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    Archive for the 'Entrepreneurship' Category

    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

    Five Things to Do for a Successful Referral Strategy

    For as long as businesses have tried to get customers to buy their stuff, a referral has been the holy grail of prospecting. Like the mythical chalice, a referral is golden.

    To emphasize the power of referrals, allow me to introduce “Blasingame’s Prospect Entrée Spectrum” (BPES), which is a way of valuing the method used to get in front of a prospect.

    CC Photo via PixabayThe BPES is on a scale of 1-10, with a cold call being a 1, and the unqualified referral a 10. The difference between scoring a referral and making a cold call is, to borrow from Mark Twain, like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. Let me put a sharper point on that: In the Age of the Customer, cold calling is a fool’s errand.

    Asking for and getting an appointment is a 5. From 2 to 5 on the spectrum are varying degrees of quality of connection that you attempt without a referral, like networking. From 6 to 9 represents varying quality of referrals. For example, a 6 is a casual referral with one of two qualifications attached: either the referrer doesn’t know you well, or doesn’t know the prospect well. The goals is to demonstrate you’re worthy of a full-throated, unqualified referral — 10 — which is almost money in the bank. When you hear someone say they’re working smarter, not harder, it means they’re earning lots of referrals, including an increasing number of 10s.

    Here are five things to do to sustain a successful referral strategy:

    2. Help customers give you referrals by teaching them how to tell others about you and your business. Instructions must be short and sweet, like an elevator pitch.

    3. Be worthy of a referral. Take good care of the referred prospect, even if you don’t make a sale.

    4. Thank the referrer every time, in person if possible, regardless of the result of the referral. Remember, getting a referral is success.

    5. If you want to get referrals, give them to others.

    On that last point, in Ecclesiastes 11:1, King Solomon wrote, “Cast your bread upon the water and in time it will come back to you.” Three millennia later, Ivan Misner, my friend and founder of Business Network International (BNI) gave us a handier way to remember the law of reciprocity. Ivan simply says, “Givers gain.” Beautiful.

    In the Age of the Customer if you’re not asking for and getting referrals, you’ll have to work much harder than is necessary just to survive.

    Write this on a rock … Seek the holy grail and Perfect 10 of prospecting – the unqualified referral.

    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/