In case you haven't noticed, the economy has finally turned the corner and is well on its way to the best kind of recovery possible-slow and steady. Even Massachusetts, which suffered as much or more than any other state during the prolonged recession, is experiencing a resurgence in business that, if not robust, is at least encouraging.
But the news is not all good. Those business leaders who decided to ``ride out the storm'' during the recession by hunkering down and simply waiting for the inevitable upswing in the economy may be surprised to find that the rising tide will not float all the boats in the harbor.
If you have not taken active steps to change the way you do business, you may not be in a position to take advantage of the renewed activity.
The length and depth of the latest recession, along with the unexpected impact it had on the white-collar world, combined to create a lasting change in the way business is conducted.
The headstrong days of the mid 1980s, when Hollywood's ``greed is good'' line became a rallying cry for many, are now seen as an aberration.Nobody in his or her right mind wants to return to that overheated economy, which was destined to collapse in a heap. Instead, the humbling experience of the recession has taught us an important lesson-stick to the basics.
Those companies that are leading the way out of the recession are those who reacted quickly and decisively to the new economic realities. Instead of shuttering the windows and hoping to outlast the competition, the new leaders took advantage of the down economy to streamline, automate and shed extra weight and baggage and focus on what they do best.
Perhaps the most visible example on a national scale is IBM. Year after year, IBM grew and expanded, adding product lines and service businesses left and right, trusting on an ever-increasing spiral of new customers.
But when the economy shuddered to a halt, the bubble burst and ``Big Blue'' became ``Black & Blue.'' It took Mr. Gerstner's heavy hand to spin off ancillary companies and trim IBM back to fighting weight. My guess is that IBM will emerge stronger than ever.
What are you doing to position your company for the next five to 10 years? Here are four areas which you should look at carefully, assessing your current status and potential for change and growth in each.
Automate. Take advantage of the tremendous technological strides that have been made in the last decade. If you are not running your business with the assistance of computers, you are running too slow.
Streamline. Don't hire one extra person that you don't absolutely need. Eliminate duplication of effort and get rid of overly complicated and unnecessary processes and systems.
Accept the fact that being flexible may on occasion mean making a mistake, but being inflexible will lead to failure.
Delegate. Let your employees take on more responsibility. There simply isn't time or money enough for supervision-everybody must be producing. You may be surprised at the positive results you'll see.
Plan. Don't wait for things to happen to you, or rely on somebody else to deliver customers to your door. Have a vision of what you want your company to be and a strategy to get there. Share it with your employees so that they can help make it a reality.
The new economy offers as many opportunities for success as for failure. Not every business that survived the recession will survive the recovery. But standing still and hoping for the best is a certain recipe for disaster.
Get to work now to position yourself for a bright future.
Mr. Wellington is senior vice president of Braley & Wellington Insurance in Worcester, Mass.