THE BLOG
15/07/2013 09:58 BST | Updated 11/09/2013 06:12 BST

Forecasting The Economy Won't Make Your Business Grow - You Will

Just back from sunny Sardinia where the skilled labour now only takes cash and the hotels are reporting the lowest turnout since a very long time ago.

It's a measure of the downturn in the economy, they say.

Bouncing off the Gatwick Express I note another economic yardstick.

The latest IPA Bellwether survey published today (Thursday 11th July 2013) shows a "sharp upward revision in marketing budgets in Q2 2013. The rise is the highest in almost six years". Pundits on the radio say this could bode well for the economy.

22% of companies surveyed reported an upward revision to their marketing budgets. Hang on. I'm no statistician, but doesn't that mean 78% DIDN"T report an "upward revision".

Oh dear. Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics and my briefest of careers in a merchant bank in the late 70s (weeks, not even months) are conspiring to make me ponder.

I can't ponder too long because my HTC "blinkfeed" (wonder of wonders) is telling me that the Indian automotive industry is reporting it's worst ever car downturn and that France is seeking salvation for Peugeot and that Citroën has been hit by 10% drop in French car sales.

Is this upward revision a purely UK phenomenon, even though I thought we were told we are all chain-linked, hand-to-hand, to the global economy?

I turn at these times (oh, alright then, this time) to the ICAEW/Grant Thornton Business Confidence Monitor which booms with excitement: "Business confidence reaches its highest level since Q3 2010"

Q3 2010? Weren't we all in the deepest doodoo then? Phew, I immediately note that they temper the report with the sonorous "Downside risks remain, however, with businesses expecting weak growth in head counts and pay over the coming year".

Oops.

Well what a palaver. Is it all going up, down or sideways?

I'm an optimist by nature so I like to read good news stories. But over the years and through the storms of a fair few recessions I have realised that listening for the sounds of grass roots piercing the arid earth is a waste of time.

This data supports (or not) the promises of politicians and keeps pundits in paper for longer than our natural resources can tolerate.

Focusing on these reports is fun over a coffee but growth can only come from our own hard graft.

Take Jimmy's Iced Coffee, for example.

Hard graft, ball-breaking rejections but a belief in the product and, importantly, people he knew who were like him, have created a business out of nowhere. Zilch. Nada. Nothing.

Starting with nought, Jimmy (for it is he) has built a brand and is now seeing the fruits of his labour.

He saw a market opportunity, researched it, created a product and personally hawked it round assorted retailers until one by one they bought into him, his story and his product. He is the heart and soul of the product.

King Mad Man and Must-Read David Ogilvy once said: "The consumer is not a moron, she is your wife".

Whilst he was indeed a data-driven ad man himself, he realised that success comes when you absorb, but then leave the data behind and create something for someone you know personally. In Jimmy's case, himself.

So when you've finished your coffee (Jimmy's?) and read all the reports get off your arse and go and make something that you believe in. Put in 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration (yes, it's true) and then add another 100% believability and you can grow your business.

Oh, and help grow the economy too!