Monthly Archive for January, 2012

Connecting with global prospects and getting paid

This is the second of two articles on small businesses going global.

In the first article, I allowed that it can be exciting for business leaders to imagine a global prospect base of more than seven billion people. But for a small business to imagine an export strategy, it’s at once exciting and intimidating because of the three elemental global business questions, the first of which we focused on last time: Who are my global prospects? Now let’s focuses on the other two: How to connect with them and how to get paid.

The good news is that there are two government agencies standing by to answer both of these questions. Each one provides digital information, human assistance and global networks designed to help a small business maximize its opportunity to create and execute a successful export strategy.

The, “How do I connect with global prospect?” question can be answered by the U.S. Commercial Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce. This should be your first stop for educationon finding and converting global prospects into customers.

When you consider all of their resources, the U.S. Commercial Service is a virtual one-stop shop for developing and executing a small business export strategy: a great website (; a toll-free number (800-872-872) answered by a real person; over 100 offices around the U.S., plus dozens more around the globe you can walk right into and ask for help; and their book, A Basic Guide to Exporting, includes an excellent tutorial and several case studies.

All of that help is free, with the exception of the book and any direct expenses incurred on your behalf.

Export-Import Bank of the United States ( can answer the “how do I get paid” question on many levels.

Part of the U.S. government, Ex-Im Bank will assist with the financial elements of your export sale. They will working with the banks on both sides of the transaction to coordinate funds transfers, provide loan guarantees, and even pre-delivery working capital for you and post-delivery financing for your customer.

For generations, big firms have owned the franchise on global business. But shifts in technology and demographics are making the global marketplace more compelling and feasible for small businesses.

Contact these two organizations and let them help you develop a global business strategy.

The global marketplace – and 7 billion prospects – are waiting for you.

I talked more about identifying your global prospects and growing your business through exporting on my radio show this week. Take a few minutes and click on one of the links below to listen or download.

Identifying prospects for your global business strategy

Connecting with global prospects and get paid

Check out more great SBA content HERE!

Small Business Advocate Poll: Who will be the GOP nominee?

The Question:
Regardless of the political party you belong to, which of these GOP candidates do you think would be the most likely to defeat President Obama?

16% - Newt Gingrich

77% - Mitt Romney

5% - Ron Paul

2% - Rick Santorum

As you may know, over a year ago I predicted that Newt Gingrich would be leading the polls by the end of 2011 among the GOP hopefuls for president. This was not an endorsement; just an instinct. All during the year I took a lot of grief from my political experts about that forecast. But, as you know, my 2011 vision was vindicated.

When it came time to make my 2012 predictions, my gut told me to stick with my original instincts and not underestimate Newt Gingrich. But then my head intervened.

Everyone knows that Obama has the most formidable national re-election organization - and war chest - in the history of America. Then I learned that Mitt Romney has a formidable national campaign organization that can go the distance with Obama and that Gingrich has virtually no national organization and is week-to-week financially. And Romney, it seemed to me, would be the best at coalescing independent voters over to the GOP side of the ballot. Therefore, I went with my head instead of my gut, and predicted Romney would be the 2012 Republican nominee.

My reasoned prediction was in pretty good shape for a while, until a tectonic shift happened in South Carolina on Saturday, where Gingrich accomplished nothing short of a smack-down. He won the state by taking 40% of the vote in the GOP primary to Romney’s 28%. Santorum and Paul split the rest.

Last week, Gingrich had a potentially devastating, roller-coaster week. So when you combine that with the considerable experience and instincts of so many political pundits favoring Romney, plus my prediction and our recent poll results (see below), perhaps at no time since Truman upset Dewey in ‘48 have so many professionals and regular folk exclaimed in national unison, “Whoa! Didn’t see that coming.”

Politically speaking, South Carolina is a long way from Tampa, Florida, where the Republican National Convention will be held in August. Gingrich has proven that his message resonates with conservatives. But he has two huge mountain ranges to climb before he moves into the White House: 1) win over independents; and 2) put together a national organization that can stay with Obama for all four quarters of this Super Bowl of politics.

If you love politics, it doesn’t get any better than this. If you love America, surely the raw beauty of this process is one of the reasons. God bless America.

Today on my radio show I talked with Rich Galen, Publisher of and Republican strategist, about which GOP candidates had the best chance to become the nominee and defeat Obama in November. Take a few minutes to click here and listen to our predictions.

Check out more great SBA content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Identifying your small business global prospects

In case you haven’t heard, the seven billionth Earthling was born recently.

For the global marketplace, seven billion prospects are exciting. But for growing American small businesses, 96% of those folks live outside the U.S.

Once, small business growth meant expanding to the next county. But in the 21st century, shifts in technologies and demographics have made expanding outside America’s four-walls increasingly compelling. But it has also produced three elemental global business questions: Who are my prospects, how do I connect with them and how do I get paid? Let’s focus on the “Who” first, with these global stats from National Geographic” (January 2011), plus my editorializing.

  • Nineteen percent of Earthlings are Chinese, 17% are Indian and 4% are American. By 2030, the first two will invert.
  • By gender, males barely edge out females: 1.01 to 1.0. But my demographic experts report wide swings in median age among countries, which must factor in any export strategy.
  • In a historical shift, just over half of Earthlings are now urbanites. Remember, city folk use different stuff than their country cousins.
  • Here are global workplace profiles: 40% of us work in services, 38% in agriculture and 22% in industry. This means different things to different industries, but it means something to all businesses.
  • English is the international language of business, but is the first language of only 5% of global prospects. When doing business outside the U.S., be culturally sensitive and patient with the translation process.
  • Breaking news: 82% of your global prospects are literate. If you can read and write you can improve your life, which explains the growth of the middle class in emerging markets. A growing global middle class means more affluent consumers.
  • Computers are luxuries for most Earthlings. But cell phone usage is exploding across the globe and billions who never owned a PC, or used the Internet, will soon do both with a smart phone. Two words, Benjamin: global mobile.

Even though India and China are much in the news, American small businesses should consider export opportunities in our own hemisphere first, especially where trade agreements are in place, like Canada, Mexico, Panama, Colombia and Chile.

In the next article we’ll address the other two elemental questions: How to connect with global prospects and how to get paid.

Consider business growth outside of America’s four walls.

I have an extensive library of interviews with many exporting experts on Click here to listen or download any that look interesting.

Check out more great SBA content HERE!

Teach others what you’ve learned

Since those whom we manage look to us for guidance, we should think of ourselves as teachers.  We teach others what we have learned so that knowledge can be leveraged through their performance.

And don’t be afraid to show your passion for your ideas. Allowing employees to see passion and conviction in our words, actions and style is a good thing, and it’s also contagious.

The market is a rude place, indifferent to our very existence let alone whether we succeed or fail. Perfection has never been attainable by mere mortals. Excellence is possible, but only those with high standards are capable of achieving it and only as a result of positive critical evaluation of our own efforts and those we manage.

Humans work best when they know that there is a safe harbor; where redemption is available to those who fail while trying their best and where they will be encouraged to continue to take initiative in the quest for excellence.

This week on my radio show I talked with Terry Neese, President and CEO, the Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women, about National Mentor Month and the work she does mentoring women business owners in Afghanistan and Rwanda. Take a few minutes to click on the links below and listen to our conversation. Terry’s work is truly inspiring!

Celebrating National Mentor Month with Terry Neese

You might be a mentor without knowing it with Terry Neese

Check out more great SBA content HERE!

Small Business Advocate Poll: How are you feeling about your business in 2012?

The Question:
How are you feeling about your business in 2012?

23% - Excited - it already looks like a good year.

50% - Positive - it’s looking better than last year.

27% - Uncertain - we’re still just hanging on.

Jim’s Comments:
For almost two years, we’ve been polling our audiences (radio/Internet/Newsletter) on how you feel about business prospects. Our last poll is probably the seventh time on this topic. In my career I’ve never seen so much consistence in attitude about the economy over such a long period of time. Last week we asked this question: “How are you feeling about your business in 2012?” Here’s what we learned.

A little less than one-fourth of our respondents said they were, “Excited - it already looks like a good year,” and a little more than one-fourth said they were, “Uncertain - we’re still just hanging on.” The group in the middle, who said they were, “Positive - it’s looking better than last year,” made up half of our sample.

As I indicated in my 2012 predictions, there isn’t going to be any attitude changes on Main Street until after we know who the next president is going to be.

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Check out more great SBA content HERE!

Small business success fundamentals for 2012

Don’t worry – this column isn’t about resolutions; resolutions are optional.

This is about fundamentals that have served businesses since humans decided to trade with each other instead of taking what we wanted by force.

Focusing on these ten fundamentals will help you have the maximum opportunity to find success in 2012.

  1. Cash is still King. Managing the relationship between accounts payable and accounts receivable is as essential to survival for your business as breathing is to you.
  2. Declare war on excess inventory. Don’t let one piece of inventory spend a night under your roof unless it’s turning or paid for.
  3. Convert non-performing assets to cash. What things were worth last year has no bearing on what they’re worth today, and they will be worth less tomorrow. If it’s not being used, cut it loose.
  4. Employees spend most of your cash. Ask them to identify ways to find efficiencies and maximize margins. Install these into the new year’s budget and operation.
  5. Review all operational steps and eliminate, or fix, inefficiencies. My friend, Michael Stallard, recommends the four “Ws,” “What works, what doesn’t, what do we stop and what do we continue.”
  6. Outsourcing is a best practice. Call a planning meeting and ask this question about every task in your operation: “Must this be done in-house?” Everything that does not directly “touch” a customer is a non-core competency and a candidate for outsourcing.
  7. Keep your banker informed about business opportunities AND challenges. The title of the shortest book ever written is “Loan Officer Courage.” An uninformed banker is a scared banker and you’ll never get help from a scared banker.
  8. Success burns cash. Prepare a financial projection that anticipates at least 10% growth in sales this year. See how that impacts your cash requirements due to increases in inventory, A/R, etc., and start thinking about how you will fund this growth (see #7, above).
  9. If you don’t have a banking relationship with an independent community bank, start one this week This is not a banking alternative – it’s a small business financial fundamental.
  10. Every customer and prospect has expectations that are changing faster than ever before. Keep asking what they want and deliver what they say. Remember, you get to decide what you do; customers decide how you do it.

Focus on the fundamentals, plan for success and grow your small business in 2012.

I talked more about these 10 business fundamentals today on my radio show. Take a few minutes to download or listen now.

Four more 2012 success fundamentals with Jim Blasingame

Check out more great SBA content HERE!

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