Saturday, September 12, 2009

Where do I get a loan in times like these?

Many small business owners in need of loans feel they have been left out of the various government stimulus programs during this recession. The hard truth, of course, is that loans to small business are difficult to obtain in the best of times. Lenders are even more cautious and conservative during downturns.

Here are a couple of things to think about, however. First, a 2009 study by the Kauffman Foundation found that more than half of the Fortune 500 companies were launched during downturns. Perhaps that should be obvious… half during downturns and half during good times? The point, of course, is that good business concepts with good planning and good execution will find the financing needed, regardless of the economic environment.

Fortune Small Business magazine, September 2009, p.25, reports that this year’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act added $50 million in loans to the SBA’s $21.4 million microloan program (for loans up to $35,000), as well as $24 million in technical assistance for these loans. Further, the senior vice president for commercial lending at the American Bankers Association reported, “Small businesses that go to small banks have higher loan-approval ratings.” Small, local, conservative banks are still generating funds that need to be placed in loans to approved businesses with demonstrated needs. That is the business they are in.

You are still going to have to demonstrate that you have the assets to use as collateral if you default on the loan. Also, you must demonstrate that you will have the cash flow to service the loan. This is standard practice. It just seems more onerous in “these times.” It is not. It is what commercial lending should be in order for financial institutions to be as successful as we each want to be.

Is your business prepared to meet these standards? If so, there is likely a financing source available for your business.

What are your thoughts? I'd really like to hear from you!

Dr. Bill - I love to share, I hope you do to! ;-)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Most overrated businesses... a new list

The Yahoo Small Business Answers Center sponsored by Bank of America has a recent article by Kelly K. Spors and Kevin Salwen titled: The 7 Most Overrated Businesses
It is a good update of what my business and university business school teaching has suggested to me, with some updates. What do you think?

In an earlier post, I mentioned that recessions can be a great time to start a business... but it must be a right business for you, and where you are. They mention this circumstance, as well. Here are their 7:

1. Restaurants - has always been my first, as well, along with bars. They quoted "60% of restaurants close in the first three years" (2003 study at Ohio State University) vs. roughly half of all start-ups in five years - the classic small business statistic.
2. Direct Sales - hasn't everybody tried this, at one time or another?
3. Online Retail - one of the "new" ones - by the way, there are millions of them...
4. High-End Retail - SBA notes they fail at much higher rate than non-specialty stores.
5. Independent Consulting - their quote: "A successful consulting firm needs people to find the work, grind out the work and mind the work. Unless you know you can do all three yourself, you potentially expose your business to great risk." I concur, from personal experience.
6. Franchise Ownership - a 1995 study by a researcher at Wayne State University found that 62% of franchises were open for business after four years, they note, and franchises were also found to be less profitable in those early years. I've been there, done that. True!
7. Traffic-Driven Web Sites - another new one. To have any chance of success, a $50 million investment is a minimum, one start-up consultant says. Does that, perhaps, eliminate most of us??

I enjoyed this update of one of my favorite subjects.

What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear from you!

Dr. Bill - I love to share, I hope you do to! ;-)

Friday, August 28, 2009

Are these words outdated for the office?

A recent article provided by Business Week, by Carolyn Duffy Marsan, suggests there are now:
"12 Words You Can Never Say in the Office" without looking out of date. What do you think?

1. Intranet
2. Extranet
3. Web Surfing
4. Push Technology
5. Application Service Provider (ASP)
6. Personal Digital Assistant (PDA)
7. Internet Telephony
8. Weblog
9. Thin Client
10. Rboc
11. Long-Distance Call
12. World Wide Web

What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear from you!

Dr. Bill - I love to share, I hope you do to! ;-)

Monday, August 24, 2009

Getting Down to Business

The students in my online Entrepreneurship class were recently asked the following questions, that I took from the text, noted below:

“Getting Down to Business”
1) Can you handle uncertainty?
2) Are you energetic?
3) Do you believe in yourself and your abilities?
4) Can you handle reversals and failures well?
5) Are you passionate about your goals and vision?
6) Are you good with other people?
7) Are you adaptable?
8) Are you willing to take risks or leaps of faith?

[From page 32-33 of the text: entrepreneurship: A Process Perspective, 2e; by Robert A. Baron and Scott A. Shane; 2008; Thomson*South-Western Publishers; ISBN 0-324-36558-6]

How would you respond to these questions?
Do the answers help you evaluate whether or not you might be good at starting a new business? Why or why not?

What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear from you!

Dr. Bill - I love to share, I hope you do to! ;-)

Thursday, August 13, 2009


As I prepare to teach my fall on-line class on Entrepreneurship I cannot help but wonder if the current economic environment will again be a natural incubator for entrepreneurship - or will the severity and indeterminate length of this downturn be more of a deterrent to the formation of new ventures? Only time will tell, of course, but speculation is a worthwhile activity to assist in monitoring the upcoming activities.

My first thought would be that many start-ups have been delayed, but as the recession continues, with the signs of the end we are beginning to see... even though down the road a bit, we will begin to see a sharp upward increase in new ventures. There is built-up desire and need; will there be some particular "event" that will trigger the final decision? Are financial institutions ready to support new business; business expansion? Are customers prepared to "take a chance" on new businesses?

What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear from you!

Dr. Bill - I love to share, I hope you do to! ;-)

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Real Secret to Success

Watching Roger Federer and Tiger Woods compete in their chosen endeavors at the highest level over the weekend reminded me of the great advise I got from an audio tape, nearly fifty years, it seems (paraphrased): "Successful people do what unsuccessful people are either unwilling or unable to do." During the tournament Tiger was competing in, with Anthony Kim at his side on Sunday, the announcers kept referring to "things" that AK had not yet learned - that he would have to if he is to become anywhere near comparable to some of the things Tiger does today. He has the natural talent. It is the, what I call, "work ethic" that is missing. The willingness to do all the practice, to identify and adopt changes, to make most of the activities "second nature" through commitment and adoption. It is the pre-game and post-game routine - relentlessly, without fail. On Sunday, this one day, Tiger could have chosen to watch the end of the Federer-Roddick tennis match, and shorten his pre-game routine. There was never such a thought. When it was time to do what he was supposed to do to be successful, he did it. Did all the others? Good question. I'll bet not a s faithfully - if my theory holds.

The week before, at that golf tournament, David Duvall, a #1 a number of years ago, talked of how he had taken his "talent" for granted. He just assumed that would take him where he wanted to go. Actually, it did - but it was not enough to keep him there, to sustain the success he believed he deserved because of his "talent." He had failed to recognize the many other things that go into "success." He had not yet been willing to do what the "sustained successful" person must do. He is now coming back, trying to do more of those things.

This does not just apply to sports. It applies to everything we do - however you define success. Give it some thought. I'd love to hear your thinking, and your examples.

Dr. Bill - I love to share, I hope you do to! ;-)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Do these phrases kill resumes?

Liz Ryan writing as The Savvy Networker says the following 10 "boilerplate phrases" will kill a resume in today's market. What do you think?

  • Results-oriented profession
  • Cross-functional teams
  • More than (x) years of progressively responsible experience
  • Superior (or excellent) communication skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Met or exceeded expectations
  • Proven track record of success
  • Works well with all levels of staff
  • Team player
  • Bottom-line orientation
She says this marks you as uncreative and "vocabulary challenged" to use these "boring corporate-speak phrases - rather than using "language... that people like you and me would actually say." I'm really interested in feedback on this topic.

Dr. Bill - I love to share, I hope you do to! ;-)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Older-Worker (Seasoned Employees) Benefits

In March I shared an article with 10 reasons older-workers may be of benefit to your small business, especially in these tough economic times. Today, I'd like to focus on the fact that older-workers are more likely to understand recessions - such as we currently are experiencing.

Older workers have been through recessions before - specifically the oil crisis of the 1970, the recession of the early 80s and the tech bubble burst of the late 1990s, to mention but a few of the worst. We have seen how businesses bounce back and move forward better than before. We mostly remember our parents and grandparents talk of the Great Depression... even though we did not always act on that information, then. Older-workers bring a steady perspective to a jumpy workplace, and are a good balance to a lot of the younger workers hired in recent years.

Finally for today, older-workers tend to be more reliable and loyal. Contrary to common belief, with careful screening, older-workers are often much less prone to sick leave and time away from work for any reason. The work ethic of the past years still exists... if you look carefully at their past work records. In all things, past performance is still the best predictor of future performance.

Give it some thought. Check it out. I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Dr. Bill - I love to share, I hope you do to! ;-)

Friday, June 19, 2009

8 Pitfalls when Managing Change

A number of years ago, John Kotter outlined eight mistakes that organizations make when trying to change - are these still valid? What do you think?

1. Allowing too much complacenty.
2. Failing to create a sufficiently powerful guiding coalition.
3. Underestimating the power of vision.
4. Under-communicating the vision by a factor of 10 (or 100 or even 1,000).
5. Permitting obstacles to block the new vision.
6. Failing to create short-term wins.
7. Declaring victory too soon.
8. Neglecting to anchor changes firmly in the corporate culture.

My experience has been that these are timeless. What has been your experience?

Dr. Bill - I love to share, I hope you do to! ;-)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Take Charge!

"Create a Business Plan for improve your career focus and priorities" - this was the lead of an article I published in "Minority Engineer" in the Winter of 1996. The concepts presented then are just as true and useful today - especially in the current business climate. Whether you are currently employed (or unemployed), starting a new business, or thinking of starting a new small business, the idea of using the Business Plan approach is a very good way to get and keep on track for your future.

The following quote was the caption of a photo accompanying the article: "In order to maximize your career plan, you must make each individual decision based on your experience and the best information and research you can gather." This is still true, thirteen years later.

A sidebar provided these elements for Your Business Plan:
Title Page
Executive Summary
Background Description
Market Analysis
Describe Your Services
Marketing Plan
Training and Development Plan
Salary Expectations
Financial Statements and Projections
Balance Between Personal Life and Career

These will all be expanded in future notes. What are your thoughts? Would this work for you?

Dr. Bill - I love to share, I hope you do to! ;-)

Friday, May 29, 2009

When you must close an operation...

We often hear that the best way to reduce the workforce or to close an operation is to: "Go Fast!"
Get it over with, and move on. In the May Issue of Harvard Business Review, Kenneth W. Freeman, based on his experience, and writing in "First Person" suggests a different approach. Check it out!

He says "it pays to go the extra mile for employees, customers, and suppliers. He has the experience, what he calls: "soft hands."

These are his suggestions (read the article to get the full impact, of course!):

1. Treat employees with dignity, fairness, and respect - the way you want to be treated.
2. Treat you customers and suppliers like valued partners during the shutdown process, and they will stick with you.
3. Manage the closure or layoff like a project... (carefully and thoughtfully- my words!)
4. Use judgment and, if necessary, fight back.

What do you think? What has your experience been? I'd love to hear from you!

Dr. Bill - I love to share, I hope you do to! ;-)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Do Teams Work for You?

I have always considered Dr. J. Richard Hackman the academic expert on Teams. He is now at Harvard and was recently interviewed by Diane Coutu. Key elements of the interview are published in the May 2009 issue of Harvard Business Review. Some excerpts are available at the link.

While still extolling the possibilities of working in teams, he also expresses concerns, based on real-life experiences, that unless teams are used correctly with respect to any program or project, they are as likely to be ineffective as to be successful. This has been my experience, over the years, as well. To build a team that works, five elements are required:

1. Teams must be real.
2. Teams need a compelling direction.
3. Teams need enabling structures.
4. Teams need a supportive organization.
5. Teams need expert coaching.

I will deal with each of these issues in future notes, building on his research and adding my own research and comments based on observation.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear from you. Have teams worked, in your experience?

Dr. Bill - I love to share, I hope you do to! ;-)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Cash Management in Hard Times

Although written with the larger company in mind, the May 2009 issue of Harvard Business Review has an article that can be useful to small businesses as well: "Need Cash? Look Inside Your Company," by Kevin Kaiser and S. David Young. It also is available on-line.

They list six "don'ts" of working-capital management, that, though counter-intuitive, may be very useful in times such as these:

1. Don't manage to the income statement.
2. Don't reward the sales force for growth alone.
3. Don't overemphasize production quality.
4. Don't tie receivables to payables.
5. Don't manage by current and quick ratios.
6. Don't benchmark competitors.

We have been teaching some of these as "standard practice" in business school! What do you think of this different approach. I'd love to hear your thoughts and stories.

Dr. Bill - I love to share, I hope you do to! ;-)

Friday, May 8, 2009

SBANC Newsletter

If you are not already getting it, I heartily recommend the SBANC Newsletter, edited by Don Bradley at the University of Central Arkansas, the Small Business Advancement National Center. It is an electronic newsletter that comes to your email box each week or two, and is filled with dates of events, a feature research article, and useful tips. Check it out!

Dr. Bill - I love to share, I hope you do to! ;-)

Friday, May 1, 2009

Recruiting in Good Times and Bad

One of my purposes in writing this blog is to put in one place the various topics on which I have written in the past and hope to write more about in the future. As you may have noted, sometimes I use an existing magazine or trade journal article to remind me of some of these things.

For this note, my inspiration is the May 2009 issue of Harvard Business Review. For today's article, I am looking at: "The definitive guide to recruiting in good times and bad," by Claudio Fernandez-Araoz, Boris Groysberg, and Nitin Nohria. It is full of good ideas, of course, many common knowledge, but with new ideas based on new research. I'll note the seven steps, today, and come back to them later, with more detail and my own observations:

1. Anticipate the Need
2. Specify the Job
3. Develop the Pool
4. Assess the Candidates
5. Close the Deal
6. Integrate the Newcomer
7. Audit and Review

In the article, page 79 (p. 2, on-line) has a most useful chart, based on the seven steps, listing for each: Poor Practices, Best Practices, and Implementation Challenges. Check them out - the full article is available, on-line.

Dr. Bill - I love to share, I hope you do to! ;-)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Tax day has passed - how long must I keep all these papers?

While more and more records are being kept electronically (a subject for another day!), most of us are still challenged by the boxes and boxes (or paper sacks?!?) of receipts, bank statements and other papers we keep to do our tax returns each year. Records retention is an especially never-ending problem for small business (all business!?!).

Five categories, based on passage of time, can be a very useful approach to both the storage and retention issues to be faced in dealing with the piles and piles of paper (as I noted, we will discuss electronic storage devices and issues at a later date). Care must be taken in assigning individual items to the categories, but these five categories seem to work well, for most people and organizations:

Category 1: Items to tossed in approximately a month or two.
Category 2: Items to retain through the year until tax returns for the period have been prepared.
Category 3: Items to retain for three or four years after tax returns are filed (including extensions).
Category 4: Items to retain for six or seven years after tax returns are filed.
Category 5: Items to retain "forever" - that is, as long as the business exists or owns certain property.

Each of these categories have criteria that should be used in applying a particular item to that category. To a limited extent, some items may shift from category to category, depending on changes in tax laws, for example. We will look at each of these issues in a future post.

Dr. Bill - I love to share, I hope you do to! ;-)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Creditworthiness - is a loan right for you?

Creditworthiness has never been more important than it is today. In December of 1997, I wrote an article in "Dance Teacher Now" magazine, that highlighted the 5 C's - the five areas of concern regarding Creditworthiness - here are the highlights:

Capacity to repay is the most critical of these five factors. Lenders are in business to see that loans are repaid with interest in a timely manner.

Character is actually your payment history on existing credit relationships - both personal and commercial.

Capital is the money you personally have invested in your business, and it is an indication of how much you have a risk should the business fail.

Collateral or guarantees are additional forms of security you can provide the lender. Prospective lenders want to know about your contingent sources of revenue should normal revenues decline, for whatever reason.

Conditions to a loan focus on the intended purpose of the money advanced. Is it for current operations, for expansion, or for a new building or equipment? The lender will need to understand these conditions in order to be able to allocate loan funds to you.

We can look at a lot of other relevant factors, and at these factors in more detail, but an initial focus on these five will give you a quick idea of whether applying for a loan from a financial institution is likely to be successful for you.

Dr. Bill - I love to share. I hope you do to! ;-)

Monday, April 6, 2009

Consider an Advisory Board

Small businesses are notorious for "going it on your own." The founder is normally strong-willed and focused - that is the strength of the small business. However, no one person is strong in all areas where expertise is required to succeed in the business arena. Most small businesses are not in the position to hire all the expertise required to face all challenges.

One answer to this dilemma is the "Advisory Board." This can take a variety of forms - the key, in fact, is that it be tailored to the specific needs of the specific small business and small business owner or management team. The advisory board can be a very loose, informal set of relationships with selected people - all the way to very formal arrangements. The best way to start, frequently, is simply to identify a person or persons with solid experience in the identified area of need - and go talk to them. You will usually be surprised how receptive people will be to discuss your concerns. Let them know, up front, that you recognize and value their expertise - and that you would like to learn from their experience.

From that initial encounter, let the results be your guide. If you feel comfortable talking with the person, you may want to arrange further discussions, and perhaps, ask that person to consider an on-going relationship. Sometimes, advisory boards meet as a group - often, however, the simple one-on-one relationship provides the needed information, assurance or confirmation that is needed. This may be sufficient for your needs. In other situations, for instance where you are considering a major new activity or change in your business, it might become beneficial to have the several advisers you have identified meet together to provide a broader set of viewpoints.

What have been your experiences? I'd like to hear what you, my reader, thinks about this issue. Comment below, and we can continue the discussion.

Dr. Bill I love to share. I hope you do to! ;-)

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Do I need to make a business plan?

Recently, I came across an article with this title that I published in “Bee Culture” – the trade journal – in May 1996. The principles are every bit as true for the small business person today, as they were thirteen years ago. It opened: “Yes; with the emphasis on MAKE. It is the PROCESS OF MAKING the business plan that is important for the small business owner, or owner to be.”

The process is often more important than the output of the plan itself (unless required for financing by your bank, or others, for example, of course). The planning process provides focus:
1. On operations – What business are we really in?
2. On marketing – Who are our customers? What should our market be? How do we define it?
3. On the product line or services provided – Are we doing all the things our customers expect from us?
4. On management and personnel needs – Have we planned for hiring the right people when needed? Do we have a management succession plan?

These are the kinds of questions that need to asked, at least annually, in each business operation. Getting in the habit of making/updating your business plan, regularly, by asking these questions – and taking adequate time to come up with good answers for your specific situation – can better prepare you for the tough times, for example, that many of us face today. If we have done this planning well, regularly, we will be much better positioned to take on the challenges facing us as we move forward.

What do you think?

Dr. Bill – I love to share. I hope you do to. ;-)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Older workers can do it better

Liz Wolgemuth writes an excellent column, "The Older-Worker Advantage," on page 76 of the U.S. News and World Report of Dec 15/22, 2008, that mirrors an article I published several years ago. I'd like to highlight her ten points, because they are very valid, and I've been living most of them...

The article is subtitled: 10 reasons that seasoned employees can win the job hunt.

1. You understand recessions.

2. You're willing to work part time.

3. You have real-life experiences.

4. You want to be challenged.

5. You're healthier.

6. You can control your emotions.

7. Your network is bigger.

8. You're loyal and reliable

9. You want to learn.

10. You're more satisfied with your job and benefits.

Understanding recessions is clearly true. Workers in this 50s and especially their 60s have been through many business cycles and can better appreciate that life goes on... the cycles will always be there.

I decided to continue my career as a professor and department chair at a regional state university from 65 to 70. It was the right decision. These have been the best work years of my life... although changes in the past year have made this final year tougher than I would have hoped.

This points out, of course, the pitfalls of making the generalizations of the 10 points, above. You will see them differently from the low 50s than from the mid-60s or the beyond 70s. Physically, the body does begin to deteriorate, noticeably. Maintaining a decent exercise regimen becomes increasingly necessary in order to do what your mind tells you to do. I do continue to enjoy challenges, but I do want to face them on my terms. I can generally control my emotions better, but I do find I am often less tolerant of incompetence around me. What do you find?

"You want to learn" is an interesting suggestion. I think this applies more now than in an earlier time, for our age group, but I also know many older workers who still resist learning. How can we discriminate on this issue?

I have not commented directly on several of the points, I will leave that to my readers, or a future post. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Note: As I approach that actual retirement date of June 13, I will try to be more active in getting regular posts to this blog. Thank you for your patience, and I look forward to a good dialogue.

Dr. Bill - I love to share. I hope you do to. ;-)

Time Management - Goal Setting - Are they really the same?

I was reading an issue of Business Week (September 1, 2008) when this question came to my mind. I have always taught that good goal setting is one management theory, when properly applied that always, actually, works. Time management, on the other hand, has always been, it seemed to me, to be in the province of gimmicks for consultants to preach about.

Reading an article about “productivity guru David Allen” and his GTD (“getting things done”) methods* raised the question in my mind. His GTD approach** appears to essentially be applying goal setting theory to one key aspect of time management – to me, at least. It may also work for you. McGregor lists the four key ideas from Allen’s seminar as:
1. Write it down; 2. Break it out; 3. Do it now; and 4. File it away.

Goals are always to be written down, very specific, with measurable outcomes with completion dates. In “Break it out” Allen contributes an important element to the process, by insisting that the goal be the next action, that is, the next granular step, that can be reasonably specified, measured and dated. This is in contrast to the larger, more complex goals that we often try to accomplish and wonder why we fail. This also makes the “Do it now” part a lot easier, of course. The important thing is that you keep doing these granular steps, and before you know it, even the more complex goal may well be accomplished, in a timely manner. No time is allowed for stopping and thinking about how hard it will be to accomplish this larger task and putting off getting started.

What do you think? Does this work for you? Do you have other tricks that work? I’d like to hear from you. I hope to write a longer article on this subject, and would love to include your examples. Leave a comment. You may be hearing from me.

Dr. Bill – I love to share. I hope you do to. ;-)

*Getting Serious about Getting Things Done, by Jena McGregor, pp 69-70.
** David Allen, Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (2001).

A Blog - Should you create and use one?

I have just created and am using this blog – is this something that you as a small business owner should consider using? What are the positives and negatives of blogs? What is the commitment required to make the concept useful?

On alone, for example, over 250,000 new blogs were created in the month of July, 2008. Why would any sane person consider creating a new one?!? The reason is that every single new blog is created, or should be, for a very narrow, specific purpose. This would include a specific audience, a specific topic, with a well-defined agenda and business plan model in mind.

A blog (some say short for Web Log) is one of the more useful Web 2.0 interactive technologies introduced in recent years. The person creating and using the blog can use readily available software, at no cost, and begin communicating with the world in an easy to read format in just a few minutes of preparation. and are two of the more prominent providers of the service currently. The only real requirements are an internet provider and an email account (notice we don’t even mention the need of a computer any more – that is simply assumed!). I have chosen Blogger over WordPress because I find it much more creator-friendly, since I am the creator... others will find the added features and complexity of WordPress to their liking.

The interactive aspect of a blog is reflected in the ability of any reader, in turn, to comment back to the writer, virtually as soon as the blog is published on the Internet. Now, not all blogs allow comments, but for our purposes here, we will assume that is an integral part of the reason to have a blog – interactive communications with the audience.

The audience – who is the audience? This is a primary question that needs to be considered; certainly this is very important if the blog is to be an effective marketing tool of any kind. For example, to be useful to the small business owner, a blog could be written to communicate with customers or prospective customers, and to receive feedback on issues of mutual interest. Blogs may seem most natural for a virtual small business – perhaps a business selling on E-Bay, for example. In this environment, one of the things you do know for sure about every customer is their email address. For a blog to be useful, someone must know it is there and able to read it. Sending an email to all customers letting them know the blog has been created and is now available is one way to get a readership started.

What is the topic of the blog? What is the continuing message that you want to communicate with your readers? To maintain a readership, the blog must provide interesting and useful information at least once a week, for example. This may vary considerably, of course, but the reader needs to know what expectation level to anticipate. You will want to encourage use of the RSS feed notification, of course, but you cannot depend on that. You want your reader to be satisfied when he/she checks back twice a week, or weekly, or biweekly – what ever frequency you have established as an expectation level. The reader will expect to see a new article or set of information or commentary on the specified topic. If you are providing product updates, don’t put up a post on your recent vacation trip – no matter how interesting it was; unless it relates to the expected product update directly.

As the writer, you should have an agenda of at least a half dozen topics to cover, nearly if not completely written, before you open your blog. This way, you are assured of useful information the first several times out for your readers. This also gives you time to continue to “fill your queue” with good, new writing in a timely manner in the future. If you do not have the material information ready to meet this minimum requirement, you would be well advised to wait until you have these before you create and open your blog.

Finally, as a business person, you need to have a business plan model in mind for why you are spending this time, and it does take time, on this particular mode of communications and feedback for your business. Do you have frequent product updates, for example, that your customers need to know about or be aware of? Do accessories only become available on a random basis, and you want to communicate when these occur? Letting your customers know, on a timely basis, when these kind of events occur will improve your revenue and bottom-line directly with new sales at an earlier date than without this communication method, perhaps. But, would a simple mass email do just as well? Do you need to get regular feedback from your customers on a number of different issues over time? If so, the blog may be an excellent way to achieve that interaction, which presumably will increase sales as well as follow-up services. This is also money in the bank.

So, what do you think? Is the blog something that would be useful to you? Why, or why not? What questions do you have? What did I miss that I should have included here? What examples can you provide of how this has, or has not, worked for you, or someone you know? I look forward to “hearing from you” via the comments section, below!

Dr. Bill – I love to share. I hope you do to. ;-)

Welcome to this Business Acumen site

I am in the process of transfering the contents of this Blog from Word Press to Blogger. Welcome!

I have published more than 80 articles on business acumen in a variety of trade journals. After a break to concentrate on academic writing, I am returning to small business acumen: short articles here, each week or so, perhaps with accompanying podcasts, from time to time, along with returning to writing longer articles for trade journals. I welcome your comments and suggestions on topics, trade journals and the content of the writings on this blog.

Dr. Bill – I love to share. I hope you do to. ;-)