Why 2014 Has Been a Good Year -- and Next Year May Be Even Better Economic and technology improvements have given professional services companies much to appreciate.
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The recession has long ended and the professional services industry is rebounding. Professional services jobs in industries like accounting, engineering and marketing have accounted for more than 1 in 4 nonfarm jobs created in the last 12 months.
If the last year has proved to be pretty good for professional services in the United States, 2015 may be even brighter. This holiday season, consider three trends and some ideas for making next year even better.
1. Create systems to channel the growth.
It's all too easy to focus on the things that hurt while trying to grow a business: the challenges of hiring good people, the demands of needing to procure more and bigger clients each month and the stress of delivering higher-stakes projects.
But be thankful that you're probably not stressing over firing your best people, looking at an empty pipeline or going into the holidays with a bare cupboard.
A big part of growing your business without your stress and workload climbing even faster is to systemize the business. The things you used to to do with a whiteboard or spreadsheet can falter as your team grows. What you used to do from memory yourself now requires delegation to newer faces on your team.
If you find yourself daydreaming on the holidays about improvements, start by thinking about how to replace processes that rely on you and your partners with a system.
2. Harness tech solutions.
Another trend to be thankful for is that technology is finally arriving at professionals' aid. While smartphones and cloud technology are making people's personal lives easier and more convenient, new tech solutions are making it easier to manage businesses, too.
From software that forecasts how profitable a business will be next month to time-saving collaboration tools that allow for spending less time on administrative tasks and updating systems, technology is increasingly helping professionals automate their businesses so there's less chaos and more fun at work.
3. Enjoy being selective about projects.
During this economic upswing, a sizable portion of the jobs created have been in the professional services industries. This category encompasses 14 percent of all jobs in the U.S. economy but is creating more than 25 percent of new nonfarm positions.
This gives you something else to be thankful about: You can probably afford to be a bit more selective about the clients and projects accepted. In a recession, just about any client will do, and professionals justify horrible projects and accounts as "learning experiences."
But some clients are better fits than others and now businesses can be more discerning of the projects accepted. Most likely these clients and projects will be bigger, involve more people and run for longer periods. This will allow you to hire more employees to keep revenue flowing and ensure that your business continues to grow -- as long as it's managed properly and you don't trip over your shoelaces as you start running faster with bigger projects on your hands.
As someone who has taken on the risk of running your own business, you deserve to enjoy your job. In approaching the New Year, focus on how you can optimize your business to take full advantage of tools that can make your life easier and your more business more successful with the solid foundation built in 2014.