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What's In Store for Business in 2014?

Sunday, December 1, 2013
The Society for the Advancement of Consulting® has asked its global members to comment on 2014 business prospects. "We are a global association of top consultants," notes SAC CEO Alan Weiss, PhD., "and we regularly ask our clients and our members what they are seeing. Here's a representative sample."

"2014 will be a robust year for forward-thinking businesses that stand out from the crowd in terms of customer service while focusing on internal simplicity," points out Lisa Anderson, President of LMA Consulting Group, Inc. in Claremont, CA. "For example, sales and operations planning (S&OP) programs can deliver dramatic improvements in service, cash flow and margins; however, typically an increased skill level is required. Undoubtedly; the skills gap will continue to grow. Top talent is not only scarce but it is starting to jump ship for better opportunities. Thus, those businesses with top-notch retention programs, training and development options and hiring practices will have an opportunity to grow exponentially vs. the competition."

"The ability to swiftly secure top talent will be the number one challenge businesses face in 2014," notes Roberta Matuson, president of Northampton, Mass based Matuson Consulting. Matuson is known globally as The Talent Maximizer® and is the author of the newly released book, Talent Magnetism. "When it comes to hiring there is blockage in the arteries of most companies, which if left untreated, will surely lead to the death of many businesses. As an expert in the field of talent maximization, I have the advantage of being able to quickly diagnose areas where obstructions are occurring and with laser like focus can clear the pathways so that talent can easily reach hiring managers." Matuson goes on to say, "Top candidates seek healthy work environments. Get your company checkup now, before it's too late."

"2014 will be a year of strong and positive growth for privately-held businesses in North America," said Phil Symchych, president of Symco & Co., (www.symcoandco.com) a Regina, Canada based consulting firm that helps owners of mid-market companies to build their business wealth. "Companies have cleaned up their balance sheets, tightened cost controls and improved their margins. They've got cash and access to smart credit. Their tanks are full and they're ready for lift-off.

"The three most important factors for success in 2014 are: planning, information and management. Plans will show how to provide more value to their ideal and best customers. Information will report real-time sales and production data. Management will have better information, faster, that will enhance decision making and improve results. These factors will improve profits, enhance valuation and create freedom for owners of privately-held companies," advised Symchych.

"Owners who intentionally focus and align their resources on maximizing value to their customers—through planning, information and management—will have a record year," recommended Symchych.

Dr. Maynard Brusman notes: "The economy is slowly rebounding and now with Obamacare next year, there are going to be some major changes. A lot of major workplace issues will surface and executives need to be agile. As more boomers retire and more people work from home, the concept of work will continue to change. Hiring processes are going to shift as more recruiters rely on the Internet, and reputation will become even more important to professionals and companies alike."

According to Dr. Brusman, "Employers will be seeking to save money by looking to hire experts who can complete specialized projects. More professionals will be working from home instead of a traditional office setting, which saves companies money. Gallup reports that you are more engaged when working from home.

One of the biggest problems companies will have is succession planning. They are going to have to train Gen X'ers and Gen Y'ers before their boomers retire. Health and wellness at work will be a big conversation next year, especially with the Affordable Care Act coming into effect. The pressure is going to be on colleges to prove their worth. MOOC's that offer free online courses that people can take from their homes will increase in popularity."

Dr. Brusman is a consulting psychologist, executive coach and workplace expert specializing in emotional intelligence and mindfulness-based leadership development.
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