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188 Posts authored by: Steve Strauss

We all know it takes a certain kind of person to run a successful business. One must be enterprising, hard-working, resourceful, creative, optimistic and smart, and that's just for starters. Now let's think about what it takes to start and run not only a successful business, but one based on a complex and demanding profession like law.

 

It takes all those traits, and a whole lot more.

 

As you may know if you have spent a little time here on the Small Business Community, I am a non-practicing lawyer. I started out in a big firm in the big city making the big bucks and then went on to open my own law office a few years later. I don't practice anymore because, as I like to joke, “I came to my senses.”

 

While this is a good laugh-line for a speech, the fact is I was good at the business side of that business (hence this gig), while the legal stuff interested me less because, frankly, I wasn't as good at it. As I said, it takes a unique individual to be successful at his or her profession and running the business, too.36497960_s.jpg

 

That's one reason why Scott Snyder of Scott Snyder Law impresses me so much. Scott and I have a lot in common – we both grew up in L.A., we have season tickets to our local NBA team about six rows from each other, and we share a mutual love of Bruce Springsteen (even if Scott's selfie with Bruce beats anything I could boast).

 

But where we diverge is that Scott is a much better and more successful lawyer than I ever was. Not only has his firm thrived for almost 20 years (an accomplishment in and of itself for any business), but Scott has distinguished himself as an excellent attorney.

 

Like many of us, Scott started his business because he wanted to be his own boss. “I didn't want to be subject to the whims of change in management and so I figured it would be better for me in the long haul to start my own firm,” he told me. Corporate America's loss was his clients' gain.

 

Almost 20 years in and his dance card is full with clients who need and appreciate him. As a result, not only has his firm grown, but it has enabled Scott Snyder Law to become an integral member of the community in which we both live. As Scott explained,

 

“One thing I am proud of is that my law practice has served numerous individuals and businesses on a reduced fee or pro-bono basis to help defray their cost of legal services. Additionally, I have often provided my mediation services on a volunteer basis, and I additionally am able to offer my services to local non-profits on a volunteer basis as well.”

 

Great lawyer, great businessperson, community asset – that's an impressive three-fer in anyone's book.

 

So it wasn't surprising when Scott told me that what he loves about the law is that, while of course it pays well, far more important was it allowed him to help people solve problems. “It may sound corny, but I believe we can almost always find a good and fair outcome for everyone concerned, and that is what I am committed to, the win-win outcome. I like being a trusted adviser, and I take that role very seriously.”

 

And isn't that what you would want from your lawyer? A super smart guy who is committed to creating great outcomes and helping out in the community (and who loves Bruce to boot?). Now that's my kind of counsel.

 

Related Article: Fighting is Expensive.  What to do if You Are Sued.

 

 

About Steve StraussSteve Strauss Headshot New.png

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

There was a time, not so long ago, when “going green” was thought to be both exotic and expensive. While CEOs may have liked the cachet that would come with having a greener brand, they were also concerned that “sustainability” might have been a value that they could not really afford.

 

The good news is that, for a variety of reasons, creating a green (or greener) business has become far easier, more affordable, more appreciated and more doable than ever before. The rising tide, literally, is creating a tipping point such that greening the business isn’t just good for the environment, it’s good for business, too.

 

These days, and on this Earth Day (Sunday, April 22), it turns out that going green doesn’t cost – it pays.

 

Here are some of the best reasons and easiest ways for your business to go green:

 

It’s popular: Between the Paris Accords, weird weather, water shortages and logic, more people than ever want to do their part for the environment. Indeed, according to one recent survey, more than half of all consumers say that it is “very or somewhat important” that the businesses they do business with be environmentally friendly. Additionally, one-third of those surveyed are willing to spend more for green products, and probably not surprisingly, that number is significantly higher among millennials.

 

What this means for your business is that, for instance, you can stock and sell green products, knowing that even though they may cost a bit more, there is significant marketplace demand.

 

After all, Amazon didn’t buy Whole Foods for no reason. 26265775_s.jpg

 

Cost saving: Going green can make a lot of sense for your business. Consider some of the ways that reducing, reusing, and recycling can positively impact your bottom line:

 

      • Recycling means buying less plastic
      • Going paperless equals purchasing less paper
      • Energy Star certified products cost less to run
      • Power timers (used at night, for instance) mean you will use and buy less energy
      • Encouraging employees to take public transit or ride bikes to work can mean less spent on (or reimbursed for) parking, gas and mileage.

 

It’s a morale booster: Increasingly, employees want to work for companies that take their corporate, civic and environmental responsibilities seriously. Creating a sustainable workplace is good for your culture.

 

It’s healthier: According to the Green Business Bureau, there is a 20 percent decrease in number of sick days for companies that promote a healthier workplace.

 

Tax benefits: Some states offer tax credits for businesses that go green. For example, in California a business can get tax credits for:

 

      • Installing insulation, and energy efficient heating and ventilation
      • Use of renewable energy like geothermal, solar and wind
      • Purchasing hybrid and diesel vehicles

 

Additionally, there are numerous “Recycling Zones” throughout the state. These allow businesses operating within these zones to get sales and use tax credits of up to 10 percent.

 

Good PR: Finally, being able to share socially and generally that your business is on the right side of this issue is no small thing. As indicated, it is important to not a few consumers.

 

So, on this Earth Day, remember, you do well by doing good and you can make green by going green.

 

More about going green:

Outlook 2018 – A Transforming World: Earth

How green bonds work: what you need to know

Learn about the Bank of America commitment to environmental sustainability

 

About Steve StraussSteve Strauss Headshot New.png

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

The latest Bank of America Hispanic Small Business Owner Spotlight surfaces a new and fascinating story about Hispanic small business owners across the nation.

 

It turns out that Hispanic small business owners are amongst the most positive, most successful, and most loyal entrepreneurs out there. That is the conclusion drawn from the second annual Bank of America Hispanic Small Business Owner Spotlight.

 

The Spotlight surveyed nearly 400 Hispanic small business owners, examining not only their dreams, aspirations, and success, but also where they stood vis-a-vis their non-Hispanic peers. As I said, the results are overwhelmingly positive.

 

Let me give you an example: When asked about their growth plans for their business over the next five years, 50% of non-Hispanic small business owners said that they planned on growing their business. That’s a robust, optimistic number, right? You bet, except that when asked the same question, fully 77% of Hispanic small business owners said the same thing.

Even more heartening is that 89% of Hispanic entrepreneurs said that they expected the business environment to get even better for them over the next decade.

 

That good, old-fashioned entrepreneurial enthusiasm is also found when the Hispanic business owners were asked about the overall economy. Whereas 46% of non-Hispanics thought that the economy would improve over the next 12 months, the Hispanic respondents were again even more optimistic with 60% indicating that they thought things would get even better. As a result, Hispanic business owners were more than twice as likely to say that they planned on hiring more people this next year.31020675_s.jpg

 

Another interesting aspect of this Bank of America Hispanic business owner survey has to do with the impact of cultural heritage on the business. Having married into an entrepreneurial Hispanic family myself, I can attest that it is not an insignificant issue. Mi familia at least is very proud of their heritage and it plays more than a little role in their businesses. The same looks to be true for the survey respondents. For example

 

  • 43% said that their Hispanic heritage helps their business grow: 41% said it has no impact while only 16% said it had a negative impact.
  • 42% indicated that their heritage helps them attract customers; 43% said it has no effect while only 15% said it harmed their business
  • 35% said their heritage helped them acquire and retain talent. Indicating that America really does strive to be race-neutral, more than half said race has no impact on their hiring with only 13% saying it was a detriment.

 

Related: Recruiting and Retaining Talent in the Evolving Small Business Workplace; Recruiting and Retaining Talent in the Evolving Small Business Workplace

 

USA! USA!

 

Like my own family, the Hispanic culture generally is family-oriented and tight-knit. It turns out that this too translates into business success. According to the survey, 61% of Hispanic small business owners rely on friends and family when it comes to running their business.

 

Indeed, it is often said that a small business is like a family, and the Hispanic business owners surveyed certainly proved that to be true with their clear propensity to take care of their staff: Hispanic entrepreneurs are twice as likely to have made investing in employees a goal in the last two years compared to non-Hispanics. Some of the things they offer are flex-time (41%), bonuses and rewards (27%), team-building activities (25%), and paid or unlimited vacation (19%.)

 

The bottom line is that with success and optimism far outpacing their non-Hispanic counterparts, it turns out that Hispanic entrepreneurs are as American as, well, mom and apple pie.

 

 

 

About Steve StraussSteve Strauss Headshot New.png

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

Have a question about your business? Let’s see if I can help; write your question here.

 

Q: I am getting sued for the first time, after being in business for 20 years. I know you used to practice law. The fees the lawyer quoted me are astronomical. What can I do?

 

A: I have good news and bad news for you.

 

First the bad news: Almost assuredly this is going to cost you money. That’s not the question. The question is, how much? And that’s the good news. There are ways to keep your fees “sensible.” Here’s what you need to know:

 

Legal fees are negotiable: Look, if you go to the biggest firm in town on the 30th floor of the tallest high-rise, no, their fees are not negotiable. But for many of the other lawyers in town, their fees may be far more flexible than you realize. 54427908_s.jpg

 

Why? Because clients are valuable and not always easy to get. You are a valuable commodity if you are looking to hire an attorney. Use that. Per hours fees may be negotiated, flat fees are possible, and fees for little things like emails and quick phone calls should be minimal.

 

Litigators have a vested interest in lawsuits. I know of no lawyer who would ever suggest that a client enter litigation without good cause. But that said, you also need to know that lawsuits are money pits for clients. But for the firm, they are a cash cow. So, beware of being the client that is keeping the firm in the black.

 

Sometimes you just have to cut your losses and walk: There is a tendency, especially in litigation, to keep going because you either don’t want to lose or you really want to win. But, as Kenny Rogers once advised, you have to know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em.

 

Fighting is expensive.

 

 

Q: Steve – I have read your advice about the dangers of lawsuits. I am fairly new to business and have a busy retail shop I love. I would hate to get sued. That scares me. How can I avoid that?

 

A: There are few things worse in the life of your business than getting sued. It takes time and money and bandwidth and it’s aggravating and, yes, scary. Litigation generally, and defending a lawsuit in particular, is among the top reasons why entrepreneurs don’t always like entrepreneurship.

 

Are there ways to reduce your chances of getting sued? You bet. Here are a few:

 

1. Be reasonable: The very general standard in a lawsuit is that someone is wrong if they acted “unreasonably.” Example: You don’t clear the ice in front of your store, even though you know it is a slippery hazard. That is not “reasonable” in the eyes of the law.

 

So, be cautious. Keep your word. Do the right thing. Keep safety in mind. Be reasonable.

 

2. Work it out: Lawsuits are very often the option of last resort. A person (the litigant, also known as the plaintiff) feels aggrieved about something and sees no other option. Typically, first, he or she will try talking it out, or maybe having their lawyer write a nastygram. Whatever the case, suing someone is usually not the first option.

 

Given that, when something goes wrong at the store, my general advice is to listen and try to work it out. Settle if at all possible. No, you may not want to, but the alternative is usually worse.

 

3. Don’t sue: Sure, people will likely sue you if you breach a contract or harm them in the course of business, but they also may not, because they know what you know: lawsuits are a drag. But you significantly up the chances of getting sued if you sue someone. Why? Two reasons:

 

      • Countersuits are a legitimate litigation strategy. They think you will be more likely to settle if they sue you back.
      • People who are being sued are people who are mad. And people who are mad, sue.

 

4. Get insurance: If you are properly insured, there is far less reason for someone to sue you. First of all, insurance should pick up the claim, and second, if it doesn’t, the insurance company likely becomes a better target than you. Additionally, if you buy the right sort of liability insurance, it covers the cost of your legal defense. So even if you are sued, the bite, at least financially, will be more palatable.

 

 

About Steve StraussSteve Strauss Headshot New.png

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

On this Valentine’s Day, it is of course important to remember the ones who make our hearts go aflutter. Flowers, chocolates, a honey-do list – it all goes a long way toward letting our partners know we love and appreciate them.

 

I would suggest that this is even more important when your Valentine is also your business partner.

 

This is true for many reasons. One key issue is that when you work with your spouse or significant other, lines can get blurred. Business and love are not the same thing; the way you treat or think about your business associates is not (or should not be!) the same as how you treat your mate. So it’s important that you use Valentine’s Day to reaffirm the romantic side of your multi-faceted relationship.

 

This then begs the question – what is the best way to run a business and a relationship at the same time?

 

Here are a few tips I have compiled – from my own experience, from that of couples I know in the trenches, and from some experts:

 

1. Keep work and home separate (to the extent possible): Look, we all know that there is no way that these two worlds can be completely separate. However, partners that make it work know that one’s role at work is not the same as their role at home. They keep these worlds (somewhat) separate.25764254_s.jpg

 

Some couples accomplish this by having “office hours.” Work is about work at these times, and later, home is about home. I know one couple whose rule is that they are not allowed to speak about work after 8 p.m.

 

And, by the same token, it is important to set ground rules, whereby, just as work needs to stay at work, so too does your personal life need to stay out of the office (again, to the extent possible).

 

2. Have a division of labor at work: Along the same lines, having a division of labor is key at work. At home, roles and responsibilities may tend to intersect or bleed over. At work, it is important to know who is responsible for what and to accept and appreciate the chain of command.

 

3. Have your own space: Just because you are working together does not mean that you must spend all day together. You probably don’t want to in any case. That means at work you not only need your own space – you also need to give your partner space.

 

4. Remember that playing the game is different from watching the game: Running a business is like being on a team together. When working with a spouse, he or she is going to be playing the game on the field with you every day. You will not have someone rooting you on from the sidelines. Remember your partner is your teammate more than your cheerleader when you work together.

 

5. Make time for your relationship: As you well know, owning and running a business can be time-consuming. Finding time for yourself can be challenging, let alone finding time to nurture your relationship. But that’s why it’s more important when you run a business with your partner. It is simply vital that, just as you need to not let your personal relationship negatively interfere with your business, you also need to make sure your business does not overwhelm your relationship.

 

Taking time helps ensure that.

 

6. Heed these words of wisdom: Let me end by giving you the best piece of advice given to me on my wedding day, 27 years ago, by a family elder who had been happily married for over 50 years:

 

“Treat her like a queen and she will treat you like a king.” (I’m not always successful, but my Valentine knows I try!)

 

Happy Valentine’s Day, entrepreneurs.

 

About Steve StraussSteve Strauss Headshot New.png

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

Entrepreneurship and stress seem to go hand in hand. So, how do you handle the stress? Here are six stress hacks for entrepreneurs:

 

1. Take a walk: If, in the middle of your day, things are getting too out of control – too many demands, too many deadlines, and your wife has taken to calling you “Steve Stress” (oops! sorry, that’s my stress story) – then one of the easiest things you can do is to get the heck out of Dodge, or at least your office.

 

A 15-minute walk around the block will do wonders to clear your head and break the stress momentum. Indeed, studies show that one of the best things you can do when feeling stressed-out is to interrupt the pattern.

 

2. Go work out: More broadly, and if time allows, hitting the gym or otherwise getting in some real exercise will do wonders for reducing your stress levels. The great news is that exercise alleviates stress on two levels:51611071_s.jpg

 

      • First, the physicality of exercise works to counteract the physicality of stress. Physically getting your blood pumping works stress out of the body.
      • Secondly – and just as importantly – interrupting the pattern and experiencing the change of pace and scenery that accompanies a workout helps to clear your brain.

 

3. Get some rest: On the other end of the spectrum, the toll stress stakes physically and emotionally often coincides with a lack of sleep. By getting a regular good night’s sleep or a good nap, you counteract the power that stress can have over your body and life.

 

In a Ted Talk that has gotten almost 5 million views, Arianna Huffington says that the key to productivity and creativity alike is a getting good night of sleep.

 

4. Look at a nature scene. According to Psychology Today, “Looking at nature scenes can speed your heart’s recovery from stress. In a recent study, students were stressed by having to take a math test and getting feedback that they were performing below average. Afterward, researchers [showed the students either] pictures of trees or pictures of urban scenes. Those who saw the pictures of trees had a quicker cardiovascular (heart rate, blood pressure) recovery following the stressor.”

 

5. Check some things off your list. Stress is often the result of having too many things to do. By getting productive and simply checking a few things off your list, you may feel better.

 

6. Reinterpret your stress as excitement. That same Psychology Today article suggest that, instead of trying to calm down, what works is to harness the “energy of you stress chemicals.” People who reinterpret their anxious feelings as excitement do better on various tasks and have more positive feelings about the task than “those who tried to calm down.”

 

Tony Robbins famously uses this technique in his firewalking events, where he teaches people how to transform “fear into power.” That is the same idea here; stress is an energy that can be harnessed and used positively.

 

 

About Steve StraussSteve Strauss Headshot New.png

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

Have a question about your business? Let’s see if I can help; write your question in the thread: found here. -- Steve

 

Q: Hey Steve, I love running my own business but I am not a natural salesperson. Any advice for an entrepreneur like me?

 

A. I have good news for you. While I am not a sales expert, I have had the opportunity to interview a lot of great salespeople and sales experts over the years. What I have learned is that sales is a field that can be learned – and that a few tricks along the way can help.

 

Here are three of my favorites:

 

1. Listen more, talk less: Master salesman Tom Hopkins told me that if you want to increase your sales, it would be wise to remember that we have one mouth but two ears. Says Hopkins: “Listen twice as much as you talk and you’ll succeed in persuading others nearly every time.”

 

And what should you be listening for?

 

2. Listen for clues: People learn and process information in different ways. Some people think in words, others think in pictures, and still others are primarily kinesthetic (that is, feelings are paramount for them.) Understanding the way in which a prospect interprets information can allow you to craft your pitch in a way that works best for them (instead of best for you.)54161036_s.jpg

 

          • Visual people say things like, “I see what you mean.”
          • Kinesthetic people say things like, “This computer just doesn’t feel right to me.”
          • Auditory people might say, “I like the sound of that.”

 

These sorts of word clues can help you communicate better with leads. For example, it would be best to show a visual person what makes your product great, rather than just telling them with words.

 

 

3. Remember, it’s about helping, not selling: The purpose of tailoring your pitch appropriately is not to manipulate someone into buying something they may or may not want, but rather, to build rapport and show the prospect that you are more about helping them solve their problem and less about making the sale. Do that, ironically, and your odds of making the sale go up dramatically.

 

Related Articles:

Jolt Your Sales: Q&A with David Newman, author of Do It! Marketing

10 Easy Ways to Quickly Boost Sales

 

Q: I am a wedding and event photographer and my issue is that I never seem to make enough money to feel flush. It’s not for lack of trying, that’s for sure.

 

Let me share a story with you of someone who solved this exact problem.

 

I have a pal who sells real estate in Los Angeles. Like many real estate agents, he started out selling homes for a living. And a nice living it was … until it wasn’t. Things turned south for him in 2008 and he didn’t know what to do. So, he sought out his mentor – a wise and experienced real estate broker who had been around the block a few times – and asked him what to do.

 

A: “Fish for, and catch, bigger fish,” was his answer.

 

The mentor explained that it essentially would take my friend the same amount of effort to sell a seven-figure commercial property as it did for him to sell a six-figure house, but the paydays on the former would be much better.

 

My buddy heeded his mentor’s advice and jumped in, learning about commercial real estate, cultivating the corporate owners of such properties and altogether embarking on a tangentially new career. Although it took him two years, it was worth it. He discovered that his mentor was right – bigger clients meant bigger deals and yes, bigger paydays. It also meant better pay for less work because he needed to do fewer deals.

 

All in all, it worked out very well for him and, I bet, it could for you too.

 

Related Articles:

How To manage your biggest client Among Others

6 Ways to Find New Clients (Even If You Don’t Think You Have Time)

 

 

About Steve StraussSteve Strauss Headshot New.png

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

Have you recovered from the holidays yet?

 

All of that indulging (and over-indulging) and selling (and shopping) adds up. Sometimes you need a vacation from your vacation. But alas, that is likely not in the cards. Indeed, now that the decorations are put away, the diet begun, and the sales and specials but a memory, it is time to get back to work.

 

Almost.

 

Not long ago in this space I wrote a piece called, “4 ways to still hit your year-end revenue goals.” The idea was that, even though you may have been on the verge of missing your money forecast for the year, there were still some ways to hit your target. The bad news was that I had to include ideas like getting a loan and sharply cutting overhead.

 

It is obviously preferable to not need an article like that. Let me suggest, therefore, that the smart way to recover from the holidays is to start the year off right by having a focused strategy and planning session.

 

Your strategy session could be as big as a full-blown, day-long meeting with your staff or as little as an hour by yourself at Starbucks.

 

Either way, the reason for starting the year with a strategy session is best summed up by Michael Gerber in his famous quote from his book, The E-Myth: “Most small businesses spend too much time working in their business and not enough time working on their business.”

 

The start of the year, before things get too hectic or too far along, is a great time to work on your business; assess where you are and where you want to be and then figure out how best to get there.41925620_s.jpg

 

There are three steps to this process:

 

1. Look at where you have been. The easiest and best way to do this part of the process is by using variations on the 80-20 rule. The 80-20 rule states that 80% of your income comes from 20% of your customers. There is gold in identifying those 20% and talking good care of them.

 

Beyond that, consider doing these 80-20 analyses as well:

 

      • Which 20% of your products bring in 80% of your sales?
      • Which 20% of your web pages get 80% of your pageviews?

 

2. Look at where you want to go. Based upon your 80-20 reviews, as well as your experience and intuition, the next step is to decide what changes need to be made, where you need to double down on what is working, and which efforts are probably not worth your time.

 

3. Figure out what resources your need to get there. Knowing where you want to head, the question becomes how do you get there? Will you need more money for marketing? Do you need to cut overhead? Can you form some strategic partnerships?

 

Finally, be sure to put it all down on paper. Again, it need not be overly lengthy or complicated, but writing down where you have been, where you want to head, and what you need to get there should be very illuminating.

 

The idea is to create a roadmap for your business. It’s like an airplane pilot; he or she would never just jump in the plane and head south with hopes of finding Florida. Rather, he would create a flight plan – what direction to head, how much fuel is needed, dangers to avoid, and so on.

 

That is what this review session really is. It is your process for creating a flight plan for getting to where you really want to go this year.

 

Related articles:

How To manage your biggest client Among Others

Developing a Strategic Plan that Makes Sense

Fine Tuning Your Marketing Plan

 

 

About Steve StraussSteve Strauss Headshot New.png

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

Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?' – Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Martin Luther King Jr. Day was signed into law in 1983 and took effect three years later. It is fitting and proper that we as a country, and we as individuals, use that day to not only reflect on a great man’s life and legacy, but to observe our own lives in relation to the values Dr. King promoted.

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What values are those? Equality. Justice. Brotherhood. Teamwork. Non-violence.

 

So it may seem odd, as we celebrate Dr. King, to consider how his message can be translated into business, but let me suggest that he has much to teach all of us, entrepreneurs included.

 

Consider the following:

 

1. Leadership matters: One of the lessons of history is that it is easy, especially in retrospect, to look at an event and consider it “inevitable” because, well, it happened. But there was nothing inevitable about the civil rights movement, no guarantee of success. Indeed, considering both the institutional and private animas towards African Americans at that time, that Dr. King undertook the battle he did is an act of bravery rarely seen.

 

How did the movement succeed then? For starters, it required leadership. Dr. King was but an unknown preacher in a small Baptist church when he accepted the personal calling to make a difference. But he was willing to be brave and bold and do what he thought right.

 

And no, of course what we as entrepreneurs do is not akin to the work of Dr. King. However, it is analogous. As an entrepreneur, it is incumbent upon you to lead, to be brave and bold, and to encourage your team to be its best. As Dr. King said,

 

“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

 

2. Getting people to buy into your vision matters: Great leaders see things others often do not, and with words and action, they can inspire people to accept their vision and bring it to life. Dr. King envisioned a country where people are judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. That vision inspired millions to join him on his quest for justice and equality for everyone.

 

Your job is not dissimilar.

 

As an entrepreneur, you too need to have a vision for your enterprise and engage people to believe in it so much that they will invest in it, or will work for it, or will buy from it. It is your vision that carries the enterprise forward.

 

3. Empowering your team matters: There is no leader without a follower. One of the geniuses of Dr. King is that he empowered everyday people to believe, to act, to follow, even when that meant that they were risking their lives. Dr. King had successfully engaged them about his vision for peace, equality and justice – and in turn they were inspired to commit extraordinary acts of non-violence that changed history. Dr. King led, but his team believed and took action to achieve his dream.

 

The great entrepreneur similarly enables his or her team to do and be their best – but greatness is usually accomplished through mission, vision and purpose. Better known as the M.V.P. trifecta, which Dr. King amplified in every action and is a unique skillset entrepreneurs should strive to master. Educate your team on your enterprises mission, inform your team on your vision and empower your team with purpose.

 

4. Being in service matters: As Dr. King’s inspiration, Mahatma Gandhi, said,

 

“Consciously or unconsciously, every one of us does render some service or other. If we cultivate the habit of doing the service deliberately, our desire for service will steadily grow stronger, and will make, not only for our own happiness, but that of the world at large.”

 

A great business doesn’t sell, it serves. Service matters. Service gets noticed and rewarded. As the life of Dr. King proves, it is service that can make a difference in your life and others.

 

 

About Steve StraussSteve Strauss Headshot New.png

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

“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake

the world as in being able to remake ourselves.” – Mahatma Gandhi

 

If there is one thing we can be assured of in business – and life – it is that things might change. Strike that. It is that things will change.

 

One day, a potential big client shows up – hooray! That budding prospect then becomes an existing client for a few years. Great. And then, for whatever reason, that once-promising new client is a sad-to-see-you-go old client. Boo hoo.

 

Change happens.

 

That’s why what Gandhi says above applies perfectly. Our greatness is not in our ability to remake the world – clients come and clients go, change happens – but in our ability to remake ourselves such that we can better deal with inevitable change.29204641_s.jpg

 

So, change is headed your way. The question is: how will you deal with it?

 

Fortunately, business people far smarter than I have given this topic a lot of thought. What do they say, what is it you are supposed to do and what is the best way to handle the inevitable change that will affect your business?

 

One word: Pivot.

 

You maybe have heard of that word in a business context before. It was first utilized in the great Eric Ries book, The Lean Startup. Ries uses it to discuss a strategy whereby, when a new startup faces an unexpected change, event, or fork in the road. What should they do?

 

Pivot.

 

It’s just like in basketball. In basketball, an offensive player at some point will stop and hold the ball. An opponent will then come at him. The offensive player may then pivot away from the defensive player into a new spot. If another defensive player comes at him there, he will pivot again to another new spot. Instead of getting flustered or frozen by the oncoming, unexpected defensive player, the shrewd offensive player simply pivots away from the problem into a (hopefully) safer spot.

 

In business, this is the same idea. What Ries and other business people have realized is that the pivot is the best, quickest, most economical way to deal with the unexpected. But what does that mean exactly? It means, ‘This isn’t working, try that.’ Or, ‘That isn’t working, try the other.’ Don’t fall for the analysis paralysis trap. Instead, notice the upcoming change and quickly pivot to a new, better course correction.

 

Here are some famous examples:

 

For 100 years, Nintendo made playing cards in Japan. In 1959, they struck a marketing deal with Disney, but then, a few years later, our friend Change knocked and the bottom fell out of the playing card business. Noticing the success their partner was having with toys and animation, Nintendo pivoted to that area.

 

Starbucks started out in 1971 selling only espresso machines and coffee beans. Later, Chief Marketing Director, Howard Shultz, went on a buying trip to Milan and saw people sipping espresso drinks at cafes throughout the city. Convinced that this change would soon come to America, he compelled Starbucks to accept this necessary pivot. How? By buying the company.

 

The point is, change can be big or brief. Pivots can be large or little. The trick to handling the inevitability of change is to notice it, to remake ourselves – as Gandhi suggests – and not get frozen by it. Finally, make the bold choice to pivot, and head in a new direction that harnesses change in your favor.

 

Related Articles:

1. Great Entrepreneurs Start Small – Consider Richard Branson, Bill Gates, Martha Stewart

2. Great entrepreneurs start small – Consider Howard, Ray and Amadeo

3. Great Entrepreneurs Who Started Small (Part III)

 

 

About Steve StraussSteve Strauss Headshot New.png

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

Through some top-secret contacts, I was able to snag a rare chat with St. Nicholas himself, good ‘ol, Kris Kringle, yes, Santa Claus!

 

Strauss: Santa, I know it’s your busy time of year so thanks so much for being with us today. How’s business?

 

Santa: Well, thank you very much, Steve! How’s business? Business is booming, I tell you, booming! You know, every year I make sure to make a list and check it twice. I want to find out who’s been naughty, and who’s been nice. I am happy to report that there have been a great many nice boys and girls.

 

I can’t say that’s true for all adults, but they are outside of my target market.Steve-Santa.png

Strauss: So, what’s your secret Santa? How did you get to be so popular?

 

Santa: You know Steve, I am a big believer in the motto, “Ask them what they want, then give them what they want.” That’s as true in my business as it is in yours, or that of your readers. I really listen to those little boys and girls, and then I make sure to deliver.

 

And by the way, I don’t just “deliver,” but I deliver on time. And that’s another thing. If you want success like mine, keep your promises to your customers. For me, I have a hard and fast December 25th deadline, and believe you me, that gets a bit exhausting. But I deliver!

 

Strauss: How do you do that all on your own?

 

Santa: Are you crazy Steve? That’s one of my secrets too – you need a great team around you. I have Mrs. Claus, and the elves, and my reindeer, and lots of loving moms and dads helping me to make Christmas a special day.

 

Let’s underscore that last point, dear Steve. You must share the limelight if you want to succeed in your endeavor, whether that’s bringing presents around the world or selling to folks in your neighborhood. Do I care if some of the kids think that it’s really their parents who deliver their Christmas toys? No, ho ho! We’re all in it together, Steve. Get a clue!

 

Strauss: Thanks, Santa, I will try. Any other management tips?

 

Santa: Well my boy, I think it’s a pretty darned good idea to trust your staff. They are more capable than you know. Take Rudolph for instance. Everyone always made such fun of that poor kid, but look what happened when I gave him a chance. That nose of his turned out to be a bonus. Lemons into lemonade Steve, that’s what I always say, lemons into lemonade! Ho, ho, ho!

 

Strauss: Santa, how is it that everyone came to know about you anyway? As recently as the 1800s, few people had ever heard of you.

 

Santa: Well, that just goes to show the power of marketing and branding, dear Steve, don’t you think? Do you ever see me without my red suit on? Of course not! People get a good feeling when they see me in that suit. That suit is my brand. I use it consistently to get my message of good cheer out to everyone.

And, if you haven’t noticed, I also have a great tagline – “Ho, ho, ho! Merrrry Christmas” I never fail to use that line. That’s a good idea for your readers too, Steve. Having a tagline gets your brand across in an instant, in fact, faster than you can say ‘Ho, ho, ho!”

 

Strauss: Thanks for your time today Santa. Any last words?

 

Santa: Well, I would like to steal a line from my friend Tiny Tim: “God bless us, every one.”

 

Originally published in USA Today; reprinted with permission of the author.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss Headshot SBC.png

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

If you have been around the Small Business Community for any length of time, you may have noticed that I make it a habit to collect small tips, strategies and hacks.

 

Here are 10 of my favorites for small business owners:

 

1. You need multiple profit centers. This is probably my favorite piece of advice and one I have shared several times over the years, and for good reason. It comes from Barbara Winter in her great book, Making a Living Without a Job.35722669_s.jpg

 

Here’s the hack: Just as Starbucks started out selling only coffee but now also sells food, music, Frappucinos and more, so too should you add additional profit centers to your business. Having multiple profit centers mitigates risk and evens out your business cycle.

Learn more about multiple profit centers: The Magic of Creating Multiple Profit Centers

 

2. Big business wants to help you succeed: This site is a great example. There is a lot of big business assistance out there once you start to look. Large companies spend significant sums of money to create products, tools and services with small businesses in mind; it would behoove you to take advantage of them.

Learn about the Bank of America Supplier Diversity program: BofA's supplier relations: vendor management

 

3. If you want to grow, team up: By the same token, just as there are big businesses who want to help you, there are also other small businesses who can help you. Creating a strategic partnership extends your reach into areas and customers where you typically would not have any. Finding businesses that complement (but do not duplicate) is synergistic, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Consider bartering: Bartering May Ease Cash-Flow Crunch, But Follow These Rules

 

4. There are three types of customers, and to grow, you need to juggle all three:

    • New customers
    • Existing customers
    • Exiting customers

 

Customers leave for all sorts of reasons, both good and bad.. As such, you need to create a constant funnel of new customers who become existing customers, so that they can replace the exiting customers. Cultivate and nourish all three.

Learn more about your customers: Understanding Your Ideal Customer

 

5. Market your business, and then market it some more: How do you find those new customers to replace existing customers? You know the answer. Marketing. Whether it is real world networking or online social networking, marketing your business is the key to keeping the customer pipeline going.

Visit our sales and marketing section to see the best advice on marketing your business

 

6. Be a great boss: The best small businesses – the ones with solid profit, low turnover, good morale, great products and happy customers – are the ones where the owner creates a great culture. Happy employees create happy customers. The key is to be a good boss.

 

And while you are at it, don’t forget to be a good boss to yourself, too.

Follow these tips to be a great boss: Want to be a Great Boss? Develop these Traits

 

7. Play defense: Most entrepreneurs like playing offense – finding customers, selling, being creative, doing that part of your business that you love to do. But great small businesses also know they need to play defense – they incorporate, have adequate insurance, save for a rainy day, etc.

A few more tips to managing your business

8. Understand little changes can create big results: Change can often seem big and difficult. In fact, small changes are the ones that often create big results. Add a new product or service, tweak a marketing campaign, make a great new hire.

Thinking of a little change, look into offering these employee perks: The importance of employee perks and how you can offer more than you think

 

9. Work on your business, not just in it: Michael Gerber’s famous piece of advice from his book The E-Myth remains as true today as when he first wrote it: By stepping back and looking at the big picture you get perspective, insight and you can figure out what changes – little or big – are needed.

Related article: Are you an Optimist or Pessimist? Why Your Perspective Matters

 

10. Say yes: People love small business because we can say yes.

 

      • “Can you stay open a little later so I can get down there?” Yes.
      • “Could you possibly get this to me by tomorrow?” Yes.
      • “Can I have an afternoon off this week?” Yes

 

Yes is one of the things that makes small business special. Use that to your advantage.

Related article: What’s your secret sauce?

 

About Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss Headshot SBC.png

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

“…Greed, for the lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind.”

 

- Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street (1987)

 

While we certainly are not living in the go-go, high-flying, greed-is-good ‘80s any longer, there is still a belief in some quarters that many business people remain quite Gekkoish –selfish,  materialistic and looking out only for themselves.

 

In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth, and I am happy to report that the latest Bank of America Small Business Owner Report (SBOR) agrees. Twice a year, my friends at Bank of America survey 1,000 small business owners across the country. The SBOR always contains fascinating insights, and this latest one is no different.

 

What I love about the Fall 2017 SBOR is how it busts several common myths about small businesses and their owners, including the one that business owners are greedy and selfish.

 

For instance, according to the report, 60% of small business owners participate in a big way in charitable giving during the holiday season, including:Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 6.00.07 PM.png

 

  • Giving money to a charity (nearly 50%)
  • Giving employees bonuses (35%)
  • Giving employees holiday gifts (33%)

 

Here’s another busted myth: Or Millennials are the most cynical and jaded of all generations. Maybe not. Guess who the SBOR found to be – by far – the most optimistic of all small business owners? You bet, it’s the Millennials.

 

According to the SBOR, “When looking across generations, millennial small business owners have a significantly more optimistic outlook compared to Gen-Xers, Baby Boomers and senior entrepreneurs.” Here’s an example of just how enthusiastic they are:

 

  • 81% expect to make more money next year, as opposed to 60% of Gen Xers and only 45% of Boomers
  • Almost half of Millennials surveyed expected to hire more employees next year, as opposed to only 25% of Gen Xers and 11% of Boomers

 

Here is another great small business myth busted by the Small Business Owner Report: it turns out that social media is not all that important to the small business bottom line. If you do any reading about small business—in fact, if you are simply alive and part of the Internet culture today—you well know the importance of social media. But consider this amazing statistic from the survey:

 

67% of small business owners said that social media had no effect whatsoever on the bottom line of their business. Not only that, but half of those surveyed said that online ratings had no effect on the success of their business.

 

One last myth buster. Men are from Mars and women are from Venus, right? Apparently not, at least not when it comes to running a business. While men in the survey generally were a tad more optimistic than the women, it was practically statistically insignificant. For instance, almost half of men anticipated revenues to increase over the next year. A little more than half of women said the same thing. Similarly, 16% of men said they planned to hire next year while  16% of women said that, too.

 

As I said, the Small Business Owner Report always contains a lot of great information, and this one delivered in spades – busting, as it does, myths about small business owners that deserved to be busted.

 

Read more from small business expert Steve Strauss

Related article: Nine Reasons Why Millennials are Important to your Small Business

Related article: Women small business owners see gender equality in the workplace on the horizon

 

About Steve StraussSteve Strauss Headshot SBC.png

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

Steve Strauss

What We Are Thankful For

Posted by Steve Strauss Nov 24, 2017

With the Thanksgiving holiday wrapping up and the holiday season upon us, I am reminded of the things that small business owners and their employees have to be thankful for this year and every year. In no particular order:

 

Being in business: Needless to say, the economy has been tough the past few years, so it is no small feat that you have stayed in business. There is much honor in the hard work it takes to navigate these uncertain times. Your business pays the bills and feeds the family, and provides people with the goods and services that they need.

 

While there may be a few bumps in the road, I don't know any entrepreneur who would trade her gig in for a different one.  We should be thankful for the opportunity to wake up each day and follow our dreams.

 

Our customers: Customer loyalty is almost an oxymoron these days, so to those customers who stay with us year in and year out, we should give them a big “Thank you!” If not for them, we would not get to live the entrepreneurial dream — in all its pain and glory.


Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

Our staff: No one can do it all alone. We should be incredibly grateful for our people – those who buy into our plans and help carry them out. Whether it's a part-time virtual assistant or a staff of 50, employees make it all possible. We are thankful that they help us so much and that we can afford to keep them on. I bet most of us wish we could do even more for them.

 

Our family and friends: By the same token, it is practically impossible for an entrepreneur to create and run a business without the love and support of his familNov 27 Pull Quote.pngy and friends. They put up with our long hours and listen to our crazy schemes. Tell them how much you appreciate it. If you’re like me, than the support of family and friends means more than they know.

 

Our partners: Whether it's a supplier who extended terms to make things easier this year, or the banker who said yes, we typically have an extended network of people for whom we are very thankful and lucky to know. They are the folks who help us stay in business, and for that we are grateful.

 

This great country: Yes, the election was grueling, but in the end, once again we had a peaceful and democratic resolution to who gets to wield power. And while there are

plenty of problems we need to solve, is there any other place you would rather live and run a business? Nope, me neither.

 

This is an incredible country, especially for entrepreneurs. I just heard a stat yesterday that said more foreign-born entrepreneurs choose to come to America to start their businesses than any other country. And we all know why:

 

  • We are the land of the free and the home of the brave. That is, we allow people the opportunity to take a chance here, and succeed or fail of their own merits. We not only encourage entrepreneurial risk-taking, we celebrate it.
  • We have a great history of entrepreneurship here. We love entrepreneurs. They are our modern-day rock stars.

 

So we are thankful that the American Dream applies to us all, no matter where we began.

 

Small businesses in this country have much to be grateful for. I know I do. Thank you so much for visiting our site and reading my column. A happy holiday season to you all. You make it possible.

 

What are you thankful for? Please share below.

 

About Steve StraussSteve Strauss Headshot SBC.png

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

Black Friday is almost here, with Cyber Monday right behind. But did you know that the day after Cyber Monday is now called “Giving Tuesday?”

 

It makes sense. After all of that eating and shopping and clicking and buying, Giving Tuesday is a chance to count our blessings and show our appreciation in a meaningful, tangible way to those for whom we are grateful. And there is no doubt that small business people have much to be thankful for. Between great employees, supportive spouses and partners, our beloved customers, a business we (usually) love, and the community that supports us, entrepreneurs and small business people are fortunate indeed.

That is why it is so important to remember the people who make the dream possible. Here are a few ways give back to those who give you so much:

 

Participate in holiday food drives: Down the street from me is a great little restaurant that annually adopts a family in need. They donate the food, and then solicit funds, dry goods, and other needed items from the community to donate on Christmas Eve. It is a fantastic way to both help the community, and engage the community, all at once.49023134_s.jpg

 

Adopt a school: Along the same lines, most public schools are looking for help, whether it be school supplies, library books, or what have you. Your giving could be as simple as donating office supplies or as complex as helping to build a new playground structure. Either way you know that that kind of giving would be much appreciated by the students, the teachers, the community, and yes, your customers.

 

Donate: Pick a local charity and earmark a portion of all sales for that good cause. Or, simply put a donation jar next to the cash register and give the money to the group when the time is right.

 

Give in your customer’s name: Instead of sending out gifts to favorite clients this year, why not take the opportunity to recognize your customers by giving donations in their name to their favorite charity?

 

Shop at Goodshop Give: Goodshop Give is the world’s first-ever “shopfunding” site. First, tell the search engine who you want to support. Then, when you shop at thousands of participating online stores, a percentage of what you spend will be donated to that cause.

 

Sponsor a youth sports team: Undoubtedly, there is some local team in your neighborhood that could use new uniforms or equipment. Giving them some seed money and putting your name on the back of their jerseys is sure to make everybody happy.

 

Volunteer together: Spend some time with your team batting around ideas and come up with a charity for whom you would all like to volunteer. For example, you might want to work together on a Habitat for Humanity house, or maybe you would like to volunteer to feed the homeless during the holidays. There are so many options because there is so much need.

 

Thanking those who are so generous to us is what it’s all about. Happy Holidays!

 

Related Article: Evaluating Charity Requests? Four questions to ask

Related Article: Charitable Giving: How to evaluate and support good causes

Related Page: Support communities globally and locally

 

About Steve StraussSteve Strauss Headshot SBC.png

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

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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.

 

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