I don’t know and I’m not qualified to make a judgment on this. But I’ll share my observations with you regardless.

At last Wednesday’s meeting, one of the member’s issue/was this: “Is the economy really improving or is this just a bump? I want to know so I can invest appropriately to take advantage of the upswing to gain market share. (Okay, he didn’t ask it exactly that way, a bit more colorfully as you can imagine).

Here are the insights the question generated at the meeting:

–What are your customers saying? Ignore the general business reporting. It’s looking backward not forward. And some of the people reporting business news really don’t know what they are reporting. But your customers know what is going on. They are the most accurate economic indicator for the small-mid business owner. Call them up and ask them how they feel, what they are doing, what are their customers thinking.

–Look at informed outside analysis only: Look at trade association information and industry association data. Apply your own analysis to the data, not just theirs. As I’ve maintained since this downturn started, this is an unprecedented market situation, most experts are guessing. Your guess is as good as theirs.

–I think, at least attitude wise, things are changing for the positive. People are sick of playing defense and want to play offense. They are noticing positive movements and want to take advantage of it. Just the fact that more than one member has asked the same question says something is afoot.

–Enough of my customers are asking this question or talking about upticks in business that I think things will be turning up this fall, for some faster than others, and some won’t see growth for much longer. It won’t be fast or go-go. Slow and erratic growth. But growth nonetheless.