Monthly Archive for January, 2010

Re-engaging employees in a time of great workplace stress

One of the unfortunate markers of the Great Recession is significant evidence of fear and anxiety in the workplace.  There is fear about job security, anxiety about financial loss, both real and imagined, and a general concern for the overall wellbeing of the country.  Sadly, even months into the recovery, vestiges of these emotions still prevail.  So, in a workplace charged with so much unproductive emotion, how do we as managers create an environment where our employees get and stay engaged? 

Recently, on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate, I talked with engagement expert, Leigh Branham, about some of the motivational challenges that are unique to this recovery for most employers. We talked about how re-engaging employees in a time of great workplace stress is a discipline that can and should be cultivated and leveraged.

A long-time member of my Brain Trust, Leigh is Principal of Keeping the People, Inc., and the author of The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave. Take a few minutes to listen to our conversation. And as always, leave your thoughts about your best motivational practices and greatest challenges. Listen Live! Download, Too!

The Dec 09 NFIB report of small business conditions

The recession may be over technically speaking, but that’s not how it feels to most small businesses on Main Street.  They’re still having a tough time getting enough customers to show up to grow sales and profits, and are not looking to make capital improvements or hire new employees to any great extent. 

It distresses me to report on this kind of news, but my job, as legendary sports announcer, Howard Cossell, used to say, is to tell it like it is. I believe 2010 will be a better year than 2009, but it doesn’t feel like that right now for many Main Street small businesses, especially retailers.

Of course, much of the small business conditions I report on comes from the high quality, peerless research of world-class economist, Dr. William Dunkelberg. Bill is professor of economics at Temple, chief economist for the NFIB and an invaluable member of my Brain Trust.  I used the word “peerless” earlier in referring to Bill’s work.  He has been tracking small business sentiments every month since 1971, throught all of the marketplace cycles. Any questions? 

Recently, Bill joined me on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, to discuss in detail the results of the Dec 09 NFIB’s Report of Small Business Economic Trends.  Take a few minutes to listen to this conversation and, as always, leave your own thoughts on the status of the economy as it relates to your business. Listen Live! Download, Too!

Tough love on buying a franchise

At a time of high unemployment, it’s natural for there to be increased interest in starting a small business. And one of the classic options is to look into buying a franchise because many thinks they’re like a business-in-a-box. 

Another thing that is part-and-parcel with these start-up scenarios is desperation, which leads to poor decision-making and way too many business failures.  Recently on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, Nick Bibby delivered some tough love that every prospective franchisee should experience before signing on a franchise dotted line. 

In addition to being a member of my Brain Trust, Nick is principal of the Bibby Group, an international consulting firm focused on the development of franchise systems, as well as due diligence services for prospective franchisees and independent entrepreneurs. Take a few minutes to listen to this interview and, as always, leave your thoughts and experiences on franchising. Listen Live! Download, Too!

Promoting women small business ownership

Women business owners are the fastest growing segment of the small business sector, currently representing around half of all business ownership.  And women have come a long way in their quest to overcome obstacles and challenges that are unique to them, such as access to credit, just to name one issue.
Since I first began broadcasting my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I’ve made it a point to include plenty of programming on women business ownership issues, which has created a number of important relationships with the best experts on women in business in the world.  Over the years, this group of experts and I have produced a significant body of work on this topic, of which we are very proud.
Recently two of the ladies in my Brain Trust have joined my on my show to talk about how women can start, run and grow their businesses.  First, Mary Cantando and I talked about women helping other women as she introduced her 2010 Woman’s Advantage Calendar. Mary is the author of The Woman’s Advantage and a recognized authority on women’s business initiatives. By the way, Mary mentions a special code that will get you a discount if you want to purchase her calendar.
Also joining me is one of the newest members of my Brain Trust, certified financial counselor,  Hollis Colquhoun (pronounced Calhoun), who is the co-author of Women Empowering Themselves: A Financial Survival Guide. We talked about how women can take control over their personal financial health while they do the same for their families. Take a few minutes to listen to my conversations with these very smart ladies. And be sure to let us know about your own experiences.
Mary Cantando’s interview: Listen Live! Download, Too!
Hollis Colquhoun’s interview: Listen Live! Download, Too!

The accidental small business owner: “Hobbypreneur”

A carpenter by profession, William Ackerman, was also a pretty good guitarist.  So much so, that he was in demand by his friends to bring his guitar and entertain at to their gatherings, which he did.  Soon, Will’s music, including his original songs, was in so much demand that he had to start recording his compositions on a cassette (yes, this was in the 1970s) and send them to his friends to play when he couldn’t be there in person.

As his guitar/songwriting hobby started to get out of hand, it occurred to him that this demand could justify more of his attention, and thus, Wyndham Hill publishing was founded from Will Ackerman’s hobby, to produce and sell Will’s music as well as other artists, most notably, George Winston. At one point, Wyndham Hill was the only record label that customers bought because of the quality and genre of the product, regardless of the artist.

Will Ackerman’s story is just one of a legion of other accidental small business owners that have recently become known as “hobbypreneurs.” Steve King, a partner at Emergent Research, joined me recently on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, to talk about what he learned about hobbypreneurs when he conducted Intuit’s New Future of Small Business Report: Like Will Ackerman, many small businesses are started by people who turned their hobby, often accidentally, into a going business concern.

Take a few minutes to listen to what Steve and I talk about and leave your own experiences as a hobbypreneur. Listen Live! Download, Too!

Getting Gen X, Gen Y and Boomers working together

Never before in the history of the workplace have so many generations, with so many diverging qualifications, cultures and values, worked together.  When Baby Boomers joined the workforce beginning in the 60s, they had energy, brains and some education, but not much in the way of specific skills that an employer could use. Boomers had to learn from their managers how to be productive. Therefore, their value came over time, after gaining experience and training.  And of course, with so much to learn, it was difficult for this generation to justify an attitude as they joined the workplace.

As Gen X and Gen Y come aboard, they are bringing all of the things Boomers had, plus technical skills that allow them to be productive immediately. Often their technical acumen day-one is better than that of their veteran managers. With that background often comes what is perceived by managers and small business employers as an attitude and aloofness at best, and rudeness and disrespectfulness at worst.

So how do we get the generations to find common ground so they can communicate and work more effectively together without creating a casualty list? Recently on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, Mike Muetzel and I discussed all of these issues between Gen X and Gen Y with Baby Boomers. Mike is a long-time member of my Brain Trust, founder of Mx Marketing, Management Solutions, and author of, They’re Not Just Aloof…Just Generation X.

Take a few minutes to listen to what Mike and I talk about on this very important and contemporary topic. And, of course, be sure to let us know about your perspectives, experiences and solutions. Listen Live! Download, Too!




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