Monthly Archive for September, 2010

Are we headed for a new world order? Should we be?

It’s been two years since much of the world’s financial institutions started demonstrating just how flawed they’ve been in their practices and values. Since the major meltdown in September 2008, a lot of what we thought we knew about the institutions we’ve counted on as the backbone of capitalism - banks, Wall Street, public corporations and the federal government - have been proven to not be worthy of our confidence.  Indeed, many of those organizations - GM, Chrysler, Lehman Brothers, Fanny Mae, Freddie Mac, the list is long - are either not there anymore or crippled versions of their former selves.

So what’s next? The global marketplace - and its relationship with government - is experiencing a gut-check right now and one thing is clear: Where we’re going isn’t going to look like where we’ve been.

Recently, on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked with my friend and Brain Trust member, Bill Halal about his ideas on this topic.  Bill is Professor Emeritus of Science, Technology & Innovation at George Washington University, author of Technology’s Promise and founder of the website, Techcast.org.  Be prepared: Bill and I often don’t agree. But he’s one of the smartest guys I know, he is intellectually honest, and I place a high value on his contribution to the debate. Consequently, Bill Halal will always have a place to offer his ideas on my show.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen to our conversation, and be sure to leave your own thoughts. Listen Live! Download, Too!

Mobile apps are in your small business’ future

Recently, a friend said to me, “Apps are everything.” In this case “app” means application.

Webster says an application is something useful. Today, “app” typically means a computer application designed to convert a complicated digital program into a handy but powerful tool that will make life and work more productive.

The hyperbolic reference my friend made was to mobile applications. If you have one of the mobile “smart phones,” like an Apple iPhone or one that uses Google’s Droid software, you know that mobile apps are diminutive digital power tools you can download to your smart phone – Google has thousands and Apple has tens-of-thousands. These apps put a world of capability, information and connectivity literally in the palm of your hand and at the command of a thumb.

According to Google’s CEO, Eric Schmitt, his company expects to be more successful in the future with mobile platforms – smart phones, iPad, etc., than with PCs. However, nothing Schmitt prophesied can happen without the mobile app. If he’s correct – and I think he is – this means mobile apps will become a bigger part of our lives. But more importantly, they will become a bigger part of our customers’ lives. And that possibility is something on which every small business owner must focus today.

Mobile apps, which are too sexy for your desktop, do two very compelling things: 1) They put power in your hand; and 2) They take the cool computer desktop user experience you enjoy to a higher orbit of cool.

Hockey great, Wayne Gretzky, said the key to his success was the ability to skate where the puck is going instead of where it is. If you want to know where your customers are going with regard to how they will find you, connect with you, prefer you to connect with them and even do business with you, you have to start skating toward mobile apps.

Get started by doing these things today: 1) If you don’t own a smart phone, buy one and start using it so you can see what your customers are falling in love with; 2) Hire your web developer to do these two things in this order: a) make sure your online information presents well on mobile platforms; and b) build a mobile app for your business that customers can download to their smart phones.

Whether you’re Google or Grandma’s Diner, mobile apps may not actually be everything, but they are becoming an increasingly essential way for your small business to stay relevant with customers.

Skate to where customers are going: toward mobile apps.

Recently, I talked about movile apps on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen, and be sure to leave your thoughts. Listen Live! Download, Too!

Small business owners answer questions about growth

One of the big issues these days is why the economy isn’t growing. Many people believe one reason is because businesses, especially small ones, are so uncertain about the future that they aren’t taking the risks associated with growth activity, like hiring more people, borrowing money or other expansion steps.

We wanted to know what small business owners think about this, so we asked our NEWSLETTER subscribers and website visitors to tell us about their perspectives on growth opportunity. Here is the question we asked: Please, tell us where you fall in this issue. “I am not taking growth steps because…”

Here’s how our respondents answered:

23% said:  I’m worried about the economy in general.

15% said:  I can’t get financing to fund growth opportunities.

58% said:  Government actions make me uncertain about the future.

4% said:  We are not experiencing growth opportunities

Perhaps the good news is that only four percent of our respondents indicated they were not experiencing growth opportunities.  The bad news is, as you can see above, 96% of responders were so troubled by three issues that they either can’t or aren’t growing their businesses.

These responses track pretty closely with others I have seen lately.  There is no way to sugar-coat this: When small business owners are troubled, the economy is troubled.  I don’t know what’s going to happen next, but I do know that my prediction earlier this year in an article titled, “The shape of this recovery is M” is coming to pass. This recovery is more of a marathon not a sprint.

But we’ve come too far to quit now.  This is no hill for a climber, and you’re a climber.  I’m proud of you. You should be proud of yourself.

To participate in next week’s poll question, visit www.smallbusinessadvocate.com and vote.



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