WE’RE AN ODD, UNEMPLOYABLE BUNCH »

People who know me tell me I’m unemployable.  There’s some truth to that.  I’ve been self-employed since 1985.  I’ve been borderline wealthy and down to my last 17 cents.  I’ve had a handful of employees and had a staff of just me … unless you count Rocky the Boxer and Toni the Golden Retriever.   […]

MAKE ME A PROMISE! »

If you go belly up during these challenging economic times, do not blame (A) the economy; (B) the government; or (C) bad luck.  In other words, do not roll over and play victim or, worse, sit up and beg for a handout. There is honest money to be made and there are genuine opportunities to […]

Stop Data Security Leaks »

Data security problems keep multiplying.  According to Paula Biewer, Fond du Lac, an independent associate with Prepaid Legal Fees,  “In 2005, the website at www.privacyrights.org listed six pages of security problems.  Today,” she explained to me, “it has over 100 pages, and ID theft is the number one complaint.” The two biggest culprits, especially with […]

DON’T BE AFRAID TO TAKE CHANCES »

As SBOs, risk comes with the territory.  And when it comes to business, if you’re not growing, you’re shrinking.  You can’t stand still.  So it is with personal growth. Example:  I just joined Toastmasters last fall.  Why?  Because, at 58, though I’m not bad on my feet, I know I can be better.  My brother, […]

HOW TO BEAT BUSINESS BURNOUT »

       Burnout and boredom are the top reasons small business owners pack it in and either sell out or shut down.  These two factors account for 50 percent of all busi­ness sales.      It makes sense.  Successful busi­ness owners tend to be creative problem solvers.  They are also easily bored.  Plus, they don’t just commit […]

ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR! »

I hadn’t seen Marty in a few weeks, not since his restaurant failed.  The news had left me sad. It’s never fun to watch a hard-working fellow lose not only his money, but also his dream.  Fortunately, he still had his base business: a small tavern, with quarters upstairs for him and his wife.  But […]

2009 PLANNING: TIME MANAGEMENT BOOSTS BUSINESS SUCCESS »

Time!  As a business owner, time can be your worst enemy or your best friend…depending on how well you manage it.  The successful business owner sees it as a key ingredient to success. We all get the same allotment of 24 hours each day.  For the disorganized, who squander their time, it is an enemy.  But […]

Goals! Goals! Goals! Any Questions? »

I got swapping motivational business stories yesterday with a new business associate.  We talked about Steven Covey and W. Clement Stone and other biz authors we had both read, so we had terrific issues in common, almost like we had been referred by mutual friends.   We also both laughed at how we had come roaring […]

Hire “up”! »

Why is it that great leaders have great teams while lousy non-leaders tend to have lousy teams?  Look at the approach to hiring.   Great leaders are not afraid of being upstaged by an employee.  On the contrary, truly great leaders are always looking for their own replacement … because they know they still have […]

BIG-TIME MARKETING ON A SMALL-TIME BUDGET »

 “Successful people are not just those who are good at what they do, but those who are good at selling the idea that they are good at what they do.”  – Jack Gordon [This article first appeared in Corporate Report Wisconsin.]  As an SBO, my marketing budget ranges somewhere between non-existent and who-are-you-kidding?  One space ad, […]

SURE CURE FOR SUCCESS »

As a businessman, I have learned that the one sure way to destroy what you are trying to build is to cut ethical corners.  The real irony is that it is almost always the finger-snapping smart alecks, the know-it-alls, who end up getting entangled in their own cool schemes and easy-mark snares.   The fact […]

HOW TO DIVORCE-PROOF YOUR BUSINESS »

Divorce under any conditions can be a messy affair.  Roll a business into the equation, and divorce can become emotionally and financially devastating, not just for the divorcing couple and their family, but also for the business’s employees and co-owners. Part of the problem is that business can be high-stress and demanding.  I don’t know […]

MAKE CUSTOMERS FEEL SPECIAL »

(The following article first appeared in Corporate Report Wisconsin.)  Sometimes we forget just how important the customer is.  And when we do, it costs us.  So, ask yourself, what have I done today to make my customers and prospects feel special and valued?  Example # 1:  I needed a washer repaired last fall.  I called […]

MAKING NETWORKING WORK »

 Used to be that networking meant you joined the Rotary and golfed at the country club, got together at the meet-and-greet cocktail hour to swap business cards and, almost as an afterthought, mentioned what you do for a living to your son’s friend’s father in the bleachers at the softball game. Well, networking has grown […]

DO WHAT YOU LOVE! »

Don’t love what you do.  Do what you love!  When I first started my business nearly 25 years ago, I would leap out of bed every morning at 5:30 eager to get down to work.  I loved it.  Well, I admit that over the years, there were some long stretches when I found myself bored, […]

FIVE WAYS TO SCREW UP YOUR BUSINESS »

 There are many ways for a small-business owner to fail.  Most are within his or her control to avoid.  In the following, let’s just say that the “I’s” have it.  Incompetence:  You probably know what you’re doing, but does your staff?  There’s a certain restaurant I go with friends.  The place is convenient, the prices […]

TRACK GOALS, RESULTS, PROGRESS »

Keep good records.  Track your activity.  Maybe in a go-go economy, you can afford to slop along and stay in the black.  But survivors and thrivers in business these days know which products make the biggest profits; which customers generate the most sales; which employees are worth their wages.   Most of all, don’t just […]

ENTHUSIASM!!!!! »

Enthusiasm is the key to success in sales.  Yes, it’s good (sometimes even important) to know your products and to understand proven selling techniques.  But the catalyst, the spark, the firing pin to a successful sale is enthusiasm. Tell your story and tell it with passion and excitement.  Work hard.  Make money.  Have fun.  — […]

PARANOIA PAYS! »

I don’t think I’m the only one.  As a business owner, I find myself pretty much constantly thinking about (actually, worrying about) money, about sales, about taxes, about getting clients, about losing clients, about making sure that every project is top notch. In other words, I’m a bit paranoid.  And that’s good.  That keeps me […]

WHAT ARE YOU SELLING? »

We all sell something, and we always sell all the time. When we smile, we sell a relationship.  When we short-change a customer or client, we sell doubt and distrust.  When we fail to persuade prospects to buy our product, we have sold them on our lack of ability to meet their need.  The bottom […]

HOW TO MOTIVATE YOUR EMPLOYEES »

A recurring dream:  Employees who go the extra mile, take pride in their jobs, seem not just satisfied, but enthusiastic and, most of all, productive!  Just a fantasy, you think?  It’s called employee motivation, and, when achieved, it can transform a business into a dynamic, growth organization.  The question is how…and at what cost?   Does […]

YOUR MARKETING PLAN (GROAN) »

Creating a marketing plan is a pain,  reminiscent of an annoying school assignment.  That’s why most business owners will do just about anything to avoid the task of putting one together.  However, those who do are  glad they did.  Your marketing plan is your treasure map, with X marketing the spot where customers, sales and […]

NEGOTIATING MEANS WIN/WIN »

When I was young(er), I saw business dealings as winner-take-all propositions.  I wanted the whole pie!  Then I learned that the best way to get what you want is to help others get what they want.  Rather than battling it out with competitors in a bunkhouse brawl in which everybody came out bloodied, I now […]

THE CHALLENGE OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP »

The best part about being in business is that there are no guarantees.  It’s not a pony ride at an amusement park; it’s an extreme adventure without a safety net.    I still get the biggest thrill in the world when I land a new contract…and just about die from despair when I lose an […]

THE ETHICS OF SUCCESS »

Honesty pays.  It’s as simple as that.  Unless you’re in business to make a one-shot killing and then plan to take the money and run, honesty will always be the best policy.  Business owners who fail to play straight — whether it is with their employees, their suppliers or their customers — eventually undermine the […]