Monthly Archive for April, 2013

Entrepreneurial patience = Success

If you were to identify synonyms for the word entrepreneur, you would come up with things like, risk-taker, industrious, visionary, perhaps even capitalist. But one word that is definitely NOT synonymous with entrepreneur is patient.

It simply is not in an entrepreneur’s DNA to wait for the world to bring him or her things. Entrepreneurs bring things to the world.

But having said this, entrepreneurs who enjoy long-term success have learned entrepreneurial patience. Even the most impatient entrepreneurial farmer understands that a corn harvest doesn’t take place until after the seeds are planted, the plants nurtured and a certain amount of time has passed.

Having entrepreneurial patience means knowing the difference between wasting time and energy and investing time and energy. Successful entrepreneurs are impatient about steps in a process — getting the seed, planting the seed, cultivating the plants, etc. — but not about accomplishing the ultimate goal of harvesting the result of the process.

One of the most prominent guarantees of failure in business is not understanding the simple wisdom of Renaissance author and father of deductive reasoning, Sir Francis Bacon, who said, “In all negotiations of difficulty, a man may not look to sow and reap at once; but must prepare business and so ripen it by degrees.”

When you see someone trying to “sow and reap at once,” you’re witnessing failure waiting to happen. The only thing left to be determined is whether this failure will become a valuable lesson in entrepreneurial patience, or a bitter experience.

Whether in the field or in the marketplace, all endeavors are subject to natural laws, like the time it takes for a seed, or a project, to germinate and produce fruit. Successful entrepreneurs understand this and have learned how to employ their impatience prudently, as leverage for success.

Impatience is often synonymous with failure; entrepreneurial patience is usually synonymous with success.

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The truth about small business retirement plans

One of the most intuitive ways to think about the experience of small business owners as they start, run and grow their businesses is to compare it to raising a teenager.

A small business is like a teenager in two ways: 1) You always love it, but you don’t always like it;and 2) it always has its hand out for more money. And never is the second example truer than when you should be funding a retirement plan separate from future expectations from company assets.

As in the past, we recently polled small business owners again about retirement planning with this question: “Will you contribute to a qualified retirement plan this year?” We learned that 42% of our respondents are funding a plan, but the other 58% either aren’t able to fund their plan or don’t have one. By the way, these percentages have not improved since the last survey.

There are three reasons why small business owners don’t fund a retirement plan:

  1. The business never achieves the financial critical mass necessary for the owner to carve out the income to fund a plan. This is true for too many small businesses.
  2. They convince themselves that the business will provide for them in retirement, which is handy when you’re trying to justify paying the business first. Sometimes this works out, but sadly, most of the time it doesn’t.
  3. They never get started budgeting for a retirement contribution.

There are many ways the federal government hinders small businesses, but providing pre-tax retirement programs is not one of them. Indeed, there are several qualified plans that allow a small business owner to provide for their own retirement with tax-deferred contributions. Plus several include setting employees up on the same plan for their benefit while helping you attract better employees and keep them.

Here’s a partial list of prominent plans that cover most small businesses: The traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA) is about to turn 40. The Simplified Employee Pension (SEP) and the Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees (SIMPLE) both include employee participation, as does the traditional 401k.

Be sure to check with a qualified retirement advisor to see which one is best for you. Also, IRS.gov has extensive resources that will educate you.

You might sell your business for a lot of money one day, but just in case, take advantage of one of the tax-deferred retirement plans.

Make the commitment; budget for and start funding a retirement plan this year.

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This week on The Small Business Advocate Show® I reveal even more challenges that small business owners face when planning for retirement. Click the link below to listen to the segment.


Three reasons small business owners don’t plan for retirement

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Use the power of storytelling to grow your business

Cogito ergo sum. French philosopher Rene Descartes proposed this idea in 1637, which translates to “I think, therefore I am.” Certainly the power of abstract thought is what separates humans from other animals.

Anthropologists now believe Homo sapiens succeeded, unlike other members of the genus Homo, Neanderthals and Cro-Magnon for example, because our brains had a greater capacity for speech and language. Today Descartes might have modified his philosophy to “I think and speak, therefore I am.”

In “Wealth of Nations,” Adam Smith proposed the written word as one of the three great human inventions. But long before humans were writing we were telling stories. And these stories – told, memorized and retold over millennia – became the headwaters of human development. We humans love to tell stories almost as much as we love to listen to them.

Another thing that’s older than writing is the marketplace. Long before Madison Avenue ad copy, merchants were verbalizing the value and benefits of their wares. Surely early business storytelling was the origin of modern selling skills.

In 1965, Intel’s co-founder Gordon Moore made an observation that became Moore’s Law: “Computer processing power doubles every two years.” But in his 1982 watershed book “Megatrends,” futurist John Naisbitt posed this paradoxical prophecy: “The more high tech we create, the more high touch we will want.”

So what does all of this mean? It means that in a time of rapidly compounding technology generations, the most successful businesses will consistently deliver high touch to customers with one of our oldest traits – the telling of a story. Here is Blasingame’s Three Cs of Business Storytelling:

Connect – Use stories to connect with prospects and convert them into customers.

Convey – Use stories to convey your expertise, relevance, humanity and values.

Create – Use stories to create customer memories that compel them to come back.

Storytelling is humanity in words. And since small businesses are the face and voice of humanity in the marketplace, we have a great advantage in the Age of the Customer. No market sector can execute the Three Cs of Business Storytelling to evoke powerful human feelings more than small businesses.

And regardless of how they’re delivered, stories don’t have to be long. I just told you five different ones in the first half of this article.

The Holy Grail of storytelling is when someone else tells your business’s story to others.

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On The Small Business Advocate® Show I recently talked about growing your small business with the power of storytelling. My segment dives deeper into the topic of maximizing the growth of your business. Click the link below to listen.

Grow your business with the power of storytelling - with Jim Blasingame

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Video - Managing the three clocks of small business

In this week’s video I list and explain the Three Clocks of small business.

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Some thoughts on lifelong learning

The life of a small business owner is hectic, to say the least. Multi-tasking is the norm. So much of our day is spent reacting to the crisis of the moment, conducting the business of the day, and initiating our plans for the future. And once we acquire a level of competence in this life we’ve chosen, it’s natural to want to relax, settle in, and seek the ease that can come with familiarity and repetition.

But the marketplace isn’t a comfortable, lumbering vessel anymore, rolling along like a single screw trawler. It’s become more like a vibrant starship capable of warp speed. Indeed, it takes a much more knowledgeable person to successfully operate a business in today’s marketplace than it did even 10 years ago.

The great American revolutionary and legendary wordsmith, Thomas Paine, said, “I have seldompassed five minutes of my life, however circumstanced, in which I did not acquire some knowledge.” This from a corset maker who dropped out of school at 13.

You can’t anticipate everything, so react when you must. The business of the day, obviously, must be attended to. And what will you have tomorrow if you don’t plan for it?

But however circumstanced, before you succumb to the human tendency to rest on your laurels, make it part of your daily tasks to acquire some knowledge.

Make it your daily intention to learn something new that might help you react more effectively, operate more profitably, and plan more intelligently.

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My website www.SmallBusinessAdvocate.com was created for small business owners just like you. With daily articles and interviews with my Brain Trust members you are sure to find effective ways to help your small business grow.

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SBA Poll: To Fund or Not to Fund

The Question:
Will you fund a contribution to a qualified retirement plan that’s deductible on you 2012 tax return?

24% - I have funded an IRA for the 2012 tax year

18% - I have, or will contribute to, a 401K, Simple Plan, SEP, etc.

15% - I have established a plan, but can’t fund it for the 2012 tax year

42% - I don’t have a qualified plan, nor can I fund one right now

My Comments:
In past years we’ve polled small business owners about their retirement funding ability, as we did again last week with this question: “Will you fund a contribution to a qualified retirement plan that’s deductible on your 2012 tax return?” As you can see, unfortunately more than half of small business owners are not able to fund a retirement plan outside of the business.

In next week’s Feature Article, I’m going to have more to say about this and reveal some of the ways the government encourages and actually contributes to retirement planning. Stay tuned.

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Check out my recent interviews on The Small Business Advocate® Show with John Graves about small business retirement tools and the Baby Boomer generation?

What are the best small business retirement tools?

Are Baby Boomers really good savers?

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