Monthly Archive for January, 2012

Small Business Advocate Poll: New Year Resolutions for 2012

The Question:
It’s 2012 - a brand new year. Will you make any New Year’s resolutions?

67% - Yes - wish me luck.

33% - No - why bother; they never last.

Jim’s Comments:
The only thing more annoying than people who ask you if you made any New Year Resolutions are people who ask how you’re doing with keeping them.

Since being annoying can sometimes be kinda fun, we asked this question last week: “Will you make any 2012 New Year Resolutions.”

I won’t say my faith in humanity was restored merely by the fact that two-thirds of our respondents said, “Yes, wish me luck.” But it does make one feel better that apparently, hope still springs eternal for most folks. The other third who said, “No, why bother,” represent the pragmatic, or the logical, possibly the fatalistic or, dare I say, dark side of our audience.

However hopeful or resigned you are about the New Year, let’s have a good 2012 together.

I’ve talked about smart small business resolutions for the new year with several experts in the last couple of weeks. Click here to see our library of podcasts on resolutions and small business goals and listen or download the ones you like.

Also, leave us a comment on your business goals for this year.

Check out more great SBA content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Replace your quality service with a quality process

Successful customer service is the process of delivering value to a customer in exchange for payment.

Surely this is the prime directive of any business.

But this process isn’t truly successful unless the relationship can be sustained; and only quality produces sustainability.

“Quality service” is a 20th century term businesses use to declare a commitment to diligent customer support. But customers typically associate it with, and businesses too often tolerate it as, promptly addressing a problem. Here’s what quality service might sounds like:

“We’re sorry that part was the wrong size. But we’re committed to quality service, so one of our trucks will be there in an hour with a new part.”

In most cases, quality service impresses the customer. But while prompt attention is admirable, it’s not optimal because it has a negative impact on sustainability in at least two ways: 1) The customer was inconvenienced by inaccurate service; 2) fixing an avoidable problem is the worst kind of profit-eating inefficiency.

In the 21st century, successful small business customer service requires converting “quality service” to the quality process.

Executing a quality process, put simply, is serving customers right the first time. Accomplishing a quality process ranges from the very basic – accurate order filling, to the more complex plan of integrating into your operation only those vendors that share your quality process commitment.

The optimal goal of your quality process is sustainability through profitable customer relationships. This is accomplished when customers return to find your profitable business is still there, ready to serve them successfully – again.

Cash is king because the impact of negative cash on a business will take your breath away. And profit is queen only because the manifestation of negative profit takes longer than negative cash, which is the reason why quality service is even tolerated as a business practice.

When you’re ready to stop tolerating profit-eating quality service and convert to the profit-making quality process, here’s a good a place to start: Leslie Kossoff’s book, Managing for Quality, just out now in the new 21st century edition, in hard-copy and e-formats.

Remember, the quality service you’re so proud of may be admirable, but when delivered in response to something that was avoidable, it assaults profitability, threatens sustainability and, therefore, ultimately could put you out of business.

Convert quality service into the more profitable – and sustainable – quality process.

I talk regularly with Leslie Kossoff about the quality process. You can listen or download our conversations here. I also talked more about converting quality service into a quality process today on The Small Business Advocate Show. Listen or download what I had to say.

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What are your priorities?

The following quizzes, and the subsequent paragraph, are attributed to the late Charles Schultz, creator of the comic strip, Peanuts. I’m passing along his thoughts because I think it’s important that we realize what is really important in life.

Quiz 1:

  1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.
  2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.
  3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America contest.
  4. Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
  5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
  6. Name the last decade’s World Series winners.

Quiz 2:

  1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
  2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
  3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.
  4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
  5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
  6. Name half a dozen heroes whose stories have inspired you.

“The applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners. The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money, or the most awards. They are the ones who cared.”

This is Jim again. As we go through life, let’s make sure our goals and priorities include caring about and serving other people, not just about other things.

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Blasingame’s 12th annual predictions

Here is my 12th annual list of predictions for 2012.

Prediction: U.S. economic growth (GDP) will improve from 1.7% in 2011 to over 2%.

Prediction: Small business optimism - based on the NFIB survey - will improve from recent record lows.

Prediction: Small business growth plans, currently held back by a dam of uncertainty, will break through and set up 2013 as an expansion year. If Obama is reelected, the breakthrough will still happen, but to a lesser degree.

Prediction: Unemployment remains above 8%, due to real estate challenges, anti-business policies and rhetoric, technological advancements and structural unemployment (millions unprepared for 21st century jobs).

Prediction: “Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink,” from “Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” by Samuel Taylor Colerage. With millions unemployed, expect reports of skilled jobs going unfilled due to a lack of qualified applicants.

Prediction: The European Central Bank’s (ECB) unprecedented three-year loans to EU banks may prevent a financial melt-down, but not a prolonged European recession.

Prediction: Iraq will prove unworthy of the precious price paid for its self-determination.

Prediction: Iran will hold oil markets hostage against threats to its nuclear plans.

Prediction: Geo-politics (Iran) and election year politics (jobs and trade) will cause Congressional Democrats and President Obama to agree to the construction of the Keystone Pipeline from Canada to Texas.

Prediction: Behavior of the Occupy Wall Street participants will increasingly look more like anarchy than reform.

Prediction: Once a leading indicator of the economy, Wall Street will continue to be merely a leading indicator of itself.

Prediction: The Supreme Court will rule against the individual mandate in Obamacare, as it violates the Constitution’s Commerce Clause prohibiting the government from mandating citizens purchase a product.

Prediction: Mitt Romney will be the Republican presidential nominee.

Prediction: I’m doubling-down on my 2011 prediction that Joe Biden will not be on Obama’s 2012 ticket. Desperate people do desperate things.

Prediction: Barack Obama will be a one-term president.

Prediction: Republicans will retain majority control of the House of Representatives.

Prediction: Democrats will lose control of the U.S. Senate.

Prediction: Alabama’s defense will defeat LSU’s defense in their rematch in the BCS Championship Game.

2012 will be a defining year for America and planet Earth.

I talked more about my 2012 predictions on The Small Business Advocate Show. Click on the links below to listen or download.

Global predictions for 2012

Economic predictions for 2012

Political predictions for 2012

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