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2017

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngAs we head into the July 4th holiday, it’s important to remember the blessings of this country. In the spirit of celebrating America, I’d like to highlight a few of our presidents who have very solid backgrounds in small business.

 

For starters, consider that before he led the continental army, George Washington was a farmer, which was a common and fruitful entrepreneurial endeavor at the time. According to MountVernon.org:

 

Initially growing tobacco as his cash crop, Washington soon realized that tobacco was not sustainable and he switched to grains, particularly wheat as a cash crop in 1766. Washington read the latest works on agriculture and implemented the new methods . . . on his five farms.

 

Additionally, John Adams, James Monroe, and James Madison were all lawyers (which certainly requires an entrepreneurial flair).

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

But let’s not stop there: 

 

Andrew Jackson was a true entrepreneurial president. Jackson, while also a lawyer, made his first fortune buying and selling real estate. He was also a founder of Memphis, Tennessee. Additionally, his progressive policies were proactive in encouraging both small business and entrepreneurship.

 

Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer and an entrepreneur. In 1833, Lincoln opened a general store with a partner and took on debt to finance the company. Unfortunately, the venture failed and Lincoln’s possessions were seized by the state. Lincoln also owned a law practice and got a patent for an invention that would lift boats over obstructions in rivers.

 

Warren G. Harding was an excellent entrepreneur. When he was 19, he bought a newspaper that was about to go under – The Marion Star. Soon after his acquisition, the paper quickly gained success; so much so that his debts were soon paid off and the venture generated income for him for the next several decades.

 

After President Franklin D. Roosevelt got polio in 1921, he heard a story about a young boy who regained the use of his legs through hydrotherapy. From that point forward, FDR became what is now known as a social entrepreneur – working tirelessly to raise funds to set up a center for people with polio, later to become known as the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: IN CELEBRATION OF FATHER’S DAY: WHY DADS MAKE GREAT ENTREPRENEURS

 

Before becoming president, Harry Truman owned a hat store and opened his own clothing store in Kansas City after serving in World War I.

 

39788592_s.jpgJimmy Carter’s small business story is one of the better ones. Carter took over his family’s peanut farm after serving in the navy, and he managed to turn that tiny farm into a multi-million-dollar business. Warehouses, shelling plants, industrial farm equipment – the works.

 

Despite the farm’s great success, Carter almost went broke when he was leaving the White House. However, his acute entrepreneurial skills were what allowed him to turn things around yet again. He founded the Carter Center, and became a best-selling author and speaker. Additionally, he became a millionaire in the process.

 

Jimmy Carter was one of the savvier businessmen presidents – even to this day.

 

In 1951, George H.W. Bush founded the Bush-Overby Oil Development Company as well as the Zapata Petroleum Corporation. The latter is what eventually made him a millionaire. George W., made $15 million from his initial investment in the Texas Rangers. Home run!

 

Today, Bill Clinton has a net worth of over $100 million, mostly from speaking fees. This is more impressive considering he did not enter or leave office rich.

 

Maybe Barack Obama put it best when he said “[You don’t] have to look a certain way, or be of a certain faith, or have a certain last name to have a good idea.”

 

Certainly, on this July 4th it is important to remember that even presidents started small (businesses, that is)!

                                                                                                               

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Ebong Eka Headshot.pngAs a small business, it's very important to charge what you are worth. Yes, it’s easier said than done but I want to share what your prices say about you, your expertise and your business.

 

A small business owner is challenged by charging what you are worth, having a healthy enough profit margin and collecting on sales. In a previous post I discussed the importance of cash management. Cash management includes collecting from your accounts receivables, or from the bills that your clients owe you for services that you've already provided.  Higher prices and a larger profit margin allows for more growth for your business.

 

One of the many things your potential customer thinks about when considering doing business with you is, "Will I receive value greater than the price that I'm going to pay?" There are two reasons people spend money:

 

  1. To get a desired result
  2. To solve an important problem

 

How well you solve that problem, or how much they want that desired result will dictate the price that they are willing to pay.

 

Some clients have said to me, "…but Ebong, if I'm the lowest price, maybe they'll come and buy from me, and then I can eventually charge them more." This never happens and never works. I'll give you a recent example.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ ARTICLES MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT EBONG EKA

 

Earlier this year, a personal finance app company announced they were going to start charging $3 a month for their app that was initially free. The app helps users save money and make better financial budgeting decisions.  The level of negative complaints from consumers in response were astronomical. People were more upset about paying $3 a month, or $36 a year, for a tool that helped them save thousands of dollars every year.

 

 

The company believed if they charged for their app, their customers would see the value and pay. But no one wants to be surprised. The customers’ expectation is that it would be free, so they expected it to be free. When you change that expectation, people get angry.

 

Now let's apply this to your business.

 

Your customers have a lot of questions when you have lower prices than your competitors:

 

  • Why is this person’s price so cheap in relation to the next competitor?
  • Is this a new business?
  • Do they have the requisite expertise necessary to do what I need to have done?

 

74127740_s.jpgCustomers don’t want to feel they are making a buying mistakes – so they’ll go with the higher price

because it’s a safe bet.

 

Here’s another example:

 

If I had a luxury car for sale for $25,000 and the Kelly Blue Book stated the same car should be worth about $40,000, you would think something is wrong.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: THE 4 CASH FLOW MANAGEMENT MISTAKES THAT FAIL SMALL BUSINESSES

 

Is there an engine in it? Does it have brakes? Does it have wheels? What am I missing? Is it stolen?

 

You know why? Mainly because it's not congruent to what I expect for the value I'm trying to receive.  The same thing is happening to your business.

 

Here's a simple tip that you can use to check pricing. Research your nearest competitor’s prices. Match the price that they charge, and then provide more value. And value doesn't have to be in the form or a discount. Value can be in the form of additional services that doesn't cost more.

If you're a graphic designer and you provide design services to create a logo, maybe you could add additional revisions to the logo as a bonus. In reality, you may charge several hundred dollars extra for that, but say, "Look, for this particular package, I'll give you three revisions for free. If you want unlimited revisions, it's going to be double the price."

 

The bigger goal is being able to provide something that people want and value. Customers spend money for a desired result or to solve a problem. It’s almost never because of price. The successful competitors in your industry are charging more than you are because they understand this principle.


About Ebong Eka

Ebong Eka is no stranger to the world of personal finance. As a certified public accountant and former professional basketball player he offers a fresh perspective to small business planning and executing. With over fifteen years of accounting, tax & small business experience with firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche and CohnReznick, Ebong provides practical money solutions tailored to the everyday person, the aspiring entrepreneur or the small business owner.

 

Ebong is the founder of EKAnomics, a sales, pricing and leadership firm. He is also the founder of Ericorp Consulting, Inc., a tax and management consulting firm. Ebong is the author of “Start Me Up! The-No-Business-Plan, Business Plan.

 

Web: www.ebongeka.com or Twitter: @EbongEka.

You can read more articles from Ebong Eka by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Ebong Eka to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Ebong Eka is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Ebong Eka. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

         

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngSummer is here and in many communities, that means an influx of tourists. While it’s obvious how local attractions benefit from tourism, it’s not always as clear how retailers can take advantage of the summer surge of tourists.

 

But, there are plenty of ways to profit from the tourist trade. Here are 12 top hacks to consider:

 

1. Grab their attention. Sightseeing tourists need something eye-catching to get them in your door. Attention-grabbing window displays and signage, having an employee outside the door offering coupons or samples, or even putting product displays outside the store can make them stop and shop.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

2. Target packaged tours. Do you sell luxury products? Overseas tourists are often eager to buy luxury goods at lower prices in the U.S. than they can find at home. Find tour companies that cater to specific niches that might be interested in your products (such as Japanese tourists or young, single women) and see if your store or street can be added to the tour.

 

3. Focus on small indulgences. Travelers are typically in a spending frame of mind, primed to treat themselves. Stock a supply of tempting, but affordable, treats near your entrance and point-of-sale area.

 

4. Hype local flavor. Tourists with “souvenir fever” like to buy products they can’t get anywhere else. If you sell products from local manufacturers, artisans or producers, play that up in your marketing.

 

5. Participate in local events that attract tourists. Do tourists flock to your area for an annual music festival, craft fairs or a marathon run? Having a presence at these events can help you profit from the tourists. Set up a booth to sell products; hand out business cards or flyers with your website so tourists can order from you when they go back home.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: HOW TO ENJOY VACATION AND KEEP YOUR BUSINESS HUMMING

 

44056797_s.jpg6. Cross-promote with other businesses that appeal to tourists. For instance, if you own a children’s toy store, see if a local waterpark, petting zoo or other business that appeals to traveling families will link to your store on their website, put flyers for your store in their business or otherwise work together to get customers.

 

7. Get help from the local tourism association. Most communities that attract tourists have a tourism association to promote business in the area. Find out what types of assistance they offer to help you promote your retail store. For example, you might be able to sell products or place brochures in the visitors’ center.

 

8. Work with local hotels. Hotels typically display racks of brochures from local businesses, and provide guests with in-room guidebooks highlighting local businesses. See if your store can be included.

 

9. Get listed in event calendars. If your community has an events calendar, website or publication that tourists use to find things to do, ask about getting a listing or placing an ad. Consider hosting in-store events such as author signings at your bookstore to make your store is appealing as a tourist destination.

 

10. Make it educational. Many people enjoy the educational aspects to travel. Can you offer shoppers a hands-on chance to learn something relevant to your region? For instance, a sweets shop in Vermont could demonstrate how to make maple sugar candy.

 

11. Get their autographs. Have visitors sign a guestbook; ask for names, contact information and a comment about their trip. If you want to market to them (via email or direct mail), ask for permission. You can sell to them all year and reach out to them the following spring to remind them of your business. Consider offering an incentive for them to come back

 

12. Give great service. Remember, whenever you interact with a tourist, you're not just representing your store—you’re also representing your community. Remind your employees to put their best face forward so visitors will fondly remember your store and your town.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America,its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngIt’s that time of year when I sound like an updated version of an old movie:

 

“Step away from the keyboard and put down the phone!”

 

It can be difficult for a lot of small business people to take time off. Vacation time might feel like an antiquated concept to you, which is not surprising considering that Americans have been taking off less and less time in recent years. Look at these recent dreary stats from the website TravelForSmallBiz:

 

  • 47 percent of small business owners took no vacation time
  • 44 percent did not go with their families on vacation
  • And 41 percent hadn’t taken a 7-day vacation in at least two years

 

This simply will not do.

 

If the sake of enjoyment is not enough to convince you to take a breather, then think of vacation as an investment: nobody can produce quality work without a bit of rest and relaxation here and there. By allowing yourself to become fully rejuvenated, you can then return to work with a clearer mind and plenty of energy.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

There are ways to take a vacation while keeping your business running. Here are my top tips:

 

Plan ahead: The key to making sure you can relax while you’re away is to make sure you’ve covered all bases before leaving town. If you’re a freelancer, work like mad for a few days and get some projects done early.

 

If going on vacation would mean leaving your employees short-staffed, then bring in extra people and resources ahead of time so that nobody has to scramble while you’re gone. It might be time to finally hire a temp or a virtual assistant.

 

Another idea is to schedule a little extra time once you get back, to readjust and catch up on your work before heading back to the office.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: WANT TO BE A GREAT BOSS? DEVELOP THESE TRAITS

 

47716018_s.jpgUse technology: Ideally, it would be nice to unplug altogether while on vacation, but sometimes that simply isn’t possible. If answering a few emails or being available for your employees in case of an emergency is what makes your business continue to run smoothly (and makes you feel comfortable) then you shouldn’t hesitate.

 

Take advantage of the slow season: Owning a small business certainly makes it a little trickier to go on vacation, but it can be easier if you take time off during your slow season. If summer is your peak business season, then don’t go on a summer vacation. Make your own “summer” vacation congruent with your slow season – it will also make your absence easier on your team.

 

Reminder – people often take time off during the last week of August and late December, so consider using this slower time to your advantage as well.

 

Combine business and pleasure: In order to save money and not waste time, you can always make it a point to have fun on your business trips. That could mean bringing your family with you or ignoring your jet lag to go sight-seeing. Business trips can be a great way to create a built-in vacation.

 

Take three day weekends: If you don’t see yourself taking a 10-day vacation, then at least give yourself an extra weekend day semi-regularly this summer. It really is important to stop and reboot.

 

And so, it is time for me to heed my own advice and logoff.

 

Aloha!

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Shama Hyder Headshot.pngManaging multiple clients is a challenge every business owner hopes to face at some point – having to balance managing that one big client you’re thrilled to have landed, and still getting everything done for all your other clients.   

 

On the one hand, you want to go all out for your biggest client to make sure you keep them happy. Crazy tight turnaround times? No problem! Tons of out-of-scope requests? Bring ‘em on! After all, they are paying you more, right? And you certainly don’t want to lose them.

 

But if all that extra work causes you to start neglecting other clients, it won’t be long before your biggest client is your only client – and that can be disastrous.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT SHAMA HYDER

 

So how can you find balance and keep everyone happy, from your biggest to your smallest client? Here are my top three tips:

 

1. Get Really Organized

If you were already juggling multiple clients before you closed the deal with your biggest, then already have an organizational system in place that works for you. But when you’re dealing with all those clients plus a big one that may take up as much bandwidth as several others, you’re going to have to get hyper-organized.

 

Without a tool that lets everyone involved clearly see tasks and deadlines, as well as communicate with each other, things will eventually start slipping through the cracks. And without a solid time management plan for yourself and your team, you’ll have difficulties fitting in all that extra work. Try online tools like Basecamp or Trello, and time management apps like Toggl or Focus Booster

 

2.  Have a Backup Plan for Your Backup Plan

At some point, there will come a day when your biggest client hands you a huge project due tomorrow, three of your other clients have urgent work they need completed, and a fourth one urgently needs you to adjust a project you thought was complete. Two of your employees will call in sick, and some tool vital to the running of your business will break down. When that day comes, no amount of tearing your hair out will make your resources stretch enough to do it all.

 

29459868_s.jpgRELATED ARTICLE: THE EMERGING TECH THAT COULD BOOST YOUR SMALL BUSINESS

 

That’s why it’s vital to have a multi-layer backup plan in place. Try out freelancers and contractors before you need them, and find out what their availability is like, so that you know who you can call to get the job done when you’re in a pinch. Decide on an overtime policy, in case you have to ask your team to work extra hours. And find solid workarounds or replacement options for your tools before they die on you. Without a plan in place, things can quickly start crashing down all around you. 

 

3. Be Proactive

As much as it’s a business cliché, it’s still true – being proactive is one of the best ways to ensure that you always meet your clients’ expectations.

 

Anticipate issues that might arise in advance, and work them into your contract so that all your clients, big and small, know from the outset what they can and can’t ask for. That’s not to say you can’t go above and beyond if you determine you have the resources – but then the client will recognize that you’re going the extra mile for them, and appreciate you all the more for it. Ask clients often for information on any upcoming projects, and remind them of the lead time you need to get it done, so that you can work bigger projects into your schedule more easily.

 

By getting organized, putting a backup plan in place, and being proactive, you’ll be able to handle your biggest client and all your regular clients so well that you just might gain a few more of those big clients – and what a great problem to have!

 

About Shama Hyder

Shama Hyder is a visionary strategist for the digital age, a web and TV personality, a bestselling author, and the award-winning CEO of The Marketing Zen Group – a global online marketing and digital PR company. She has aptly been dubbed the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by FastCompany.com. Shama has also been honored at both the White House and The United Nations as one of the top 100 young entrepreneurs in the country. Shama has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Technology Titan Emerging Company CEO award. She was named one of the “Top 25 Entrepreneurs under 25” by Business Week in 2009, one of the “Top 30 Under 30” Entrepreneurs in America in 2014 by Inc. Magazine, and to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list of movers and shakers for 2015. LinkedIn named Hyder one of its “Top Voices” in Marketing & Social Media. Her web show Shama TV was awarded the “Hermes Gold award for Educational Programming in Electronic Media” and most recently she was awarded the “Excellence in Social Media Entrepreneurship” award for 2016 by Anokhi Media.

 

Web: www.shamahyder.com or Twitter: @Shama.

You can read more articles from Shama Hyder by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Shama Hyder to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Shama Hyder is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Shama Hyder. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngThere were lots of things I loved about becoming self-employed when my entrepreneurial journey began, but near the top of the list had to be my newfound ability to drop my kids off and pick them up from school. I loved that.

 

Being a parent is a full-time job, and there are a lot of adjectives that describe it: fun, exhausting, frustrating, time-consuming, rewarding, joyous, and everything in between. For a lot of parents – especially new ones – it might seem like there aren’t enough hours in the day to do anything extra. I certainly don’t miss that sleep deprivation.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

One thing I’ve learned: Fatherhood is a very good precursor to entrepreneurship. So, on this Father’s Day, I want to salute all the “dadpreneurs” out there – both the ones who own their own businesses and the ones who don’t – because it turns out that if you are helping with the kids, you are an entrepreneur in training.

 

In fact, if you are thinking of starting a business, know that your fatherhood can bring forth your entrepreneurial ambitions. Here’s why:

 

Fatherhood requires teamwork: If you are married or have a significant other, you already know parenting requires cooperation and compromise. Knowing how to let go of your ego and make joint decisions is an essential part of parenting…as well entrepreneurship.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS REALLY, REALLY LIKE THEIR WORK

 

Many successful businesses have more than one co-founder. This is a simple matter of “two heads are better than one.” If you already know how to recognize your own weaknesses, acknowledge your partner’s strengths, and work as a team, then you are well on your way to being a successful entrepreneur. Teamwork is a cornerstone to running a successful small business, and that type of teamwork is the same when it comes to parenting. this applies to single dads, as well. Partnership obviously extends between you and your child. This has everything to do with putting your own needs aside and thinking of the greater good, and learning how and when to say no, cooperation, patience, assertiveness, and compassion. These are all the same traits needed when it comes to managing a team and a growing business.

 

Fatherhood teaches resourcefulness: There isn’t always an easy answer in the world of fatherhood, much like in the world of business. Starting a business is a notoriously challenging process that requires attention, quick decision making when things don’t go according to plan (which will happen often), and juggling, not unlike changing a diaper while engaging the toddler and talking to your partner on the phone.

 

In this sense, being a dad is excellent small business training. Can you do it all?

 

46770350_s.jpgFatherhood = patience: Starting your own business is often a waiting game. Your business will most likely not become super successful as quickly as you’d like, which just means you need to stick to it and not give up. This is very difficult for a lot of people, but dads know that program.

 

Fatherhood means prioritizing and multitasking: Being a dad means you have to wear many hats at once while t understanding which hat is most important at a given time. Is being in the school play more important than having extra time to get their homework done? As a parent, you are the CEO and have to decide. Similarly, running a small business means being able to make quality executive decisions about which tasks have more priority and which can wait.

 

As I said, part of the beauty of owning a small business is that it allows you to create your own schedule. Furthermore, it also allows you to make your own decisions, and have more control over your financial situation. For a lot of dads, these are all highly valued benefits.

 

Sure, the prospect of becoming an entrepreneur might seem risky, but chances are, you’re way more prepared than you think.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Carol Roth Headshot.pngIn 2002, Elon Musk founded SpaceX, essentially because he wanted to colonize Mars, but he didn’t even have affordable rocket power to send some plants to the planet. Late last year, NASA signed a contract with SpaceX, making them one of two companies contracted to take passengers to the International Space Station.

 

Granted, most small businesses don’t have the financial resources to literally reach for the stars in such a grand fashion. But, this doesn’t mean that small business owners shouldn’t think big.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT CAROL ROTH

 

Here is an organized approach that can help your company move toward amazing accomplishments and profits.

 

Develop a lofty long-term vision

You’ll never fly to Mars if you don’t even know that you want to go there, but a vision with a strong sense of purpose can make anything possible. Musk believes that populating a second planet with humans is the only way to prevent the extinction of humanity. On the other hand, you may believe that a previously untried way of implementing the software design process can bring greater efficiency to your company and profound benefits to your clients.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: 4 RULES TO TAKE YOUR BUSINESS FROM SMALL TO BIG

 

If you can imagine that achieving your vision will put your face on the front cover of every business magazine — and interviews on prominent cable business networks — then don’t worry about the potential costs or even immediate client acceptance. This is your perception of a better future; you’ll address the practicalities soon enough.

 

Create a segmented strategy

It took countless steps for SpaceX to get to today’s space station contract and it has many more steps to go before they begin populating Mars. The chances are that your company cannot fly to your long-term vision in one fell swoop, either.

 

Your job is to break your long-term goals into manageable chunks. Step 1 is to look hard at all possible options. There is probably more than one path toward accomplishing your vision, so take some time to try to predict the pros and cons of each step before writing down the ones that make the most sense. Once completed, your strategy document can double as a road map of the implementation process.

 

52826431_s.jpgAllow for failure

As you start working your plan, recognize all the strategizing in the world cannot prevent surprise glitches. Everyone knows that failures are the best teachers, yet most of us fear failure more than we welcome its valuable lessons.

 

You have to dig down to the underlying reasons, which might turn out to be very minor in nature. Did your new programming strategy fail because someone missed important steps when designing the new process or did a minor typo create the glitch?

 

The point here is that failure seldom signals the need to quit. In many cases, you need to identify the causes for failure, fix them and then applaud the fact that you are one step closer to achieving your vision.

 

Don’t forget that a perceived failure might lead to another big idea. The adhesive used for sticky notes was developed by a failure to create super-strong adhesive for use by the aerospace industry. It took about five years, but someone finally recognized the value of a mild tacky substance that led to must-have products for office workers everywhere.

 

Share your vision

Everyone on your team has different skills and interests, so you never know who might think of something that will take your vision over the top. It is so important for everyone in the company to know where you want your company to be in the near, middle and long-term future. Invite them to share ideas on how to get there.

 

Also, consider discussing your dreams judiciously with individuals outside of your immediate business. Friends and family members can surprise you with solutions that you may never have considered, and professional organization meetings are a great source of ideas.

 

Factor in realism… to a point

Even NASA says that the odds are in favor of a successful SpaceX Mars mission, but getting people there safely is less certain, much less planet colonization. In late 2016, Musk addressed an enthralled audience about the project and its progress, but he clearly indicated a lack of concern about the many serious outstanding issues.

 

For small business owners, most big visions do not come with the potential for fatal outcomes, but any number of major concerns can still factor into the mix. Naturally, you need to identify the risks and consider them in your plans. But, if you want to achieve big goals, you can’t let seemingly unmanageable problems hamper your vision. By keeping your mind open to the impossible, you can often achieve it.

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Carol Roth Headshot.pngIt would be wonderful to make business decisions based on 100 percent factual criteria, but how often are all facts etched in stone? Life is full of uncertainty.

 

Economic downturns can stop great customers from continuing to pay their bills. New regulations can suddenly prevent you from conducting business exactly as you have before. Some key employees may retire. These are just a few examples of the types of uncertainty that can affect your decision-making process.

 

Entrepreneurs are typically risk-takers by nature, but uncertainty can make or break many companies. Here are 5 ways to handle uncertainty when making business decisions.

 

1. Don’t let uncertainty stop you from moving forward

First and foremost, uncertainty should not put your goals on hold. If you fail to move forward with plans, your business cannot achieve success. A positive attitude helps you break through a stagnating thought process, so you can think clearly and make plans flexible enough to transcend the unknown.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT CAROL ROTH

 

When uncertainty looms, recognizing silver linings can help. If your go-to supplier shows early signs of unreliability, for example, don’t view the situation as upcoming doom for your company. With the right attitude, shopping for new vendors can be as exciting as a trip to your favorite retailer. You might find a vendor that’s better than the original one — and you’ll sleep better knowing that you have a backup plan in place.

 

2. Pre-plan for all imagined possible outcomes

Even when you can’t precisely predict unknown situations that can throw a wrench into your plans, you probably know what circumstances might pop up in the future.

 

For example, are you a carpenter who wants to add high-end furniture making to your business? News reports pointing to a possible upcoming cherry wood shortage won’t affect your plans if you know that customers would be just as happy with furniture made from beautiful red cedar, instead.

 

This is known as potential problem analysis, a system developed by Kepner Trego about six decades ago. By using this systematic approach to predict what can go wrong, you essentially reduce uncertainty by developing a roadmap for handling anything that might arise.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: IN A HEALTHY ECONOMY, TRY THESE TIPS TO RETAIN YOUR BEST EMPLOYEES

 

18982398_s.jpg3. Turn to your professional network

Do you belong to one or more organizations that focus on issues that are important to your business? If not, then you should consider some memberships.

 

Don’t be surprised if meeting topics sometimes specifically address matters that create uncertainty in your industry. And, attending meetings puts you in touch with like-minded individuals who are more than willing to help you work through some of your concerns, just as you are willing to do for them.

 

Of course, you don’t necessarily have to turn to people in your industry for solid suggestions. Trusted relatives and friends in your personal network can be surprisingly on-point when providing business advice — even if your industry happens to be rocket science.

 

4. Learn current trends by monitoring the news

Don’t let your overcrowded schedule serve as an excuse to avoid regularly keeping up with the news. Current events can have a major impact on your business and the more you know, the more you can reduce uncertainty.

 

General or industry news identifies trends and how other companies are handling them. For example, if businesses are resuming spending after an economic downturn, it may be a sign for you to analyze if it’s time to reconsider a stalled buying decision.

 

Keep in mind that this type of news is hardly an edict. Consider whether those companies are similar, versus large enough to handle more risk. And, countless other details specific to your business must drive your decisions. But, at least you will gain some new thoughts.

 

5. Monitor closely

Particularly if you pre-planned as suggested in No. 2 above, you need to keep current on an issue, so that you can identify when to put an alternate plan into action.

 

Uncertainty is not stagnant; it can change over time or disappear altogether. A client that stopped paying its bills might resolve its financial issues, while another might go out of business. In either case, monitoring their circumstances will tell you if you can resolve their bill-pay issues and add them back to your current customer list — or end the relationship and take a tax write-off.

 

If anything’s certain in business, it’s uncertainty.

 

They say that nothing other than death and taxes are certain in life, with change being a possible third certainty. Still, uncertainty does not mean pandemonium. When you learn how to keep control, you can reduce the effects of uncertainty and make the decisions needed to keep your business healthy.

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

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