Posts Tagged disadvantaged entrepreneurs

Small Business Needs Another Resurgence


Economic recovery depends on restoring middle class workers to the prominence they once had. Many large firms have moved operations overseas leaving holes in the market both from the absence of middle class jobs and tax revenues lost from large companies that moved overseas. The logical choice to fill these holes comes from small business. Small businesses quickly adapt to market voids and offer the creativity to fill holes, but small businesses grow into larger firms and lose their flexibility. Schumpeter (1975) coined the term “creative destruction” to describe when large firms falter and lose their adaptability to create. A blurred line exists about when “creative destruction” happens, but this condition is a normal part of the business cycle.

Most of the goods and services produced in the United States up to the mid-19th century came from small business. By 1914, firms with 500 or more employees accounted for about a third of the industrial workers with another third working in firms with 100 to 499 workers. Smaller firms developed market niches or supplied larger companies with 500 or more employees to compete in the markets until the mid-20th century (“The Limits of Small Business,” 1992).

From 1952 to 1979 the percentage of business receipts from small businesses plummeted from 52% to just 29%, but by the late 1970s and early 1980s the United States experienced a resurgence of small businesses. For example, out of 17 million businesses less than 10,000 firms employed more than 500 workers. By 1986 small firms produced 64% of the 10.5 million new jobs created (“The Limits of Small Business,” 1992). History repeats itself.

The time has come for another resurgence to replace the void left by large firm that have migrated overseas and take the country back to its roots. Small business is in the right place because small business is closest to consumers and has the ability to adapt and create what consumers want and need. The resurgence takes time to gather steam to propel the United States economy out of the recession. Small business entrepreneurs can sense holes in the market and will rebuild what the market has lost to “creative destruction.”

Are you up for the challenge? Learn more.

References

The Limits of Small Business. (1992). Available from EBSCOhost lkh. (03633276). Retrieved Summer92, from Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lkh&AN=10129578&site=lrc-plus

Schumpeter, J. A. (Ed.). (1975). Creative destruction from capitalism, socialism and democracy. New York: Harper.

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Bigger is Not Better: Discover the Sleepers!


Entrepreneurs can do extraordinary things no one ever imagined! Often people believe to succeed in an established industry bigness matters. Judith Rosen (2005) dispels this notion explaining how several successful writers like Walter Mosley do well using small publishers instead of “big six” publishers. Rosen noted that each year some of the best books come from the smaller publishing houses.

As an example, 82-year old Kurt Vonnegut, one of America’s most popular writers, used Seven Stories Press, a small publisher, to find his success. America knows Vonnegut for his Slaughterhouse 5 and Cat’s Cradle. Similarly, Steve Kaplan used Bard Press for his book Bag the Elephant on how to woo big clients. Bard Press had expected this book to land on the best sellers’ list which would make it the 12th publication out of 25 to achieve this status (Rosen, 2005).

Rosen (2005) offered four other titles, which became successes through smaller publishing houses. Publishing is just one industry, but the point is big does not mean better. Other industries can compete with the big guys just like the smaller publishers do with the “big six.”

The key is to develop products the big guys have not thought of or did not wish to invest in because they thought no market existed for them. Entrepreneurs take the risk to go where the big guys fear to tread. Entrepreneurs have an advantage because they are closer to consumers and understand what they want.

Are you a sleeper waiting for consumers to discover what you have to offer? Learn more.

References

Rosen, J. (2005, 2005/08/29/). Six sleepers for fall. Publishers Weekly, 252, 27+.

 

 

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Calling all Entrepreneurs: Does Your Spirit Move You?


Stephen Lagerfeld (2010) described his father’s work as a spirit transcending economics. As his father traveled to work each day he shook his head in pity at the “poor tied-and-jacketed drones” (p. 1) heading in the opposite direction. Although Lagerfeld’s father did not enjoy the security of stable employment, he had his own nursery business, which spawned several other ventures and employed more than 50 people. Lagerfeld said employing other people moved his father the most. Lagerfeld portrayed entrepreneurship as “the pursuit of happiness” (p.1) through autonomy and self-creation. Money is nice, but the entrepreneurial spirit overshadows all else.

Although Lagerfeld’s father almost lost everything during the recession in the early 1970s, he managed to escape with a decent retirement until his death. Lagerfeld’s father did not mind having to work six days a week and many hours without the same security of the drones to find happiness.  Lagerfeld’s father’s greatest joy came from the entrepreneurial spirit and his independence and self-expression (Lagerfeld, 2010).

Entrepreneurs often traverse in an opposite direction and rebel from traditional work. Entrepreneurs are the engine of creation and employment. Entrepreneurs enjoy the challenge more than the money. Capitalism relies on the entrepreneur to get through the rough times and rejuvenate the economy.

Does your spirit move you? If you have the spirit we can help you. Learn more.

References

Lagerfeld, S. (2010). The spirit moves us. [Brief article editorial]. The Wilson Quarterly, 34(2), 4.

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Qualities of a Successful Entrepreneur


The story of Tariq Farid provides some insight on the qualities one needs to become a successful entrepreneur. Tariq is a Pakistani American who emigrated to the United States at age 11 with his family. By the age of 17 Tariq owned a flower shop with the support and encouragement of his family. Two years later Tariq successfully operated four stores. Making a better experience for his customers thrust Tariq’s drive that led to him to create point of sale software for the floral industry. Tariq later founded and led NetSolace, Inc., which provides franchise management solution software. In 1999, Tariq’s thirst for starting new businesses propelled him to start Edible Arrangements®, a franchise organization providing fruit bouquets, which grew to over 1,100 stores worldwide (Crowley, 2012).

Tariq developed his leadership style from the values instilled by his family while growing up. These values included honesty, integrity, and passion. Tariq believed in preserving these values and always returns to these basic values. For example, Tariq responded to an interview explaining how his drive comes from keeping honest with the consumer and himself. Tariq said he believe a true entrepreneur has a focus not so much on making money, but on keeping a social consciousness and providing for long-term profitability. According to Tariq the successful entrepreneur strives to do better and take care of the customer. Passion is the main motivation of the true entrepreneur not making money (Crowley, 2012).

Another striking characteristic of the successful entrepreneur is to embrace change because people enjoy new and unique products. Tariq believes in rethinking everything to stay on cusp. Tariq likes to employ people who embrace new ideas and who serve as change agents to customize products to people’s evolving needs (Crowley, 2012).

One other idea Tariq’s parents instilled in him is to work hard and go after the American dream. Success does not come easy. A person must work hard to become successful. Tariq realized he must work hard to confront risks and overcome them. Successful entrepreneurs must pay their dues and embrace a willingness to make mistakes (Crowley, 2012).

In short, genuine entrepreneurs are ” leaders who lead with purpose, values, and integrity; leaders who build enduring organizations, motivate their employees to provide superior customer service, and create long-term value for shareholders” (Crowley, 2012; George & Sims, 2003, p. 3).  Tariq Farid provides an example of an authentic entrepreneurial leader. Do you have what it takes to become an authentic entrepreneurial leader? Do you want to learn more?

References

Crowley, K. (2012). CEO perspective: Entrepreneurship with a point of view. South Asian Journal of Global Business Research, 1(2), 177-182. doi: 10.1108/20454451211252714

George, W., & Sims, P. (2003). Authentic Leadership: Rediscovering the Secrets to Creating Lasting Value. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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Evidence Social Entrepreneurship is on the Rise


I have expressed the view previously the next great wave of entrepreneurship will come from social entrepreneurs. I found evidence the rise of social entrepreneurship is on the horizon in an article I found in this week’s Bloomberg Businessweek.  The article is about a firm headed by Chamath Palihapitiya called Social+Capital Fund. Palihapitiya is a former Facebook executive, who left about a year ago to launch the new venture capital firm (Bennett, 2012).

Palihapitiya believes properly placed venture capital can solve the world’s biggest problems left from gaps caused by the shrinking scientific ambitions of government, foundations, and other global organizations (Bennett, 2012). Politicians demonize government handling of social problems leaving  social entrepreneurs as the suitable outlet for dealing with these problems. Universities have dwindling funds devoted to research and can no longer deal with social problems.  Bennett explained how Kauffman Foundation, an independent organization, has failed to produce results in dealing with issues it funded over the last 20 years. Palihapitiya believes private equity or as he puts it “purpose-driven money” is the answer to solving such problems (Bennett, 2012).

Social+Capital has amassed an army of technologists and entrepreneurs to find and build products aligned with solving problems in the health care, education, and the financial services industry. These people include Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), Sean Parker (Napster and Facebook), Kevin Rose (Digg), and Joe Hewitt (Mozilla and Facebook). Several companies funded by Social+Capital have already started to deal with social problems in these industries. The idea is for these companies to make money while solving societal problems. Palihapitiya’s idea is to find brilliant people of the Steve Jobs variety and invest in them to develop solutions to societal problems (Bennett, 2012).

Palihapitiya admitted inequities in the global economic system precipitated his idea to find brilliant leaders to solve societal problems by making money (Bennett, 2012). Between 1987 and 1997 nonprofit organizations grew to 1.2 million or by 31% (The new nonprofit almanac & desk reference., 2002; Noruzi, Westover, & Rahimi, 2010). These numbers show a growing need exists for social entrepreneurs to solve societal problems. Palihapitiya has started his firm to fund innovation solutions and allow entrepreneurs to make money, while solving such problems.

Social entrepreneurs will play a major role in the global economy. Innovative solutions from social entrepreneurs will create great value by addressing societal needs. I encourage prospective entrepreneurs to start now to take advantage of this opportunity. We can help you get started and I encourage you to learn more.

References

Bennett, D. (2012, July 30 – August 5). The league of extraordinarily rich gentlemen. Bloomberg Businessweek, 54-56.

The new nonprofit almanac & desk reference. (2002). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Noruzi, M. R., Westover, J. H., & Rahimi, G. R. (2010). An exploration of social entrepreneurship in the entrepreneurship era. Asian Social Science, 6(6), 3-10. doi: 2233824571; 56997641; 137930; SSCS; INNNSSCS0000567695

 

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America’s First Entrepreneur and Founder


“Content makes poor men rich; discontent makes rich men poor” (Franklin, n. d.).

Ben Franklin is America’s true founder and first entrepreneur and his story can teach us many lessons. Franklin exemplified the supreme risk taker because he signed the Declaration of Independence with 55 other men who risked their lives to forge America’s future. Franklin educated himself by reading and had a reputation as a contrarian, humorist, and adventurer. Franklin used his will to build a successful business and a nation the world would envy (Otto, 2011).

Although Franklin started his life in poverty, he died in great wealth and had a passion for his Christian religion and a movement called the Great Awakening. This movement believed in the welfare of the people and had a contempt for cruelty and corruption. Because of his religious beliefs, Franklin thought politicians should serve the country without pay (Otto, 2011). Franklin also stressed the importance of creditors supporting inexperienced entrepreneurs to foster  representation and build a national culture. Franklin believed in public projects benefiting the nation  and appealed to working-class people (Baker, 2000; Mulford, 1999).

In 1729 after working for his brother James for a few years, at age 17, Franklin bought the Pennsylvania Gazette.  Franklin began publishing the Poor Richard’s Almanac in 1932, which became the most popular publication in America. Apart from his publishing career, Franklin founded the first proprietary library as part of the Academy of Pennsylvania, which later transformed itself into the University of Pennsylvania.  Franklin also helped develop the postal system and became the first postmaster. Beside this accomplishment, Franklin invented bifocal eye glasses, mapped the Gulf Stream off the East Coast, and provided evidence lightning is electricity by inventing the lightening rod (Otto, 2011).

Besides his inventive prowess, Franklin served in the Continental Congress and became the oldest member to sign the Constitution. Only six people signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and Franklin is one of these people. Franklin had an instrumental hand in uniting the founding fathers to sign the Constitution despite some who did not fully support it (Otto, 2011). Entrepreneurs unite people with a common vision and Franklin personified this role.

Ben Franklin saw the greatest vision through in the history of this country and deserves credit for his remarkable accomplishments. Because of his vision, the United States became a great country and a haven for people to gain and respect individual liberty, freedom of expression, and have a government representative of the people (Otto, 2011).  Now is a good time to reflect on the vision of America’s founder. Franklin united the country through his vision and entrepreneurs should have a special place in America because of it. Yet, today entrepreneurs do not have the same esteem despite their role in creating economic growth and jobs.

I want to hear your thoughts on what this country can do to regain Franklin’s vision and return entrepreneurs to the prominence they deserve. Post your comments here.

References

Baker, J. J. (2000). Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography and the credibility of personality. Early American Literature, 35(3), 274-293. doi: 64935335; 1281372; 14371; PEAL

Franklin, B. (n. d.). Greatest Benjamin Franklin Quotes. Great Quotes – Powerful Minds. Retrieved from http://www.great-quotes-powerful-minds.com/benjamin-franklin-quotes.html

Mulford, C. (1999). Figuring Benjamin Franklin in American cultural memory. The New England Quarterly, 72(3), 415-443. doi: 45962354; 1065448; 29070; NEQUA7; PNEQ; 04514915; 99454974

Otto, L. (2011). Benjamin Franklin: America’s original entrepreneur. Leadership & Organizational Management Journal, 2011(4), 132-149. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ent&AN=73204254&site=ehost-live

 

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Stop the Predator Soothsayers


One of the traits of a good entrepreneur is to stop people trying to take advantage of them by foretelling the future. So often I see people trying to sell their products and services telling the small business founder if he or she does not buy the product the sky will fall on them. Savvy entrepreneurs filter the predator soothsayers claims to conserve capital.

My advice to a new business founder is to buy goods and services as you need them only if they are absolutely necessary to the business’s plans. Predators will try to sell the small business founder everything under the sun. If the predator is so hungry, the small business founder should ask for a free trial with no strings attached to see if the product or service performs as intended. Before signing on, business founders should ask themselves if the product or service is absolutely necessary or if they can get by without it.

Capital preservation is critical when a business is in an embryonic stage. The small business founder should take great care to preserve capital. I have seen too many small businesses spend foolishly and eat the capital the company needs to survive. A savvy entrepreneur learns to make do with less. Learning to say no is a tough assignment, but pays dividends in the long-run. When in doubt, return to the business plan and only say yes to those items included in the business plan.

Are predator soothsayers knocking on your door? How do you deal with them? If you need help learning to say no I encourage you to get help now. Contact us for help.

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Do Entrepreneurs Matter?


Imagine a world without electricity, refrigerators, cars, highways, water distribution facilities, agricultural equipment, health technologies, and telephones. Add to the list electricity, airplanes, radios, televisions, Internet, computers, air conditioning, and many more innovations invented in the last century. Combine these with the innovations achieved in the current century and the list goes on. Entrepreneurs play an integral role in society and add value by creating economic growth and jobs.

People sometimes question if entrepreneurs matter and I believe the resounding answer is yes. Entrepreneurs are a different breed and enjoy the freedom to think about what is possible instead of what is. Entrepreneurs seek to make the world better by envisaging innovations that will serve unfulfilled needs and working ardently to bring them into fruition. The consummate entrepreneur is not satisfied until he or she achieves a vision and even then works to improve the products and services brought into existence.

Sometimes business people look at entrepreneurs as free spirits and unmanageable, but entrepreneurs transcend this view because they want to lead instead of follow. Entrepreneurs lead us to creations and services often thought unimaginable by others. Creativity breeds followers wanting to take part in creating these innovations and perfecting them.

Entrepreneurs are close to consumers because they understand their needs instead of catering to existing products and services. Consumers have evolving needs and entrepreneurs recognize them where others fear to tread. Consumers appreciate the services entrepreneurs offer when others are unbending or intolerable.

Next time someone puts doubt in your mind about entrepreneurship think about some of the reasons entrepreneurs matter. Entrepreneurs do matter and if you want to become one I suggest visiting us now. Learn more.

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Credit Unions: An Alternative to Community Bank Financing of Small Business Loans


I read a blog post today about how banks have started to lend to small business again. Considering the bad treatment banks have given their customers I wonder how they will treat small businesses after cutting off lines of credit and other lending to them during the financial crisis. I suggest considering the credit union as an alternative to a bank for small business lending. Personally, I like getting treated as a person instead of as a commodity and credit unions have many advantages. I just opened an account with a credit union and I found the I received much better treatment and the credit union valued not just my business, but me as a person.

I remember an SBA loan I had with a small bank that a larger bank later took over. For several years the bank and I had a good relationship. One day I received a notice the larger bank had bought the bank and the new bank no longer wanted SBA loans as part of its business. The new management made it difficult to preserve the good relationship by charging new fees for everything imaginable. A few years into the recent financial crisis I saw this bank on a list of the banks the Fed had shut down.

Because small business financing sources have evaporated during the global recession, small business should consider using credit unions. Credit union unlike small banks are cooperative nonprofit organizations. As nonprofit organizations credit unions have an exemption from tax resulting in lower costs allowing them more latitude in making loans. Credit unions also enjoy  lower costs from volunteer labor and employer sponsorship giving them the ability to offer lower rates. Besides offering small business loans, credit unions also offer other products like credit cards and car loans (Feinberg & Rahman, 2006).

The trend is for large banks to buy smaller banks especially in larger markets. This trend has resulted in less lending to small businesses causing a need for alternative funding sources like credit unions to service small businesses. Consolidating small banks has created less of an interest in small business lending. The lack of interest stems from the difficulty large banks have dealing with soft data, the more hierarchical bank’s need for more approvals, and lower credit supplies by the larger organization (Ely & Robinson, 2009).

Oriz-Molina and Penas (2008) found one way to mitigate opaque risk from small business is to shorten loan terms to watch the progress of small businesses. The more conventional approach is to want greater collateral over a longer term. Credit unions also have the ability to gain a better understanding of owners’ personal wealth. Although credit unions can focus on better addressing opaque risks using these approaches, larger banks often rely on credit scoring to approve small business loans to achieve a competitive advantage (Immergluck & Smith, 2003).

Despite the ability of larger banks to gain a competitive advantage in lending to small business, credit unions are closer to small business customers and able to forge better relations. Large banks have shown poor behavior in recent years making them less attractive than more personal, smaller thrift institutions. For example, banks have added new fees and restricted lending to only the strongest small businesses. Improved relations with small businesses promotes long-term relations despite shorter lending terms.

Consolidating small community banks into larger banks has caused banks to become less personal and more selective. Credit unions fill a social gap in the market because of consolidation of these community banks and the cost advantage they have from the nonprofit status. Credit unions can expand from solely personal to more commercial lending to fill this gap.

What sources have you considered for your business in achieving financing? Are credit unions part of the mix? Do you want to know more about the value of commercial lending by credit unions? Find out more about how you can benefit.

References

Ely, D. P., & Robinson, K. J. (2009). Credit unions and small business lending. Journal of Financial Services Research, 35(1), 53-80. doi: 10.1007/s10693-008-0038-3

 Feinberg, R. M., & Rahman, A. F. M. A. (2006). Are credit unions just small banks? Determinants of loan rates in local consumer lending markets Eastern Economic Journal, 32(4), 647-659. doi: 1241333261; 35361511; 11879; EEJ; INNNEEJ0000065491

 Immergluck, D., & Smith, G. (2003). How changes in small business lending affect firms in low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Journal of Developmental Entrepreneurship, 8(2), 153-175. doi: 502848551; 8351081; 38473; DVEN; INODDVEN0000469300

Ortiz-Molina, H., & Penas, M. F. (2008). Lending to small businesses: the role of loan maturity in addressing information problems. Small Business Economics, 30(4), 361-383. doi: 10.1007/s11187-007-9053-2

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How a Turnaround is Like Founding a New Company


Once I took a position as the chief financial officer of an organization with a history of over 100 years. The institution in its early years thrived because of its location bordering a city nearly the size of Chicago with a booming coal mining industry. The location bordered on the one of the Great Lakes cutting off half the circumference of the target market.

Eventually, the coal mining industry declined and the city bordering the organization dwindled in population because of lack of other industry in the area. Recreation supplied the next biggest industry in the area because of ideal conditions for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and other winter sports. In the summer, the area provided ideal conditions for hunting and fishing. These industries failed to provide enough jobs and opportunities to keep the city alive.

The organization I worked for had its numbers drop by nearly 70% because the organization depended on people within a hundred mile radius of it. When I arrived I found the finances in a shambles and an accumulated deficit resulting in a negative net worth. At first, this condition alarmed me, but I knew I had a calling to turn this ship around.

A turnaround of this magnitude is like starting a new business because it needs a radical transformation. Fortunately, the executive team committed to a radical transformation of finding a new model for the organization that would turn around the organization and create positive cash flows. Weekly we explored new ideas and acted on cutting drains on the organization’s cash flows. In this way, the turnaround is more difficult than starting a new business because a new business does not have to deal with getting rid of existing programs causing a drain on cash flows.

The result of these efforts balanced the organization’s budget and identified new programs capable of producing positive cash flows. When I did my doctoral research I discovered that many companies that go public have accumulated deficits of the same magnitude and about 70% of them eventually fail. This revelation surprised me and I thought about how many companies can use the same help a turnaround expert provides. Big and small companies have similar failure rates. ‘

Although the cause is different, the need to identify a working model is the same. Without transforming an organization by finding a working model that produces positive results any organization will subject itself to failure. This revelation also caused me to think about the benefits of going public versus remaining private. Often, companies go public far before they rightfully should and prematurely remove the founder whose role it is to find a working model.

Public companies start to create more bureaucratic settings, while the organization needs to stay nimble enough to allow the working model to develop and meet consumer needs. Bureaucratization adds costs and reduces flexibility to adapt to make the model work. I believe many companies act too fast to go public because they believe it provides a safety net for raising capital. I believe a slower more deliberate growth may benefit many companies and allow the founders to keep their company and learn how to manage it instead of getting shown the door.  Founders work hard and if they are serious should hold on to their creation and learn how to improve it.

I believe other consultants place too much emphasis on getting big too fast. Companies might do well to slow down and grow organically than fall prey to seeking the safety net of a public company. Slowing down allows the founder to start to see the forest from the trees and build a sustainable model without risking the founder’s position.  

My company works to build organic growth by building on gaining the experience and education needed to grow organically. I believe a serious entrepreneur has an attachment to his or her creation and needs a different focus to preserve an identity with the company the founder creates.

What is your goal in founding a company? Would you prefer to stay involved in the company you create or do you want to exit and put the company in someone else’s hands? Please leave a comment to let me know your view.

If you are serious about preserving your identity with the company you want to create I urge you to try the services of my company by signing on now.

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