Saturday, November 21, 2009

New Businesses Are Important To Recovery

Entrepreneur David Miller is our future, and it's time we start supporting him.
Miller, along with three other partners, are set to open their own sandwich shop, Sammy Scott's Sandwiches & More, in Creve Coeur this month.
Why is he our future? Because businesses like Miller's will be the ones pulling us out of the recession and employing some of the 10% seeking work. Miller expects $1 million in revenue his first year and then to increase the original store to 5-8 more in the area.
Layoffs and restructurings are continuing at blue-chip companies: Time, Inc., Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft recently announced workforce reductions. We shouldn't expect job growth to come from the Fortune 500.
According to a new study from Kauffman Foundation, companies less than five years old created nearly two thirds of the net new jobs in 2007. Growth will come from entrepreneurs like Miller and his partners.
It's time we, as a society, start embracing these entrepreneurs. Politicians, both state and local, and lenders need to start looking at folks like Miller a little differently. If the area's economy is to recover, it will be because of people like Miller and his partners.
--Ron Ameln, SBM

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Four Budget Cuts You Should NEVER Make

It's that wonderful time of year--budget time. Everyone is knee-deep into their budgets for 2010. (If you are not, shame on you.)

It's been a rough ride for entrepreneurs the last few years, budgets that would normally see a scalpel over the years have gotten the machete treatment lately. It's easy to start cutting, but there are certain line items that should never be cut if you are serious about building a quality business in the future. I speak from experience because I've mistakenly cut these areas and suffered the consequences.

1. Employee Recognition Programs. Maybe it's a birthday lunch, birthday gift, a fruit basket after a job well done....whatever, keep it. Employee recognition is the No. 1 motivator for employees. They are your most important asset.

2. Employee Pay. There is nothing worse than working hard and coming home with less pay than the year before. Sometimes it is essential when business is slow, but it should be a last resort. If you suddenly cut your prices, for example, you send a message to clients that you were either overcharging them or your service doesn't have as much value anymore. Are those messages you want to send to employees?

3. Technology. Technology is a great equalizer for businesses. The right CRM software, for example, can save hours out of your week. Find a new technology every 6 months that will make your more efficient.

4. Fun. Whether it is a happy hour or a bowling outing or a Christmas dinner, work has to remain fun, especially during economic downtimes. Maintain the fun.

--Ron Ameln, SBM

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Meaning Of Life--And Your Business

What is "The Meaning of Life?" Pretty deep, huh...especially from a former sports reporter. Reading a former sports reporter pondering the meaning of life is like listening to an Enron executive discussing integrity (okay, it's not that bad).
Seriously, what is "The Meaning of Life?"
To me, the meaning of life is affirmation. It is knowing you make a difference in the world. That's what we all want and we all crave. People want to know they matter. If they know what they do makes a difference, they will almost always step up to the plate.
So, where does all this fit into your business. Do your employees know they matter? Make a difference?
I know as a business owner I do a HORRIBLE (yes, capital letters) job of letting people that work for me know how they make a difference. I'm an intense person and I'm usually 100% focused on my daily tasks. I just assume employees know they make a difference. I don't think I'm alone.
In fact, a recent study said 50% of entrepreneurs ranked themselves as poor when it came to employee recognition. Another study stated "Recognition" as the No. 1 motivator, according to employees.
If you want to be a better entrepreneur and have more productive employees, start praising employees.
--Ron Ameln, SBM