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Archive for the 'Entrepreneurship' Category

Strengthen your spirit and watch how high you soar

Do you know what a jet fighter is?  If you said airplane, you’re only half right.  In the strict nomenclature, a jet fighter is actually a weapons platform. Its job is to deliver ordinance to a target, not to fly the pilot around.

In that sense, the human body - his vessel of protoplasm we drive around - is not really what a human is. It’s actually a delivery platform for the will of our spirit; the true life force that is who we really are.

One of the things I have observed about humans is that we often don’t understand, and therefore tend to under-employ, the power of our spirit. We seem so obsessed with the body that we don’t spend enough time contemplating the presence and power of the spirit.

Someone once told me how little of our brain’s power we actually use.  I don’t remember the percentage, but I do remember it was astonishingly low.  I wonder if there is a connection between under-usage of the brain and limited awareness of the spirit.

Author and philosopher, Colin Wilson, wrote, “We possess such immense resources of power that pessimism is a laughable absurdity.” The power he’s talking about is that of the spirit.

Pessimism can’t be overcome by our bodies. Dealing with frustration and overcoming disappointment are both tasks performed way above the pay-grade of protoplasm. If you are a small business owner you either already understand this, or are acquiring that understanding a little more every day.

I’ve been a small business owner for a long time and have observed others far longer. I can’t imagine how any of us could do what we do without a strong spirit.  The challenge is to become more aware of our spirit and flex it - like a muscle - to our advantage.

A consumption tax is bad for America and worse for America’s small businesses

If not already, you’ll soon hear about two consumption tax alternatives to accomplish tax reform: a value-added tax (VAT), and the “Fair Tax,” which is a national sales tax.
VAT is added to products incrementally in the steps of the production/distribution process and passed to consumers in the ultimate price. The oxymoronic Fair Tax is collected from the end user at the point of sale, like state and local sales taxes. Both are bad ideas.
As major tax reform has been lately debated, in addition to tinkering with the current system or replacing it with a flat tax, politicians on both sides of the aisle have proposed consumption tax options. And they will be part of the 2016 presidential campaign debates.
SmallBusinessEconomyFiscally, the attraction of a consumption tax is that, in the largest consumer economy on the planet, it would raise a lot of tax revenue. Politically a consumption tax raises revenue on the rich more appropriately and, even though it’s regressive for the poor, they would receive some kind of a federal rebate or credit.

Consider these reasons why either consumption tax is a bad idea:

  • We know that the big spending party is the one in the majority. So without imposing strict fiscal discipline - like a balanced budget amendment - a consumption tax will give politicians more money without solving budget deficits or national debt challenges.
  • Most European countries have collected consumption taxes for years, and yet they continue to have significant economic/fiscal challenges.
  • European consumption taxes are on top of all other taxes, including income tax.
  • All European consumption tax percentages started small, but today the average is 19% - again, in addition to income tax.

A consumption tax would also hurt small businesses disproportionately. Big businesses have systems in place to deal with new government compliance, like tax collection, and they ALWAYS pass along expense increases to customers. Small businesses will be harmed because:

  • We aren’t always able to pass along cost increases, even a mandated VAT.
  • New tax compliance and remittance will be prohibitively expensive.
  • The sticker price of a national sales tax will take time for consumers to adjust to, which will hurt small businesses more.

The only way we should consider any kind of a consumption tax is if it completely replaces the federal income tax, which would require repealing the 16th Amendment. Good luck with that because in the 227 years since the Constitution was ratified, only one amendment has ever been repealed - and that was to end prohibition.

Write this on a rock … A consumption tax is a bad idea, especially for America’s small businesses.

Being a small business owner will change you

If you don’t like change don’t become a small business owner. If you like everything about who you are and will never want to change, don’t follow the path of an entrepreneur.

The forces in the world of small business will change you. If you survive, you will become smarter, tougher, more self-confident, more aware of your instincts, and know more about what you’re made of than ever before. If you survive.

Charles Francis Adams, Jr., historian and grandson of John Quincy Adams, once observed that, during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln, “…developed immensely;  he became in fact another being. History, indeed, hardly presents an analogous case of education through trial.”

During your life as a small business owner, you will acquire an education through trial and this education will change you. Armed with that understanding you can embrace the education, value the changes, and develop immensely.

And thanks for being part of my community. I’ll see you on the radio and the Internet.

RESULTS: Where would you go for a business loan?

The Question:

If you needed a business loan for for equipment or working capital, which of these sources would you go to first?

16% - One of the major national banks
69% - A local community bank
12% - A credit union
3% - Crowdsourcing loan
Jim’s Comments:
As you can see, almost 7 of 10 of our small business audience use community banks for business loans. This is interesting because according to the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA), nationally almost 6 of 10 small business loans are made by community banks. The big news for this poll is that crowdfunding registered for the first time. The number is small, but this credit source essentially didn’t exist a couple of years ago.

I’m going to have more to say about this, including the implications of all of the responses for small businesses and credit organizations in my Feature Article next week. Stay tuned.

Don’t slay your business alligators, starve them

Small business owners know all about that metaphorical business reptile — the ubiquitous alligator. They seem to pop up everywhere, continuously eating away at business performance and impeding work-life balance.

Best-selling author and friend, Marc Allen, introduced me to a way to minimize the impact of alligators. When he has a difficult challenge, he has “a word with himself” as follows:

“I will deal with this problem in an easy and relaxed manner, in a healthy and positive way.”

Clear your mind of other issues except the alligator at hand: negative cash flow, lost customer, etc. Close your eyes, breathe deeply and repeat after Marc with emphasis on the key words: easy, relaxed, healthy and positive. I found that saying it out loud seems to improve focus; perhaps hearing the words make them sink in better.

This affirmation is also a great way to start the day and fits right into a prayer.

CC Photo via PixabayCC Photo via Pixabay

As the CEO of your business, it’s your job to deal with business alligators because they don’t go away on their own. If your enterprise is to survive, let alone flourish, you have to deal with each alligator that pops up. To paraphrase Rudyard Kipling, your business’s sustainability and organizational effectiveness depends on the ability to keep your head when all around alligators are trying to take it off.

To keep your head and at least stay even with the alligators you must do three things. This first two we’ve talked about in the past: show up every day and practice operating fundamentals.

The third thing is something even the most capable and professional manager benefits from: positive self-talk. For example, before you go best-two-falls-out-of-three with the next alligator, remember: easy, relaxed, healthy, positive.

Positive self-talk is important for your spirit — you know, the force that drives your protoplasm around. You probably take good care of your body: healthy diet, exercise, all that. But are you feeding your spirit?

Business alligators love a malnourished spirit; it’s their favorite food and they’re voracious eaters. But a well-nourished spirit reduces the size of alligators, which contributes to success. And a strong spirit is a confident spirit, and alligators hate the taste of confidence.

Confidence comes with experience, which you get by showing up every day, practicing the fundamentals, and using positive self-talk to remind yourself that you have the right to feel confident.

It takes more than positive self-talk to slay an alligator, but it will minimize an alligator’s impact.

Write this on a rock … Repeat after Marc: Easy . . . relaxed . . . healthy . . . positive.

Jim Blasingame is the author of the award-winning book, “The Age of the Customer: Prepare for the Moment of Relevance.”

Should the Internet become a utility?

As you may remember, I’ve been reporting on the Net Neutrality issue for over a decade, including all the significant players in the debate.

Most reasonable people agree that one of the reasons the Internet has been such a phenomenal success is because it has been so lightly regulated. However, as I reported recently, President Obama has taken executive steps to make the Internet a public utility, subject to all sorts of government oversight.

When we asked our small business audience what they thought about this plan, almost three-fourths reject the president’s idea, with only 2% who think his plan is good.

One reason for this overwhelming response against the president is because small business owners have benefited on many levels, directly and indirectly, from an unencumbered Internet. And since over half of the U.S. economy is produced by small businesses, the president should pay attention to what this sector thinks.

In case you missed them, here are links to three articles I’ve written about the president’s  behavior regarding the Internet.

Why you should care about the net neutrality debate

If you like your Internet, you may not be able to keep it

Obama’s Internet words don’t match his actions