Monthly Archive for January, 2014

Attitude is everything

In the world of small business, attitude is everything. Yes, I know, profit is essential and cash is king. I’ve been guilty of spouting all of those types of platitudes, however true, myself. But more than anything you can buy, sell, count, hold, or distribute, assuming what I call The Small Business Success Attitude is essential to entrepreneurial success. Here is The Small Business Success Attitude:

I accept that my small business will face challenges every day. As I begin my day, I will assume the attitude that, regardless of the number of challenges or the degree of difficulty, if my business is to survive, I must face each one. Therefore, I know that the only thing in question today is how well I will respond to challenges, and the future of my business may depend on the answer to that question.

The I Ching (pronounced yee jing) is an ancient book of wisdom, the origin of which predates the written word. In English, I Ching means “Book Of Change.” I was inspired to write The Small Business Success Attitude from this passage in the I Ching: The event is not important, but the response to the event is everything.

The author of the I Ching was certainly an entrepreneur in the marketplace of ideas. Perhaps from as far back as 10,000 years ago he was proposing that it’s not what happens to you in life that you should worry about, because there will always be something happening. When events happen, change will also happen, and armed with the I Ching attitude–or The Small Business Success Attitude–you have an opportunity to influence change.

Small business owners often feel that they don’t have very much power. In the passage above, I believe the I Ching is telling us how to gain power and control in our lives. In The Small Business Success Attitude, I am absolutely telling you how to gain power and control in your business.

Accept the inevitable and ubiquitous challenges you will face in your small business, and get excited about the power you have to affect change simply by knowing that your response to the event is everything.

Connecting small business, the economy and Washington

The Great Recession ended in July 2009. In our online poll since then we’ve asked small business owners several times about their economy.

Comparing responses from our poll at the end of 2011 with the one at the end of 2013, the groups experiencing sales growth went from 76% in 2011 to 48% in 2013, while the bottom half went from less than one-fourth having a tough time in 2011, to more than half reporting flat to negative sales in 2013. Small business reality has been steadily going in the wrong direction.

We’ve also asked about small business projections for the coming year. In 2012, 73% were positive about the New Year, while the rest were uncertain. But one year later, in 2013, the responses essentially inverted: 24% positive, and 76% not so much. Recently we asked, “How are you projecting sales for 2014?” Only 20% are projecting a good year, with the other 80% projecting slight to flat to negative growth.

As you can see, not only has actual business performance declined for our small business respondents, but optimism about the future is also going in the wrong direction, from 73% positive in 2012, to 24% positive in 2013, to 20% positive in 2014.

For more than a decade on my radio program, I’ve reported monthly on two scientific small business surveys: Dr. Bill Dunkleberg’s NFIB Small Business Economic Trends Report (the 40-year gold standard), and the Tatum Index of Business Conditions. In terms of context, my “trends and conditions” poll responses have consistently aligned with the results of these two during the same periods.

Here’s why all of this matters: Almost five years into a recovery, the economy should be growing at 4%, but is barely reaching 2%. And in December, economists expected 200,000 new jobs, but were shocked when only 74,000 were created.

The small business sector produces over half of the U.S. economy and most of the net new jobs. If you’re wondering what happened to the missing 2% GDP and millions of new jobs, they’re lost in the production small businesses have not created since 2009.

When we’ve asked about the single greatest thing holding small businesses back since 2009, the answer has been consistently and overwhelmingly “uncertainty” created by anti-business attitudes and policies coming out of Washington, like Obamacare and proposing a minimum wage increase.

Small business owners are pathological optimists. But Washington has taken a toll on their reality and expectations—and by extension, the economy.

In the 21st century, as small business goes, so goes America.

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Be sure to check out my latest segment on The Small Business Advocate Show® where I talk more in-depth about the economy and how small business effects it.

Connecting the small business, government and the economy

My latest book The Age of the Customer® is available at the following locations. Be sure to purchase your copy today to help your small business stay relevant.

Video: I know what I was feeling, but what was I thinking?

In this week's video I share my insight into impulsiveness with small business owners.

I know what I was feeling, but what was I thinking? from Jim Blasingame on Vimeo.

Will and Faith - it’s a beautiful thing

Richard Devos, co-founder of Amway, once said, “The only thing that stands between a man and what he wants from life is often merely the will to try it and the faith to believe that it is possible.”

Will and faith; two powerful little words that, unfortunately, are not often used in the marketplace these days.

Human will is an anthropological alloy forged of spirit, desire, and conscience. It is an invisible force deep inside of you that makes things happen in your life. Faith, it has been said, is believing in something you can’t see. Faith in yourself is faith in your will.

But if will is the atomic power of your existence, without faith, it’s inert.

If you want to see a demonstration of will and faith working together, go watch a small business owner. Here’s what you’ll see: A will that drives them to create things and accomplish feats lesser mortals are barely able to dream about, in tandem with a faith that allows them to keep going when most others would accept defeat.

Small business owners are like bumblebees: they don’t know that they aren’t supposed to fly. And yet they do. Powered by will, on the aerodynamics of faith, small business owners fly their dreams every day.

It’s a beautiful thing.

The CEO Question: Where is my company going?

In my last column I stated that every business, including small ones, have assignments that can only be performed by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Plus I revealed:

  1. CEO strategic responsibilities are not optional.
  2. Small business CEOs have to periodically transport themselves from the operating trenches to a 30,000 foot strategic orbit.
  3. The CEO’s three Big Pictures: Where have we been? Where are we now? Where are we going?

The third Big Picture is the sole domain of the CEO, and that’s what we’re going to cover now. A handy way to find answers to “Where are we going?” is to apply what I call the Big Four Factors: Bricks, Clicks, People, and Capital.

BRICKS
Location and space is considered over a span of years: one, three, five, twenty, etc. What will your operation need to look like in five years? How long will your current location serve you? Will the physical space align with your strategy? What infrastructure and equipment will you need in one year, or five?

CLICKS
This is internal and external technology. Internal is hardware, software, networking and connectivity required to both buy and sell efficiently and productively. External is the technology you ask customers to use in order to do business with you. This timeline is shorter than BRICKS; usually months or a year or two.

PEOPLE
The line between consideration for PEOPLE and CLICKS is becoming increasingly blurred. What will the company need humans to do in one, three, or five years? How many people and what kind of talent will you need? What kind of technology and training will team members need to meet these requirements? How will technology adoption impact the organization chart? Which jobs require employees and which could be filled by an outsource contract?

The second part of PEOPLE is customers. What will your customer profile look like in one, three, or five years? What will be their expectations? What do you have to do to meet those expectations with relevance, not just competiveness?

CAPITAL
How will you fund the future? What financial management systems and standards will you need? What combination of retained earnings, debt, and investment will produce a successful capitalization strategy?

Only someone filling the role of CEO can ask and find answer these strategic questions. Who’s asking these questions in your business?

This will be on the test: CEO duties are not optional?

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Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

Video: Blasingame’s 2014 Crystal Ball Predictions

In this week's video I share my 2014 predictions about what will happen with the economy and trending topics.

Check out more of Jim’s great content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!




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