I really enjoy Richard Mulvey's views on things. Here's his latest

I have a friend who insists on looking negatively at everything he sees.

"It's going to be a tough year", he said to me last night. "Many small businesses will be out of business by the end of the year and some of the larger businesses will have to batten down the hatches if they are to stay afloat." And you know what? He's right about one thing. We are in for a tough year. I guess you are agreeing with me already. We have seen it on the TV; we read it in the Newspapers. We hear it from almost everybody we talk to. It is going to be a tough year; and I am delighted.

History tells us that we will have years like this every so often. Some people will tell you that they come on a cycle every 4, or 7 or 11 years. These are the same people who tell you that there is a big wave every 7 and I am not sure I believe that either, I just know that every so often we get a challenging year and 2008 is going to be one here in South Africa.

I have no intention in listing the challenges you and I will be facing this year, you know them off by heart. You have read them in the paper and your next door neighbour delights on supporting these articles with statistics to prove that he was right all the time to worry. You will see them in your e-mail from people who delight is sending bad news with headings like "I told you things were bad", or "Finally someone tells the truth".

But I am delighted this year is going to be a tough one. We need it. We have had it easy for the last few years and complacency is beginning to set in. Business has been easier to get in the past few years and many of us thought (hoped) that this would go on for ever. Well I have news for you. Nothing lasts forever.

My industry (training and communication) is a good example. There is a restively low entry barrier in this industry and the rewards are good, if you know what you are doing. This low entry barrier has, over the last five years or so, encouraged thousands of people to take their retrenchment package and become a business speaker or trainer. Most don't make it. It seems like an easy business, however you need to know what you are doing, and be prepared for three or more lean years while you are learning the trade and creating a name for yourself.

This year is going to be a tough year and those people who entered this industry as a soft option to earn a good salary in the last 10 years of their working life will just fall by the wayside. I have some friends in the National Speakers Association who will be amongst the casualties. I will be sorry to see them go but go they must.

This is true of many industries. The marginal businesses, "also rans" and "hangers on" will be swept away with the high tide leaving the way open in the next few years for the rest of us to prosper.

The title of this article is "A rising tide sinks all ships" but this is only true if the ships are securely anchored to the sea bed on a fixed cable.

The businesses that are going to prosper this year and benefit from the lack of competition over the next few years will be the ones that understand that you cannot just stand still and wait for the business to come to you.

If you do the same things this year as you did last year you are destined for disaster. The businesses that succeed will be the ones that take action and change their approach to meet the challenges of the year ahead.

Action is the mother of opportunity.

It is going to be a tough business year this year but if you can be successful this year you will be amongst the few, and you (and I) are in for a bumper few years ahead.

This article is written and published by Richard Mulvey who can be contacted on www.richardmulvey.com. You may re-publish this article in any media as long as it is not altered in any way and it contains this final paragraph