Monthly Archive for September, 2013

No hill for a climber

In a former life, whenever I felt deficient in my ability to meet a particular challenge, one of my mentors would say to me, “This is no hill for a climber,” followed immediately by, “and you’re a climber.”

Today, whenever I’m feeling deficient in my ability to meet the challenges of my small business, I say these words to myself, “This is no hill for a climber and I’m a climber.”

In an even earlier life, growing up on a farm, we had an old two-ton Studebaker truck. This was a brute of a truck, with a very special feature: one really low gear. My dad called that gear “grandma.”

Whenever we had a heavy load to haul and a steep grade to climb, Dad would say, “Put it in grandma.” When that truck was “in grandma” it wouldn’t go more than a couple of miles an hour, but it would pull or haul anything, anywhere. Even when the pulling got really tough that truck might jerk and buck, but it never stopped pulling.

Small business owners have a special gear similar to the one on that truck. Our “grandma” gear is made up of the cogs of grit and determination, and the sprockets of courage and passion.

There are many hills in the life of a small business. Next time you’re faced with a hill that seems too steep to climb, tell yourself, “This is no hill for a climber and I’m a climber.” Then “put it in grandma” and keep on climbing.

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SBA Poll: What’s important in 2013?

The Question:
What’s the single most important thing you’re working on in 2013?

57% - Sales - we need more revenue

30% - Profit - sales can always be better, but we need to improve profitability

2% - A bank loan - so we can take advantage of growth opportunities

11% - People - we need employees who are qualified to do our work

My Comments:
What these responses confirm is that the economy on Main Street is still languishing.

  • Sales and profits are both cured by a robust economy.
  • When small businesses grow, they usually fund that growth with a loan from a bank.
  • I’ve been told by economists that there may be one million jobs going unfilled in America because employers cannot find qualified candidates.

The last time the U.S. marketplace experienced such a moribund economy for this long was when Jimmy Carter was president, during the period he described as having a kind of “malaise.”

President Obama, Carter’s presidency is not a comparable you want to be associated with your legacy. Please allow me to introduce you to small business owners who can give you some tips on how to get this economy growing.

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America should have a National Small Business Day

Some say Matthew Maguire is the father of Labor Day – others say it was Peter McGuire. Both cared greatly for an important segment of the marketplace, its workers.

Regardless of paternity, such a day was first celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, when members of the CLU took an unpaid day off to demonstrate solidarity and, of course, have picnics.

In 1884, President Cleveland designated the first Monday in September as Labor Day and an official federal holiday.

In 1898, Samuel Gompers, then head of the American Federation of Labor, called Labor Day, “The day when toilers’ rights and wrongs would be discussed … that workers may lay down their tools for a holiday … touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it.”

Alas, entrepreneurs aren’t organized like our unions, probably because we’re too busy making payroll. There is no official Small Business Owners Day set aside by the government as a holiday to salute the few who do so much for so many; a day to honor the real marketplace heroes, small business owners.

There actually is a small business week when the U.S. Small Business Administration recognizes the “creme de la creme” of entrepreneurs in America. But it’s not a federal holiday, and not always the same week each year.

Labor Day was created primarily to recognize union members. Today, this group represents barely 11% of total workers and has declined to less than 7% of the private sector.

Small businesses represent over 98% of all U.S. businesses, produce over half of the U.S. GDP, and sign the FRONT of the paychecks of over half (70 million) of all U.S. workers. Let’s see: big deal on Labor Day; but no Small Business Day. What’s wrong with this picture?

So, what’s the answer?

Let’s celebrate Small Business Day as no other national holiday has been: on a Sunday, to save payroll expense. August is the month-of-choice because that’s when politicians are home on recess. This way they can practice casting their pearls before small business owners in preparation for eating barbeque with the unions on Labor Day.

To paraphrase Samuel Gompers, small business owners deserve a day for which these signers-of-the-front-of-paychecks have their rights and wrongs discussed; that the small employers of our day may not only lay down their challenges for a holiday, but also touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it.

It’s time for a National Small Business Owners Day.

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I talked more about creating a National Small Business Owners Day today on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate. Click here to download or listen.

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