Monthly Archive for February, 2015

RESULTS: How much of your revenue comes from online sales?

The Question:

Small businesses are increasingly using e-business to grow. How much of your annual revenue do you estimate comes from online sales?

0% - 100%
6% - More than 50%
39% - Less than 50%
55% - None
Jim’s Comments:
As you can see, our respondents this week aren’t using the Internet much to drive sales. Over the years our responses have been consistent with several scientific surveys I report on my radio program, but I hope this isn’t the case this time.  Consider the research below:

  • According to an aggregation of sales research, the amount of global online sales reached almost $1.5 TRILLION in 2014 (all caps for emphasis), and is projected to be almost $2.5 TRILLION by 2018. And that’s just business-to-consumer (B2C).
  • But the big online bell ringer is business-to-business (B2B), projected to reach almost $7 TRILLION by 2020.

I’m going to have more to say about this in an upcoming Feature Article, but for now let me tell you that if you’re not providing at least some online capability for all kinds of customers to do business with you online, you’re becoming a dinosaur. And we all know what happened to dinosaurs.


A few more reasons to love small businesses

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, here are the Top 10 Reasons to Love Small Business, as proposed by our friends over at the Office of Advocacy of the SBA.
10. Small businesses make up more than 99.7 percent of all employers
9. Small businesses create more than 50 percent of the non-farm private gross domestic product (GDP)

8. Small patenting firms produce 16 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms

7. The 28.2 million small business in the United States are located in virtually every neighborhood
6. Small businesses employ almost 50 percent of all private sector workers

5. Home-based businesses account for 52 percent of all small businesses

4. Small businesses make up 98 percent of exporters and produce 33 percent of all export value

3. Small businesses with employees start up at a rate of over 500,000 per year

2. Four years after start-up, half of all small businesses with employees remain open

1. The latest figures show that small businesses create 63 percent of the net new jobs in our economy

**Photo via Flickr by https://www.flickr.com/photos/sis/98171915/


Obama’s Internet words don’t match his actions

“You will know them by their fruits.” This ancient wisdom is from the author of the Gospel of Matthew.

Sixteen centuries later, in his book “Will and Doom,” the Rev. Gershom Bulkeley, paraphrased Matthew with, “Actions are more significant than words.”

In the 21st century this timeless maxim continues to serve as we hear President Obama say, “I intend to protect a free and open Internet.”

In the past I’ve reported my concerns about the future of the Internet under the Obama administration. If you believe the Internet is one of mankind’s greatest inventions, if you like its current low barrier to entry for personal and professional benefit, if you’re responsible for the future of a business, then you should share my concerns.

CC Photo via Pixabay

CC Photo via Pixabay

1.  President Obama treats the Internet as a political and diplomatic bargaining tool. After the U.S. government was embarrassed by Edward Snowden’s theft of secrets, the President announced intentions to relinquish U.S. control of Internet governance to a “global, multi-stakeholder community,” even though there was time left on the contract with ICANN (For more on this, see my 3/23/14 column, “If you like your Internet, you may not be able to keep it”).

It’s no secret the U.N., a global, multi-stakeholder community, covets control of a ubiquitous asset through which it can exert more influence and levy a global use tax. Nothing fits that profile better than the Internet. If Obama’s governance plan for the Internet comes to pass, his words, “protect a free and open Internet … so innovators and entrepreneurs can reshape the world,” won’t match his actions.

2.  The commercial Internet has flourished for more than 20 years thanks to a very lightly regulated environment. By definition such broadband laissez-faire is unacceptable to President Obama, who wants to impose his own version of net neutrality.

Consequently, the President’s FCC chairman and straw man, Tom Wheeler, has announced plans for an “Open Internet Order” to reclassify broadband access as a “telecom service” under Title II of the Communications Act. This means the Internet would become a government regulated – and ultimately taxed – public utility. Turning the Internet into a utility would be like performing a heart transplant on someone who just needs a baby aspirin. (For more, see my 11/16/14 column “Why you should care about Net Neutrality”).

Today the Internet is not without governance and usage issues, but none that can’t be handled by marketplace participants large and small through contract, creativity and competition.

Write this on a rock … If Obama’s plans for the Internet come to pass, his words, “I intend to protect a free and open Internet,” will not match his actions.

RESULTS: How do you rate President’s Obama’s years in office?

The Question:

President Obama just delivered his seventh State of the Union. After six years in office, how do you rate his presidency?

4% - I give him an A; he’s done an excellent job.
6% - I score him a C+ to a B; he’s done an average to good job.
19% - I give him a D to a C; he’s just been average or less.
70% - I give him an F; his presidency is a total failure.

Jim’s Comments:
As you can see, President Obama doesn’t have a very good rep on Main Street. Small business owners may not be the most sophisticated in the marketplace, but we don’t need an MBA to pick up on anti-business rhetoric and policies. And from other polls I’ve seen, these numbers are consistent even among business owners who once voted for the president. I’m going to have more to say about this in an upcoming Feature Article. Stay tuned.

Secret to Success? Mind Over Matter

Have you ever seen someone who moved objects with their mind, or bent a spoon by merely concentrating on it?  Telekinesis, as defined by Webster, is the power to move an object by psychic force alone. Mind over matter.
The idea of telekinesis has fascinated humans for millennia, including this human. Like me, you probably have a healthy level of skepticism about such claims. But what would you say if I said you are capable of telekinesis?
If you have ever done any physical training, you know that your body constantly sends messages to your brain that it’s ready to shut down.  When that first dissenting word from your leg muscles hit your brain did you obey, or did you send back a message that those muscles would just have to tough it out?  Sometimes one side of your brain, the side focused on your goal, has to have a word with the other side, the one that is a close friend with comfort.
At some time in our lives, most of us ran, jumped, cycled, lifted, swam, etc., at performance levels beyond which seemed possible to us in the early stages of training. We learned that building strength and endurance requires our body’s comfort to become subordinate to attaining a goal we had set.  What is that if not mind over matter?
As small business owners, we perform a kind of entrepreneurial telekinesis every day.  We accomplish things that marketplace pedestrians would say are impossible.  And if you think I’m using the term telekinesis too loosely, what else would you call it when a small business owner defies the marketplace, the competition, and conventional thought by not only surviving, but actually thriving? Your entrepreneurial mind has the potential to defy the odds, the gravity of the marketplace, and matter, as we know it.
Will is an intangible force created by another intangible, desire. As you desire to move your business forward, whenever the matter is weak, you compensate with will.  Mind over matter.
But don’t try this on spoons.



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