Tag Archive for 'business owners'

POLL RESULTS: As a citizen and business owner, what do you see as the greatest threat to you and yours right now?

The Question:

As a citizen and business owner, what do you see as the greatest threat to you and yours right now?

18%The poor condition of the economy
7% - Climate change
18% - Expansion of radical Islamic terrorism
2% - Not enough gun control
56% - Over-taxed and over-regulated by the government

Jim’s Comments:
The economy sucks for many Main Street businesses, and terrorism’s on everyone’s minds. But when we asked small business owners what was the greatest threat to them and theirs, those two issues only garnered about one-fifth of our responses each. As you can see, almost six of ten believe their greatest threat is encroachment of the government.
Think about that. The thing that most small business owners lay awake at night worrying about is how their government will hurt them. What’s wrong with this picture? #GODHELPUS
Thanks for playing along. Please participate in this week’s poll below.
http://survey.constantcontact.com/poll/a07ebz4037kii24k7ss/start.html

Dave was an entrepreneurial horse

Dave was the fifth of twelve children during the Great Depression. His father worked at a sawmill and was a part-time basket weaver.

Dave had some problems:  He was a stutterer, he had epilepsy, plus a learning disorder, all of which prevented him from graduating high school until he was 21. How do you like Dave’s chances in life so far?

But Dave was a good employee: first a Fuller Brush salesman and next a route man for two bakeries. Then, with all of his personal challenges, he purchased and successfully ran a restaurant and a grocery store.

Remember his father’s part-time basket weaving? Well, Dave started selling baskets: first from his father’s hands, and later from Dave’s factory. Oh, that’s right. You didn’t know Dave had a basket factory. Well, this was the basket factory Dave sold his two very successful businesses to buy. Turns out Dave had serious entrepreneurial sap rising in his bark.

Dave’s friends, family, and bankers were incredulous. Why leave a successful and sure thing to make baskets? By the way, they knew Dave didn’t know anything about how to make baskets himself. Would you have invested in Dave?

Turns out Dave also had vision. He envisioned a world that would need baskets—lots of baskets. And Dave Longaberger wanted to fill that need.

Over the next 25 years, Longaberger Baskets grew from selling a handful of Dave’s father’s baskets to millions of the woven wonders. Not too shabby for the stuttering, epileptic, learning disabled son of a sawmill worker, who took 15 years to get out of school.

What Dave lacked in education he made up with uncanny instincts.  Any lack of sophistication Dave had was more than compensated for by an innate leadership ability that made employees want to follow him and customers want to do business with him.

Dave liked to say, “Your success will ultimately depend on the relationships you build with people.”  There are a lot of highly educated folks who still need to learn that lesson.

Education is important. But an educated entrepreneur without instincts and leadership ability is like a jeweled Spanish saddle with no horse to put it on.  As we say of someone who possesses awesome ability, Dave was a horse — an entrepreneurial horse.

Next time you feel deficient because you don’t have an MBA, ask yourself what Dave would have done. When you’re tempted to have a pity party because you’ve had it tough, imagine what Dave Longaberger would have said if you tried to lay a whiny attitude on him.

Write this on a rock… I’ll let Dave handle this one: “Your success will ultimately depend on the relationships you build with people.”

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

The Out Basket

Harold Alexander, British field marshal during WWII, and 1st Earl of Tunis, had a habit at the end of the day of “tipping” the remaining work left in his In basket into his Out basket.  When asked why he did this he replied, “It saves time and you’d be surprised at how much doesn’t come back.”


For small business owners, the Earl’s management style could be dangerous; many of us don’t have anyone to come by and take the stuff from our Out basket.  If we don’t do it, it doesn’t get done. But I wonder about this method for dealing with worry.

What if, at the end of each day, you “tipped” all of your left over problems into your mind’s Out basket — the problem customers, the bank payment, the new competitor — go ahead, put all of those alligators right in there. Don’t worry. Those that need to be will be there in the morning.  But you might be surprised at the ones that just “don’t come back.”  And there you were worrying about them.  Pretty silly, huh?

In his book, Blue Highways, William “Least Heat Moon” Trogdon reported that his grandfather, who was full-blooded American Indian (Osage), once told him, “Some things don’t have to be remembered.  They remember themselves.”

So, there you have it.  If it’s important it, will be there in the morning.  If not, it will go away and wasn’t worth the worry.  And worry is one of the greatest inner demons small business owners have to slay.

Give that “tipping” thing a try. It just might save you some worry. Now where did I put that Out basket?

Replace worry & fear with business performance

In his book, Blue Highways, William “Least Heat Moon” Trogdon said his Osage Indian grandfather, William “Heat” Moon, taught him this about worry: “Some things don’t have to be remembered; they remember themselves.”

Owners are justified in worrying about their small businesses, but sometimes they waste emotional energy worrying about things over which they have little or no control, or aren’t likely to happen.

In the movie, Bowfinger, Eddie Murphy played Kit Ramsey, an action movie star also famous for being a pathological worrier. He leads a frightened and miserable life because he worries about strange things that would never happen.

Ramsey’s greatest worry was being captured, killed and eaten by space aliens. He also worried about being crushed by a gigantic foot, or that his body might burst into flames. Pretty silly, huh?!

Watching Murphy play this unstable character is hilarious. But it’s not funny or silly when you and I worry about things that, like Ramsey’s obsessions, probably will never happen.

·  Instead of aliens, how much do you stress out about your business being killed and eaten by the dreaded Internet competition?

Stop obsessing about online competitors. First, you should be an online competitor yourself. Second, without a fixed base, online-only competitors may have what customers need, but you have something more powerful: You know what customers want.

·  Instead of being stepped on by a giant foot, do you obsess about being squashed by one of the Big Boxes?

In The Age of the Customer, prospects often rule you in or out before they know how much you charge. You can establish a level of relevance with prospects and customers that no Big Box can, as they continue to focus first on being competitive.

·  Instead of bursting into flames, do you wake up in the night obsessing that your business might go up in smoke if customers abandon you?

In The Age of the Customer, you actually should obsess about customer expectations, otherwise they won’t really leave, you’ll just become irrelevant.

Instead of living a frightened and miserable life like Kit Ramsey, put that energy into performing so well that any competitor would be hard-pressed to take customers away. Build relationships with customers to the degree that when something they want pops into their heads, as Trogdon’s grandfather would say, your company remembers itself.

Write this on a rock -

Don’t live a frightened and miserable life. Replace worry with action and performance.

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

Continuing education leads to more intelligent planning

The life of a small business owner is hectic, to say the least. Multi-tasking is the norm. So much of our day is spent reacting to the crisis of the moment, conducting the business of the day, and initiating our plans for the future. And once we acquire a level of competence in this life we’ve chosen, it’s natural to want to relax, settle in, and seek the ease that can come with familiarity and repetition.

But the marketplace isn’t a comfortable, lumbering vessel anymore, rolling along like a single screw trawler. It’s become more like a vibrant starship capable of warp speed. Indeed, it takes a much more knowledgeable person to successfully operate a business in today’s marketplace than it did even 10 years ago.

The great American revolutionary and legendary wordsmith, Thomas Paine, said, “I have seldom passed five minutes of my life, however circumstanced, in which I did not acquire some knowledge.” This from a corset maker who dropped out of school at 13.

You can’t anticipate everything, so react when you must. The business of the day, obviously, must be attended to. And what will you have tomorrow if you don’t plan for it?

But however circumstanced, before you succumb to the human tendency to rest on your laurels, make it part of your daily tasks to acquire some knowledge.

Make it your daily intention to learn something new that might help you react more effectively, operate more profitably, and plan more intelligently.

RESULTS: What are your future plans for offering health care to your employees?

The Question:
What are your future plans for offering health care (HC) benefits to your employees?

36% - We have and will continue to offer HC benefits.
11% - We currently have HC benefits, but plan to discontinue.
31% - We don’t have HC benefits and won’t provide them in the future.
0% - We currently don’t provide HC benefits, but plan to start.
22% -  We don’t have employees.

Jim’s Comments:
Of our respondents who have employees, those who provide healthcare benefits are not far below those who don’t.  I’m taking that as a good indicator. The response that is troubling is that 11% are currently providing coverage but plan to stop, plus no one reported they were planning to start offering healthcare benefits.  Part of the reason might be associated with economic conditions, but based on what we’re learning, it’s my opinion that the imposition of Obamacare is also involved.
I’ve been very outspoken about my opposition to Obamacare. Unfortunately, every day that goes by Obamacare continues to affirm my predictions that it’s a bad alternative to what we had and what could have been done to accomplish real reform. On my radio program this week I asked healthcare policy expert, Grace-Marie Turner, President of the Galen Institute, if 2015 was going to be the worst year yet for Obamacare? She said every year is going to replace the previous one as the worst year of Obamacare. Click here to listen to our discussions.




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