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Monthly Archive for January, 2010

What President Obama doesn’t get about creating small business jobs

In the two previous posts, I reported on things I liked about President Obama’s State of the Union speech and my critique of his specific small business jobs-creation ideas.  In this post, I predict that all of the tax credits, bank loans or other policy gyrations designed to influence small businesses to create new jobs will fall woefully short of a successful result because none of these issues are the reason businesses aren’t creating jobs. The reason for sluggish jobs creation is best described by paraphrasing a recent movie title: Mr. President, we’re just not that into your policy initiatives.  Here are the two issues Obama doubled-down on in his speech that are in direct conflict with his hope of new small business jobs.

Health care reform: Most Main Street small business owners will be reluctant to hire new employees as long as Obama and his party’s leadership push a health care reform agenda that sounds confusing at best and prohibitively expensive at worst.  Mr. President, if you want more small business jobs, scrap the current health care reform bill in Congress and start over with market-based solutions that make health insurance portable by giving tax advantages to the individual rather than the 20th century model of deductions for the employer.

Climate change legislation: America’s businesses, large and small, are already the most carbon-efficient in the world when the appropriate measurement is ascribed, per dollar of GDP.  Mr. Obama should congratulate businesses for this and encourage more of the same, instead of deriding and demotivating the marketplace with his climate-change policies that cause small businesses concern over what will happen to their energy budget if the current climate-change legislation is passed. 

President Obama, your current strategy for motivating small businesses to hire more people won’t work. You need better small business advisors who can prevent you from embarrassing yourself with statements and proposals that demonstrate how out-of-touch you are with Main Street.

Recently on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I reported in more detail on these issues. Take a few minutes to listen and, as always, let me know what you think the government can do to help small businesses hire more people. Listen Live! Download, Too!

The small business response to President Obama’s State of the Union Speech

In President Obama’s 2010 State of the Union speech he identified a number of issues that he apparently believed would appeal to Main Street small business owners. Alas, for the most part, his list merely revealed how out of touch he is with the challenges America’s small firms are facing today. Here are two of those points followed by my explanation of why the president needs better advisors when it comes to talking with small business owners.

$30 billion for community banks to loan to small business: On its face, this sound great, but as I have reported for almost two years, community banks don’t have a cash-for-loans problem; they have plenty of cash already and don’t want money - or the associated hassle - from the government. Nor do independent banks need more incentive to make small business loans. The overarching small business credit problem is not supply, but rather, demand. The condition of the economy is resulting in very little loan demand by small businesses. Wise up, Mr. President.

Eliminate capital gains for small business: It wouldn’t take a long conversation with any small business owner to discover that capital gains tax is their absolute least challenge as it virtually NEVER comes into play in the operation of their business, and any jobs creation as a result would be impossible to measure. In the list of the top 20 things that wake a small business owner up at night, capital gains tax wouldn’t appear. Mr. President, this is embarrassing.

Recently, on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked in greater detail about these and other issues in my small business response to President Obama’s state of the union speech. Take a few minutes to listen and let me know your thoughts on Obama’s plan for helping small businesses. Listen Live! Download, Too!

What I liked about Obama’s State of the Union Speech

During President Obama’s 2010 State of the Union speech he identified a number of issues that I give him high marks for. Here is my list:

Tax incentives for new hires:  The president proposed tax credits for new hiring by businesses. This is a great idea, but it’s about a year late so he needs to get this passed right away.

Free trade:  He included the need for more free trade agreements, including the one with Columbia that has been stuck in Congress for years.  He’ll have to fight forces in his own party to get this done.

Energy:  I give President Obama a high-five for proposing more nuclear power in America’s future, plus more drilling for our sovereign oil and gas deposits.  Again, he’ll have to deal with his own folks to make this happen.

Iran:  Mr Obama fired a shot across the bow of Iran; I have already predicted he would get a chance to make good on this stance in 2010.  If I’m right, we won’t have to wait long to see if Obama has the stones to back-up his rhetoric with action.

Recently, on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked about all of these issues.  Take a few minutes to listen and let me know what you thought about this speech. Listen Live! Download, Too!

Developing your small business exporting plan

Here’s an interesting fact: If you’re an American small business owner, 95% of your prospects live outside the U.S. Of course, there was a time when that stat meant little to most small firms. But in the 21st century, the Internet brings the world to your virtual doorstep.
Yes, if you sell something online to a customer in another country, that counts as exporting.  And Internet sales is a great way to develop a crawl-walk-run exporting strategy.  But when you’re ready to start thinking more in bulk and less in onesies, you’ll be happy to learn that there are organizations that are standing by to make full-fledged exporting almost as easy for a small business as selling on eBay.
Recently, Doug Barry joined me on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, to discuss how to develop and execute a comprehensive exporting plan with help from the government organizations, including prospecting, execution and the financial elements (like you getting paid). Doug is Director of Marketing and Communications for the U.S. Commercial Service, the global business solutions unit of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce. He is also a very important member of my Brain Trust.
Take a few minutes to listen to this conversation and let us know what we can do to help you execute your exporting plans. Listen Live! Download, Too!

A small business strategic plan for leading change

Most of us allow our minds to swing back and forth between dealing with the reality we see in front of us and nostalgia for the way things were. In the marketplace, spending too much time with the latter half of this pendulum swing is an indulgence at best, and dangerously delusional at worst. With change happening more rapidly than ever before, this increased velocity is challenging even when we like the new stuff, but it can be paralyzing when we don’t.

It’s a fool’s errand to just take the direct hits from the rapid-fire changes the world aims at our small businesses. Sustained success in our light-speed world requires developing a plan that identifies and establishes practices that help us anticipate change, manage it and actually lead with it.

Recently on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked with change expert, Rich Horwath, about developing a strategic plan that will set your business up to function effectively regardless what the world and the marketplace throws at you. Rich is a new member of my Brain Trust, founder and president of the Strategic Thinking Institute and author of four books including his latest, Deep Dive.

Take a few minutes to listen to our conversation, and let us know about your plan for leading change. Listen Live! Download, Too!

How long does an ice age take to develop?

Could global warming actually cause an ice age? If so, how long could one take to develop? That’s what many in the climate change camp are proposing.  But as you may know, I don’t drink that Kool-Aid.  In fact, my concern for what humans may be doing to the planet is only exceeded by my skepticism of the global warming doctrine.  Even if Al Gore is right, what would cause me to think that he and his ilk have THE answer to solve the problem?  How do they know how far to go?  What if they go too far and tip us into a “global cooling” scenario.  I don’t know about you, but I would rather be warm.

Nevertheless, I always enjoy talking with smart people about this topic, and I did enjoy such a conversation recently on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, with my friend and Brain Trust member, futurist, Joel Barker. Joel was the first person to popularize the concept of what happens when a paradigm shift causes something you’ve come to know and love to go back to zero. His book on paradigms, Future Edge, published in 1992, was listed as one of the most influential business books of that year by the prestigious Library Journal, and it has been used for more than a decade. Reading this book changed the way I look at the world, so when Joel speaks, I always listen, even if I have a different point of view.  By the way, Joel is also an outstanding film-maker, and his latest is called “Innovation at the Verge.”

Take a few minutes to listen to my conversation with Joel and, as always, let us know what flavor Kool-Aid you like. Listen Live! Download, Too!