Welcome to March, the month of… nothing really. The year always starts out with so much promise, so much enthusiasm! Then fast forward three months and you’re missing the holidays already and summer just can’t come fast enough. In case this has been your attitude lately, cheer up! The truth is that the economy is looking better and better as the days pass and consumer spending is increasing as a result. This means that businesses of all kinds are finding themselves with more customers and more profit. Many businesses aren’t necessarily feeling the improvements yet but 2011 is predicted to be one step further on the road to economic recovery. Here are some forecasts that economists and analysts alike are making about the economy and finances in 2011. Also included are some tips on how to make the improvements we are seeing work for you.

1. Credit is Becoming More Accessible. One of the biggest improvements in the economy for small businesses has been the increasing availability of credit to business owners. The National Federation of Independent Business recently published a report on small business economic trends stating that 92% of small business owners surveyed said that their credit needs were met or they weren’t seeking credit. Another report by the National Federation of Independent Business said that 60% of businesses that sought credit last year received all or most of what they asked for. The most cited reasons for a business not getting the credit it wanted was when the business wanted to “prop-up cash flows” or when the credit application listed a variety of uses for the money. One of the ways to avoid this problem and get the credit you’re seeking is to make a specific plan for the use of the loan money and clearly convey that to the loan officers without making it seem like you just need the money because your profit is down in this economy. Banks are unwilling to loan money to a business that isn’t putting the money towards making more money because loaning money to pay off back loans is only a temporary fix. Another way to improve your chances of being approved for credit is have your financial books audited by a certified public accountant. Finances that have been scrutinized are more appealing to banks offering loans because it alleviates some of the fears the bank has about the viability of the business.
*Aside from credit: venture capitalists are behind more initial public offerings this year than they have been since 2000, indicating an increasing willingness to financially support small businesses.

2. More People are Getting Jobs. The unemployment rate hasn’t shifted this year as much as expected but there are indications that more small businesses than not are looking to hire sometime this year, although this may come towards the end of the year. In addition, people are still going in to business for themselves, increasing the opportunities for people to find work, both as business owners and as employees. Women and minorities are especially taking advantage of this shift in the economic structure to go into business for themselves, although senior citizens and veterans are close behind. The best thing about these groups of people creating their own businesses is that the members of the groups aren’t necessarily centered around youth. In fact, many of the new business owners in today’s world are actually experienced professionals in a variety of fields. This tends to make the businesses more stable from the start and to offer more potential for the business to be enduring and successful. Marketing yourself for a new job under any economic conditions has a lot to do with persistence, but there are some new trends in the field of employment to work with as well. One big thing is that more and more, hiring businesses are looking at your past-work experiences and internet “footprint.” The increasing use of technology in the work place has made it a lot easier for a future boss to contact your previous bosses and fellow employees, as well as check you out on social networking sites such as LinkedIn or Facebook. Fully disclosing any prior work problems can really help your future boss prepare for speaking with an old boss, plus it gives you an opportunity to shade any negative information in the best possible light for yourself. In addition, carefully monitoring any social network sites you belong to is key to managing your online image, especially with future employers in mind.

While it’s nowhere near as bad as it was a few years ago, the road to recovery and boom is long and difficult. Hopefully these two tips have brightened up your outlook for 2011 and given you some good ideas to turn an average situation into a great one! Remember, there are always ways to improve your business, many of them are inexpensive or even free. Building a customer base and marketing yourself appropriately are key ways to handle any downturns your business may face, don’t let yourself be discouraged! Just come up with a new tactic!