Keywords have become the currency of the digital economy. They transmute into cash when you attract the right prospective customers to your Web site.

In Internet searches, the right key words will also deliver the right data – saving you time and money while increasing revenue.

If you’re like most businesspeople, you have your favorite Web sites, which are often trade or profession-specific.

You probably get great newsletters, too.

No one is able to accurately predict what the future holds for your business.

But you can influence it, of course, by acting on the best information available.

Your best bet for a crystal ball depends on a couple of things — having a good awareness of human nature and having an understanding of developing trends throughout the nation and the globe.

To develop your crystal ball, here’s a potpourri of Web sites that provide some enlightening answers:

National Bureau of Economic Research

The private, nonprofit organization is a wealth of economic data that has been providing information regarding the workings of the economy since 1920.

The organization does not predict recessions but is regarded as the authority on the nation’s economic health and determining whether a recession has actually occurred.

If you’re a member of a “qualifying organization,” you can sign up for daily updates on economic indicators at Otherwise, there’s a nominal charge.

Your best bet for a crystal ball depends on a couple of things — having a good awareness of human nature and having an understanding of developing trends throughout the nation and the globe.

Federal Reserve outlook

Current information works best if you also have a sense of history. You can access the government’s current and historical data, including the last four decades at

Retail sales

Retail sales data is available at This is helpful information as you finalize your product orders and plan your advertising dollars.


You can get wide-ranging clues from the National Association of Home Builders, Admittedly, it is designed to influence policy, but the site also has far-reaching data ranging from the housing industry to consumer-oriented home and remodeling information.

Airline and travel

Face time is important for selling to customers. But it is not fun if your flights are delayed or cancelled. There are at least four helpful travel sites:,, and

Small business loans

The Small Business Administration, of course, provides loans to qualified small businesses.

Naturally, it is no secret that federal agencies can be a desirable target for small businesses. Federal agencies indeed are huge opportunities. But the Small Business Administration,, confirms that federal agencies do not meet their quotas in contracting with small firms. For each agency, the quota is to award 23 percent of contracts to small business.

Here are the requirements: 5 percent to disadvantaged businesses; 5 percent to female-owned businesses; 3 percent to service-disabled veterans; and 3 percent to small firms in defined enterprise zones.

Newsletters of consulting firms

While many successful consulting firms charge for helpful studies in the form of newsletters, a substantial number are complementary, such as some from McKinsey & Company,

Internet security and identity theft are huge threats. My favorite consultant in Internet security is a guru, Dr. Stan Stahl, at Be sure to sign up for his weekly security update.

From the Coach’s Corner, if you need capital, here is some helpful information: “What No One Tells You about Raising Investment Capital.”

For information on mounting a business comeback, see “Step-by-Step Solutions for a Company Turnaround.”

What does the future hold generally for the economy and your business? Not to be a broken record, but in order to design a strategic plan to maximize your resources, you’ll want to complete a SWOT analysis to determine your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. But you’ll probably need answers from external sources.

For more on how to conduct a SWOT Analysis, visit: “Boeing, Airbus Rivalry: Lessons in Strategic Planning.” Once you conduct your SWOT you can start your strategic planning.

“Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant.”

-Mitch Kapor


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is also a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.