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After ending 2018 on a high note, small business owners are optimistic about the year ahead. Small business owners reported confidence in the economy and their hiring plans. But how will the tightest labor market in decades impact their search for talent? Sharon Miller discusses this and more from the Fall 2018 Small Business Owner Report.

 

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“The Heartbeat of Main Street” delivers timely insights tailored to the needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs. Featuring a rotating line-up of small business experts and industry leaders – and covering a range of topics – each episode explores the trends that have an impact on revenue creation for small business owners.

 

The series is hosted by ForbesBooks, and more information can be accessed through a dedicated home page. New episodes will appear regularly on the Small Business Community podcast page. Be sure to check back often – so you don’t miss a beat.

 

Sharon Miller:            Most business owners expect that the end of this year, their revenue expectations for 2018, 80% of them believe that their year-end revenue will exceed 2017, and that's pretty powerful. So, they're thinking this year's better than last year, and they're thinking next year will be even better.

 

Narrator:                    Welcome to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at ForbesBooks.comand Bank of America at BankofAmerica.com.

 

Kate Delaney:            It's always a good time when we can be joined by Sharon Miller on the show, Bank of America, head of Small Business. She's here with some great news about small business. The US small business sector looks to end 2018 on a pretty high note according to the Fall 2018 Bank of America Business Advantage Small Business Owner Report. Sharon, so first of all, thanks so much for joining us.

 

Sharon Miller:             Thank you so much for having me.

 

Kate Delaney:            We have all kinds of questions and it sounds like entrepreneurs and small business owners are feeling really good about the economy. So, what are their expectations for revenue growth and hiring for 2019?

 

Sharon Miller:            Well, confidence in the economy, it does remain strong and their revenue expectations, the confidence in the economy, hiring plans, all of that is up since last fall, so we do see an uptick in positive sentiment from business owners and by all accounts, from our most recent survey, the confidence remains very, very strong.

 

Gregg Stebben:         I know we've asked you this before, Sharon, but I'm going to ask again just for anyone who hasn't caught our earlier discussions about previous reports, how is it that you do these reports and compile this data, because I think it's really helpful for people to understand where this information is coming from.

 

Sharon Miller:             So we survey 1,000 small business owners across the country and we do it twice a year. It's from all different types of industries, from all different types of sectors and geographies so that we can really get a pulse on how business owners are feeling.

 

                                   At Bank of America, we have 3.3 million small business clients that we serve, and so every single day we're sitting down with business clients understanding, are you looking to expand your business?Do you want to apply for a loan? How is your working capital? What about your cash flow? These are the questions and discussions we're having every single day. But then we go in twice a year and we want to make sure that, you know, this is how the sentiment is across the United States, and we over-survey in 10 major markets as well, just to see if there's some geographic differences.

 

                                   And by all accounts the whole country is very strong. We see very strong optimism and sentiment from business owners—hiring is there, plans to apply for a loan, that's up, and so all of the different aspects of the report that we're asking, they look better than they did the last six months.

 

Kate Delaney:            Sharon, it's fascinating how you pull all this together, and talking about the 10 major markets and compiling all that information. When you do that, and since you've had such great success with it, this is just kind of a sidebar question, and I think the listeners will find this fascinating: Do you then go back and recalculate, okay, something's changed here or something's moved here with business, so we're going to instead focus on this area? How do you do that when you go into the next year and you plan for the next time around?

 

Sharon Miller:            Well, it's the basis of everything we do. I mean, we have to listen to our clients. We need to understand what's happening in the economy, how business owners are feeling, and so we adjust our ongoing continuing education for our bankers. We may adjust the types of information that we're delivering in that city because we operate in 90 local markets across the country and we know that every market is unique. And so, I'm sitting here today in San Antonio, Texas, and there's a lot of building. There's a lot of growth happening, hiring, expansion, and we have a heavy oil industry. We've got a diversified economy, we’ve got financial services here, we've got a lot of tourism. And you may go to another city and it may be very strong in technology, whereas San Antonio, the number one cyber security university sits in our backyard here at University of Texas San Antonio.

 

                                  In San Jose, California, you've got an incubator of high tech and what's happening with the newest wave of devices, so every city's a little different and we want to make sure that we're training our bankers to be able to interact and not just interact with clients, but to get ahead of them and to help them think through their business plan. What's next? Should you apply for a loan, should you use your working capital, what can you expect in the year ahead? And so, that's where we have and use these insights every single day to plan for the year ahead and quite frankly, the next three to five years.

 

Gregg Stebben:         We're talking with Sharon Miller. She's the head of Small Business for Bank of America. We're talking about the Fall 2018 Bank of America Business Advantage Small Business Owner Report, a report they do twice a year.

 

                                    And Sharon, whenever business people get together and whenever there's headlines about business and the health of businesses, there's a couple of issues that always come up, especially in 2018, 2019, and two of those issues are taxes and healthcare. What did you find small business owners thinking and doing, and what would they like to see change there when it comes to those two issues, taxes and healthcare?

 

Sharon Miller:            Sure. So, as far as healthcare is concerned, we've been doing this survey for the past six years and for every single survey result, healthcare is the top of the list of concerns for business owners.

 

                                  While healthcare costs remain the top concern during this survey, what we found—and that was at 63% of business owners, they’re concerned about the cost of healthcare, about the complexity—this has dropped to the lowest level at 63% in the six years of this history of the survey. So, that's actually down nine percentage points from the fall of 2017.

 

                                   So, while it remained a top concern in the fall of '17, 72% of business owners were very, very concerned. This time 63%. So it's dropped nine percentage points from our last survey. But again, it's the number one concern.

 

                                   When it comes to your taxes and concern over corporate taxes, that also reached a five year low. And this was at 37% this fall, and that's down 14 percentage points from the fall of 2017. So, although there are concerns and these are still the top two concerns of business owners, it's dropped significantly since last survey.

 

Kate Delaney:            Sharon, when you look at that, what are some of the other things that small business owners are concerned about? What else is on their mind?

 

Sharon Miller:            You know, there's concern about trade policy, tariffs, there is concern about commodities prices, the dollar, the stock market, compliance and government regulation. So, all the things that I sort of bucket into, as really not controllable for business owners. And so these are things going on around them in the economy and the broader market, they have a lot of control over their business plan, around their business. But a lot of these issues and we can't control what's going to happen with the stock market. It's up, it's down, it's going, it's cyclical.

 

                                   And certainly with tax rates, where the government is setting those. So yes, we got to get out and vote, we've gotta do all those things. But when it comes to can a business owner directly control that? They can't, and so the focus in my conversations with business owners, it's about their business, how do they, in spite of everything going on around them, continue to drive forward, to grow and expand and do better this year than they did last year?

 

                                   And most business owners expect that the end of this year, their revenue expectations for 2018, 80% of them believe that their year-end revenue will exceed 2017, and that's pretty powerful. So, they're thinking this year's better than last year and they're thinking next year will be even better. And so, that to me is what they can directly control.

 

Gregg Stebben:         I love hearing about that kind of optimism. We're talking with Sharon Miller, the head of Small Business for Bank of America and the Fall 2018 bank of America Business Advantage Small Business Owner Report. It's interesting, Sharon, you mentioned what are the things that business owners can and cannot control? Well, one of the things they can control, I would think, is how they make it through a period where hiring is so challenging and so competitive. What kinds of things did you hear from small business owners there?

 

Sharon Miller:            Well, they are experiencing it. You're right. We are in one of the tightest job markets out there. Unemployment rate falling to 3.7%. That's the lowest since 1969. So, that was in September where we had the 3.7% unemployment rate. We are at a historical time within our economy where you know, if you want to work, you're employed. And so, it's really up to the business owners that need to focus on retention.

 

                                   And small businesses are experiencing a very high rate of personnel turnover. They are. I mean, just as in corporate America. So we're seeing more people going to different companies, whether it’s be they're getting more money, they get better benefits, whatever it might be. But I would say that what small business owners are thinking about in order to retain, they're talking about how do I implement a retirement package for my employees? How do I give them healthcare? How do I perhaps think about giving them a more flexible work culture?

 

                                   And so, there are some hiring challenges, but I think that when small business owners focus on the perks of what they can deliver, like flexible hours, maybe giving them some professional development and then when you go a step further and say why do people go to work for a small business? They go to work because they believe working at a small business has got some advantages, including the ability to have less bureaucracy. They have a more collaborative environment, more responsibility.

 

                                   When you're working in a company that has less than 100 employees, you're certainly going to have some greater responsibility and more impact or at least feel that you have more impact for that company. So, there can be some certainly some strategies that business leaders can implement over and above what they're doing, but I think they also have to go with what they already have and press that advantage, which is a smaller environment, less bureaucracy, more freedom for creativity, entrepreneurial and creativity development. All those things that really we hear from Millennials, from people entering the workforce. This is what they want. So, I think small business owners should be proud of that and this should be something that they can use to attract better employees.

 

Narrator:                    We’ve been talking with Sharon Miller, head of Small Business for Bank of America. This has been Part 1 of our interview with Sharon about the Fall 2018 Bank of America Business Advantage Small Business Owner Report. You can hear Part 2 of the interview on January 2nd, here on “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at ForbesBooks.comand Bank of America at BankOfAmerica.com.

 

 

Stay tuned for part II

Not long ago, I was researching a company with whom I might do some business  and, as is the case so often with social media, I ended up down a rabbit hole of tangential information. Somehow, at one point, I found myself on the personal Facebook page of the CEO. He was wearing a red baseball cap that said:

 

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“Make America Great Again”

 

That moment affected my decision (although which way I will not disclose.), The moment serves as a reminder that social media generally, and Facebook specifically, is a public, not a private, place.

 

Most importantly for our purposes, you better be darned sure that you want to publicly wade into the political and cultural wars that divide our country these days because if you do, you will surely evoke a strong response one way or another.

 

Now, maybe you are thinking that politics and small business don’t mix, and if so, I agree. People frequent your business because you provide products or services they like. My take is that they don’t really care what you think, and in fact, in this era of divided politics, I suggest what you think has more risk of doing harm than good.

 

But guess what? We may be wrong.

 

According to Forbes, a recent survey of U.S. consumers found that an amazing two-thirds say “they want brands to engage in social and political issues.” That number goes even higher for younger consumers, those 18-34 years old – 73 percent of millennials want brands to speak up.

 

But here’s the rub: That same survey found more than half (52 percent) of respondents would show greater brand loyalty if they agreed with the brand’s position while even more (53 percent) said if they disagree with the brand’s position on an issue, they would frequent the brand less with a sizable minority stating they would publicly criticize the brand.

 

Given that sobering news, while consumers might want brands to speak up, there is a lot of risk for those that do. And yet, even so, there is also clearly a lot of pressure these days on businesses to take a stand. It might be a faction of employees who want their voices heard, or maybe some customers who feel strongly about an issue.

 

So, what do you do? How can you take a stand in an era of highly partisan politics? Here are a few tips that might help:

 

1. Pick your battles: Supporting a politician, opposing a politician, whatever, is just too risky. The possibility of angering your customers is too high with, as I said, little payoff. Unless supporting a candidate or party is mostly a no-brainer for your small business, the general rule is to leave this area alone.

 

Better: Choose to support an issue that resonates with you, your business and/or your clientele. Choosing an issue that aligns with the values of your business can help reinforce your brand. An outdoor travel company can safely champion environmental causes without wading into the political battles of the day.

 

2. Be a uniter not a divider: We all know what the hot-button topics are, and again, the problem is, if you play with those issues you can get burned.

 

A better strategy for the business that wants to get involved is to pick an issue not as polarizing. A topic that aligns with your values and which people generally support allows you to do good while minimizing the risk of alienating key customers.

 

Example: In the past decade, Coca-Cola  expanded its giving portfolio beyond educational causes to include access to safe drinking water and healthy living across the globe. To illustrate, Coke supports the Global Environment and Technology Foundation’s work in Africa to “replenish water sources and improve access to safe drinking water.”

 

World NGO Day can be a first step for small businesses wanting to support a social cause.

 

3. Go incognito: If you really feel the need to share your political views, do what a pal of mine recently did. He created a new Twitter account, an incognito one, and uses it to rage against the other political team.

 

And no one knows that he owns the small business down the street.

 

Check out what Rieva Lesonsky had to say about whether small businesses should take a political stand.

 

 

About Steve Strauss

 

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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.  ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

It’s our job as entrepreneurs to keep up with the latest trends—but it can be hard to keep up. It’s essential to know what’s driving consumer spending and how you can integrate new trends into your small business. Here’s what to look for in 2019. Have more? Let us know what trends you’re following in the comments section below.

 

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1. Generational marketing

 

There are currently five generations in America, each with its own set of demands. Three (baby boomers, millennials and Gen Z) are so large they have an outsize impact on industries and specific businesses. But no one has more influence in the marketplace than millennials.

 

2. Millennials

 

This huge generation—there are 84 million of them, ranging in age from 19 to 37—is too big to ignore. And they’re in the stage of life where they’re impacting so many businesses. Take weddings – already, according to The Knot, a $72 billion industry. Businesses affiliated with weddings, from retailers, to jewelry designers to restaurants, photographers, florists and dozens more, are poised to grow even more as younger millennials approach the median age of first marriage—29 for women and 31 for men.

 

The Knot reports two to three years after getting married, 35 percent of millennials start a family and 24 percent buy a home. That leads to many entrepreneurial opportunities for years to come.

 

3. Millennial parents

 

Millennials are the nation’s parents—they head 51.2 percent of households with children under age 18. Parents are big spenders—to the tune of $1 trillion a year. And, for the first time, women in their 30s are having more kids than those in their 20s. This is great news for entrepreneurs, since older parents spend more money on food, furniture, clothing, décor, and toys for their kids. More than one million millennial women become new mothers every year, and since so many millennials are still in their 20s, this is a long-lasting trend.

 

4. Home, sweet home

 

Home ownership peaked in 2004, but is now on the rise, thanks to millennials. Between millennials and older generations of home owners holding on to their houses, businesses involved in the remodeling industry will get a boost. According to the National Association of Home Builders, the most in-demand remodeling projects include bathroom, kitchen and whole-house remodels. Homeowners are also asking for more green home features.

 

Seniors (including baby boomers) are demanding more home services—82 percent of them are still home owners. They’re hiring contractors to senior proof their homes. They want wider doorways, lower cabinets, wood floors, and bathroom remodels to make their homes safer and more accessible.

 

They often prefer others handle home maintenance chores, turning to home services businesses to get the job done. While housecleaning, lawn care, snow removal and handyman services aren’t just for seniors, targeting this market can help small businesses build a thriving business.

 

5. Mangia!

 

Americans love to eat, so there’s no shortage of new food trends. According to restaurant and hospitality consulting firm af&co., donuts are 2019’s “dessert of the year.” These aren’t your typical donuts though—consumers want artisanal treats with “unexpected savory flavors and fillings.”

 

Food on demand (either pick-up or delivery) is also soaring. Off-premises dining (including carryout, delivery, drive-through, curbside pickup and food trucks) accounts for 63 percent of restaurant traffic nationwide, and delivery is the fastest-growing segment of this market, says the National Restaurant Association. Consumers expect restaurants to deliver food. 

 

Younger millennials actually prefer off-premises dining—24 percent order takeout three to four times a week, compared to 21 percent of older millennials, 17 percent of Gen Xers and 6 percent of baby boomers, according to the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) and the Center for Generational Kinetics.

 

6. Looking Good

 

Men’s grooming is a burgeoning industry. Men’s personal care products (including skincare, deodorant, soap/bath products, hair products & shaving/depilatories) are already a $4.5 billion industry. Millennials are driving this trend as well, increasingly scooping up anti-aging products. According to new research from Mintel, 34 percent of dads (with children under 18) who use personal care products care about preventing the signs of aging, compared to 26 percent of male personal care product users overall.

 

And yet, according to the Mintel Global New Products Database, only a small percentage of men’s personal care products make anti-aging claims. This leaves a huge gap in the market. Mintel says, there’s “a significant opportunity for anti-aging personal care products specifically formulated for and marketed to men.”

 

These are just a few of the trends Americans are expected to embrace in 2019. Consumers have rising expectations, however, so you’ll have to work hard to meet them.

 

     What’s next?

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

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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. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Have you wrestled with issues such as these?

 

  • Your business is struggling financially. A supplier sends you their monthly invoice—and they’ve significantly undercharged you. Do you correct the error?agreement-arms-business-1081228.jpg
  • Your children’s toy store is in the thick of the holiday shopping season when you discover that your best-selling product line is made using child labor. Do you keep selling the products?
  • You’ve received complaints that one of your employees is making derogatory and inappropriate comments to coworkers. But he’s your top salesperson and you know he’s recently received another job offer. Do you confront him?

 

In these and other situations, a small business owner may have to choose between principles and profits. But is it really an either-or choice?

 

Short-term profits, long-term price

 

Sticking to your principles may cost you in the short term. In the examples above, it could cost you money, customers or your best salesperson. But if you abandon your principles, you’ll pay a higher price in the long term.

 

Actually, you may not have to wait that long. Social media makes it easier than ever for customers and prospects to see what your principles are and when  you’re conveniently ignoring them. A potential job candidate could see employees at your company complaining about on-the-job harassment. A customer could discover the child labor issue before you do. Transparency gives consumers the upper hand.

 

Profiting from principles

 

In fact, sticking to your principles can pay off. According to a Deloitte study, purchasing drivers such as “social impact, health and wellness, safety and experience” are becoming more important as consumers increasingly base purchasing decisions on their values and beliefs.

 

In the last 12 months, 74 percent of consumers in a JUST Capital survey say they began purchasing or purchasing more of a company’s products or services in order to show support for its positive behavior. The same poll found nearly eight out of 10 Americans would take lower pay to work for a company they perceive as “just.”

 

The stock market believes principles and profits can work hand in hand. The Dow Jones Sustainability Index rates public companies based on the triple bottom line: people, planet and profit. Participating companies report on their financial, social and environmental performance.

 

What principles do consumers care about most? The way you treat your employees takes top billing. Worker conditions, including fair pay, good benefits and a safe workplace, are the top priority for one-fourth of U.S. consumers considering companies’ principles, JUST reports.

 

How to balance principles and profit

 

How can you hold onto your principles while still making a profit?

 

  • Identify your business principles. What are your core values? What does your business stand for? Review your mission statement, value statement or vision statement. Are they still accurate?
  • Talk to your team. What do your employees think your business stands for? Do they believe the company is truly living its values? Your employees are the ambassadors for your business; they must be on the same page when it comes to company values.
  • Build your business’s values into your employee training. Set guidelines for how employees should treat customers, coworkers and vendors, as well as consequences for not doing so.
  • Practice. It’s not easy to make ethical decisions on the spot. Practice by roleplaying potential scenarios as a group. What should employees do if they see another employee harassing a co-worker? Is there ever a time when it’s justified to take office supplies home?
  • Look in the mirror. If your business isn’t living up to its principles, do you play a role in that? Perhaps you set production quotas so high that employees have to rush to keep up, compromising product quality. Own your mistakes and lead by example going forward.
  • Keep your eyes open. Pay attention to what your vendors, customers and suppliers are doing. It’s a global world and we’re all connected. Doing business with people and companies that share your principles will strengthen your commitment to your values.

 

Principles and profits can and should go hand in hand. Committing to your business principles and educating your customers about them will boost your brand—and ultimately, your profits.

 

Read next:

 

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

BOA-Heartbeat-Soundcloud-header-TEAM-2400x750-150dpi.jpg

Slow down, reflect, and plan. Make sure your small business has a successful new year. Roger Forman, a Bank of America Small Business Executive, shares key resolutions. Tune in to the latest episode of “The Heartbeat of Main Street.”

 

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“The Heartbeat of Main Street” delivers timely insights tailored to the needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs. Featuring a rotating line-up of small business experts and industry leaders – and covering a range of topics – each episode explores the trends that have an impact on revenue creation for small business owners.

 

The series is hosted by ForbesBooks, and more information can be accessed through a dedicated home page. New episodes will appear regularly on the Small Business Community podcast page. Be sure to check back often – so you don’t miss a beat.

 

Roger Forman:          The reality is a small business owner is the accountant, the Chief Operating Officer, they're the CEO, they're a mom, they're a dad, they're a janitor, they've got to do it all. Those that do it best are those that make a conscious effort to slow down, reflect, and plan, and many of them will schedule it. So I talk to business owners that say, "Hey, I've got a period of time between 5:30 and 6:00 on my drive home where I don't take a call, I'm not sitting in front of any kind of social media, and I just think about the business and what I need to get done," but it has to be a conscious effort. It's got to be something that you have top of mind because it's very easy to get passed up.

 

Narrator:                    Welcome to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at forbesbooks.comand Bank of America at bankofamerica.com.

 

Gregg Stebben:         I'm here with Roger Forman. He's the SVP and Northwest Small Business Division Executive for Bank of America. This is “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks and Bank of America. We're deep into the holiday season, and I think, for small businesses in particular, it's an important time to start thinking about, well, what do I want to do, and what do I have to put in place to be prepared for a great new year ahead? And Roger, we invited you here to talk about some New Year's resolutions we might make for our small businesses. Welcome. And let's talk about this, starting with what is a good mindset for small business owners to have now in the middle of a holiday season to make sure they make the most of this season and make sure they're really prepared for the new year?

 

Roger Forman:          Yeah. Gregg, well, first of all, thank you for having me, and three things that I would tell you that we talk to all of our clients about that are important, frankly, at any time of year, but especially in the context of New Year's resolutions, and they're relatively simple, it's: slow down, reflect and plan. When we think of the beginning of any new year, it's the perfect time to sit back and reflect on the successes and struggles of your business of the last 12 months and really make plans for the year ahead, so we'd recommend you take time to organize your priorities, set realistic long-term goals, and implement ways of measuring progress along the way to keep you on track.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Roger, it's really interesting. The first thing you said here was slow down and then reflect and plan, and I have to think for many small businesses, those are three of the hardest things for them to do. So, can you almost get into the psyche of the small business owners that you talk with and help us with some secrets or tips about how to do those very specific three things? Slow down. I own a business, when do I have time to slow down? Reflect? When do I have time to do that? I always have to be looking ahead and planning. Can you give us some insider, some tips for that?

 

Roger Forman:          Yes, you bet. It's interesting. So in my job, I get the opportunity to sit in front of small business owners every day of the week, and I'm in awe of the responsibility that they have. The reality is, a small business owner is the accountant, the Chief Operating Officer, they're the CEO, they're a mom, they're a dad, they're a janitor, they've got to do it all. So the reality is keeping everything together can be much like walking a tight rope.

 

                                  The reality is those that do it best are those that make a conscious effort to do exactly those three things: slow down, reflect, and plan, and many of them will schedule it. So I talk to business owners that say, "Hey, I've got a period of time between 5:30 and 6:00 on my drive home where I don't take a call, I'm not sitting in front of any kind of social media, and I just think about the business and what I need to get down," but it has to be a conscious effort, Gregg. It's got to be something that you have top of mind because it's very easy to get passed up.

 

Gregg Stebben:         One of the things I hear you saying is that business owners should not think about these things, again - slow down, reflect, and plan - you shouldn't think of them as nice to do or optional, but these are essential steps for you to be successful, and so you should not consider them as optional, but you should consider them as essential, and as you just described, make time in your day or in your schedule specifically for this and make a commitment to it 'cause if you don't make a commitment to it, it's not gonna happen. I think we all know that.

 

Roger Forman:          Yeah, exactly. It can't be reactive, it's gotta be a proactive, conscious effort. Absolutely.

 

Gregg Stebben:         And if you don't make time and schedule it regularly, you'll never get in the habit of doing it, and I suspect that business owners who are in the habit of slowing down, reflecting, and planning get the greatest benefit from it.

 

Roger Forman:          It's like going to the gym. Exactly.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Oh, you had to bring up going to the gym around a conversation of New Year's resolutions, that's very scary.

 

Roger Forman:          That will be on mine, I'll tell you that much, Gregg.

 

Gregg Stebben:         So this is a time of year where I think all of us begin to kind of lose the pieces of the organization around our lives. There's a lot of things going on that only happen once a year, it's real easy to begin to lose your routine, it's easy to get disorganized, and that certainly can happen in a small business. I'm wondering if you have any tips for small business owners about, okay, just maybe the thing to do is to accept that things are going to get a bit disorganized around this time of year, but do you have tips for how to get back on track so you don't start the new year in a state of disarray, but start it in a really good, solid place?

 

Roger Forman:          Yeah, absolutely. During this time of year, the reality is we've got a lot of competing priorities, and I think we can all relate to exactly that. We're disorganized. So a couple ideas I would offer up. Number one, we've gotta set and keep a budget and keep it on track. So we believe that it's important to regularly review your organizational budget and update your year-end productions and your financial plans according. One of the things that we always recommend to our clients is when estimating for the upcoming year, evaluate last year's year-end projections in revenue to ensure that you've got the most accurate predictions.

 

 

                                  Secondly, we would tell you, "You gotta optimize your cash flow," and we hear from customers all the time that cash flow is king. We would agree, and we think that cash flow management really cannot be overstated, and New Year's is a perfect time to assess your business cash flow and find opportunities to improve your current situation. I would recommend that business owners determine how much working capital they need as well and be knowledgeable about how many days of expenses they can cover with their current cash on hand. If you're struggling with cash flow management, or if you're just even concerned about it, you should speak with your small business banker, who is an expert on the subject.

 

 

                                   Additionally, there are some great tools out there than can help. We are incredibly excited. In 2019, Bank of America's launching a new digital tool called Business Advantage 360, and it's been completely designed to help small business owners manage all financial aspects of their business through one single digital platform built directly into our online and mobile banking systems.

 

                                   And finally, Gregg, I'd end with this. It's relatively simple, but manage your goals. As a business owner, it's not enough to just set the goal, your planning has to include tangible steps to meet those goals, so whether it be studying sales trends, taking stock of your industry or your competition, or even exploring ways to expand your customer reach, having clearly outlined tasks will help any small business owner stay on track during these busy periods, holiday rush not to be excluded from that, and remain organized and hit their goals.

 

 

Gregg Stebben:         We're talking with Roger Forman. He's the SVP and Northwest Small Business Division Executive for Bank of America. This is “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks and Bank of America. Roger, it's really interesting to hear you walk through these things, starting with slowing down, reflecting, and planning, and then keeping your budget on track, optimizing cash flow, not just setting goals, but managing your goals because if you're a small business and you've had a great year in 2018, one of the things you may be thinking about, one of the goals you may be setting is it's time for me to grow by hiring more staff. What should I know about the job market at the end of 2018 that will help me be successful at adding to my head count in 2019?

 

Roger Forman:          Gregg, to say that the current hiring environment is competitive would be an understatement. We're in a historically very tight job market right now. Being on the plane last night, I think unemployment is in the threes somewhere, 3.7. don't quote me on that, but good, right?

 

Gregg Stebben:        Yes.

 

Roger Forman:          So owners really shouldn't-

 

Gregg Stebben:         Good and bad, right?

 

Roger Forman:          Good and bad. That's true. Bad if you're trying to hire people. Owners, all of us, and anybody leading an organization should not take talent retention and acquisition for granted. We just did a Fall 2018 Small Business Owner Report, and nearly a quarter of all small business owners have lost at least one employee in the last 12 months, and of business owners who sought to hire in 2018, half of them believe the tight labor market had a direct impact on their ability to find and hire qualified people. So business owners who are looking to hire should be thinking about setting themselves apart from other employers. Competition's gonna be fierce, right? So, things like offering perks and benefits, flexible hours, flexible work locations. In addition, additional employee training, development programs, bonuses, things like that can go a long way towards generating loyalty.

 

Gregg Stebben:         One of the things I hear you saying is it's not all about the salary…

 

Roger Forman:          No, absolutely not.

 

Gregg Stebben:         ... think about the perks.Roger Forman:Some of the benefits and the stock benefits of a company can be just as important.

 

Gregg Stebben:         Can you offer suggestions of resources where we might go to get ideas for perks we may wanna use in hiring, or frankly, even for retention of the staff that we have?

 

Roger Forman:          Yeah, couple things that I will tell you. When I talk to clients about where they get ideas and inspiration, it comes from multiple different facets. Some of it is other business owners, the local business owner community that they work in, the chambers have lots of activities, and then we also have the Small Business Communitythrough our bankofamerica.comsite that can give lots of tips and ideas. The reality is there's a ton of information out there. It's picking the one or two things that you can manage and that will work for you and your business and executing them better than your peer group.

 

                                             Learn more about hiring  and rewarding employees:        

 

Gregg Stebben:         One of the things that I wanna talk about is it's been a great year for business, and so a lot of businesses are looking forward to a great year ahead, and let's say I've done all of the things that we've talked about here. I've slowed down, I'm reflecting, I'm planning, I'm setting time to think about my business in the future, I'm doing all of these things. Are there things that you're hearing from businesses that they're doing to get ahead that are more creative that we should be thinking about?

 

Roger Forman:          Yeah, a couple of thoughts I would share with you at top of my list is consider creating a referral rewards program. When you think about your customers, oftentimes your best and most dependable consistent business comes from referrals. I know much of ours do. So consider creating a consistent type of system for staying in touch with current customers and then rewarding them when they send new business your way, and that's gonna vary depending upon the business that you're in and you may have to get creative, but it's one of the single best ways to drive new business.

 

 

                                   Second piece is reconnect with a mentor or become one. Mentors can give incredible feedback, they can make introductions, they can open doors, they can teach lessons, so it's as easy as setting up a coffee date with a mentor that you've fallen out of touch with, or if you have one and you feel like that's going well, be a mentor for someone else. You'll get as much out of that as you're putting into it.

 

                                   And then finally, I would say evaluate next steps to grow and expand. So if you're sitting out there saying, "My business is in pretty darn good shape," I'd encourage you to start thinking about expansion, and now is the time. If your cash flow and your business plan are up to par, let's look at obtaining more capital in order to take your business to that next level.

 

 

Gregg Stebben:         I wanna go back to a couple of things you've said here. I'm talking with Roger Forman. He's the SVP and Northwest Small Business Division Executive for Bank of America here on “The Heartbeat of Main Street.” One, I want to talk about the idea of having a mentor or being a mentor, specifically being a mentor, because I think sometimes in business, we think A, I don't have time, or B, I'm not really an expert or I don't really know anything that would be helpful to someone else, and I suspect that many people who are a mentor for the first time discover that, not only are they giving incredible value to someone else, like someone else probably did for them as a mentor for them, but also, they get incredible value out of it that they never would've expected and maybe discovered things about themselves and their business that they never would've discovered had they not been a mentor for someone else. Can you talk about that?

 

Roger Forman:          Yeah. It goes back to that slow down, reflect, and plan conversation we had earlier, and I think people overcomplicate the mentor arrangement in my view. At the end of the day, it's about creating a connection with someone and having a conversation that will ultimately lead to learning. I have multiple mentors and coaches in my life, some of them in financial services, many of them in very different industries, yet we all have parallels in everything that we do. It may be the core parallel is how do you manage work and life and how do you keep that balance together, but being able to talk to someone else, listen to other ideas, is incredibly valuable, it's cathartic, and it's one of those things that you've got to put discipline around and you’ve got to be proactive with and go out and find it, but I find that that is one of the most valuable uses of my time today.

 

 

Gregg Stebben:         So one of the things you're saying is don't make it into a big deal. It really can just be a relationship where you have someone you can talk with.

 

Roger Forman:          Yeah, don't overcomplicate it. At the end of the day, maybe it's just that you have a great conversation then you realize you have someone in common or they can make a referral for you. You just never know where these things are gonna go, so don't overengineer it.

 

Gregg Stebben:         The other thing is that we were talking earlier about evaluating next steps for your business to grow and expand, and I would imagine having conversations with others in your industry and outside of your industry so that you can get other perspectives would be hugely valuable in being able to really evaluate effectively where am I today, where could I go, and where are there opportunities to grow, because if you're doing that by yourself, you're kinda stuck with the same thoughts you've always had. You really need to bring the eyes and the insight of others into that conversation, and one or many of those conversations may be with people who are your mentors or who you might be mentoring.

 

Roger Forman:          Yeah, they give inspiration at the end of the day and inspire you to do things you're not thinking about.

 

Gregg Stebben:         One of the things you talked about, Roger, is, for instance, having a mentor who may help you manage both the combination of your personal life and your business life, as you said, manage work and life. I want to hear from you how you view your job and how you manage it with your personal life. So, since we've been talking about New Year's resolutions, can you talk about a personal New Year's resolution that you have for yourself? Let's say it's personal or even work-related.

 

Roger Forman:           Is this some sort of forced accountability session? Maybe if I put it out there, I'll-

 

Gregg Stebben:          I'm your new mentor.

 

Roger Forman:           All right. I'll take it. I'll take it. Yeah, so here's the two things I'm thinking about now, and I will just declare, 'cause I'm sure my wife will listen to this, my pull-through ratio on some of my past personal resolutions has not been so hot, so I'm gonna keep it simple and easy. Here's the two things I'm thinking about: Number one: I've gotta get more quality sleep. It sounds sort of basic, but eight hours, apparently, is what the sleep gurus tell you is the magic number, and I'm not getting that today, and I challenge many of us, especially small business owners ... I bet there's a lot of people in that same boat. So here's what I'm thinking about. I think it's gonna be easier said than done, but no smartphone, no TV, no laptop after 10:00.

 

                                   That's gonna segue into my number two, which is second priority for me, is I wanna start reading more. As I talk to you, business owners, and peers, a lot of people are bookworms. I know my wife is, and I'm jealous of her curling up on the couch with a great book and getting lost in a story, and I don't give myself the time to do that. I know it's great for your brain, it's great brain food, and frankly, there's a million topics out there to help me learn. So that's my plan: more sleep, no artificial light, turning off the laptop, and grabbing a book.

 

Gregg Stebben:         So first of all, being part of ForbesBooks and this is “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks and Bank of America, we love the idea that you're going to read more. We think everyone should adopt that resolution. I just wanna say that I think you've set the stage for others to look at their life and their lifestyle and think, "What could I do to make myself a better person at home, a better person at work, and frankly, a healthier person," which is going to help in every avenue of your life. Those sound like really great resolutions. I wish I had a great answer to the question. I was thinking of volunteering what my resolutions were, but I don't have a great answer, so what I've learned, so you've been a mentor to me, is I need to work on this between now and January 1st. We've been talking with Roger Forman. He's the SVP and Northwest Small Business Division Executive for Bank of America. This is “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks and Bank of America. Roger, thanks so much for being here, and happy holidays and a great new year to you.

 

Roger Forman:          Gregg, likewise. Thank you for having me.

 

Narrator:                    Thanks for listening to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at forbesbooks.comand Bank of America at bankofamerica.com.

Women entrepreneurs are on the rise, scaling businesses, providing employment and investing back into the communities they serve, but often lack the resources to help them advance. Today, women are starting and growing their own businesses at record rates; they own an estimated 11.6 million businesses, employ nearly 9 million people and generate more than $1.7 trillion in annual revenues.

 

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Image result for tory burch foundationThe Tory Burch Foundation Capital Program, powered by Bank of America, aims to increase the number and grow the size of women-owned businesses in the U.S. by connecting women entrepreneurs to affordable loans. Loans are administered through community development financial institutions (CDFIs) that provide credit and financial services to underserved markets and populations.

 

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John Purcell, president and owner of Elite Orthopedics, knows passion drives success. On the latest Bank of America Small Business Podcast episode, Steve Strauss sits down with John to discuss the ambition and persistence that continue to propel him forward, with tips and inspiration for others striving to succeed.

 

 

 

John Purcell:              I love what I do, and I think that is something important for everybody to think about is, you gotta love what you do. When you love what you do, you have the passion to do it 24 straight hours if need be, but at the same time, you know, there's times when it gets really tough. And those are the times when loving what you do that really kind of helps pull you through. When you are having a situation and you're kind of wondering, am I in over my head? Is this too much, or whatever has you down in the dumps that particular day. If you love what you do, that'll keep you going.

 

Steve Strauss:            Hi. I'm Steve Strauss, and you're listening to the Bank of America Small Business Podcast, a podcast where we speak with small business owners about their journey and uncover useful tips for entrepreneurs and small business owners everywhere.

 

                                    And today we are really excited to be speaking with John Purcell, the president of Elite Orthopedics. Elite Orthopedics is an agency exclusively representing Arthrex. Arthrex is a global medical device company started in 1981, and what began as a company with a focus on emerging procedures has since pioneered the field of arthroscopy. And personally, having had a couple of those, I'm glad they've done that. Arthrex has developed over 10,000 innovative products and surgical procedures to advance minimally-invasive orthopedics worldwide.

 

                                    John, it's great to have you with us.

 

John Purcell:               Thanks for having me, Steve. I appreciate the opportunity.

 

Steve Strauss:            So why don't we just start at the beginning a little bit, and why don't you tell us how you got started in the business and how you came to be the owner of Elite Orthopedics.

 

John Purcell:              Sure. Well I went to Pittsburg State University in Southeast Kansas and had a couple of undergrads in business and completed my MBA, and it was time to find a job and get in the real world. I would have tried to obtain a PhD in business if my parents would have kept paying for college, because I was having a heck of a time, but they were not onboard with that idea. So real world, here I come.

 

                                   I was literally chatting with a buddy of mine who was a business owner, and he turned me on to the idea of sales, and he thought I'd be good at it. He plugged me in with a guy that I knew, or a guy he knew, and that turned into an interview. And literally, a little bit of flexibility is what caused me to get the job. I think I talked enough in the interview that they were interested, but when they asked me where I needed to live, I asked them where they had openings. They named Kansas City, St. Louis, and Columbia, Missouri. All were far bigger than anywhere I'd ever lived in my life, so I told them any of the three would work, and they hired me on the spot and told me they'd tell me where I was moving to once they filled the other two spots. So it's good to be flexible.

 

Steve Strauss:           Flexibility works.

 

John Purcell:              It sure does.

 

Steve Strauss:            So was that with Elite Orthopedics, or who was that with?

 

John Purcell:               No. So Arthrex is the $3 billion company today that makes the orthopedic surgical implants that we sell, and they have kind of a unique distribution model where they have distributors or agencies that cover certain states and zip codes. And at that time, the distributor that I started my career with was called TASA Medical, and I worked for them up until about 2011, and then started Apollo Surgical Group, which then became Elite Orthopedics, and essentially that was my own distributorship or agency for Arthrex.

 

                                   Today my company Elite Orthopedics…we cover the east half of Missouri and the southern third of Illinois, and I think we've got 67, 68 employees now covering that area. Mainly most of those are our technology consultants, which are our sales reps, and they're in the operating room all day every day, helping orthopedic surgeons with consulting and surgical carpentry questions, I guess.

 

Steve Strauss:            So that's really interesting. I mean, you actually went from an employee to becoming an owner of your own business within that group, and that's kind of a different model for a lot of people. Did you grow up in a family where entrepreneurship thrived? Did your parents own small businesses, or is this just something that you were fortunate enough to get into?

 

John Purcell:               No. That's a great question, and I would say yes. I grew up in a business family. My grandfather was the president of a local banking system and the chairman of the board after he stepped down as president for a long time. My mother was actually a high school teacher who taught general business, and my father, who had a business degree and a master's in engineering from Pepperdine, owned and operated his own driving range, golf shop, golf business. So even when I was 11 years old, I was putting in about 30 to 40 hours a week working at my dad's business, helping shag golf balls and you know, dusting golf clubs. I did minor club repair and you know anything he needed me to do. I learned at a young age that work ethic is king in this world.

 

Steve Strauss:            So far for you what we've learned is being flexible works for you, and having a good work ethic works as well.

 

John Purcell:               Yeah, absolutely.

 

Steve Strauss:            Nice. I'm wondering if you could tell us little bit about your journey as a business owner. You started Elite Orthopedics three to five years ago. Was it just you when you started? How big or small was it when you actually became an owner of this business?

 

John Purcell:               Sure. So I actually started my initial company, was called Apollo Surgical Group, and we started that in 2011. I had a partner who lived in the Kansas side, and we owned the company together. And I think when we started we were about 20 million, and together we grew that business to roughly 45 million. And then ultimately decided, you know what, we've both got a great formula, and we've got our own sale's management infrastructure. We're probably best if we divide and conquer and each have our own piece to focus on. So we did that in 2015, and Elite Orthopedics was born. And essentially in 2015 ... We've had some pretty explosive growth. In 2015, I want to say we were doing close to 24 million in revenue, and this year we'll do 45. And back then I want to say I had 30 employees, and this year we'll probably end the year closer to 75.

 

                                   So we've had some pretty explosive growth. It's all thanks to Arthrex and the products that they make. We cover everything in orthopedics from sports medicine injuries like ACL reconstructions, Tommy John surgeries, rotator cuff surgeries, to total joints, hand and wrist, foot and ankle. We sell a lot of the large capital equipment items that they have. You know, Arthrex has put a ton of money into the research and development, and we have the benefit of being the sales force for them. So literally every day our guys wake up and go try to educate more surgeons and customers on the Arthrex product offering.

 

Steve Strauss:            So that's really interesting. You're doing one thing that I often counsel small business owners to do, and that is to find a great brand that they can co-brand with. One of the challenges small business people have is that they're small, and they don't have a huge brand. But what you've done, and what you've done well and right is teamed up with this amazing brand in your world, Arthrex, and together they've helped you grow your brand, and you've helped them grow their brand. Has that made a difference for you?

 

John Purcell:               Absolutely. I couldn't have done it without them. Whatever initiatives or stock that they have of what they want me to do, I do it every time. I don't question what it is. We just find a way to get it done. They do stuff the right way, and literally they are what makes Elite who it is, their product portfolio. Our number one greatest asset is our employees, and without our employees and reps and the Arthrex portfolio, Elite wouldn't be able to do any of what it's done so far.

 

Steve Strauss:            So it's also got to be true that there has to be a lot of competition for what you're doing in your space. So what is it though that makes Elite Orthopedics unique and different? You have a great brand and a great partner, but you must be doing something different and better.

 

John Purcell:               Well I feel like we're constantly trying to see three to five years down the road, and I think if you think about the growth we had where we've literally doubled in size in the last three years, and then when I look at the region that Elite is, the three years before that we doubled in size. So my toughest challenge is trying to think big enough and stay ahead of the game. It's real easy to get behind when you're trying to keep up with a machine like Arthrex. The owner of Arthrex, Reinhold Schmieding, is the Steve Jobs or the Bill Gates of orthopedics.

 

                                   You mentioned there's a lot of competition. There's a boatload. All of my competitors are the big boys in this industry doing you know four and five times the revenue of Arthrex for each one of those companies, and so for me, I always try to stay ahead of them by acquiring the best talent. We have a robust medical education department where I have a full-time medical education manager that literally trains new sales reps on the anatomy, surgical procedures, all day, every day. It's more than just selling to the physicians from a growth perspective. I've got to keep up with rep education, which as you can imagine, the learning curve is pretty stiff in this business.

 

Steve Strauss:            I bet it is. It is interesting though that sales are the biggest part of your business maybe. What do you look for in a good salesman? What could other small business people who do sales learn from your explosive growth insofar as what it takes to make a sale and repeat a sale?

 

John Purcell:               Well I think a lot of it has to do with hard work. It's easy to say, but at the end of the day, if somebody puts in the time to cover the cases they need ... Our reps are constant students of the game. They're always trying to sharpen the sword, learn about new surgical procedures, learn about new techniques with current products, learn about all the new products.

 

                                    Arthrex is incredible. They launch over a thousand products a year. So literally at some places, it'd be a full-time job just trying to learn all the new stuff, and our guys are doing that in addition to servicing all of the current surgeries going on every day, and at the same time, picking up all these new ideas and these new techniques, and then disseminating them down to the physicians to determine if it's going to help them treat their patients better.

 

Steve Strauss:            Interesting. We are speaking with John Purcell, the president of Elite Orthopedics, and we will get back to my conversation with John in a second.

 

                                   But first this from our friends at Bank of America.

 

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                                   Interested? You should be. Learn more about Business Advantage Relationship Rewards at bankofamerica.com/relationshiprewards. That's bankofamerica.com/relationshiprewards.

 

Steve Strauss:            So John, while you clearly have had some amazing growth, I am sure that it has also come with some unexpected challenges. Could you tell me what those have been and how you've met those?

 

John Purcell:               Well, we get challenged every day in the operating room. There will be a patient that will present with a unique situation, and what makes our sales reps, or our technology consultants as we call them, great is their ability to think on their feet. So when I was a technology consultant or a sales rep, I felt that one of things I did well was I knew my products, I knew how they were used, and I was good at thinking on my feet. So when the surgeon wasn't prepared for something, we were able to think of a way with our widgets to help bring value and help throw-out some ideas or solutions that they could employ to try to get out of that jam.

 

                                   I wish running a business was as easy as it was for me thinking out of those mechanical jams. But every day is a new challenge, and I honestly believe my biggest challenge would be trying to think big enough to keep up with the growth of Arthrex. So literally hiring, staying ahead on the hiring curve, and making sure we've got high quality individuals ready to step in when an opportunity presents. And I would say the other challenge is just my business infrastructure, and making sure that we've always got room for expansion whether it's in the operations department, the accounting and financial analyst department, operations ... I mean just trying to think large enough of where we're going to be.

 

                                   I was recently at a meeting, and the president of Arthrex was talking about how we're going to plan to double in the next five years. And all of a sudden while everybody else was thinking, "Wow, that's great news!" I had this small moment of panic where I'm thinking, "Oh my gosh! I just bought a facility and a building, and now I'm going to need to have one that's double the size. I'm going to need twice as many reps." And so I start thinking through all of the layers of infrastructure and what that looks like. It's a good problem to have. I'm not complaining, but it's difficult to think that far ahead and to think that big and be comfortable with what you need to do to get there.

 

Steve Strauss:            Well this kind of growth and expansion must have had an impact on your personal life. People always talk about the balance, and I don't think…I don’t think you really can have a great balance. At some point family takes priority. At some point the business takes priority. Balancing them is never easy. How has the growth of your business impacted your personal life?

 

John Purcell:              You're right. It's definitely a challenge, but I have the world's most amazing wife. She's very understanding of my business and my hours. She's very supportive. She helps tremendously. But you're right. There are certainly times when I'll be gone for five or six days to a convention or on a trip for work, and I'll come back and I need to basically just shut work down for a little while and reconnect with my wife and the kids and give everybody the quality family time that they deserve. And it's a constant challenge, but in order to keep up the pace that we move at and to keep up the ability to have things keep moving the way they are, there's some sacrifices that you have to make, and it's unfortunate. But I always try to make sure that whenever I get back from one of those events that I really focus on my family and make sure they're getting what they need as well.

 

Steve Strauss:            You know, I'm wondering the role technology plays in your business. Obviously you have a technology business. But insofar as the business-side of the business goes, do you use tech to help create this infrastructure? Do you use social media maybe in any way to grow your business? Or maybe it's all a more personal touch kind of business. You tell us.

 

John Purcell:               Well you know, that's a good question, and I have a second company that I own a piece of that does lawn and landscaping. And in that business, you know, social media marketing, can really impact the bottom line. However for Elite Orthopedics, social media marketing doesn't necessarily impact the bottom line because I'm selling to a very specific audience of doctors.

 

                                   However, it has been very important for me over the past year and a half or so where we have been relying on social media between Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and some subscription software pieces that I utilize to help keep up with the recruiting and the hiring ways. So I can't say that they've helped impact the revenue from bringing on sales, but it's absolutely been critical to impact the revenue from helping me find the personnel to keep up with this wave of growth.

 

 

Steve Strauss:            Is there anything you would do differently having done this for several years now? What might you have changed, or what might you think you're going to change in the future?

 

John Purcell:               You know, this past year I had a moment where we'd recently brought accounting in-house. And I had a third-party company that I was working with previously. They were unbelievable. They were incredible, but when the day arrived that we needed to bring accounting in-house, I did that and then quickly realized, "Why didn't I do this sooner?" So I think for me, a lot of times, I might not feel it's the right time to do something, or I might be hesitant about it, but once I've done it, there's been a few occasions where by the time I actually pulled the trigger on a new position or whatever it was, a couple months later I'm thinking, "I should have done that sooner."

 

 

                                   So I think the times I just need to just trust my gut a little bit more, or listen more to what others are doing and give it a shot and get out of my comfort zone a little bit more and think bigger.

 

Steve Strauss:            Think bigger. That's a great theme, and I love that you keep saying that. I'm wondering, any other advice you might give entrepreneurs who are listening today? Clearly you love entrepreneurship. You love your business. You've been very successful at it. What do you think people could take away from your journey?

 

John Purcell:               Well, I feel like I got lucky in a sort, but when I was in college and I mentioned I had that conversation that my buddy plugged me in with a guy that was in surgical sales. And as I think back, you know what? I was in the right place at the right time and knew the right guy, and then when I got my opportunity, it was all about demonstrating the work ethic and essentially being flexible. And then once I got into that role and started getting to know the job a little bit, I really fell in love with it, and I love what I do.

 

                                    And I think that is something important for everybody to think about is, you gotta love what you do. When you love what you do, you have the passion to do it 24 straight hours if need be, but at the same time, there's times when it gets really tough. And those are the times when loving what you do that really kind of helps pull you through. When you are having a situation and you're kind of wondering, am I in over my head? Is this too much, or whatever has you down in the dumps that particular day. If you love what you do that'll keep you going, and you can live to fight another day. It's always darkest before the dawn.

 

Steve Strauss:            Nice. Well we here at the Bank of America Small Business Podcast love what you're doing, we love talking to entrepreneurs who are getting the job done and making a difference and helping everyone in the process. And that's clearly what you're doing. So John, if people want to find you or Elite Orthopedics, where should they go?

 

John Purcell:               eliteorthollc.com. We're always looking for talented individuals that can help make us better.

 

Steve Strauss:            Fantastic. Keep up the great work.

 

John Purcell:               Thank you very much. Appreciate the opportunity.

 

Steve Strauss:             For Bank of America, I'm Steve Strauss.

 

 

Up next:

 

 

About Steve Strauss

Steve 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

Running a business is tough, but it can run more smoothly by simplifying operations with the right systems and processes in place.

 

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Here are six strategies to consider so that your business runs more smoothly.

 

Get the right team on board

Do you have the right team? Human resources experts advise that when hiring, consider the three I’s: Integrity, initiative and intelligence. Additionally, consider hiring those with improved soft skills. A good employee should co-exist with others regardless of their title or position. Team players are assets to any organization and can make running your business easier.

 

     RELATED CONTENT:  3 Big Problems Small Business Owners Struggle With, Part 2: Finding and Retaining Employees


Be hands-on and part of the team

Your employees already know who the boss is, so make a conscious effort to be a part of the team and lead by example. You will not only understand the challenges your employees have but you also get to learn the intimate operations of your business. This does not mean that you turn into a master of all things and micromanage everything. However, being more hands on lets your employees know you’re making an attempt to understand what they do. It also shows them that you’re also accessible and approachable.

 

     RELATED CONTENT: 7 Traits of a Great Manager


Communicate, then communicate more

Do not assume your employees will understand all your decisions. Yet it is important to focus on the desired outcome for the business so everyone understand why they are doing what you ask. Let everyone on your team know their roles and your expectations. One of the significant sources of workplace strife is a collision of duties. When duties are not well defined, it creates conflict and unhealthy internal competition. Such problems are  energy suckers and can make the work environment needlessly tense. As a leader, communicate and point everyone in the right direction. When all are walking in the same direction, conflicts decrease.

 

     RELATED CONTENT: 7 Tools for Improving Office Communication


Involve everyone

People have different personalities. As a leader, bring everyone on board and make them feel like they are an important piece of the business. No one should feel superior to the other. Spend time with your team and get to know them beyond the office. When employees feel that you care, they will perform better at work.

Get your team’s view and advice on the operations and business. You do not need to implement everything they tell you but you will get to learn a few things from them. Doing so can help employees take charge and responsibility for the success of the business.


     RELATED CONTENT: Creating a great business culture by Steve Strauss

 

Reward, compensate and train well

A reward is an excellent way to boost productivity and morale in the workplace. Happy employees will be more productive employees and therefore help your business run smoothly. Rewarding and compensating may not always include a financial increase.

Find out what your employees value in their lives and provide them with it. That could be time off, gift cards and even an office party celebrating their work.


Do not limit the training to strictly job-related. Other areas that will empower your employees are life skills and personal finance lessons among others. When you invest in your employees, you are the ultimate beneficiary. The leading cause of stress in individuals today is financially related. If you choose to train your employees on how to manage their money better, you will get stress-free people. As a result, they will deliver more and make their workplace a better place.

 

     RELATED CONTENT: The importance of employee perks and how you can offer more than you think

 
The value of your business is directly related to how smoothly your business operates. A smoother working business leads to more engaged employees, sales teams, leadership and customers. If you simplify your business, you will also simplify your life!

 

About Ebong Eka

 

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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.

 

Ebong is also the founder of The $250 Tax Pro, which provides tax preparation and consulting services in the Washington, DC area.

 

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.  ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Imagine if you could add a small but mighty group of marketing partners to your team.

 

These marketing partners are all experts in their niches, and have followers on social media that closely match your own target demographic. These potential partners would

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happily endorse and promote your offers. They get to bring additional value to their audiences, the audience members get exposure to your products or services, and you get more sales. Everybody wins.

 

This is the essence of a brand ambassador program. Creating such a program for your small business can make a dramatic difference to your marketing results. The good news is it does not have to take much time or effort to launch, yet can yield tremendous growth and profits for your business.

 

Forward-thinking businesses understand that consumers want honesty and transparency. Working with brand ambassadors can be extremely effective and affordable as there is pre-existing trust and affinity between the influencer and their followers.

 

People definitely trust recommendations from peers more than they trust brand ads. In fact, studies show that 84 percent of consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations the most.

 

Brand ambassador program formats

 

Brand ambassador programs can have a variety of formats; you get to choose what might work best for your business model.

 

For example, your program could be similar to an affiliate program or referral program, where anyone can sign up on your website to get a unique tracking link. Ambassadors then use their tracking link to promote your offer to their audience. And, you only pay ambassadors a commission on sales they make.

 

Many SaaS (software as a service) companies offer more open type of ambassador programs like this. Examples include marketing automation company HubSpot, social media management platform AgoraPulse, and online video creation tool Wave.video.

 

You could make your ambassador program by application only to make it more selective and ensure you get quality matches. For example, Podium is a customer feedback software company for local businesses and they have a compelling invitation to explore becoming a Podium partner on their website. I particularly appreciate the verbiage on their inquiry form, “Podium partners with some of the most respected marketing consultants, business service providers, and marketing agencies across the globe.”

 

Alternatively, what may be most effective for you is to identify and proactively reach out to potential ambassadors. They may be known as micro- or macro- influencers in their industry.

 

The popularity of influencer marketing has quickly given rise to what are referred to as “micro-influencers.” These are Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest users, for example, with small but very loyal audiences. Conversely, “macro-influencers” are power users and widely recognized trendsetters, many of which have followings in the hundreds of thousands or millions.

 

Now, we even have “nano-influencers” on the rise. These folks are normal everyday social media users with follower counts between 1,000 to 5,000.

 

How to compensate brand ambassadors

 

Brand ambassador terms could range from a one-time project where you pay a flat fee and/or a performance based bonus. Or, it could be you work with select ambassadors with an ongoing monthly retainer for services provided. Nano-influencers are most likely to be happy with some free product or modest compensation.

 

Ambassador packages could include a mix of the following:

 

  • Monthly retainer for specific brand awareness campaigns and lead generation deliverables
  • Flat fee for a specific marketing project
  • Performance based compensation with commissions payable for leads and/or sales
  • Free supplies of your product
  • Free access to your software, app, or other services
  • Any other creative ways you come up with that are win-win for your business and the ambassador

 

How to find prospective brand ambassadors

 

Search social networks such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for specific keywords and hashtags to see if you can identify good matches.

 

Nano-influencers may be the easiest to reach and team up with, versus a major celebrity or certain macro-influencers.

 

Instead of doing your own organic searches, you might enlist the help of a service that specializes in finding you ideal influencers/brand ambassadors with which to work. For example, take a look at Influencer Marketing Hub.

 

Also, Facebook recently launched a tool to help brands and potential ambassadors partner up. The feature is called Brand Collabs Manager. You can visit my own portfolio by way of example.

 

Plus, your top customers could even become some of your first brand ambassadors! Review your list of best customers and reach out to them with an invitation.

 

What deliverables do brand ambassadors create?

 

Tap into what comes naturally to the ambassador and also what their audience most resonates with. For example, I love to do educational webinars and Facebook Live video broadcasts with educational content, and my audiences love this, too. The list of companies I’ve done this for include Hootsuite, BeLive.tv, Podium, Telestream Wirecast, IMPACT Branding & Design and more. For Adobe, I hosted a Facebook live from their annual MAX Creativity Conference, with live demos of new products.

 

Deliverables endorsing your product or service can include any of the following on the ambassador’s channels:

 

  • Publishing content on any of the major social networks – in link, image or video format
  • Hosting live video broadcasts on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc.
  • Using your product or service and doing how-to videos
  • Leading educational webinars
  • Writing and publishing a blog post
  • Sending out a dedicated email broadcast to subscribers, or a mention in an email newsletter
  • Showcasing a case study of yours in a keynote speech if the ambassador is a speaker, for example
  • Hosting a live event

 

There’s no limit to what creative arrangements you might come up with for your brand ambassadors. For instance, I recently hosted a 30-day video-a-day challenge for Wave.video. I ran the challenge inside a special pop-up Facebook group where I gathered over 1,700 participants, 90 percent of which were new leads for Wave.video.

 

How to track your brand ambassadors’ results

 

There are myriad ways to structure agreements when it comes to results. It all depends on your business objectives.

 

Perhaps you’re simply looking for brand awareness and more visits to your website and/or foot traffic to your store.

 

Or, your focus may be on qualified leads that sign up on your website with their email address and phone number.

 

Ultimately, you do want to tie all brand ambassador results to the bottom line and quantify with actual sales so you can measure a solid ROI.

 

Finding brand ambassadors that match your brand promise and that have an audience of your ideal demographic are the keys to success.

 

 

Are you interested in hosting a Facebook Live event like I do? 

 

Learn from Carol Roth

 

 

About Mari Smith

 

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Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.

 

Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.

Web: Mari Smith  or Twitter: @MariSmith

You can read more articles from Mari Smith by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Mari Smith is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Mari Smith. 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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Season’s greetings from the Small Business Community!

 

The holidays are in full swing on Main Street and it’s time to check in to make sure your small business is ready. Brent Tilson, CEO of Tilson and author of “Go Slow to Grow Fast,” shares holiday best practices for small businesses on this episode of “The Heartbeat of Main Street.”

 

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“The Heartbeat of Main Street” delivers timely insights tailored to the needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs. Featuring a rotating line-up of small business experts and industry leaders – and covering a range of topics – each episode explores the trends that have an impact on revenue creation for small business owners.

 

The series is hosted by ForbesBooks, and more information can be accessed through a dedicated home page. New episodes will appear regularly on the Small Business Community podcast page. Be sure to check back often – so you don’t miss a beat.

 

Brent Tilson:               When you're thinking about the holiday season, start all inclusively with everybody that you're going to communicate with so that you can be sensitive to not only your employees and the impacts around what could be a morale issue in the company ultimately, but also your customers.

 

Narrator:                     Welcome to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with ForbesBooks at forbesbooks.com and Bank of America at bankofamerica.com.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I'm here with Brent Tilson. He's the president and CEO of Tilson, tilsonhr.com, also the author of the ForbesBook Go Slow to Grow Fast, How to Keep Your Company Driving and Thriving in a Fast-Paced, Competitive Business World.

 

                                   Brent, we're thrilled you're here, and we invited you here to talk with us about some HR issues that are particularly relevant today as we're getting closer to the holidays. The holidays can have some really ... companies can handle the holidays with their teams and their employees in a very successful way, I would imagine, or they can really step in it and make some real mistakes.

 

                                   And interestingly, as I've been reading your book, Go Slow to Grow Fast, your book actually centers around a company having what they think is a morale issue. Hint, hint, it's not really a morale issue. That's just a symptom, but it's so perfectly aligned with the idea of making sure that you do the right thing for your employees during the holidays, that I wanted to talk with you both about the book and things we can do as companies to handle the holidays appropriately.

 

                                   And when I bring up the idea of the holidays and dealing with employees, is this a common conversation that companies have or should have?

 

Brent Tilson:               Well thanks, Gregg. And it is a conversation that companies should be having, especially this time of year. I don't necessarily find where companies have written policies about what they should or shouldn't say during the holiday season, so it's important that people talk about it and that the management teams understand what's important, that they share with the employees, and really have a conversation around those pitfalls. As you said, they could really step in it, and people get really excited around the holiday season.

 

                                   In fact, not too long ago, we celebrated Halloween, and, years ago, Halloween was something that was very commonly celebrated. Well there's also a little darker side to Halloween, and so companies today are starting to be mindful that certain employees don't want to have these Halloween celebrations. And it's the sensitivity issue that we ... I wouldn't have imagined years ago, but so many things I see today, I would never have imagined years ago.

 

                                   And so it's important that companies have these conversations to begin to think about their employees and the excitement that they have to celebrate, but just because they may have that personal excitement at home, they have to somewhat tamper it down a little bit when they're in the office or at work.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Well, right, I mean, one of the things is you have to make sure that these kinds of things within the office are inclusive because people have different religions, different celebrations, different customs, and different traditions. And if I'm listening to this and I'm an HR person, what kind of advice can you give me for helping me discuss this with my management team to make sure we're doing the right thing when we approach it with our employees?

 

Brent Tilson:               Well the first thing I like to tell people to think about is to approach it both for internal and external. So when you're thinking about the holiday season, start all inclusively with everybody that you're going to communicate with so that you can be sensitive to not only your employees and the impacts around what could be a morale issue in the company ultimately, but also your customers. Because your customers have to be ... You need to be sensitive with them because they also have personal, whether it be religious or other sorts of traditions that they are mindful of.

 

                                   So my advice would first be think about it from encouraging the employees to see it through the lens of the recipient, the person they're talking with. So if they're certainly in an internal employee situation, be mindful that not everybody is going to be the same faith, and that we are a melting pot, and that we need to be very mindful of the words we use, how we say them, maybe even the greetings and the goodbyes, because this is the time of year when things, people tend to say different things when they meet somebody.

 

                                   And so it's about understanding through the eyes of the recipient is the first thing that they should do. And then also just be sensitive that, in the holiday season, not everyone is excited about the holiday season. So you have to be sensitive to people, how much are they really wanting you to be engaged in those sorts of discussions with them.

 

Gregg Stebben:          You made an interesting point about ... I've been asking about internal communications and relationships between employees, but there's also employees interacting with the public or the company interacting with the public, and that's another place where, if you don't manage it well, you can really alienate some very important people in your business, which is your customers.

 

Brent Tilson:               Well and people, they get lazy. I was in a very ... what I would consider somewhat of a high profile meeting this last year over the Easter time period. It was just a mixed group, and the individual who was hosting the meeting just was careless in comments towards the end, and this was actually an elected official who wasn't really thinking about what he was saying at the time, he was trying to be ... wishing everybody a good weekend. And afterwards, he reflected on what he said and he's like, "I can't believe I just did that." So just careless in reading and understanding the room, and the things you may say or may not say.

 

                                   And so, it happens to everybody, no matter where you may be, whether it's in business or in some other situation, it's just being careful of really understanding the audience that you're in, and making sure the message is tailored for that audience.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Well, two words come to mind as we're talking about this. One is training. I mean, there must be some ... there has to be some way of communicating this with your employees, or you're leaving it up to chance that they're going to get it right. So you need to, I would think, in some way or another, let employees know this is what we think is appropriate, and we want you to act in the following way.

 

                                   Which is built on awareness, because I think sometimes people say things like this elected official you were mentioning, sometimes it's just a lack of an awareness that there could be sensitivity, and once you're aware that the sensitivity is there, you think, oh, I never would've done that if I had thought about it, but I didn't have the awareness to think about it.

 

Brent Tilson:               Well, and many people ... and you're right, the training is very important, and the reason the training is important, or at least to make people aware of it. And it certainly should be done not just in a holiday spirit, it ought to be more from a sensitivity and diversity training that's all encompassing so that it's not just specific to the holidays. The holidays are an example, they certainly are a placeholder in the training for people to have to understand that there are different times of the year that you have to be even more aware of the activity, and what you might say or do.

 

                                   So in those trainings it's important to have these pieces, but it just goes so much more than that. Think about it this way, that people are at work, are in the office, far more than they are at home. But yet they bring from their home their personal beliefs and experiences, and not everybody wants that shared in the office environment. And so it's really important to understand that there's that line that individuals have to manage and monitor themselves when they bring in their personal beliefs, if you will.

 

                                   And so it's really important to understand both sides of that. There's that line that you do cross when you walk through the door.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I'm talking with Brent Tilson, he's the president and CEO of Tilson, they're at TilsonHR.com. He's also the author of the Forbes Book, Go Slow to Grow Fast, How to Keep Your Company Driving and Thriving in a Fast Paced, Competitive Business World.

 

                                   Brent, I want to change gears here a little bit and talk about another big part of the holidays in the workplace, and that is: I'm an employee, I have an expectation that I'm going to get a bonus, a gift, a raise, or maybe all three. This seems to me another place where employers have to be really strategic about what they do. I want you to talk a little bit about the things you do at Tilson, so we can then understand the kind of advice you offer to your clients around these kinds of year end issues.

 

Brent Tilson:               These are great issues to address, because you think first about raises. It's one of those things that some people just expect it annually, I'm going to get a raise. The cost of living increase or whatever it may be, and we're always very clear to articulate in our organization that while we do try, and want to be giving raises, and certainly want to keep up with the cost of living, so there's certainly that as an element, so we make sure our staff understands there's an element of raises that are a part of the overall compensation that will happen year after year.

 

                                   But then on top of that, it's going to be merit based. So if you're improving, and you're moving from one level to another level, and you've actually improved your position and/or your overall performance, then yes you will be justified to get a possibly higher raise. So we make sure it's very clear that there's a merit component to the raise piece, that way we set expectations.

 

                                   Now come to bonuses, you have those performance based bonuses and discretionary. So performance based, once again, it's going to be based on the merits, so it's very clear and they should be very clearly articulated as to when those bonuses will be paid out, so that they understand how they're doing, so you're rewarding the right type of thing.

 

                                   Oftentimes in the holidays, we get into the discretionary bonuses, and that's where people can get themselves in trouble, because if they do discretionary bonuses, and they've done it for five straight years in a row, it starts to be expected. And if some reason the company doesn't do well, or some change happens that that isn't paid out, then employees' expectations have to be better managed so that people know that it's not going to happen. We see that as a real problem, companies tend to just habitually do these year-end bonuses, they do it as a discretionary, they don't communicate it that this is not to be expected every year, then people start to think it's a part of their income. And it can be really problematic as people think they're going to use that money for Christmas gifts, or whatever they may be doing.

 

                                   So certainly those things are an issue that management really needs to talk about, because to set expectations early, and frequently, because you can't just say it once, you're going to have to say it multiple times.

 

Announcer:                 As a professional employer organization, Tilson, and one of the services you offer are payroll and benefits administration, is this the kind of thing that you and your team end up talking with your clients about?

 

                                   Want an alternative to giving bonuses?  Try these 6 easy employee benefits to reward employees from Steve Strauss. 

 

Brent Tilson:               It is. Yes, our HR team will work with our clients and we'll talk about best practices, things to think about as they're getting ready to roll out their bonuses. Because it's not just a bonus, it could be ... when you get on the technical side, sometimes bonuses are tied to 401k programs, and so that's going to be money that they think they're going to get, or making sure they articulate, okay, you're going to get $1,000.00 bonus but once taxes are done, it's not going to be that full amount, so what is your real intent? Are you wanting them to take home a full $1,000.00? Well then we have to talk about the financial implications, and the taxes, and what we call grossing it up.

 

                                   So yeah, we talk about everything from the tactical and technical components of how and what amount you want to give, to the strategy of what that impact is on the workforce.

 

Gregg Stebben:          And there's another wrinkle to this, I'm referring to a statistic from the Fall 2018 Bank of America Small Business Owner Reporthttps://newsroom.bankofamerica.com/system/files/Small_Business_Owner_Report_-_Fall_2018.pdf, which reports that 83% of small business owners planned to offer holiday related perks this year, 83%. And I'm relating that to the headlines we read about there being real problems hiring talent. I would think that if you're a small business owner, and you're not offering appropriate bonuses, gifts, or raises, you probably run the risk of losing employees.

 

Brent Tilson:               That's a real issue today. So many companies, that's one of the ... probably the number one thing we hear is keeping employees, and trying to get the talented employees to replace them when they're gone. It's a real issue. And what we're starting to see is some pressure on compensation. We're seeing companies having to put a little more money behind these roles, and these jobs that are open, and/or with the people they have today, to keep them. Because people are being pried away, and the way the world is today with the pace of things, the really top talent is being pursued.

 

 

                                   And so giving perks, and as you said, the bonuses, or gifts are just ... when you think about it at the end of the day, it's a very small gesture, but very valuable in the eyes of the employee. And things that we can do today to help keep our teams is important. Now, we don't want to buy their happiness, that's not what we're suggesting. But what we're seeing in the economy is such a strong business environment, and the economy's performing well, profits seem to be up. And if that is then likewise shared with everyone who's contributing then there starts to be a little bit of a disconnect between the employees and the employer.

 

                                   So it certainly is something that we see companies thinking more about doing this year.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Well and I would imagine at Tilson, one of the things, one of the conversations you're having with clients is even helping them quantify the cost of losing someone, or to say it another way, what's the cost of hiring somebody else? Again, in the Fall 2018 Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, 24% of small business owners said they have lost at least one employee in the last year, and 58% said they were having difficulty finding qualified candidates. So you have to factor those kinds of statistics into if we lose someone, particularly a key employee, someone with great talent, it's ... you're not only losing a person who's doing some work today for the team, you also have to factor in the time and the amount of money that it costs to replace them, if you can replace them.

 

                                   Read Rieva Lesonsky’s article, 6 Things Entrepreneurs Can Do to Attract and Retain Good Employees.

 

Brent Tilson:               Well, if you can replace them then the ramifications last for years. If you have really top talented people, when they leave, it's not just getting to that next person in the seat, it's all that knowledge that they walked out the door with. And especially if they've been there years with the company, and someone comes and kind of takes them away for a better opportunity, then the cost of turnover is substantial, and we do, we work with our companies and our clients to help them understand what are they doing, what are they putting in place to really make sure that they're keeping their top talent.

 

                                   In my book I talk about building a high performance team, and to do that you have five major categories for working with employees. How do you find them, develop, direct, motivate, and retain, and those five pieces are so critical. And companies need to make sure that they have things in place at each place along the way so that retention at the very end, is you're retaining, you actually have a strategy and a program to retain employees.

 

                                   And of course, those that are not performing, well, that falls under how do you direct them, eventually you direct them out if they're not the right people, because they can cost you dearly as well, if you have the wrong people. But those five pieces of the employment lifecycle or so critical to have it right.

 

Gregg Stebben:          I'm talking with Brent Tilson, the book he mentioned is Go Slow to Grow Fast, his new book, How to Keep Your Company Driving and Thriving in a Fast Paced, Competitive Business World. Brent is the president and CEO of Tilson at TilsonHR.com, on Twitter and Facebook @TilsonHR.

 

                                   You know, one of the things we're talking about, we can talk about here as we talk about the holidays, is how to use the power and the spirit of the holidays to actually inspire and motivate employees. Do you have tips there so that we can actually take that spirit of the holidays, and the togetherness, and use it to make our company even stronger?

 

Brent Tilson:               Absolutely. I think what we like to do, I know what I like to do, and encourage others, is this is a great time to reflect on the successes. There's so many negative things that we see in the news every day, and people ... If we just came out of an election cycle where we're all just beat up over all the negativity that can be out there, and this is a time in the holidays where people are excited. They're ready for celebration, at least you can't assume everybody, but there's a sense of that in the air.

 

                                   And so, what I like to do is let's look back and celebrate the successes we've had over the last year. Let's make sure we call these people out, and explain, and share, and celebrate with them. Whether we do it publicly in holiday parties, or you do it with a little private note that you write to them individually. But there's also things that people can do, encouraging to give back, because oftentimes when people give back, they get more out of it than just receiving. So we like to recommend, and we do internally, we do a number of different programs where we help maybe a family in need, they have different programs, I think they call them Christmas Angel type environments where a family that's in need will have a list of all the things that they could really use to help their family, and so we've done that. And people ... the generosity that flows from the staff to help these other groups just warms them, and makes them feel better about it. And it just helps create this sense of pride, as well as fellowship and kinship when people are participating in activities such as those.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Within an organization, can that kind of participation in a program kind of come from the bottom up, or the top down? I mean, could it be HR saying, "We've identified this program and we're going to participate," or is there a way to encourage employees who have ideas of their own, here's how to suggest a program that the company or your department might want to participate in?

 

Brent Tilson:               Well, in fact it is both ways. So in our company, we do have things that we suggest corporately, "Hey, this is something that we want to get involved in," typically we put it out for discussion and see kind of what we would like to celebrate and participate in this year, whether it's simply making donations to certain charities on behalf of employees, or possibly it's actually, like I just mentioned, actually doing an event where we're gathering donations.

 

                                   But what we also have is we actually have a program that we implemented in our company, where we allow people to basically, they submit a request, they can do it individually, but they get a day of paid time off for them to go to a ... either a local charity, or something that they want to give back. So they just submit it, it gets approved. It can be individually or they can do it as a group effort. And so they go and find these things, because we want people to be involved in the community, because we know the value that it provides to them and to the community. So it can be done both ways.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Well I really like the sound of that, because I ... when someone, a team or an individual sources it, and then it gets embraced by the company, even if it's just a few people within the company, that then is going to be very empowering to that person, beyond the spirit of giving, but making them feel like, "Wow, I made a real contribution both to my community, but also to my company."

 

Brent Tilson:               Oh, that's absolutely true. There's so many different programs that we've done over the years, it's fun. When they're ... when the employees and the team choose to do something, then you can see the spirit, because they have a little competition amongst themselves, they make it more fun, they ... who's going to out donate who, and you find that they've been hiding some of their donations so no one really knows how much they have until the last day, and everything shows up and one department's so thrilled that they've outdone everybody else. And it's just ... it's a camaraderie, there's so many things that it does, over and above and beyond merely just the time of giving, but there's also so many other things that just really help employees and people feel a part of something bigger than just themselves.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Brent Tilson is with us on “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with Forbes Books and Bank of America. He's the president and CEO of Tilson, they're at TilsonHR.com, he's also the author of the Forbes book, Go Slow to Grow Fast, How to Keep Your Company Driving and Thriving in a Fast Paced, Competitive Business World.

 

                                   I think we need to talk about people within your organization who, frankly, may be dreading the holidays. For one reason or another, this may not be a time of happiness for them, but it may be a time of sorrow, or struggle. And what's the best way for us as individuals, as managers, even as ... a C suite executive, to make sure those people are being acknowledged and helped in whatever way that they may need?

 

Brent Tilson:               It is a tough time of year. Many people talk about how, or you see reports, where depression actually goes up during the holidays, because possibly someone ... this is the first holiday, first Thanksgiving, without Grandma, the first time that they're not going over to somebody's house to celebrate one of the holiday events and parties. And there are so many things that are personally tough this time of year, sometimes there are great celebrations, other times they're not so.

 

                                   And I think the first thing we have to do as organizations is not be ... make things mandatory, and all inclusive, you have to allow people to make decisions on what they want to participate or not participate in. Because just purely mandating may put somebody in a really awkward situation, or trying to encourage ... we want to ... 95% participation at the company's holiday party, well, who's doing that? Is that because you want the bottom line to justify the money you spent? Or are you trying ... what's the intent there? So as managers and leaders, we really need to acknowledge that some people in the organization really just want their space, and their time.

 

                                   The other part is being sensitive to that. So if you're a manager of an organization, of employees, you may be aware, personally aware, that somebody's going to go through a tough time, so maybe it's a handwritten note, just offering them words of encouragement, without getting into specifics and details, let them know that you're thinking about them during this upcoming year, and holiday season, and just offer that open hand of a gesture of just being here to help if there's anything we can do to help.

 

                                   So it's more of just being aware, and just good, human kindness.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Is there a way, or should we be thinking about a way to make sure everyone in our organization knows that there's an easy, risk free way to ask for help if they need it? Is there a way to offer that, that's ... that will be effective, and not ... not intrusive?

 

Brent Tilson:               Well, there are. There are many programs that are just available, companies offered, often known as employee assistance programs, EAP programs, that's a little more structured, but they're designed to allow because our professionals who can actually participate in ... and you can say, "Okay, you're going into this time of year, recognize that there may be a need for you to reach out and have a conversation," and so the counselors, through these EAP programs, can talk with the employees, let them kind of work through. So it's not something that's being done internally, it's not being done by the HR manager, or really ... it could be, but really oftentimes this is such a personal thing, it needs to be done in a manner that is supportive of them, and help them, and that's why those programs are important to have for employees. Because you just really don't know all the things going on in somebody's life. And to be able to extend, and remind people, "Hey this is a time of year, don't hesitate to reach out to the EAP group and they can help you."

 

                                   And certainly there's fliers, and a lot of times there's documentation. I know we have some in our office that we circulate around, just reminding people of this information so that they receive it in multiple fashions, not just like somebody standing up, or telling people, it's actually, hey, it's on the bulletin boards, it's on the intranet site, or wherever. "Hey, don't forget about these tools that are available for you."

 

Gregg Stebben:          That way you are never singling someone out, you let them self-identify as, "Oh yes, that would be valuable to me, and I get to approach it, or take advantage it in whatever way makes sense for me, and is private, or public, a way that I want to."

 

Brent Tilson:               Well that's exactly right, I mean you may have an employee in the office going through a divorce and nobody knows about it, they've kept it quiet, but it's being very disruptive, and it's like during the holidays, and everybody's trying to figure out who's doing what, and when, and where, and that's not something you would want to single out.

 

Brent Tilson:               But if they knew they had the availability to go to ... through a program, or have somebody to talk to, to work through those needs and issues that are professionals, it certainly allows those individuals that to work through their items and not make it a part of the office.

 

Gregg Stebben:          He's Brent Tilson, he's the president and CEO of the professional employer organization, Tilson, at TilsonHR.com, on Twitter and Facebook @TilsonHR. He's also the author of the ForbesBook, Go Slow to Grow Fast. It seems counterintuitive.

 

Brent Tilson:               Well, and that's why the book title, I think works, is people want to say, "What does that mean? What do you mean go slow to grow fast?"

 

Gregg Stebben:          That's what I'm asking, what does that mean?

 

Brent Tilson:               What it means is people really need to slow down, understand their surroundings, what they're doing, where they're going, making sure they're doing the right planning, have the right things in place, put the right measurements, and tools, and think about their business before they just try to grow. I see so many companies go out and try to grow as fast as they can, only to become just a wreck on the side of the road because they just weren't prepared for what they were doing.

 

                                   So the idea of going slow is to really take the time, understand the business, understand those forces around you. I like to tell people that every year you should ask yourself what will put you out of business? And really think about those issues, so you can better prepare, because once you've thought about that, and you've done the right planning, then go grow as fast as you can.

 

Gregg Stebben:          It's interesting, as I'm reading the book, one of the things that I've really been left with, the book is called Go Slow to Grow Fast, he's Brent Tilson, he's the author. One of the things that it's really left me with that, frankly, I had never completely thought through for myself, is that growth has consequences. It has rewards, of course, but it's also not without consequences, and so if you grow too fast without the planning, that growth can actually kill you. You think it's the thing that's going to make you successful, but it may actually be the thing that kills you, because you didn't plan for it, and therefore you can't handle it.

 

Brent Tilson:               And I've seen it time and time again. And maybe it doesn't put somebody completely out of business and cause them to fail, but they grow to a certain level, they outgrow the capability of the organization, the customers get upset, they start leaving, morale starts dropping. And all the sudden the company has to move backward to re-establish itself, to try to get its feet under it again, and then they start growing. But they lost all that time because they tried to grow too fast, and they just got ahead of themselves. And it happens time and time again. And it's the idea of let's anticipate the future. If you're going to grow at 30% a year, well, what do you have to have planning wise done, you have to do even more than what you're doing if you're growing at 10% a year.

 

                                   But that doesn't happen. And so my encouragement is people really do go slow to understand, so that you don't have that high growth put you out of business.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Yeah, and the kind of problems you can have if you're not prepared for the growth is anything from cash flow to client satisfaction and losing your clients, which again, can be devastating.

 

Brent Tilson:                Absolutely.

 

Gregg Stebben:          So my last question, and this is a fun one. I hope. You've seen a lot of things in your years, and we've been talking largely about the holidays, and how to approach them from an HR perspective. Have you seen any just like really funny, or common but they shouldn't be, HR gotchas around the holidays that you can share with us? Both to entertain us, but also frankly, so that we can learn something from the story.

 

Brent Tilson:               Yeah, well one of them is I remember walking in an office, and they had mistletoe hanging, and I thought, "No, no, no, no, get that out of here." We don't need mistletoe hanging around the office.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Especially in 2018 it sounds like a really bad idea.

 

Brent Tilson:               Bad idea. So certainly that's an easy one, but that did happen, I just had to laugh.

 

                                   We all know the holiday parties, those are the things that get people in trouble. They maybe have a few too many drinks, maybe a little too comfortable in the environment, forget who they're talking to. The attire that they wear, I mean, I've been places where it's like, "Oh my goodness, I cannot believe somebody showed up wearing what they're wearing," and it's just, everybody's embarrassed by this whatever, and however.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Everybody but the person wearing it, because they don't even understand that it's embarrassing.

 

Brent Tilson:               Well, yeah, they thought that was a fun outfit for the evening.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Yes.

 

Brent Tilson:               It's like, "No, that was not quite right." So certainly you get into the gotchas of just unwelcome affection, where people just get comfortable, they think it's a fun time of year, maybe they do have an attraction to somebody, and they just kind of ... just a little overzealous, so we see those types of things happening, certainly.

 

                                   The gotchas from an HR perspective is just you want everybody to remember to keep their ...

 

Gregg Stebben:          It's a work event.

 

Brent Tilson:               It's a work event, this is not a party. This is not a night club event, and just remember that. And so, but I think the businesses owe it to themselves to make sure ... you know, like for us, we have a holiday party, we'll do a two drink ... you know, "Here, everybody gets two tickets, that's all the company's providing." And one of the things that's being recommended this year for companies is to use shared services, like the Ubers, and the Lyfts, and those types of things. And say, "Hey, go ahead as a company and pay for it." If somebody shows up, don't even hesitate to give them the opportunity, why would you want your employee to take a chance even if you're not participating in the purchase of anything, you don't want to put yourself on the front page of the paper because somebody made a mistake and it comes back on you. And so take those necessary precautions so you don't get yourself in trouble. And just don't hang the mistletoe up.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Yes. And I think Uber and Lyft is a really great idea for holiday parties. The last thing I want to ask related to this, is do we as the people at the top of the company, or the organization in the C suite, should be assume that we should be very explicit about, for instance, what is appropriate attire? Or what is appropriate behavior? So that no one can come back and say, "Well, I didn't know."

 

Brent Tilson:               Well, that's best practice. The best practice is when we have these events, and it's clear to what the attire is, what's appropriate, what's not appropriate, oftentimes that's in the dress code. But we have ... when it says that it's evening attire, or black tie, or festive, or whatever, there's so many different varieties of names, you can Google them and look. And then you can get lots of different outfits. So it's really good to be very clear as to what's expected. It just takes the pressure off of everybody.

 

                                   Also what's expected at the event. Whether or not ... be mindful, this is going back to the alcohol reference, but you are at a company event, and some companies don't have alcohol, they just, they avoid it, they don't want the issues at all. But that doesn't mean the employee's not going to have some cocktails maybe sitting there before everyone gets there. So there's elements you can't control.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Yeah.

 

Brent Tilson:               So it's important to really communicate, and that's a best practice. For all of us who are the leaders of the company, we also set the example. So while we're at these events, we also have to be mindful, everybody's watching us. And from the clothes you're wearing, to the things you're saying, to the things you're doing. So it's very important for the leaders to set the example. And the staff will follow. And I've seen certain leaders who have a little too much fun, well it doesn't take long for the staff to follow in that front. And so I think it's important for us to exhibit it.

 

Gregg Stebben:          It's funny how culture has a way of showing up everywhere, isn't it?

 

Brent Tilson:               That's why it's called culture.

 

Gregg Stebben:          Exactly. Well Brent Tilson, that's for joining us on “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with Forbes Books and Bank of America. He's the president and CEO of the professional employer organization, Tilson, at TilsonHR.com, on Twitter and Facebook, @TilsonHR. He's also the author of the Forbes book, I, I highly recommend it, How to Keep Your Company Driving and Thriving in a Fast Paced, Competitive Business World.

                                    Brent, thanks so much for joining us, and happy holidays.

 

Brent Tilson:               Thanks Gregg, appreciate it so much. Have a great holiday season.

 

Narrator:                     Thanks for listening to “The Heartbeat of Main Street” with Forbes Books at ForbesBooks.com, and Bank of America, at BankofAmerica.com.

Your business is thriving. Customers keep asking when you’re going to open another location. Some even ask if your business is a franchise—and if they can buy one.

 

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So, you wonder: should you start franchising your concept? Not so fast. Just because your business is successful doesn’t mean it can – or should – be franchised.

 

Here are five steps to take before franchising your business.

 

Step 1: Assess your business.

 

Is your business running smoothly? Do you have operations manuals, training processes and documented systems in place? If you take a vacation, does the business fall apart or run like clockwork?

 

Do you have multiple locations? Before considering franchising, start small by expanding your business locally or regionally. This proves your concept’s viability outside of its initial location, educates you in managing multiple locations, and raises brand awareness—which helps sell franchises later.

 

Step 2: Assess your market.

 

Just as when starting your business, do market research before franchising it. Ask:

 

  • Is the industry growing?
  • Is the customer base growing?
  • Does the concept have “legs?” A business based on a fad may succeed in one location but has little chance of lasting.
  • Who are your competitors and what advantages do you have?

 

Step 3: Assess your capital needs.

 

Franchising can be a cost-effective way to grow your business, because franchisees finance their startups, sign their own leases and take responsibility for operating costs.

However, until you actually sell some franchises, you’ll be footing the bill for legal and accounting assistance, franchisee training and support, and marketing and sales costs. Gather adequate capital to finance your franchise plans.

 

Step 4: Assess yourself.

 

Being a franchisor is different than being an independent business owner. As a franchisor, your focus will be on selling franchises and supporting your franchisees—not on baking pies, teaching children’s gymnastics or whatever passion encouraged your business. If you don’t have what it takes, hire or partner with someone who does.

 

Step 5: Get professional help

 

Franchising requires lots of decisions:

  • What criteria you’ll set for franchisees
  • What fees and royalties you’ll charge
  • Franchisee territories
  • Whether to sell master franchises
  • Requirements for using suppliers and vendors
  • The training and support you’ll provide franchisees

 

Put these professionals on your team to help:

 

Accountant

 

An accountant can help you determine if you have the necessary capital to franchise, if franchising is financially viable, and what franchise fees and royalties to charge. (Being a franchisor is not cheap—startup costs, at minimum, will likely run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.)

 

Attorney

 

Franchising is highly regulated on both federal and state levels. An attorney can create a Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) and help you register it with the  Federal Trade Commission. The FDD includes detailed information about your franchise opportunity, such as audited financial statements, management experience, franchise costs and fees, the franchise contract and more. Several states also require registering your FDD with the state.

 

Franchise developer

 

Franchisee training and support materials are key to a successful franchise system. (If franchisees fail, it hurts your brand image—and your profits.) A franchise developer can help you create training materials, operations manuals, company policies and more.

 

Franchise broker/consultant

 

As a franchisor, you’ll need to market your business both to consumers and to prospective franchisees. A franchise broker (sometimes called a franchise consultant) can help with the latter. Brokers match franchisees with franchises and receive a commission from the franchisor. Franchise consultants do the same but are paid a flat fee by the prospective franchisee. Since strict rules govern franchise sales, working with a broker or consultant can help your franchise grow with less effort on your part.

 

Franchising resources

 

For more information, visit:

 

Be sure to read this franchising advice from a serial entrepreneur.

 

Learn about franchise financing options from Bank of America.  

 

Read next:

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

I always knew that entrepreneurs liked their work, but I never knew just how much. How much? Apparently quite a lot.

 

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If you own a business, are self-employed, or otherwise know people who work for themselves, you know this to be true. Small business owners are in it for a good many

reasons – economics for sure, necessity sometimes, and often most importantly, for the pure enjoyment of doing what they love.

 

According to Bank of America’s Fall 2018 Small Business Owner Report (SBOR), an amazing 90 percent of small business owners say they would recommend entrepreneurship as a career path to others. That is amazing.

 

But what about the long hours you say, the hard work and uncertainty?

 

Even more respondents – 91 percent – say it’s all worth it.

 

This is not to say entrepreneurship is easy, because it is not. The SBOR is a bi-annual survey that looks at the state of small business in America, and it always offers a fascinating glimpse into the real world of the small business owner.

 

For example, looking at economic and hiring trends, the Fall 2018 SBOR report zeroed in on what it takes to succeed in your own business.

 

Is it:

  • Access to capital? Partially, according to 68 percent of respondents
  • A solid network? Yup, 78 percent thought that was the answer
  • Luck? A forthcoming 56 percent agreed luck played a role

 

But in the end, and not surprisingly, the small business owners who participated in the survey thought that the keys to success were perseverance (96 percent) and good old-fashioned hard work (97 percent.)

 

One of the biggest challenges small business owners have today, and not surprising given the strong state of the economy, is attracting and retaining top talent is tougher than ever.

 

“While business owners are pleased with the direction of the economy and planning for growth, they are confronted with a new challenge. More entrepreneurs are looking to hire in the year ahead against the backdrop of one of the tightest job markets in half a century,” the report noted.

 

Consider these findings:

  • 58 percent report difficulty finding qualified candidates to fill vacancies
  • 50 percent believe the tightening labor market had a direct impact on their ability to hire, and
  • 25 percent believe it took more time to fill positions this year than last year

 

The good news: The Fall 2018 SBOR shares some interesting ways small business employers use to recruit talent.

 

For instance, fully a quarter of the respondents said they have shifted to a more flexible culture to attract talent. Specifically, the SBOR drilled down into some differences in individual cities and found employers in Boston are most likely to give holiday perks to their team. In Dallas, employers use ongoing training to keep employees involved. And in the San Francisco area, flex hours are the key.

 

With 55 percent of respondents saying they expect the national economy to improve over the next year (compared to 29 percent in 2016), it makes sense that small business owners are looking to grow their own businesses and find the right mix of employees who can help them do that.

 

And I think what those employers are looking for may be the other big surprise in this SBOR. Do they want a well-educated workforce? Of course (30 percent). Do they want a staff with experience? Yes, that too (53 percent).

 

But most of all, what these small business owners looked for were . . . people with “integrity” (60 percent). That’s amazing when you think about it. By a 2-to-1 margin, small business owners value integrity over education when choosing their staff.

 

As I said, I love when the Bank of America Small Business Owner Report comes out because I always learn something new and unexpected. I bet you will too. You can see the infographic for the report here.

 

Learn more about attracting and retaining employees:

 

 

About Steve Strauss

 

Steve 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.  ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Small business fraud can be a serious issue for many businesses and prevention of such fraud is a necessity as a modern business owner.

Ensuring your business isn't vulnerable is a top priority. While small businesses are more susceptible to fraud than most large companies, there are ways in which you can help protect your business. Setting up secure systems, infrastructures, and internal controls to protect against fraudulent activity can save you both time and money. Whether your business has already experienced fraudulent activities - like identity theft or cyber security threats - or you are just looking to be able to identify threats before they happen, use these different resources to keep your workplace secure.

 

Fall 2018: Small Business Payments Spotlight Report Small Talk with Bank of America Merchant Services SpendTalk with Bank of America Merchant Services Protect your small business; security and fraud tips Digital Transformation of SMBs: The Future of Commerce (VISA) Fraud is evolving. So should your data security. Business Identify Theft in the U.S.: 2018 Report What is business identity theft? Business identity theft scams Tips to protect business identity Business identity theft, Victim resources Tips to help protect your company during tax season SHOULD MY BUSINESS SHARE CYBER INCIDENT DATA with an ISAC or ISAO? Vulnerability Assessments HOW WILL LEAST PRIVILEGE PROTECT MY BUSINESS? WHAT ARE THE CYBER RISKS TO MY BUSINESS? You've been hacked - do you know who to call? How to Know What to Protect How to Protect Your Data How to Secure Your Website How to create a secure password

Thumb.pngFraud isn’t going away—it’s getting more sophisticated. The security industry is always applying new techniques to keep pace. Help safeguard your company and customer data at the point of sale.

 

Click here to download the guide: Fraud is evolving. So should your data security. (PDF)

Thumb.pngThe insights provided in this guide are for small and medium size businesses (SMBs) in the United States, with a focus on helping businesses grow and improve the customer experience by leveraging technology and digital commerce.

 

Click here to download the guide: Digital Transformation of SMBs: The Future of Commerce (PDF).

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