Small Businesses Shake Off 2009 Blues

By Elizabeth Blackwell, The

CHICAGO (TheStreet) — Trade shows don’t usually generate a lot of excitement. But everyone from politicians to business reporters have been stopping by this week’s Detroit Auto Show. The event’s got a lot riding on it: Not only are car manufacturers unveiling models they hope will lure back wary shoppers, but the show as a whole is seen as a bellwether for the health of the American economy.

Sure, it’s easy to dismiss certain elements of the show as hype. Manufacturers tout concept cars that may not ever make it to market. Models that look great on a stage under rock-star lighting may not be as appealing when they’re parked on a dealer’s lot. In many ways, hope trumps reality.

But that’s exactly why this year’s show is so important. While I rarely hold up Detroit as a model of effective strategic planning, the optimism that’s on display there is something small businesses should emulate.

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