…or the news, or the commentators, or the government reports.

They are largely reacting and reporting and predicting based on old news and ideology. By old news, I mean they are looking at lagging indicators about the economy. It’s old news now and will be older news in 2011. By ideology, I mean they are talking (the pundits mostly) to promote their own point of view. Trying to say something witty or sticky at just about any cost to justify why the are getting the sound byte.

So who should you listen to? Two groups: Your customers and your peers.

By customers, I mean call up your top 20% of customers who are doing 80% of your revenue. And listen hard to their plans for the next year. What are they expecting? What are they ordering (from everyone)? What do they think? Years ago, when I was with Kelly Services in Pittsburgh, I went through this exercise in planning my budget for the new year, against the advice of my superiors. I hit my numbers that year exactly.

By peers, I mean other business owners whom you trust and can share information with. Probably not competitors. But if you are in some sort or Peer Group you are tapped into other experts who know what is going on. They are tapped in. The have the best instincts for what is happening.

The advice on customers comes from my good friend Verne Harnish, of Gazelles and author of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits.

The advice on peers comes from personal experience. Running Inner Circles (peer groups for business owners)for 8 years now I can say with authority they have called things more accurately in this economy than any other experts I’ve heard on TV.

Starting a new Inner Circle in September. Become an Insider and get the best expert advice available for running your business and predicting the future.