Some exciting developments may be looming on the horizon, blazing a trail of faster activity and hopefully vibrant growth after the recent years of stagnation experienced in many parts of the world. Easy to believe if you choose to pay attention to the Chinese Astrological forecasts for the Year of the Horse and its caveats. Ready to find out more? The Previous Year The year of the Water Snake was one that advised consolidation, cool calculations, and deep thought before taking incisive strategic strikes. It was the time for middle-ground diplomacy, secrecy and planning. What’s Different about the Year of the Horse Consider the Horse instead. Regardless of your cultural stand point we associate horses with the very opposite: speed, competition on the race track, a symbol of travelling. We hope the Year of the Horse brings movement and growth to our economies, and freedom to move on from the difficult times. Horses bring to mind images of freedom, passion, temper and the need to be reined in. Think Fire and Heat and you are on the right track. With these tempting images of energy and progress, come caveats against recklessness. Actionable Insights from the Year of the Horse You may not give much credence to astrological forecasts; nevertheless a lot of hidden wisdom can be uncovered when we look at the issues brought to light in the year of the wood horse. #1. Let’s leave austerity behind Our economies have consolidated, re-organised and practiced rounds of austerity, following the chaos of the Dragon year 2012 and previous economic free-fall experienced in most Western economies. It’s time to let go of austerity and free up resources for growth and employment. Time to re-energize our economies with injections that invest employment focused policies. #2. Move in the right direction The Wood element brings temperance and reason to the otherwise spirited nature of the Horse’s forward movement. In forecasts it implies a forward looking, modern outlook, not just change for its own sake. Therefore if and when growth presents itself, let’s make sure the changes we put in place create genuine systematic improvements that deliver better practices and genuine progress to the way we do things. Governments should promote policies that are non-regressive, developmental and improve the opportunities of the many, not just the few, as our economies eventually recover. Growth is pointless if it protects the status quo that led to the last disaster. Expansion is meaningless if wealth creation does not benefit society as a whole. #3. Taming the wild side Horses have been a useful animal to civilization due to their energy and intelligence, but only when their wildness had been tamed and trained. Energy and growth is useful to any economy, but unchecked growth leads to bubbles, speculative exploitation and destructive chaos. As a business, fast victories and unchecked growth with no strategic destination can bring short term gain but detriment long term. Avoid the mistakes of overspending, enabling others, and denying when there is a problem. When planning for growth are you also planning to maintain the high quality and standards you promise your customers? Or do you risk alienating and disappointing them? When planning for growth are you ensuring the resources exist to support your team as their output increases? #4. An unexpected adventure It is said you have to act fast in a Horse year. Decisive action, not procrastination, could be the key to success when things start speeding up, so be ready to react quickly to stay ahead in a changing environment. It could be a year of extremes and fast change but in any direction…. Here’s the Caveat: if you are not 100% secure about a decision and didn’t do your homework, then don’t do it. Keep up to date with the latest technology and understand your environment. #5. Travel beyond your comfort zone Simply put, it’s time to take some calculated risks; invest and explore other avenues. We now know that some markets or methods depended upon in the past (pre-economic boom), are no longer viable. Time to look further afield to emerging markets and new practices such as e-commerce or digital marketing. Reach further or stagnate. #6. Develop animal instinct and intuition Those trying to make quick decisions in unexplored territories require intuition and it is said those born in the year of the Horse have great hunches and instinct. Intuition doesn’t come from out of the blue, it comes from observing the world keenly. In an era of accelerating technological changes especially in the digital sphere, this means structuring your organisation to monitor the environment, listen for change, adapt to it and learn on the go easily. #7. Get it out in the open In an era of Wikileaks and privacy issues, the world as a whole could learn a lot about undoing the damage wrought by these revelations in the previous year. Unchecked and left to fester, this will be detrimental to growth as lack of trust forces people to refrain from engaging freely. The horse is about self-expression, limelight and freedom of movement. We could see more of this in 2014 politically and economically. From a business point of view perhaps it’s time to be creative and invest in some limelight too. What are you doing to promote your business and are you networking? The Caveat: when promoting yourself with style and flourish don’t forget the substance. #8. Learn from equine types And then there are those born in the year of the horse. They are said to be full of energy, affability, warmth, intelligence and ability. Being bright, cheerful, popular, and fun loving, they can be deemed sociable and expressive. One may also associate a certain air of nobility to those of equine ability and they care about their outward appearance, speech and appearance.They may be stubborn and rebellious but they also have endurance. Have you got what it takes to ride out the year of the Horse? Time to straighten up and brush off the dust of yester year. Chin up now, put on a big smile, reach out for a warm handshake and brace for impact! Agree or Disagree? What is your business advice for the year ahead? Images: ”2014 is the year of the wood horse and the lucky color of the year is green. Photo manipulation of a wood horse in the clouds with “2014” written in clouds above. / Shutterstock.com“ __________________________________________________________________________________ Connect with Tweak Your Biz: Would you like to write for Tweak Your Biz? Tweak Your Biz is an international, business advice community and online publication. Today it is read by over 140,000 business people each month (unique visitors, Google Analytics, December, 2013). See our review of 2013 for more information. An outstanding title can increase tweets, Facebook Likes, and visitor traffic by 50% or more. Generate great titles for your articles and blog posts with the Tweak Your Biz Title Generator. Want to get your business featured on Tweak Your Biz? Check out #TYBspotlight.