Monday, November 29, 2010

Time to Think and Time to Plan

“The whole secret of freedom from anxiety over not having enough time lies not in working more hours, but in the proper planning and use of your hours.” – Frank Bettger

No matter what plan or planner you use (paper or electronic), it does you no good if you do not use it to prepare yourself for your prospects and your clients.

Many successful people will set aside 3-4 hours every week to take a look at the week past and get organized and ready for the week ahead.

Some will do Saturday morning and some will take the time Sunday night… whatever the day or time SET IT ASIDE AND TAKE IT! Take time to THINK and PLAN.

‘Really valuable people do two things well… plan and then do things in the order of their importance.” – Henry L Doherty

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Profile of an Entrepreneur

“An businessman is a hybrid of a dancer and a calculator.” – Paul Valery – French philosopher

What follows are the five MAIN traits found in successful entrepreneurs.

 They are Problem Solvers
Entrepreneurs have an uncanny ability to find solutions for difficult problems.

 They are Calculated Risk Takers
A successful entrepreneur is a good judge of acceptable risk levels. They always research a topic before trying to make decisions and leave no stone unturned. They tend to be an adventurous group but always minimize their risk with alternate plans should something unexpected arise.

 They are Innovators
During their lifetime most entrepreneurs will start several businesses. This is due to the fact that they always have great new business ideas flowing through their head. An entrepreneur will start a company and then move on to the next big project. It is rare for an entrepreneur to stick around and actually "run" a company past the start up phase. The idea of running an established company does not appeal to them so they are likely to sell the business or hire someone to run the daily operations for them.

 They Delegate Tasks
One of the keys to becoming an excellent entrepreneur is their ability to delegate tasks to others. They delegate tasks they are not good at to others and run the parts of the business that they excel in.

 Handle Rejection Well:
Dealing with rejection is part of being an entrepreneur.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Do I have what it takes to own/manage a small business?

“The starting point of all great achievements is desire.” – Napoleon Hill

You will be your own most important asset, so an objective appraisal of your strengths and weaknesses is essential.
To determine if you have what it takes, YOU need to answer some questions about yourself:

Am I a self-starter?

How well do I get along with a variety of personalities?

How good am I at making decisions?

Do I have the physical and emotional stamina to run a business?

How well do I plan and organize?

Are my attitudes and drive strong enough to maintain motivation?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Improving Customer Service

The basic truth in business is that it's repeat business, from faithful customers, that builds your profit. We have all heard that, statistically, it's much easier to keep a customer and sell other products and services to that customer than it is to gain new customers.

Here are five tips on providing outstanding customer service to continue to generate new and repeat business:

1. Sell an honest product or service that you believe in.
2. Guarantee customer satisfaction and stand by your guarantee.
3. Make it easy for your customers to contact you with questions or concerns.
4. Take seriously your customer's comments, concerns or questions about your product or service.
5. Solicit your customers' opinion about your product or service and encourage them to be honest!

If your business is a customer service driven business, it will be apparent throughout the sales and service process with every customer. While many business people understand that they need to provide a quality product or service, they need to remember that customers care just as much about service as quality. You must provide both to keep your customers back.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

How can I turn my business into a franchise?

For business owners considering expansion by franchising their model, Entrpreneuer's contributor Jeff Elgin shares these insights:

Question: How can I turn my business into a franchise?I want to start tea and coffee business vending machine franchise.

My first suggestion is that you need to walk before you can run. This sounds like a great idea in theory but you need to put the theory to test to make sure it works in the real world.

It sounds like you haven't actually started your first business yet. You will need to start the business first and then run a number of vending machines for a while so you can get the business figured out from a marketing and operational standpoint.

You'll need to develop all of your sources for machines, supplies and your inventory of coffees and teas. Then you'll need to make sure the business can operate profitably for a period of time so you can demonstrate that success in some form or fashion to prospective franchisees.
Even at this point in time, you'll then have to determine if franchising the business makes economic sense. There are many costs involved in starting a franchise company and the total investment to reach breakeven in a franchise company operation for any concept can easily reach over a million dollars.

It may be wiser for you to expand the business in another manner other than a franchise. You can receive expert advice once you get to this point in your business from a good franchise attorney--they will help you make sense of your options.

Look for more articles and research regarding franchising and licensing in the OED Community.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What do I need to know before I buy a franchise? ran a Q&A regarding franchises. For many would-be entrepreneurs, franchise opportunities provide a tangible model with turn key implementation. Contributor Jeff Elgin provides a quick answer and guides research:

Question: What do I need to know before I buy a franchise?
What questions should I ask the franchisor and how do I find the best market and location?
This is one of those questions that's quick to ask but involves a long, multi-part answer if you want the full scoop. I'll try to give you the quick and dirty answer.

What you want to see in any franchise is a strong positive track record of performance that you can verify during your research. This gives you the security of knowing that lots of other people have gotten a franchise with the company and then done well. If you can't find this sort of track record with any franchise you're researching then find a different one to pursue.

If you would like to receive additional information about all of the many facets you should be investigating with any franchise, you can access the archived articles I've written for over the past 10 years.

You'll find a record of over 100 articles with all the information you'll need to get a very strong idea of everything you'll need to know.

To see the original post and related Q&A regarding franchises, visit -

Friday, November 5, 2010

Give us a laugh, teach us a lesson, and get some free press!

When you run a small business, it’s fairly common knowledge that things won’t quite go accordingly to plan every day. Few situations are so riddled with unpredictable zigs and zags than wooing new clients. At times, you may find your self looking around the room for hidden cameras, thinking, “This has to be a set up right?” It may be a case of seeing more of someone’s personality than you expected on a first visit. Sometimes, the attire of office personnel may leave your draw dropping, showing a little too much in a different way. So what’s your story?

The best way for any small business owner to learn is often from another owner. It’s the basis of OED: Entrepreneurs helping entrepreneurs. In this case, we want to hear in what first meeting nightmare did you find yourself stuck, what ran through your mind, and out of curiosity… what happened to the sale? Share your story—give us all a laugh, maybe teach us a thing or two, and be the Friday Featured Small Business receiving online media post and a week’s worth of promotion!

Need an example to pull out the memories you may have suppressed? Here’s mine:

About fifteen years ago, not long after launching my business, I was referred by a client to one of his friends. I was told they were a B2B company formed by the father about twenty years prior. As the sons had grown, they were taking the company over. My client mentioned there was “a little tension” sometimes.

“A little tension? I can handle that,” I thought. What I didn’t expect was being placed physically between the brothers, who each had very different views and visions of the business (classic ops & sales conflict) and who each had yet to outgrow the sibling bickering I see now in my ten and twelve year old. I was between two men in their 40’s who literally started fighting over every insult that ever passed between them (who had the bigger bar mitzvah? Thirty years later, still stinging?). Did I mention this was not a full LBAP meeting over major company issues? Not even a full marketing consult? I was being asked in to look at sales literature. It was just a “one brochure meeting,” and within sixty minutes I was watching two men come to blows… in their suits and all. I could only imagine Thanksgiving at their house. Their father, the President still at that point, came in to the room to diffuse I thought, but only made it worse. It seemed he like the competition between his sons, and felt it would push ops to stay on top AND sales to stay on top as he picked his successor. Oh yeah, that was healthy.

I knew then and there I couldn’t function in a hornets nest of emotions (and shoving) like that. The beauty of self-employment is you can be picky at times. While the work would have been great, it got so out of hand I just wanted to leave and then graciously thank my client for the “unique” referral. It was as I was getting my coat on that they realized I was sincere about leaving. All three were stunned and looked at me. The father, not happy with his sons or me at that point, snidely commented if I was too much of a lightweight to handle conflict, then I wasn’t the right person for them.

I refused to be baited into the skirmishes by the swipe. I also didn’t want to do anything that would reflect back on my client who referred me. I looked at the three of them and said, “I can deliver great marketing materials, but I’m not a family counselor.” For the first time they were each silent and STAYED silent. I told them what I would do, how we could proceed. But I also told them what I wasn’t willing to sit through- ever- whether on the clock or not. It was like a Mexican standoff in a movie, all of us waiting to see who would blink. And then, the father blinked. He asked me for a proposal ASAP, shook my hand and left the room. I am happy to report that I they were a 10yr plus client until they relocated from the area and sold.

I later found out via my client that both the sons and the father were so stunned I was willing to walk out and then REALLY do it. They were so used to people (mainly cowering employees) putting up with the antics, they hadn’t had someone say to all three of them simultaneously how out of control they were. Moral of the story: Stick up for your own professional standards, and don’t let the insanity suck you in. I stuck to my guns, nearly walked, and ended up with a very profitable and very long term relationship.

So now, it’s your turn. What was the craziest setting you ever found yourself in, and what happened? Tell us, and be OED’s Friday Featured Business.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Was the Voice of Small Business Heard at the Ballot Box?

This article is reprinted in its entirety, and may be found at's blog. There are some excellent points and questiosn posed. WELL worth a read by all!
By: Carol Tice

"With many election results in, some business owners are excited to see the U.S. Congress lose its Democratic majority. National Federation of Independent Business president and CEO Dan Danner said, 'It's clear that the voice of small business was heard in the election.'

But was it? Will the election changes really help small businesses to thrive?

What appears to be emerging out of the election is a Congress divided. Democrats retained their majority in the Senate, but lost it in the House. So now we have a Democratic Senate and President, but a Republican-dominated house.

I've been around long enough to recall other eras where we had this kind of a mix, and it is often a recipe for a lot of wheel-spinning. This could easily devolve into a lot of busywork and posturing that doesn't go anywhere. A cycle of Senate and House not agreeing on anything, unable to reconcile bills. Or bills that simply get vetoed and face difficult override battles in Congress. The Republican House majority isn't large enough to make that a snap.

If you wanted change, I'm not sure things have changed enough to really make any difference. If you liked things the way they were, the election probably didn't make you happy, either.

While NFIB may be excited to see 19 of its members, and in all 240 of the candidates it supported, head to Washington...Will it really help? My take is it would likely require more changes in who warms the chairs in Congress and the White House to get things moving in a new direction.

What do you think -- will the new makeup of Congress lead to a more favorable business climate, or just political gridlock?"

What do you think? Leave a comment!