Five Common Business Obstacles for Which Attendees Want Guidance

By ITR Economics on December, 27 2018

Free Economic Updates

Back to main Blog
ITR Economics

ITR Economics is the oldest, privately-held, continuously operating, economic research and consulting firm in the US.

Planning a business presentation, conference, or annual meeting? It’s likely your goal is to provide your attendees with the insights they’ve been looking for. But what are the problems for which your event attendees are seeking answers? We’ve compiled the top five business obstacles as well as some strategies to start tackling them.

Dealing With Uncertainty

For business executives, the economic climate over the past 10 years has been riddled with high levels of uncertainty. Prices, changes in interest rates, tariffs, tax-law changes, international considerations (think Brexit), and political changes can leave attendees wondering what it all means to their business.

Uncertainty can lead to a pessimistic mindset and thus make matters worse for your business. Pessimism often results in indecisiveness – due to fear of the unknown, time spent reacting to problems, and a loss of focus regarding future potential and the steps needed to prepare for that future.

To counteract the uncertainty, it is especially important to be proactive rather than reactive. Avoid the sensationalized news cycle and take the time to fully understand which market trends are driving your business, and where these trends will take you over the coming year. Sticking to numbers and factual market forecasts can help you maintain a clear focus through the uncertain times ahead.

Dealing With Growth or Contraction

With a business you're trying to grow, you understand the importance of evaluating your performance relative to your overall market. This simple idea is not always simple in execution, however, and many businesses fail to take the right steps to do this effectively.

Take some time to determine all the information you are missing. Perform top-down market sizing and bottom-up analysis to get an understanding of your market size. Thoroughly get to know your competitors, from differentiating their competitive advantages to assessing their product-mix offerings.

Determine which phase of the business cycle your company and your markets are in, and what phase they are headed toward. This is an imperative proactive step to maximizing your success, regardless of whether you are currently growing or contracting.

If you’re still struggling, forecasting publications and leading indicator analyses offered by firms such as ITR can be extremely helpful.

Dealing With Cash-flow Management

Cash goes in, cash goes out, and your business keeps running. Right?

Unfortunately, we all know that it is far more complicated than that. Spending and saving at the right times is an art, dependent on a deep understanding of your business’s current performance as well as its expected performance through the coming business-cycle changes – one, two, three, and five years out.

So how do you foresee the future accurately and consistently to better manage your investment strategies? You need to have an understanding of your current business-cycle phase and when you can expect to transition through the critical turning point between phases.

This opens the door to forecasting information that can tell you how your business will perform, how your overall market will perform, and what decisions you should make to prepare and increase your success rate, as well as the optimal TIMING of such decisions.

ITR’s forecasting method utilizes our unique four-phase business cycle to provide businesses with actionable Management Objectives™, which can indicate when to spend and when to save.

Dealing With Knowing When to Embrace Change

Change is a double-edged sword. Refusing to move forward with changes can leave you far behind in your market, but making too many new changes, or making changes at inappropriate times, can propel your company in the wrong direction.

Consider Netflix CEO Reed Hastings. He was considered a fool when he reorganized the business between DVD sales and streaming. However, in hindsight, and as we all know, this was exactly the right move, as he was slowly removing the dying DVD product lines from his business and positioning the company to succeed long into the future.

The right changes need to be made at the right times. This involves making proactive decisions based upon expected market demand, identifying unprofitable work, and knowing the appropriate business-cycle phase for implementing your plans of action.

If your business is in Phase A, Recovery, or Phase B, Accelerating Growth, perhaps it is not the time to make high-impact changes. But if your company is on track to cross into Phase D, Recession, in, say, 18 months, now would be the time to consider a new product or market to diversify your portfolio in an effort to minimize the slowdown or recession.

Economic forecasting resources (such as the wealth of information contained in ITR’s online forecasting tool, DataCast™) can also help you understand how your markets are reacting to the current climate, furthering your ability to hold tight or embrace change.

Dealing With Information Overload

Various resources have estimated that the amount of information on the internet has surpassed one million terabytes – that’s a lot of data! Sifting through news articles, online databases, forecasting information, and your own internal numbers can make you feel like you're drowning in a sea of data.

What information can you trust? How do you know it is unbiased and accurate? 

Compiling reports of superficial data to store on hard drives, never to be used again, can make you feel like you’re making an effort to glean meaning from the numbers. But that work is not actually doing you any favors if you can’t use the information to take confident action.

Try to focus on certain subsets of your market at a time, or compare your company’s data to a select few leading indicators that are relevant to your market. This will help you start to form a picture of what is driving your business.

Read forecasting publications that interpret the data for you rather than just tell you the numbers.

Consider speaking with an economic consultant who is not only trained in interpreting the data but can make business recommendations for  next steps.


Looking to further increase the value of your next event? As a limited-time holiday gift, if you book an ITR Economics Speaker for your next engagement, you will receive six months of Alliance Powered by DataCast™ for FREE! You and your attendees will be able to take the knowledge gleaned from our speaker and immediately apply it back at the office. In addition, markets discussed in your presentation will be specifically included in this tool! Click here to learn more and take advantage of this exclusive offer.


The latest insights from our expert economists, delivered right to your inbox.