Monthly Archive for November, 2013

Video: Redefining the Title “Military Veteran”

In this week's video I talk about the evolving definition of a veteran.

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SBA Poll: Some broken promises have more consequences than others

The Question:
What do you think about President Obama’s promises since 2009 that you could keep your existing insurance?

2% - Whatever he said was for the greater good.

6% - Whatever he said was no worse than any other politician.

27%- Whether intentional or not, he misled the American people.

65% - The president lied to the American people.

My Comments:
Every president makes campaign promises. Some they keep and some they don’t. Most of the time when they don’t keep a promise it doesn’t amount to much. It’s politics, after all, right?

But sometimes a promise is so prominent that, when broken, it becomes quite momentous. President George H.W. Bush ran afoul of this truth when he broke his promise of “No new taxes–read my lips–no new taxes.” When he did, in fact, increase taxes during his first term, this breach of trust with voting Americans was definitely one of the reasons his reelection bid was lost to the unlikely candidacy of Bill Clinton.

Now fast-forward to the 21st century. “If you like your health insurance, you can keep it–period!” “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor-guaranteed!” These are the promises President Barack Obama made to Americans on dozens of occasions during the debate about the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. Obamacare, and in defense of the law after passage when he was running for reelection. Now, barely more than a month after Obamacare went live, it’s becoming obvious that there are problems with those promises.

Most people agree that Bush 41 was faced with issues that caused him to change his mind about taxes a few years later. The price he paid was for breaking his promise, but no one ever accused him of lying. But at this moment President Obama is in a whirlwind of public opinion about what he knew and what his motivations were when he made his promises. We asked our audience in a recent online poll what they thought with this question: “What do you think about President Obama’s promises since 2009 that you could keep your existing insurance?” Here’s what we learned.

Just 2% of our sample said, “Whatever he said was for the greater good,” with another 6% choosing, “Whatever he said was no worse than any other politician.” A little more than one-fourth allowed that, “Whether intentional or not, he misled the American people.” But almost two-thirds of our respondents believe, “The president lied to the American people.”

One thing is evident from this most recent presidential breech: Americans have very definite feelings about the cost and availability of their health care. And anyone who presumes to impose their will on this personal and intimate dynamic is putting their political prospects in harm’s way.

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Recognizing ALL who served on Veterans Day

America’s first military, the “Minutemen” militia, were shopkeepers, craftsmen, farmers, etc. Today we call them small business owners, but they were our first veterans.

Defining a veteran today is more complicated because there are multiple uses of the term. The Veterans Administration understandably has a strict, technical definition because it’s responsible for dispersing VA benefits. The classic definition is someone who has served on active duty for more than six months. But what about the volunteer service of the National Guard and Reserves?

For decades, National Guard members and Reservists have been comprised of two groups – those who deploy for an extended period and those who prepared themselves for a deployment. And since the Minutemen, America’s small business owners have been included in these ranks. But the past 20 years have required an extra degree of commitment from them because of the increased likelihood that they may have to leave their businesses for a deployment, possibly more than once.

Since 1990, two developments have created new expectations for America’s Guard and Reserves: 1) Three Middle East conflicts – Desert Storm, the Iraq War and the Afghan War – have combined for 20 years of deployments so far; and 2) The increasing deployment expectations of Guard and Reserve units to augment declining regular armed forces numbers.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, the Guard and Reserves accounted for one-third of U.S. forces and a comparable percentage of casualties. Many of these patriots deployed two, three, or more times. The Rand Corporation reports, “Use of the Guard and Reserve has steadily increased since the first Gulf War and this trend is likely to continue.” Indeed, you can expect the efficiency of Guard and Reserve assets to figure even more heavily in America’s national security plans in the face of budget cuts due to sequestration.

So on this Veterans Day let’s honor all who have proudly volunteered to wear the uniform. This includes members of the Guard and Reserves who have deployed alongside the regular military, as well as those volunteers who did not deploy, but who for years, trained and made themselves available to be deployed as their country needed them.

In the modern age of American national defense, if you wore the uniform of any of the armed forces you deserve to be called a veteran and receive the gratitude and recognition of a grateful nation.

Happy Veteran Day to ALL who served.

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Be sure to check out my latest segment below from The Small Business Advocate Show® where I talk more about Redefining the Title “Military Veteran.”

Celebrating Veterans Day for ALL veterans

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How will you leave your small business the last time?

Every small business founder gets to decide when they will start their small business. But when and how they leave the business is much less in their control.

There is no comprehensive research that breaks down the different ways small business owners divest of their businesses. But I have spent decades working with and observing the small business sector and, based on that experience, here are my thoughts and a few stats applied to responses we received to this online poll question: What will be the most likely exit scenario from your business when the time comes?

Almost one-third of our respondents said “I expect to sell my business to a new owner.” Sadly, this expectation level doesn’t match reality. The business brokerage industry reports that the success rate for selling a small business is approximately 20%. That means one in five of those who want to sell, will actually be sold. But more small businesses would be viable candidates for buyers if they operated with more with professional systems, practices, and recordkeeping instead of like a lemonade stand where they buy stuff and sell stuff and hope things work out.

Fourteen percent of our sample said, “I plan to convey my business to family members.” The historical experience for family business continuity to first generation is that 30% will do so. If our respondents are representative, there are several contemporary forces that could be causing this declining ownership transfer response. But it looks like business owners who have dreams of a family dynasty should be less presumptuous about that possibility in the future.

Only six percent of our folks said, “I will probably just lock up one day and not come back.” Unfortunately, like those who expect to sell their businesses, this number is probably not reflective of reality. When all small businesses are taken into consideration, from sole proprietors to those with more critical mass, most will simply turn the lights out one last time.

Our largest group, 49%, said, “I probably won’t retire, I’ll just go out feet first.” This response option was intended to be a little dark humor in two directions: 1) for those who believe they will have to work until they die; and 2) for those (like me) who love their work so much they don’t intend to retire. In any generation, this group and the one above will make up more than two-thirds of all small business divestitures.

One thing is certain about the relationship with your small business: One day in the future will be the last in your business.

Are you making plans for that last day?

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Check out my latest segment from The Small Business Advocate Show® linked below. I answer the question, What will happen to your business the day after you leave for the last time?

How will you leave your business for the last time?

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Video: When buying a business, consider these business principles

In this weeks video I list a few points to consider before owning your small business.

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SBA Poll Results: What is your greatest business concern?

The Question:
What is the single greatest concern that you have for your business right now?

50% - We need more sales

32% - We need lower taxes and fewer regulations

2%- Competing against the Big Box competitors

16% - We still don’t know what Obamacare will cost us

Jim’s Comments:
With all of the challenges facing small business owners, especially the uncertainty about the impact of Obamacare, tax increases, and sophisticated competition, the single greatest thing troubling those who create over half of the U.S. economy and employ over half of all workers–small business owners–is still the weak economy.

As you can see from the responses to our most recent online poll, more than four years after the end of the Great Recession small business owners still need more sales. Why isn’t a half-decade of abysmal growth and chronic, entrenched unemployment the entire focus of every member of Congress and the Obama administration every day?

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