Tag Archive for 'small business expert'

Be a professional business owner, not an amateur

Professionals are people who can do their job even when they don’t feel like it.  Amateurs are people who can’t do their job even when they do feel like it.

I like this anonymous quote because it helps me ask this question: What kind of owner are you: a professional or an amateur?

If your driving motivation to be a small business owner is status and control, you’re probably never going to be a professional.

But if you love what you do so much that you don’t want to be anywhere else but in your business, you’ll probably become a professional. You’ll become the kind of owner who shows up even when you don’t feel like it. When the chips are down. When the challenges are so great that they would crush the spirit of a lesser person.

Professional business owners know they own more than just what’s on the balance sheet - they also own their business’s challenges. And when they turn one of those challenges into an opportunity, they know that also belongs to them, which is exciting.

Amateur don’t want the work, they just want the result. Professionals love the entire process, alpha to omega, warts and all.

If you’re going to be in business, you must be in your business.

Professionals know this. Amateurs don’t.

The three points of a well-piloted entrepreneurial plan

Flight is one of the great benefits humans have acquired from the employment of mechanical advantage. When you see an airplane in flight there are three forces at work to create this benefit: thrust, lift, and control surfaces.  In order for an airplane to fly successfully, meaning where the pilot wants it to go, all three forces must be working in concert.

These forces are also in evidence when you see a successful entrepreneur.

* In an airplane, thrust comes from the engines. For entrepreneurs, thrust is their vision and determination to accomplish their goals.

* Lift in an airplane comes from the airfoils - the wings. Entrepreneurial lift comes from practicing sound and stable operating fundamentals.

* In an airplane, the control surfaces are ailerons, elevators, and rudder. In an entrepreneur, the control surfaces are all of the aspects of a healthy human life: physical, mental, cultural, familial and spiritual.

A well-piloted entrepreneurial plan recognizes that a business with only thrust and lift becomes an out-of-control rocket destined to crash.  But when appropriate and intentional influence from the control surfaces is added, entrepreneurial lift and thrust become productive and meaningful forces.

Gain and maintain balance in your professional and personal life by making sure your entrepreneurial airplane operates with the three forces of entrepreneurial flight: thrust, lift, and control surfaces.

Small business owners report top concerns

As you may remember, in our online poll last week we asked about the most pressing issues in your business today, and gave you five options:  Negative cash flow, getting a business loan,  need more customers, impact of Obamacare, or taxes and/or regulations. Here’s what we learned.

Any business that has survived since 2008 has figured out how to be successful in an extended and languishing recovery. One of the markers of that success has been deleveraging, and one of the markers of deleverage is improved cash flow. Consequently, the first two responses play off of each other: Cash flow registered only a 16% response due to deleveraging, and low–in this case zero–loan demand.

Tracking cash flow and loan demand have provided a very interesting study in business fundamentals as we’ve polled our small business audience since 2009. As loan demand continues to be almost non-existent, cash positions seem to continue to improve.

The reason Obamacare barely moving the worry meter at 5%  is because the issue is kind of dormant right now.But it will resurface in 2014 as small business owners begin to learn what the employer mandate is going to do to them beginning in 2015.

The two big responses, more customers at 54% and taxes/regulations at 25%, can be taken two ways: No business owner ever admits to having enough business and no one likes taxes and regs. But based on the economic indicators of the first half of 2014, recent tax increases, and out-of-control growth in new regulations, my instinct is that these are not gratuitous responses and are the two top concerns of most small business owners.

Thanks again for participating in our polls. Please respond to our new poll below, and keep up the good work. I’m proud of you.

Celebrating our 15th anniversary

If you will permit me, today I would like to talk about a couple of milestones of which we’re kind of proud.

On November 17, 1997, I began broadcasting The Small Business Advocate Show for two hours Monday through Friday, and ever since that first day the program has been nationally syndicated. This week we will celebrate our 15th anniversary and the beginning of our 16th year on the air.

In January 1998, we began simulcasting our show on the Internet, which makes us one of the pioneers of Internet streaming. Since 1999, we’ve offered multiple on-demand streaming options and in 2007 added the ability to podcast all current and archived interviews.

Next Monday will be my 3,901st live broadcast since we began - including all the holidays (next week I’ll broadcast my 16th consecutive live Thanksgiving Day show). Since that first broadcast, I’ve conducted over 15,500 live interviews with small business experts and entrepreneurs. When you hear me talking about making sure that you’re passionate about the business you start, if you didn’t already, now you know I practice what I preach.

From the beginning, my primary programming goal was to focus on the fundamentals that are important to successfully starting, operating and growing a small business, and to make all of the things we do available to you for free. On that last note - the free one - I must say thanks to our outstanding corporate partners, without whom the free part would not be possible, especially our Presenting Sponsor, Insperity.

Over the years I have received a number of national awards from organizations such as: the U.S. Small Business Administration, FORTUNE Small Business magazine, TALKERS magazine, the American Chamber of Commerce Executives, the American Small Business Development Centers, Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council, and New York Enterprise Report. Plus, for many years now, Google has ranked me as the #1 small business expert.

Also this week, we’re celebrating the 13th anniversary of our e-zine, The Small Business Advocate NEWSLETTER. This week’s edition, Volume XIII, Issue 52, represents 676 consecutive weekly issues since 1999. Thanks for being a loyal subscriber.

In 2012 we added a number of new small business resources, including our mobile site. If you haven’t tried it yet, just go to SmallBusinessAdvocate.com on your smart phone and the mobile version will appear automatically. We’re also very excited about the video library we’re building with our Three Minutes To Success series. Please take advantage of this resource, which as the title says, are each only about 3 minutes long. And like all of our other resources, these are free, too. Thanks again, sponsors.

Finally, thank you for your support, comments, many words of encouragement and especially the honor and privilege of being your Advocate. I’m already looking forward to the rest of our journey together. More than anything else, I want you to know how proud I am of you as a small business owner and what you have accomplished.

Nothing I do as The Small Business Advocate is about me - it’s all about you, my heroes, small business owners, regardless of where you live on planet Earth.


This week I talked more about this milestone for my show and how you should also celebrate the important milestones of your small business. Click here to download or listen.

Check out more great SBA content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

Redefining the title “Military Veteran”

America’s first military, the “Minutemen” militia, were shopkeepers, craftsmen, farmers, etc. Today we call them small business owners, but they were our first veterans.

Defining a veteran today is more complicated because there are multiple uses of the term. The Veterans Administration understandably has a strict, technical definition because it’s responsible for dispersing VA benefits. The classic definition is someone who has served on active duty for more than six months. But what about the volunteer service of the National Guard and Reserves?

For decades, National Guard members and Reservists have been comprised of two groups – those who deploy for an extended period and those who prepared themselves for a deployment. And since the Minutemen, America’s small business owners have been included in these ranks. But the past 20 years have required an extra degree of commitment from them because of the increased likelihood that they may have to leave their businesses for a deployment, possibly more than once.

Since 1990, two developments have created new expectations for America’s Guard and Reserves: 1) Three Middle East conflicts – Desert Storm, the Iraq War and the Afghan War – have combined for 20 years of deployments, so far; and 2) The increasing deployment expectations of Guard and Reserve units to augment declining regular armed forces numbers.

In Iraq and Afghanistan, the Guard and Reserves have accounted for one-third of U.S. forces, and a comparable percentage of casualties. Many of these patriots have been deployed two, three or more times. The Rand Corporation reports, “Use of the Guard and Reserve has steadily increased since the first Gulf War and this trend is likely to continue.” Indeed, you can expect the efficiency of Guard and Reserve assets to figure even more heavily in America’s national security plans in the face of impending budget cuts.

So on this Veterans Day let’s honor all who have proudly volunteered to wear the uniform. This includes members of the Guard and Reserves who have deployed alongside the regular military, as well as those volunteers who weren’t deployed, but who trained and made themselves available to be deployed for years as their country needed them.

In the modern age of American national defense, if you wore the uniform of any of the armed forces you deserve to be called a veteran and receive the gratitude and recognition of a grateful nation.

It’s time to expand our definition of a veteran.


Today on The Small Business Advocate Show I talked more about the role of National Guard and Reservists in preserving and protecting America’s liberty. Click here to download or listen.

Check out more great SBA content HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

Leaders don’t make excuses – they lead

In October 1066 AD William I, Duke of Normandy, was about to lay claim to England on the field of battle against King Harold II.

As William led his men ashore in southeast England on their way to what was to become the historic Battle of Hastings, legend has it that this man-who-would-be-king rather ignominiously stumbled and fell face-first into the mud.

One of the classic truths about leaders, including once-and-future kings and small business owners, is that stumbling is virtually ordained. So whether the untimely descent is an honest mistake or unfortunate circumstance, the question is not if we will stumble, but how we behave after the fall. One of the great maxims is that adversity doesn’t build character, it reveals it.

Back to our Norman invader: The future king of England demonstrated how leaders often have to think fast in order to snatch victory from potential disaster. Looking up from the mud, seeing “bad omen” written all over the faces of his superstitious men, William stood up, displayed his muddied hands and cried, “By the splendor of God, I have taken possession of my realm; the earth of England is in my two hands.”

So, when you look up from the “mud,” how do you behave? Of course, you could complain about how deep the mud is “How can I grow my business without enough capital?”

Then there’s the ever-handy option of blaming others for the mud, “Yes, ma’am, I know you bought it from us, but that’s a manufacturer’s defect. You’ll have to send it back to them.”

Or you could just blame the mud itself: “How can I possibly compete with the Big Boxes in this economy?”

At least one thing hasn’t changed in a thousand years: There are still plenty of people standing around – employees, customers, etc. – watching us when we stumble. And like William’s men, these latter-day witnesses are also vital to the success of our empires.

The Battle of Hastings arguably changed the course of history. But who knows what the world would look like today if our hero had become known as William the Whiner instead of William the Conqueror?

So, when you fall face-down in the metaphorical mud of your battlefield, your future may well depend upon whether you – like William – stand up, assess the damage, accept the circumstances, claim responsibility, remember that you are a leader on whom many depend, and then drive on to win the day.

It also helps if you can think fast.

Leaders don’t whine, complain or make excuses – they lead.


I love to talk about leadership on The Small Business Advocate Show with my friend Stephen Baum, former partner with Booz Allen Hamilton, current director of the Point Group Network, and chair of a New York chapter of Vistage International. Stephen was on the show recently to discuss why successful small business CEOs take action, whether to take advantage of opportunities or just to survive. Click here to download or listen.

Check out more great SBA content HERE!

Watch Jim’s videos HERE!

Take this week’s poll HERE!

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