Monthly Archive for August, 2010

Leading change successfully in your small business

There isn’t much different about change today from any other time in human history. A computer is just a fancy wheel.  But there is one thing about change that is so different that it has been taking our breath away for the past 15 years or so: It’s the velocity of change.

What I mean about velocity of change is that the time between one generation of change and the next one has been compressed.  Where a new strategy, product or plan might have lasted a year or more in past generations, today may be obsolete in 90 days.  Consequently, business leaders can’t just accept change or even manage change; we have to lead change.  Managing change requires acceptance and execution; leading change requires those things plus vision, courage and world-class leadership skills.

How can you lead change in your small business in the second decade of the 21st century? Recently, I talked about this on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, with Rick Maurer, a long time member of my Brain Trust and world-class expert on world-class change leadership. He is the author of several books, including Beyond the Wall of Resistance and Why Don’t You Want What I Want.

Please, take a few minutes to listen to what Rick and I have to say on leading change, and be sure to leave your own thoughts. Listen Live! Download, Too!

Navigating the uncertainty of small business taxes for 2011

Several months ago, I wrote an article that was titled, “The enemy of jobs creation is uncertainty.” In the article I identified several issues that were causing small business owners to be reluctant to invest or hire.  One of those things was - and still is - not knowing what the income tax burden will be in the future.  Today, there are several tax issues unresolved that will impact virtually every small business.

1.  The personal tax rate, the corporate tax rate and the capital gains tax rate: We still don’t know what Congress will do with the tax cuts from 2001-03, often called the “Bush tax cuts,” which are set to expire at the end of 2010.  Not knowing the tax implications creates frustration when trying to project profit margins or do retirement planning.  And if we have any assets that we might want to sell in the short-term, we feel pressure to sell them this year, since the cap gains rate may go up next year.

2.  The health care bill:  No one really knows how this new program will impact small businesses, both organizationally, financially or from a compliance standpoint.  Speaking of compliance, one of the big concerns involves the proposed 1099 reporting requirements that is an element of the health care bill. Every small business advocacy organization I’ve talked with in the past few months has said this new compliance requirement will be a nightmare for small businesses.

Recently, we polled visitors to my website about what the government should do with the expiring tax cuts. Over 80% of our respondents said the tax cuts should be extended.  If the government wants to get the economy going quicker, they will do everything they can to help small businesses understand what their future tax compliance requirements are as soon as possible.

Recently, on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show., I talked with small business tax expert, Barbara Weltman, about why current tax policies are creating a great deal of uncertainty among small businesses, including the new 1099 reporting provision. Barbara Weltman, is a tax attorney and author of many books on small business tax planning, including the J.K. Lasser series. I hope you will take a few minutes to listen to what Barbara has to say, and be sure to leave your comments. Listen Live! Download, Too!

Small businesses and the local chamber of commerce

One of the most important associations any small business should have is being a member - and one of the owners - of the local chamber of commerce.  I’ve been a member of mine since 1977.  Of course, chambers promote business in the local economy as well as economic development, but they also work on political advocacy issues locally, at the state level and in Washington, D.C.  Chambers also do something no other organization can do: they are able to cut across all of the boundaries between the different stakeholders in a community, like politics, education, arts, sports, etc.  No other organization can do this like your local chamber.

Notice that I used the word “owner” earlier. The chamber is a locally owned, non-profit corporation. It is what its owners make it. That’s you. To paraphrase a great man, ask not what your chamber can do for you - ask what you can do for your chamber.

Being a chamber member is the best investment you’ll make this year. The average annual dues - my estimate - is somewhere in the $250 range. For that kind of money you can’t afford not to be a member.

One of the pilgrimages we make each year is to support the American Chamber of Commerce Executives convention, which is a gathering of professionals who run the day-to-day operations of local chambers for those owners (you) mentioned earlier. For several years now, I’ve been broadcasting my show from this event, as I did this year in Milwaukee. Below are four of those interviews. Take a minute to read what we discussed and listen to the ones that you find interesting. And as always, let me know what you think?

Interview 1. Steve Baas, Government Relations Director for the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, and I discuss the importance of local chambers of commerce and what his chamber is doing to support small business. We also talk about some public policy issues, such as the 1099 reporting controversy.  Listen Live! Download, Too!

Interview 2. Steve Millard, President and CEO of Cleveland, Ohio’s Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), and I talk about what the Cleveland chamber is doing for small businesses, including advocating for revisions of the health care bill that hurt small businesses. Listen Live! Download, Too!

Interview 3. The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce president, Gary Toebben, and I discuss why chambers matter to small business and what his chamber is doing to get ready to host the ACCE’s convention next year. Listen Live! Download, Too!

Interview 4. Allen Hester, President and CEO of the Dyersburg, TN Chamber of Commerce, and I talk about how his chamber worked with federal and local authorities to help small businesses recover from the Tennessee floods of 2010.  Listen Live! Download, Too!

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