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Archive for the 'Entrepreneurship' Category

RESULTS: How concerned are you about potential business damage due to racial tensions?

The Question:
How concerned are you about potential damage to your business due to racial tensions?

35% - Not concerned at all
49% - Not concerned in my market, but upset about owners who’ve been harmed
14% - Somewhat concerned and upset about owners who’ve been harmed
3% - Very concerned - if it can happen in Ferguson, it can happen here
Jim’s Comments:
As you can see, while most of us aren’t worried about being looted by racially-charged protesters, we do have empathy for those who’ve been harmed.

But we’ve got to stop acting like America has made no progress with race relations in the past half-century every time a single altercation happens. In America, where the rule of law is supposed to replace anarchy, how does what happened between Mr. Brown and Officer Wilson justify the destruction of neighborhood small businesses?

And shame on national leaders whose words and behavior give grievance-merchants license to incite riots that make collateral damage of innocent people, including Main Street business owners.

Results of my 2014 Crystal Ball Predictions

Here are the results of my 2014 predictions, what happened and my score.

Prediction: Five years after the Great Recession ended, the economy will average less than 3% growth. Actual: Although surging, 2014 GDP will be about 2.3%. Plus 1.

Prediction: Even with a slightly improved economy, small business (SB) optimism levels will still be below the NFIB Index’s 41-year average of 100 points. Actual: NFIB Index 2014 SB optimism is below 95 points. Unfortunately, plus 1.

Prediction: Continued uncertainty for the sixth straight year will make SBs reluctant to invest and borrow money. ActualNFIB Index shows small businesses loan demand and investing at record low levels. Plus 1.

Prediction: Uncertainty about Obamacare’s impact will cause SBs to continue hiring reluctance. Actual: NFIB and other surveys shows SB hiring still negligible. Plus 1.

Prediction: Obamacare will continue to be an economic headwind in 2014. Actual: Owners and managers continue to identify Obamacare as a significant negative factor in business decisions. Plus 1.

Prediction: More significant than the media favorite U3 unemployment rate, the employment participation rate, currently 63%, will remain at a 38-year (Carter) record low. Actual: Current labor participation is 62.8%. Plus 1.

Photo by Garry Knight on

Photo by Garry Knight on

Prediction: The Fed will discontinue unprecedented quantitative easing (QE) that infused trillions of dollars into Wall Street since 2008 without benefiting Main Street. Actual: Fed ended QE in October. Plus 1.

Prediction: A combination of disruptions will produce a challenging year for Wall StreetActual: Nothing seems to impede the madness of Wall Street crowds. Can you say bubble? Minus 1.

Prediction: Obamacare’s constitutionality will be challenged by many lawsuits. Actual: Currently 104 lawsuits have been filed against Obamacare, including one before the Supreme Court. Plus 1.

Prediction: Democrats running for re-election in 2014 will run from the president. Actual: No Democrat wanted Mr. Obama anywhere near their campaign, but it still didn’t help. Plus 1.

Prediction: The GOP will regain control of the Senate and maintain a majority in the House in November. Actual: Republicans swept almost everything, from the Senator down to dog catcher at the local level. Plus 1.

Prediction: President Obama will prevail on immigration but will lose on minimum wage. Actual: Immigration win by Obama’s executive order but no minimum wage increase. Plus 1.

Prediction: Hillary Clinton will not announce her 2016 presidential intentions before the mid-term elections. Actual: Everyone knows she’s running; she just hasn’t announced yet. Plus 1.

Prediction: Auburn will defeat Florida State in the BCS Championship Game. Actual: Great game, but the Noles won 34-31. Minus 1.

Write this on a rock …

This year I’m 12 for 14, or 86%, taking my 14-year record to 73% (’08 was a rough year).

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

Tackle obstacles one at a time for success

Small business owners always have more than their share of alligators chomping on them. We have them in spades; they eat away at our performance and create impediments to achieving balance in our lives.

Photo credit: The Spiral Spirit

Best-selling author, Marc Allen, offers a way to deal with alligators. He says whenever he has to tackle a difficult challenge, he repeats the following affirmation:

I will deal with this (cash flow problem, difficult employee,

life decision, etc.) in an easy and relaxed manner, in a healthy and positive way.

It’s also a helpful affirmation to start the day, and it fits right into a prayer.

Clear your mind of other issues except the alligator at hand. Then close your eyes, breathe deeply and repeat the affirmation with emphasis on the key words: easy, relaxed, healthy, and positive.

If you’re going to survive in small business, let alone succeed, you have to learn how to manage alligators for the following two important reasons.

1. Your business
You are where the proverbial buck stops — the Alpha Member of your business. If you don’t make it nobody in your organization makes it. Your business depends on the ability to keep your head, as Rudyard Kipling once proposed, when all about you are losing theirs. To put a fine point on it, it’s your job to manage alligators.

2. Yourself
Specifically, we’re talking about your spirit — the force that drives your protoplasm around. You know, the only thing that’s different about identical twins. Like navels, everybody has a spirit and they’re all different (not sure about identical twins’ navels).

Anyway, you probably take care of your protoplasm: healthy diet, exercise, all that. But are you feeding your spirit? Alligators love an undernourished spirit. It’s their favorite food and they’re voracious eaters.

One of the best ways to nourish your spirit is to learn how to define success in terms other than money and stuff — like family, friends, (your idea here). Definitely not just stuff.

The good news is, feeding your spirit starves your alligators. Remember, you can’t kill all the alligators, but you don’t have to feed them.

Easy … relaxed … healthy … positive.

What entrepreneurial desire do you possess?

In a passage from Upanishads, the ancient and sacred texts of Hinduism, the writer proposes this thought about desire:

“A man whose mind wanders and longs for objects of desire, goes again to life and death according to his desires. But he who possesses the End of all longing, and has found fulfillment, even in this life his desires will fade away.”

In the world of entrepreneurs, desire is the common denominator and truly a powerful force. But what is not common among entrepreneurs is what is desired.

Perhaps there are two kinds of entrepreneurial desire: to accomplish something entrepreneurial and to be an entrepreneur. It’s important to understand the distinction because while both may lead to success, the latter is more likely to provide fulfillment.

Here are examples of desiring to do something entrepreneurial.

  • You’re tired of taking orders so you start a business.
  • You start a business as a way to make a living.
  • You want to do something specific on your own.

The desire to do something entrepreneurial is akin to longing to be a champion, standing in the victory circle with the trophy and a check. It’s focusing on a result at the finish line.

Clearly there’s nothing wrong with finding yourself in the winner’s circle. But it’s important to understand that all of the above examples are what the Upanishads would call longing for objects of desire. Desiring to do something entrepreneurial is a means to an end.

Those who desire to be an entrepreneur are like Olympic athletes: always knowing that while winning the gold medal is a worthy goal, preparing for and running the race can also provide fulfilment. The Upanishads might say one who desires to be an entrepreneur possesses the end of all longing and will likely find fulfillment.

Doing something entrepreneurial isn’t as risky as it might seem; if you fail you can always go back to being an employee. But being an entrepreneur is not a means to an end; it’s a way of life. Failures are merely setbacks, not the end of an entrepreneurial race. One who desires to be an entrepreneur longs to create as much as to have what is created.

In Sanskrit upanishad means knowledge by which ignorance is destroyed. It’s not for me to say if desiring to be an entrepreneur is better than desiring to do something entrepreneurial. But before you begin your journey make sure you’re not ignorant of the reason for your entrepreneurial desire.

Write this on a rock….Is your entrepreneurial desire a means to an end or a way of life?

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

Small business success requires two kinds of passion

Over the years, when I’ve counseled budding entrepreneurs, it always amazed me how many haven’t conducted anything close to a prudent amount of research in the run up to starting their businesses. Indeed, they often act as if they must get their business started right now or they’ll just pop.

Photo credit to Anthony Easton on

Photo credit: Anthony Easton,

That kind of impatience and lack of discipline is dangerous and I had to do my best to talk them down off the ledge. The trick was to walk the fine line between slowing them down to a prudent speed without dousing the fire of their entrepreneurial passion with a bucket of tough love.

Yes, passion is important. When would-be small business owners get that far away look in their eyes at this impetuous stage of a startup, they have plenty of what I call market passion: passion for what the business does. They can’t wait to sell suits, manufacture motors, bake bagels, or (your dream here). But without full devotion to something else, what I call operating passion, aka, business fundamentals, market passion is no more valuable than a dream. Or as my Texas friends say, “All hat and no cattle.”

This will be on the test: Success as a small business owner requires market and operating passion.

Market passion – devotion to what your business does – is like a mother’s love for her newborn baby, it’s the easy kind. Unfortunately, in business it can be too easy.

The object of operating passion is less adorable but not less important. It’s dedication to consistently executing management fundamentals while accepting a return-on-investment timeline that pushes the boundaries of deferred gratification. It’s similar to how parents love their teenagers even when they don’t like them very much. See, I told you it was less adorable.

A starry-eyed startup must make the distinction between market and operating passion. Passion for what you sell won’t be enough when sales fall below projections, when payables exceed receivables, when it’s time to make another payroll (“Is it Friday again? Already?!”), when you lose one of your best customers, or when an employee has to be let go. Sometimes they all happen at once.

It isn’t possible to list all challenges the marketplace will throw at your business. But regardless of what and when, sustainable success requires you to manage both market and operating passion so proficiently that you become a high-performing, professional small business CEO, instead of someone who dreamed of being one.

Write this on a rock … Small business success requires two kinds of passion: market and operating.

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

When cause-and-effect met humanity and changed the world

As the 17th century dawned, cause-and-effect was merging parallel universes.

In the Old World, a decision by a group of Leiden Separatists put them on a circuitous journey. Meanwhile, in the New World, a manchild named Tisquantum was born to the Wampanoag Indians.

Both the Separatists and Tisquantum became very important to America’s future, but not before their lives would change and intertwine in ways not to be imagined by either.

Photo credit to

Photo credit to

Seeking religious freedom, the Separatists crossed Europe and then the Atlantic. On their odyssey they would steel their convictions, which proved handy in the New World.

Incredibly, Tisquantum crossed the Atlantic six times, first as a hostage and later as an interpreter. On his odyssey, Tisquantum learned Old World languages that, combined with his New World survival skills, would contribute to his rendezvous with destiny.

During their journeys, both experienced a name change: The Separatists became Pilgrims and Tisquantum became Squanto. And as the Pilgrims prepared for their first Atlantic crossing, Squanto made his last.

Arriving at his birthplace in 1619, Squanto found that his entire village and family had been wiped out by an epidemic. On the day after Christmas, 1620, with the Mayflower Compact in hand, the Pilgrims came ashore at what is now Massachusetts, on a place they named Plymouth, after the city where their voyage began.

The Pilgrims’ first winter in the New World was brutal; less than half of the 102 colonists survived to spring. Then on March 16, 1621, an Indian named Samoset walked up to the Pilgrims and said, “Hello, English.” Very soon he recognized these sad-looking folks needed help from someone who spoke their language better.

The two universes finally converged and cause-and-effect met humanity as Samoset brought Squanto to the Pilgrims.  In one of the great moments of serendipity, it turns out “Plymouth” was the very spot of Squanto’s ill-fated village.

Squanto spent the rest of 1621 befriending the Pilgrims and teaching them how to survive in the New World. It’s clear that his contribution was critical to the survival of these important American forebears.

When the courage and convictions of one group of individuals converged with the humanity of two others, something special happened: Part of the foundation of the most benevolent nation in history was born. This week we give thanks for these individuals and the blessings that have accrued to us 393 years later.

Write this on a rock … One person can make a difference. Happy Thanksgiving.

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