Monday, July 25, 2011

Learning Hard Lessons From the Big Guys

In the wake of two major "big company" debacles, we'd recommend that you take a look at two recent posts by Carol Tice for's blog.

The first story highlights several key missteps by Netflix, the entertainment provider who has had a fairly golden touch up to this point. Netflix has recently increased its prices, and let's just say the change has not gone well. At all. Ms. Tice effectively highlights what could have been done to mitigate the ill will.

The next story we want to bring to your attention talks about the demise of Borders. Once again Ms. Tice draws some important parallels between their actions and small business actions.

Both articles are though provoking, and worth a read!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Remember: People do business with people.

John Walters of 1-2-1 Business Consulting brings us a much-needed reminder in this day of "B2B" marketing and technology at every turn. The obvious (but often forgotten) notion of  the need for "human connection" in relating to prospects and clients is effectively captured in John's post. 

Remember: People do business with people.
This is obvious and yet it is something that is often overlooked, particularly by companies selling business to business (B2B).

We get so wrapped up with the products/ services that we supply that we lose sight of the fact that people do business with other people.

For sure we look to the quality of the product, availability and pricing, but our decisions to do business with another party is invariably influenced by our emotions.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, after all you would rather do business with someone pleasant, who makes the buying experience fun, as opposed to doing business with the rather difficult person that continually rubs you up the wrong way. Wouldn’t you?

Well the prospective buyer of your product/service is no different.  Knowing that their buying decisions are somewhat influenced by their emotions is very powerful information.  You create the opportunity to ensure that your value proposition appeals to them on an individual/personal level, and thereby capture/retain their business.

Remember that how you interact with your customers and potential customers will ultimately determine your revenue (sales) development. And so, put yourself in your customers shoes and consider the following:
  1. Are you easy to do business with? Here I’m thinking your ordering process and not whether you rollover on pricing and terms.
  2. Do you think the overall buying experience is a satisfactory one?
  3. Are you meeting their needs on a personal level?
Are you able to answer the above?  If not, perhaps you need to solicit feedback from your customers.
Good luck. Should you require help please Contact “121″.

For more insight into building rapport, fostering client relationships, and effective interpersonal skills for small business, check out the OED Community or follow us on Twitter!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Little Reminder of How Good We Have It

By "we," I mean "we small business owners in the U.S." This article is a little off the beaten path as far as content on the OED Blog usually goes. It serves, however, that even in the face of mounting taxes, regulations, and restricted capital access, we still live in an amazing environment politically. The land of the "American Dream" is certainly more rich with true chances for success than the lands in whihc some of our fellow entrepreneurs find themselves.

Take a look at this recent story in Time Magazine regarding the emigration trends among Russian entrepreneurs. Certainly, when you see the challenges they face (masked gunman raiding your enterprise!?!?), you have to stop to appreciate the U.S. rule of law.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Treasury Kicks Off Small Business Lending Fund

The Treasury is releasing $123 million to the Small Business Lender Fund. This fund was created last September as part of the Small Business Jobs Act. Designed to spur funding access and subsequent growth in the small business sector, it is the tandem program to the State Small Business Credit Initiative.

There is an article posted on with further detail. Our question, particularly to the OED Advisor pool, is have you seen it making a difference so far? Please refrain from political argument in this post thread. We are trying to gauge a snapshot here with replies such as, "Yes, my client has converted (or I have), and we've been able to _____," OR "Nope, funds not coming through as planned."

Friday, July 8, 2011

Jobs Weak, Salaries Weaker. How Would You Assess Your Payroll?

Friday July 8 brought us the release of key economic data that didn't look very good for the economy. But were we really surprised? In a word, no. Projections, expectations, and hopes were certainly for more jobs, but with an addition of only 18,000 this past month unemployment has not bounced back up to 9.2% We have to say, none of this is surprising to us from what the businesses we serve have been reporting. What would have been surprising actually, would have been more jobs added. All signs from the small business sector we have heard (anectdotal, we understand) have pointed toward businesses staying lean and stretching productivity as much as possible.

Part 2 of the data showed a drop in wages when adjustments were made for inflation. Again we'd like to sound surprised, but we weren't. Very few business owners seems in a position to take higher salaries OR provide them, choosing instead necessary reinvestments and paying down debt service accumulated over recent years.

So, what's going on with your payroll? Steady? Still scaling down? Ready to add? Bucked the trend of late and have added? We want to hear right from the entrepreneurs' mouths, because without additions to the small business jobs sector, this will be a prolonged, jobless recovery.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I Need Paper Clips, Note Pads... and Oh Yeah, a Loan

Well here's an interesting item we came across today. Next time you're at the Customer Service desk of Office Depot to have those elaborate protective devices taken off your ink jets, make sure you drop off you SBA loan application. Yes, you read that correctly!

As running today on the South Florida Small Business Journal, "Office Depot has formed a partnership with Superior Financial Group, a Walnut Creek, Calif.-based U.S. Small Business Administration lender, to provide qualified small business customers with SBA loans from $5,000 to $25,000.
The program is the first of its kind for the Boca Raton-based office supply company (NYSE: ODP). It comes at a time when small businesses are having difficulty gaining access to capital to grow their operations."

 The article continues at So... good, convenient idea? or not? What do you think?