladiatorial prime ministerial skirmish, customers are zipping up their wallets and business confidence is in tatters. Watch Monday night’s news to choose the best path for growth or consolidation in the next few years.

Gary Morgan reports that 25% of consumers are pessimistic about the Aussie economy over the next five years and a third of the population expect bad times for the Australian economy over the next 12 months.

Morgan Research indicates that “falling consumer confidence comes as job cuts throughout the economy continue to mount – the latest large companies to announce further cuts include Qantas (set to axe 500 jobs) and OneSteel (set to cut 1,000 jobs by June). These announcements follow several job cuts announced by the banks and several manufacturing companies around Australia.”

“The latest Roy Morgan unemployment estimate for January (10.3%, up 1.7%) shows that unemployment and lack of jobs are having an increasing influence on the Australian economy and feeding through into consumer confidence – now at its lowest for 2012.”

Under these conditions, if Kevin wins next week, expect a third consecutive weekly fall in consumer confidence as households brace for turbulent troubled times for the rest of this year.

If Kevin loses, but gets enough support for a continuing campaign of ABJ (anyone but Julia), it will be time for smart companies to adopt an internal renewal and consultation program.

Kevin has indicated a commitment to the promotion of small business and independent contractors.

Under the less likely circumstance that ABK (anyone but Kevin) gains the support of three quarters of the caucus, smart companies will turn to a consolidation program that takes on more and better sales staff and finds ways to bulk up to reduce overheads, expand off-shore partnerships for export opportunities and capture of import substitution strategies.

Julia has indicated a commitment to supporting the unions and protecting the interests of working families.

The big end of town continues to prop up profitability by shedding staff but this option is not open to the sole trader and medium enterprises that are finding it almost impossible to extend their businesses with banks calling in their debts and seeking capital guarantees.

So if things get as rough as they could do, businesses, large and small, will seek to consolidate for a variety of reasons, ranging from increasing competition within existing markets to economic necessity for those with good prospects. Organisations may need to generate capital through selling under-performing business locations or production assets to a competing company in the business environment.

Dr Colin Benjamin is an entrepreneurship and strategic thinking consultant at Marshall Place Associates, which offers a range of strategic thinking tools that open up a universe of new possibilities for individuals and organisations committed to applying the processes of innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship. Colin is also a member of the global Association of Professional Futurists.

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