Business in 2013

As we enter the new year with much anticipation, we are greeted with a flurry of market predictions, business forecasts and plentiful amounts of “trends to look forward to in 2013”. However, with a very few exceptions, most of these predictions are but baseless speculations that focus on the interest of one or a few entities.

While I believe that most business predictions of today are a bit prosaic, I would like to lay out my own forecast: not a speculative prediction, but a hopeful expectation. In a nutshell, I firmly believe that 2013 should be a year highlighting responsible business and finance. In the Forbes article Even The Pope Believes In Reforming Capitalism And Finance, Abram Brown reports how the pope’s New Year message indicates that he is now included in “a list of influential world leaders who support increased financial oversight”. Brown then proceeds to describe how 2012 has had major controversies and disappointments in the business world. The article closes by concluding that the pope, along with other financial and business giants, “would like the world’s bankers to behave better”.

It is with this last line that I got myself pondering on how irresponsible businesspeople have been during the previous year, and how the impacts of that irresponsibility has trickled down to even the smallest of struggling businesses. At the beginning of 2013 however, I would like to let bygones be bygones, as the old adage goes. What is important to look forward to at this point is how we can strive to be responsible businessmen and entrepreneurs. Here are a few “New Year’s Resolutions” that might be helpful for influential people in the business field.

1. Listen. If there’s anything we can learn from the highlights and pitfalls of 2012, it is that it really does pay off well to know how to listen. Every business leader should understand how important it is to listen to anyone and everyone – employees, clients, customers, partners, and even competitors.

2. Prioritize. The modern marketplace is a complicated web of opportunities and distractions. Thus, a good many of wrong decisions and business disasters all boil down to this: misplaced priorities. Even if it may be a tempting idea to “test all the waters” or diversify one’s business interests, it is sometimes much wiser to stick to one area and excel there.

3. Innovate. In 2012, most of my articles have focused on new ideas and knowledge and emphasized the value of innovation in business. Needless to say, I am looking forward to 2013 being witness to the same quality and amount of innovations, if not more.

4. Balance. I know I’ve been saying this over and over, but here is a principle worth  hammering into every business person’s mind: Balance is everything. Too much of a good thing is bad, and too little of it only leads to mediocrity.

5. Look back and look forward. In my opinion, the two most essential skills a business man should learn are hindsight and foresight. A good business man must know how to look back at past successes and mistakes with a learning mind, and at the same time, how to anticipate the future with great care and insight.

Knut H. Nylænde is a Norwegian business man who currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Moxie AS, an Oslo-based investments firm which he founded. In KnutNylaende.com, Knut writes about his expertise in business in finance, as well as about relevant issues and events.