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Monthly Archive for November, 2008

Practicing appreciation and thanksgiving

Clearly we’re living in unprecedented economic times right now, at least within the past 60 years. And with such a long list of uncertainties in our world today, it can sometimes be difficult to find the perspective to feel thankful and appreciate what we have. But there are a few other areas that are unprecedented the other way. Could you use some help getting started with your list? Here are just a few global examples:

• At the end of World War II, there were approximately 20 democracies on planet Earth. Today there are more than 120 – unprecedented freedom.

• Medical science is delivering wonderful healing and preventative products and services everyday which not long ago were just dreams – unprecedented healing.

• Billions of Earthlings have access to the Internet, many in parts of the world where 20 years ago they might not have had access to a newspaper – unprecedented knowledge.

• Entrepreneurship is becoming a dominant force in the global marketplace, and small business ownership is seen as a top career path by young people around the world – unprecedented self-determination.

Our list of 21st century blessings is also long and enough to embarrass us when we start to think that our world isn’t working anymore.

In a recent interview with Mike Robbins, author of “Focus on the Good Stuff: The Power of Appreciation”, we talked about how to get into, and keep, the spirit of thanksgiving all year long. Take a few minutes to listen to our conversation, and share your own thoughts on thanksgiving.

Small business e-commerce can deliver sales growth

Even during these challenging economic times there is one thing that is still going up: online sales. But as more and more consumers and businesses are making purchases online there is one disturbing statistic that I’ve heard recently: half of small businesses still don’t have a website. Unbelievable.

Today I interviewed Brain Trust member Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com, on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, and we discussed the many reasons that every business should have a presence online, even if only to let prospects know what you sell as they shop around in cyberspace.

At a time when all businesses are trying to maximize every sales opportunity, listen to what Patrick and I had to say about ways to help with your small business’ online strategy. Oh, and if you have a comment or something to add, give it your best shot in the comments section.

Home-based business strategies during the holidays

A home-based business can sometimes get lost in the twin challenges of the holiday retail frenzie of consumers and the push by businesses to have a strong year-end finish. So how do home-based businesses and other micropreneurs keep themselves in front of customers during the winter holiday period?

Chief Home Officer and long time Brain Trust member, Jeff Zbar, and I talked about this challenge on my radio program today. One of the things we agreed on was that all December sales activity should have the combined purpose of current sales as well as establishing opportunities for the 1st quarter of next year.

Click below to listen to what Jeff and I have to say about this important topic, and share some of your own best practices for year-end activity, whether you’re home-based or not.

Small business preparation for economic challenges

What steps do you have to take to prepare your small business for the challenges of an economic downturn? Everything has to be scrutinized, from expenses, especially payroll, to inventory, to capital expenditures, to customer relationships, the list is long.

Of course, all managers want to make these preparations. And even if you have the foresight to see what must be done, having the discipline to take those actions is another matter, isn’t it?

This week I talked with Brain Trust member Stephen Baum, author of “What Made Jack Welch, Jack Welch,” on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, about the survival practices of the managers he works as a Vistage leader and CEO coach, and we talked about these practices. He said that some of the managers in his group began taking survival steps several months ago.

Click on the “Listen” link to learn more about what Stephen had to say, and comment on what you’re doing in your business.

Small business redemption with customers

There is an old marketplace proverb that goes: a happy customer will tell a friend, but an unhappy customer will tell ten friends. Well, that was a nice trip down memory lane, wasn’t it?

Today we have this thing called the Internet and all of its attendant vectors and applications, and in Internet terms, here’s the same proverb with a 21st century update: a happy customers will tell a friend, but an unhappy customer will tell the world by posting his indignation online.

So, how can you prevent such exposure to your small business in the first place? And how do you simultaneously redeem a relationship when your organization inevitably falls short of a customer’s expectation?

I interviewed Neil Creighton, with RatePoint, about the answer to these questions. We discussed how to use the power of the Internet with certain applications that can help you protect and leverage your business’ reputation. Click here to listen to what Neil had to say about this and, if you want, please offer your thoughts in the comments section.

Some Thoughts on Platforms

By Jim Blasingame ©2008 All Rights Reserved

Do you know what a jet fighter is? If you said airplane, you’re only half right. In the strict nomenclature, a jet fighter is considered a weapons platform.

In that sense, the human body - this vessel of protoplasm we drive around - is not really what a human is. It’s actually a delivery platform for the will of our spirit; the true life force that is who we really are.

One of the things I have observed about humans is that we often don’t understand, and therefore tend to under-employ, the power of our spirit. We seem so obsessed with the body that we don’t spend enough time contemplating the presence and power of the spirit.

Someone once told me how little of our brain’s power we actually use. I don’t remember the percentage but I do remember it was astonishingly low. I wonder if there is a connection between under-usage of the brain and limited awareness of the spirit.

Author and philosopher Colin Wilson wrote, “We possess such immense resources of power that pessimism is a laughable absurdity.” The power he’s talking about is that of the spirit.

Pessimism can’t be overcome by our bodies. Dealing with frustration and overcoming disappointment are both tasks performed way above the pay-grade of protoplasm. If you are a small business owner you either already understand this, or are acquiring that understanding a little more every day.

I’ve been a small business owner for a long time and have observed others far longer. I can’t imagine how any of us could do what we do without a strong spirit. The challenge is to become more aware of your spirit and flex it - like a muscle - to your advantage.