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    Monthly Archive for November, 2012

    Small Business Advocate Poll: Small Business Prospects over the Next Four Years

    The Question:
    Please tell us how you feel about the prospects for your small business over the next four years based on the influence of this one fact: President Obama has been reelected.

    14% - This result will be good for my business.

    68% - This result will not be good for my business.

    16% - It’s too soon to tell.

    My Comments:
    For the past four years, we’ve polled small business owners about their prospects during and following the Great Recession. We’ve also asked what they think about President Obama’s policies. Based on our polling, as well as other surveys result I’ve reported on my radio program, the majority of small business owners are not pro-Obama.

    Nevertheless, with Obama’s 2nd term now a reality, we wanted to know how small business owners feel about this, so in our most recent poll we asked this question: “Please tell us how you feel about the prospects for your small business over the next four years based on the influence of this one fact: President Obama has been reelected.” Here’s what we learned:

    Those who said, “This result will be good for my business,” represented 14% of our sample, with 16% reasoning that, “It’s too soon to tell.” But the big group - 70% - allowed that, “This result will not be good for my business.”

    As I predicted last January, I still believe small business owners will not hold up growth plans for four more years regardless of who wins the election, but our survey would indicate that they will pursue opportunities with great caution and judiciousness, which I fear will not contribute to rapid economic recovery in 2013.

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    This week on The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked more about the new issues small businesses will have to deal with in the new normal of the next four years, including many new regulations, diminished privacy and U.N. influence. Click here to download or listen.

    Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

    Take this week’s poll HERE!

    Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

    Spring clean your business in December

    Remember what your grandmother used to do after a long winter? She called it “Spring Cleaning.” The house was opened up to get the winter staleness out and everything got cleaned out, scrubbed up and aired out.

    Let’s do the same thing for our businesses, but let’s do it in December. December Cleaning will give you the maximum opportunity to start 2013 with as little 2012 baggage as possible. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

    Throw stuff away: Even if you’re not a pack rat, you’ve accumulated stuff you don’t use anymore. If you can’t sell it, give it away or throw it away, because it’s in your way.

    Ditch the digital: Unused computers and other machines may have some value. Call a tech recycler and convert it into cash. Even if you donate it or throw it away, it’s out of your way.

    Retool the team: The only thing worse than firing someone is letting an unproductive employee hold your team’s performance hostage for another year. You owe productive people the most effective organization possible, which often means you have to let the unproductive ones pursue their careers elsewhere.

    Clean out customers: Reevaluate the profitability of customers and put them into four groups, from the most profitable As to the least profitable Ds. Worship the As, cater to the Bs, encourage the Cs and teach the Ds about self-service. When the cost of a customer’s expectations exceeds their profitability with you, they should be allowed to join your unproductive employees – elsewhere.

    Scrub inventory: As with customers, take a new look at inventory by identifying the most profitable As to the least profitable Ds. Stock all the As, a few of the Bs and maybe a couple of Cs, but never let a D spend one night under your roof unless it’s paid for. Remember, profitable inventory management means just-in-time, not just-in-case.

    Sanitize accounts receivable: Take the hit and write off uncollectable A/R now, so you can start January with a clean list. A/R write-offs are tax deductions this year, but become gravy if you collect them next year.

    Each new year deserves to have the maximum opportunity to be successful, which means it shouldn’t be saddled with the baggage of last year’s obsolescence and bad decisions. By taking these steps you’ll be proving to yourself – and your banker – that you have the discipline to make critical decisions for which successful managers are known.

    Smart managers spring clean their businesses in December.

    Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

    Take this week’s poll HERE!

    Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

    Make a difference to just one

    Even in America, the land of plenty, there are so many people who need food, shelter, a helping hand, and a kind word. It’s true, the safety net created by public and private organizations is multi-layered and highly efficient, but it is, after all, a net not a pillow. Nets have holes.

    Looking at the many unmet needs it’s easy to be intimidated by the scale and we feel justified in our indifference because, “Hey, I pay my taxes and contribute to charities, don’t I? What more can I do, right? I’m just one person.”

    Here is a condensed version of a one of my favorite stories, which was created by my friend and favorite futurist, Joel Barker, who was inspired by Loren Eiselely’s book Starthrower.

    A man was walking on a familiar stretch of beach one morning after a storm. Up ahead he could see a stranger coming toward him. The stranger was continually stooping over, picking up something and tossing it in the ocean. Finally, the man could see that the stranger was throwing some of the thousands of tiny starfish the storm had washed up on the beach overnight.

    As the two men drew near and exchanged greetings, the man commended the stranger for his efforts, but also commented on the futility of such a task. “There must be hundreds of thousands of starfish on this beach. How could one person possibly make a difference?” Picking up another tiny starfish and tossing it back into the ocean, the stranger answered, “Made a difference to that one, didn’t I?!”

    Here’s a pledge I will make to you and ask you to consider making: As I race through my hectic, self-important life, at least once a day I will try to make a difference in another person’s life.

    Could be as simple as holding a door, patting a back, giving a compliment, noticing a frown. Or perhaps something a little more involved like checking on someone with a call or visit, creating an opportunity, providing a meal, (your idea here).

    With a world full of unmet needs, at the end of the day at least we can say, “Made a difference to that one, didn’t I?!”

    Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

    Take this week’s poll HERE!

    Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

    What are you thankful for?

    Americans punctuate each year with the Thanksgiving holiday as a way of perpetuating a 390-year-old tradition begun by a rag-tag group of our forebears. That first time, in 1621, thanksgiving day wasn’t the proper noun it became. It was just a day set aside by a few dozen humans who risked everything, actually lost most of it, were hard-by to any number of dangers that could cost them the rest, but still felt compelled to be thankful for what they had.

    Regardless of where you live on planet Earth, let me leave you with a list of things to think about. This is not my list. When we’ve published it before in this space with attribution to “Anonymous,” some of my readers have attributed it to Mother (Saint) Theresa, which suits me just fine. I’m thankful I found it and have the ability to pass it along.

    Be thankful for the clothes that fit a little too snug, because it means you have enough to eat.

    Be thankful for the mess you clean up after a party, because it means you have been surrounded by friends.

    Be thankful for the taxes you pay, because it means you’re employed.

    Be thankful that your lawn needs mowing and your windows need fixing, because it means you have a home.

    Be thankful for your heating bill, because it means you are warm.

    Be thankful for the laundry, because it means you have clothes to wear.

    Be thankful for the space you find at the far end of the parking lot, because it means you can walk.

    Be thankful for the lady who sings off key behind you in church, because it means you can hear.

    Be thankful for the alarm that goes off in the early morning, because it means you are alive.

    And finally, here is mine: I’m thankful for small business owners - the most courageous and most important modern-day pilgrims I know.

    Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

    Take this week’s poll HERE!

    Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

    Cause and effect met humanity & the world changed

    As the 17th century dawned, cause-and-effect was merging parallel universes.

    In the Old World, a decision by a group of Leiden Separatists put them on a circuitous journey. Meanwhile, in the New World, a manchild named Tisquantum was born to the Wampanoag Indians.

    Both the Separatists and Tisquantum became very important to our future, but not before their lives would change and intertwine in ways not to be imagined by either.

    Seeking religious freedom, the Separatists crossed Europe and then the Atlantic. On their odyssey they would steel their convictions, which proved handy in the New World.

    Incredibly, first as a hostage and later as an interpreter, Tisquantum crossed the Atlantic six times. On his odyssey, Tisquantum learned Old World languages that, combined with his New World survival skills, would contribute to his rendezvous with destiny.

    During their journeys, both experienced a name change: The Separatists became Pilgrims and Tisquantum became Squanto. And as the Pilgrims prepared for their first Atlantic crossing, Squanto made his last.

    Arriving at his birthplace in 1619, Squanto found that his entire village and family had been wiped out by an epidemic.

    On the day after Christmas, 1620, with the Mayflower Compact in hand, the Pilgrims came ashore at what is now Massachusetts, on a place they named Plymouth, after the city where their voyage began.

    The Pilgrims’ first winter in the New World was brutal; less than half of the 102 colonists survived to spring. Then on March 16th, 1621, an Indian named Samoset walked up to the Pilgrims and said, “Hello, English.” Very soon he recognized that these sad-looking folks needed help from someone who spoke better English.

    The two universes finally converged and cause-and-effect met humanity as Samoset brought Squanto to the Pilgrims. In one of the great moments of serendipity, it turns out “Plymouth” was the very spot of Squanto’s ill-fated village.

    Squanto spent the rest of 1621 befriending the Pilgrims and teaching them how to survive in the New World. It’s clear that his contribution was critical to the survival of these important American forebears.

    When the courage and convictions of one group of individuals converged with the humanity of two others, something special happened: Part of the foundation of the most benevolent nation in history was born.

    This week we give thanks for these individuals and the blessings that have accrued to us 391 years later.

    One person can make a difference. Happy Thanksgiving.

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    Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

    Take this week’s poll HERE!

    Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

    Celebrating our 15th anniversary

    If you will permit me, today I would like to talk about a couple of milestones of which we’re kind of proud.

    On November 17, 1997, I began broadcasting The Small Business Advocate Show for two hours Monday through Friday, and ever since that first day the program has been nationally syndicated. This week we will celebrate our 15th anniversary and the beginning of our 16th year on the air.

    In January 1998, we began simulcasting our show on the Internet, which makes us one of the pioneers of Internet streaming. Since 1999, we’ve offered multiple on-demand streaming options and in 2007 added the ability to podcast all current and archived interviews.

    Next Monday will be my 3,901st live broadcast since we began - including all the holidays (next week I’ll broadcast my 16th consecutive live Thanksgiving Day show). Since that first broadcast, I’ve conducted over 15,500 live interviews with small business experts and entrepreneurs. When you hear me talking about making sure that you’re passionate about the business you start, if you didn’t already, now you know I practice what I preach.

    From the beginning, my primary programming goal was to focus on the fundamentals that are important to successfully starting, operating and growing a small business, and to make all of the things we do available to you for free. On that last note - the free one - I must say thanks to our outstanding corporate partners, without whom the free part would not be possible, especially our Presenting Sponsor, Insperity.

    Over the years I have received a number of national awards from organizations such as: the U.S. Small Business Administration, FORTUNE Small Business magazine, TALKERS magazine, the American Chamber of Commerce Executives, the American Small Business Development Centers, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, and New York Enterprise Report. Plus, for many years now, Google has ranked me as the #1 small business expert.

    Also this week, we’re celebrating the 13th anniversary of our e-zine, The Small Business Advocate NEWSLETTER. This week’s edition, Volume XIII, Issue 52, represents 676 consecutive weekly issues since 1999. Thanks for being a loyal subscriber.

    In 2012 we added a number of new small business resources, including our mobile site. If you haven’t tried it yet, just go to SmallBusinessAdvocate.com on your smart phone and the mobile version will appear automatically. We’re also very excited about the video library we’re building with our Three Minutes To Success series. Please take advantage of this resource, which as the title says, are each only about 3 minutes long. And like all of our other resources, these are free, too. Thanks again, sponsors.

    Finally, thank you for your support, comments, many words of encouragement and especially the honor and privilege of being your Advocate. I’m already looking forward to the rest of our journey together. More than anything else, I want you to know how proud I am of you as a small business owner and what you have accomplished.

    Nothing I do as The Small Business Advocate is about me - it’s all about you, my heroes, small business owners, regardless of where you live on planet Earth.

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    This week I talked more about this milestone for my show and how you should also celebrate the important milestones of your small business. Click here to download or listen.

    Check out more great SBA content HERE!

    Take this week’s poll HERE!

    Watch Jim’s videos HERE!