Tag Archive: small_business_owners

Breaking Out of Crisis-Mode Thinking

Breaking Out of Crisis-Mode Thinking

Breaking Out of Crisis-Mode Thinkingby Erin McDermott.

Breaking Out of Crisis-Mode Thinking. Your business has weathered a tough and challenging cycle. Now it’s time to start breaking out of crisis mode. How do you do it?

As with any kind of upheaval, it’s difficult to get past fears born out of a bad experience. A brush with the demise of a business falls into its own traumatic category, with your professional, financial, legal, and personal life seemingly on the line. But how you deal with the aftermath of that tough situation is important, too. Afraid of committing to an expansion or new segment of customers? Lingering resentments over what went wrong and who’s to blame? Unable to lead staffers in a clear direction? Breaking Out of Crisis-Mode Thinking

Troy Hazard compares it to what he’s learned from racing cars. The serial entrepreneur, business consultant, and author has been taking classes at tracks for years. But one instructor’s advice resonated with both of his passions. The lesson: Don’t obsess over the first turn, or getting into an accident. Think about what you intend to do to attack the curve that’s two turns ahead, because that’s what will help you win the race. Breaking Out of Crisis-Mode Thinking

“The biggest challenge most businesses have now is the hit they took back in 2008,” he says. “There’s such a fear about ‘What if it happens again?’ And the answer is: It’s going to happen again. It’s happened every seven to 10 years for the last 70 years. The problem is we’re so reactive to things that are drama today instead of focusing on a strategy for tomorrow.” Breaking Out of Crisis-Mode Thinking

His advice to clients: Take time every day—“walking the dog, even that 15 minutes in the shower”—to think about where you want to be in five years or 10 years, and what changes you might make now to reach that goal.

Jeffrey Kadlic works with companies in the wake of a crisis. His small business private equity fund, Evolution Capital Partners, based in Cleveland, uses a system of five “pillars” to take a company out of what he calls “no man’s land.” Breaking Out of Crisis-Mode Thinking

Kadlic’s five steps to getting back to business:

CrisisMode_PQ.jpg1. Get timely and accurate financials
“You can’t have any sense of what you’re doing or where you’re going until you measure where you’re at and what your performance has been,” Kadlic says. Some important questions: Where do you stand compared to your peer group? How profitable are you really?

2. Create a plan
Most companies start with a short-term plan, going out at least a few pay periods to evaluate their cash cycles. Kadlic suggests a 100-day plan, which should be enough time to see tangible results from the changes you’re implementing.

3. Put the right people in the right seats
Kadlic equates it to football: How can you create a roster if you don’t yet have a playbook? Once you know the market you’re about to attack, then it’s time to put the right specialists in your lineup to get it done. Breaking Out of Crisis-Mode Thinking

4. Be transparent
This part can be difficult for a small business owner who’s used to making most of the decisions. But to have your key staff understand where they fit in this new plan is essential, Kadlic explains. “Show them the big picture and how they’re contributing to the results as a whole,” he says. He recommends monthly meetings to show where everyone stands in proximity to their goal. “It gives people a sense of ownership in what’s going on,” he adds.

5. Be accountable
Give employees a realistic goal against which they can be measured, he says. It sets expectations for old and new staffers. Plus, if someone isn’t working out as you’re trying to get back on track, those benchmarks make a dismissal less of a surprise to the employee and an easier way to define what a successor will need to do, Kadlic says.

SBC newsletter logo.gifAt all of the businesses he’s bought over the years—most of which he’s entered during crisis mode, “because that’s where the opportunity is”—Hazard says he’s implemented not only a routine of not-to-miss Monday morning meetings, but also a “daily huddle” that keeps the focus on what’s down the road. In that 10-minute meet-up, teams from finance to operations come together to answer the question: What are the things you see that are strategic roadblocks for you right now? “It brings up the things that are going to affect the business long-term,” he says, “but it also gives everyone a chance to help overcome these obstacles and collaborate on a solution.” Breaking Out of Crisis-Mode Thinking

Hazard likens it to what he’s learned on the racetrack. “It takes the day-to-day issues and turns them into longer-term strategies,” he says. “That’s what changes the culture.” Breaking Out of Crisis-Mode Thinking

5 Tips for Optimizing Your Cash Flow

5 Tips for Optimizing Your Cash Flow

Iris Dorbian.

5 Tips for Optimizing Your Cash Flow.  For a small business owner, managing your cash flow, (the movement of cash to and from your business as opposed to cash deposited in a bank) may be your most important responsibility. In fact, in a recent poll conducted by CPA2Biz, the marketing and technology services subsidiary of the American Institute of CPAs, 83 percent of the 500 small businesses surveyed reported that their prime concern is maintaining adequate cash flow.

And according to the Small Business Administration, the federal agency that provides support and resources to small business owners and entrepreneurs, the failure to manage cash flow is a significant reason why so many small businesses close their doors each year. Make no mistake about it: Even if it’s unintentional, just a mere oversight or misstep in your handling of the company coffers can cause untold damage to your reputation, brand, and credit rating. How then can you prevent such errors from happening while optimizing your cash flow? Here are five cash flow best practices that can steer you in the right direction. 5 Tips for Optimizing Your Cash Flow.

1. Negotiate with vendors

This takeaway can be a great method for pre-empting future financial headaches. If you’re experiencing a fiscal pinch, talk to your vendors about extending due dates. Or try re-negotiating payment terms. Remember, your vendors are also in business and they, like you, want to get paid on time.

John Burger, owner of the online toy company Playfully Ever After, has made this tip a key underpinning of managing his company’s cash flow. And based on his experience, most vendors are willing to be flexible if it guarantees payment. 5 Tips for Optimizing Your Cash Flow.

To bolster his point, Burger, whose company is based outside Dallas and has seven employees, recounts an experience where re-negotiating with a vendor garnered positive results.

“We hit a cash-flow crunch after spending quite a bit of money at the Toy Fair 2013 expanding into new toy lines,” he recalls. “There was no way we could place the large orders we needed to make to sustain our top-selling brand. I called and talked with our rep and they were more than willing to work with us. In fact, they even offered us special terms. From now on, we only have to spend $3,500 to get the same 10 percent discount or $1,500 to get a 5 percent discount. This meant we could reorder more frequently and keep items in stock, which increased sales for both of us.”

OptimizeCash_PQ.jpg2. Build yourself a cushion

Almost every business goes through an up-and-down cash cycle. Such fluctuations can often be dictated by myriad factors that range from seasonal trends to the overall health of the economy. During periods when your cash flow is booming, don’t get complacent and risk your business with extravagant or unnecessary expenses. Be prudent in your spending and start saving for those periods when money might not be flowing like champagne. 5 Tips for Optimizing Your Cash Flow.

Adrienne Polk, operations and strategy manager of the Washington, D.C-based Ross Business Management, a provider of financial and operational solutions to small businesses, agrees. “You want to create a buffer along the way, not just once in a while,” she says. “This will allow you flexibility and more breathing room in your business. When you are down to the wire all of the time, it can be completely paralyzing. Although you may need to spend money to make money, if you are paralyzed by fear or lack of funds, your business will suffer.” 5 Tips for Optimizing Your Cash Flow.

3. Trim unnecessary expenses

If you want to attain a strong grasp of your cash flow, then it behooves you to make a thorough and detailed assessment of the items that can be cut from your balance sheet and what can stay in. Scrutinize your expenses. Figure out what is essential and what can be excised.

“You
don’t have to buy the employees lunch, take a client golfing, or spend money on a birthday cake,” Burger explains. “Those types of things can wait. It’s more important that your employees get paid and you have money to buy product.”

4. Request prompt payment of services

This might sound like a no-brainer solution to cash flow problems, but it bears repeating when dealing with vendors and/or clients. 5 Tips for Optimizing Your Cash Flow.

Andrew Schrage, co-owner of Money Crashers, a personal finance website, agrees, but notes that debtors might need to gain an incentive to ensure prompt payment. “To motivate debtors to pay quickly, offer a small discount for prompt payment,” he says. “So even though you may take a bit of a hit on profits, it’s ultimately worthwhile.”

5. Tighten up employee hours during slow times

To better optimize your cash flow, you might consider reducing hours for employees during the slow periods. This tip has worked wonders for Burger’s Playfully Ever After staff. When his business was experiencing the doldrums, Burger had his hourly staff start work one hour later. And on days that were especially slow, staffers were told to go home earlier than expected.

“This saved an extra $600 a month in payroll,” he explains. “Every bit helps.”

Along the same lines, if your cash flow problems are growing increasingly dire, short of terminating your staff, you might also want to change employees’ salary status to an hourly basis. “Most employees hate this and it can be a tough sell,” admits Burger. “But it allows you to save money on slow
times when employees may not be working as much. If your business is in jeopardy, this is an option you should think about.”

Other ways to solve your cash flow problems courtesy of Burger are as follows:

Offer one free vacation day instead of pay raises. “To improve cash flow for the next year, give everyone in the company an extra day off each month in lieu of pay raises,” he says. “I had an employer do this once, and at first people were upset, but then we learned to love having the first Friday off of every month.”
Establish a line of credit. “Talk with your banker,” advises Burger. “Most banks are more than willing to help you establish a line of credit for your business. You don’t have to use it all the time, but this can help when cash gets
tight.” 5 Tips for Optimizing Your Cash Flow.

To maintain the longevity of your business operations, it’s imperative to manage your cash flow as wisely as possible. In this area, there’s no room for carelessness or irresponsibility, especially if you want your business to survive the long haul. 5 Tips for Optimizing Your Cash Flow.

Tips for running a professional practice without formal business training

Tips for running a professional practice without formal business training

by Jen Hickey.

 Tips for running a professional practice without formal business training Whether you’re thinking about leaving that big firm or graduation is looming, anybody looking to start their own professional practice should have a grasp of basic business fundamentals. While more colleges and universities are beginning to offer business courses to new doctors, lawyers, dentists, and other professionals, most still don’t. But the resources are out there, if you look for them. Some professional associations like the American Dental Association and the American Bar Association offer tips, information, training and seminars for managing the business side of a practice. Tap into your professional network and seek out advice from veterans in private practice. And don’t forget about the experts, particularly those that specialize in your industry. You can’t put a price on the right accountant or financial adviser. Tips for running a professional practice without formal business training

 

“There are structural differences for professional practices,” notes Mitchell Weiss, author and adjunct professor at University of Hartford, Barney School of Business. And the legal structure of your practice goes beyond taxes. “How you finance the practice and degree of liability and risk go back to the structure of your practice,” explains Weiss. If forming a partnership, make sure you know everything about your potential partner(s), including how much personal debt they’re carrying. “A business partnership is not unlike a marriage,” he says. “If something goes wrong, you’re responsible as a professional and an individual.” Tips for running a professional practice without formal business training

 

With practices that are capital intensive like dentistry, specialty health providers, and certain types of engineering or architectural firms, the equipment and/or software needed to run the practice will likely require some financing. “Speaking as a former lender, there’s only so much debt you can take on,” says Weiss. “Financing has to be done with some thought and deliberation to avoid rolling deficiencies from one loan to the next.” He cautions against the “snowball” effect of taking on too much debt, as equipment can become obsolete long before you’ve paid off the loan to finance it. “At some point, you’ll want to retire or sell the practice,” notes Weiss. “And if you owe more than you own, the value of your practice will diminish.” Tips for running a professional practice without formal business training

 

A few years after Dr. Robert Sorin started his own Manhattan-based cosmetic and restorative dental practice, he attended a seminar in Chicago, where the audience was asked: “Are you entrepreneurs that happen to be dentists, or dentists that happen to be entrepreneurs?” The answer to that question marked the beginning of his entrepreneurial journey as a dentist. “Over the next few days, we were given benchmarks to set a baseline for success,” recalls Dr. Sorin. “While the goals have changed over time, I’m still using those same benchmarks, such as calculating production per day and month, total collections per month and a detailed breakdown of fixed and variable overhead expenses each month, to track my business 25 years later.” Tips for running a professional practice without formal business training

 

Prof&Entre_PQ.jpgOne early misstep Dr. Sorin recalls was hiring too large of a staff. “Overhead costs can get quickly out of hand,” he cautions. “I’ve learned that you can have a smaller staff and get most, if not all, the same work accomplished.” Dr. Sorin also quickly learned the importance of forward budgeting. “By projecting costs one, two, and three years ahead, I’m forced to look at where expenses are going and where income strains may arise,” he explains. “It gives you metrics to ensure that your revenues at least equal or exceed expenses.” Tips for running a professional practice without formal business training

 

“It’s important to have at least a rudimentary understanding of how your financial statements work (income statement, balance sheet, cash flow),” notes Weiss.  Staying on top of your financials not only helps you track performance, but also better positions you to negotiate terms and structure your loan payments. “For example, if you know your company’s revenues are seasonal in nature (high summer months, low winter months), you may then want to negotiate a repayment plan taking that into account to avoid getting squeezed,” explains Weiss. He also recommends comparing your financials against those of other practices in the industry. “There are plenty of peer metrics out there to measure performance.” Tips for running a professional practice without formal business training

 

When attorney Cynthia Johnson Rerko was thinking about leaving her former employer, she was advised by a mentor to wait until she made partner. “People in the legal business and those hiring lawyers want one that’s made partner,” explains Rerko. “It’s a benchmark in a lawyer’s career.” She not only was the first female partner at her old firm, but also made it a year earlier than planned. In 1998, when Rerko left, she made sure she had enough cash reserves and a client list to get her Gainesville, Texas-based practice, which specializes in complex financial restructuring, off the ground. “Once I was comfortable I’d have a core business where I could at least break even, I was ready,” she says. Tips for running a professional practice without formal business training

 

Part of the motivation for starting her own practice was her desire to spend more time with her then 11-year old son. “The law is still very much about billable hours,” explains Rerko. “And when you work in a large firm, it means putting in face time.” Once she was the boss, she didn’t always need to be in the office to run her business. And she was able to rein in her caseload when needed. “I knew my business would be there when I got back,” she says. This also allowed her to tap into a qualified flexible work force of contract lawyers and law students with prior professional experience. Tips for running a professional practice without formal business training

 

Because she enjoys the work, Rerko sometimes had difficulty keeping track of her hours. “It can be a distraction,” she explains. “But when you’re making or breaking it based on collectibles, it’s something you have to do.” To enable her to concentrate on the legal side of her business, Rerko has an accountant that tracks her monthly revenues and expenses and manages her tax obligations. “It’s not the focus of my business,” notes Rerko. “But it’s necessary to keep it running.” Tips for running a professional practice without formal business training

 

Jan Moye also saw an opportunity when she launched her Irving, Texas-based specialty engineering firm Moye Consulting in 2002. Back then, she explains, the introduction of new technologies in security and other building systems created the need for low voltage systems engineering in facilities design. “Suddenly, there was much greater complexity to the data network that needed to be accommodated in new building designs,” notes Moye. Her former employer was very supportive of the move—in fact, they became her first client. “I started the business because I wanted to make money doing what I do well,” she says. “But over the years, I’ve encountered issues and challenges that they didn’t teach you in engineering school.” Tips for running a professional practice without formal business training

 

While her business was profitable from the start, it wasn’t growing enough. “Even though we did a great job on the execution of the technical work, I had to push myself to focus on marketing and networking with potential clients in the beginning,” she recalls. Once the firm had achieved a certain level of growth, she was able to hire a project manager who also handled sales and a marketing coordinator. “As the business got bigger, I could allocate certain jobs to those better suited for them.” Tips for running a professional practice without formal business training

 

But when an opportunity arose to improve her business skills, Moye took it. Through a friend, she learned of the SBA Emerging Leaders Initiative, a seven-month-long M.B.A. boot camp. Every year, the SBA accepts about 200 established small business owners into the program who meet certain criteria (e.g. have been in operation at least three years and have annual revenues of at least $300,000). She applied and was accepted in April 2012 and graduated in November. Tips for running a professional practice without formal business training

 

Moye and her classmates were given a curriculum that included employment law, sales/marketing, branding, competitive analysis, and strategic planning, among others. “They’re topics that would be covered in business school,” she explains. “The difference is you get to apply what you’re studying to your own business.”  Moye found the interaction and advice she got from other small business owners of different sizes and industries very helpful. “They saw the challenges and issues I was having from outside the box,” notes Moye. “Those fresh ideas helped me to take the blinders off.”

 

“There’s no right or wrong way [to running a practice],” notes Dr. Sorin. “But you have to decide what’s important to you, how you’re going to allocate your time personally and professionally, what your goals are and set up metrics to meet those goals.” Tips for running a professional practice without formal business training

Facebook’s New Look: What the changes mean for your small business

FacebookFacebook’s New Look: What the changes mean for your small business

by Jennifer Shaheen.

 

Have you noticed lately that Facebook looks different? If your News Feed hasn’t changed yet, don’t worry, it soon will. Since early March, Facebook has slowly been rolling out its new News Feed design, giving users the first meaningful remodel of the site since 2006. What does this mean for you, the small business owner? Facebook’s New Look: What the changes mean for your small business

Facebook’s New Look: What the changes mean for your small business

 

Image is everything

The first thing you’ll notice about the new Facebook News Feed is how much larger and more prominent the pictures are. People can continue to upload photos directly to Facebook, or share their images from other social media sites, such as Instagram or Pinterest. Photos are so central to the new design that Facebook allows users to choose a “Photos Only” view (more about that later). Facebook’s New Look: What the changes mean for your small business

For the small business owner, the new Facebook News Feed means it’s time to embrace visual marketing. “Selecting the right images is key—images get behind our conscious thinking and connect with our emotions,” says Joe Decker, of Rock Slide Photography. “Images of owners or employees at a small business help create a sense of connection with that business, and make it easier for customers to make the first call.” Facebook’s New Look: What the changes mean for your small business

Share your own original images on your business’s Facebook page, but don’t stop there. Your visual marketing strategy can include using photos from your manufacturers or suppliers, buying stock images, sharing existing memes, infographics, and more.

Exercise your emotional intelligence when choosing images for your Facebook page. “Having people smiling, interacting, making eye contact, either with each other or with the viewer help give a sense of happiness for the perfection they seek in their lives,” says Dov Friedmann, of Photography by Dov, who specializes in corporate events photography. “You want to have an eye-catching image or photograph that attracts the viewer and also captures the essence or tells the story of what your company is about.”

How your customers will find you now

Central to Facebook’s new design is an easy to use navigation system that allows users to pick and choose what content they view. Content is sorted into Feeds, only one of which will be displayed at any given time. Switching from Feed to Feed is simple and easy, just like changing the TV channel.

There are six standard Feeds: All Friends, Close Friends, Music, Photos, Following, and Games. Your business page posts will appear on the Following Feed, and the images you post will appear on the Photos Feed as well.

Facebook has always had limited navigation. The redesign makes the navigation more prominent and easier to use. There will be an adjustment period as Facebook users become acclimated to the new system, but in the long term, the revamp may serve small business owners well. The organization of business pages into a centralized stream filters out distractions that compete for your customer’s attention.

Make the most of metrics

Facebook Insights tell page administrators how many people saw a post, how many people liked it, and how many people shared the post with their friends. Use this information to gauge how relevant and meaningful your customers find the images and updates you post.

“Our goal is to engage our fans and sometimes that might be a serious photo of a re-breather diver and other times it could be a scuba diver riding a bike underwater,” says Darren Pace, Director of Marketing for SDI, TDI and ERDI, a dive training organization. “Regardless of what type of images are assumed to work best, always check your insights to make sure your fans feel the same way.”

Move toward mobile

One of the most important changes in Facebook’s new design is one that many small business owners might not even notice. The new site design is responsive, which means Facebook’s appearance and layout will always be consistent, no matter what type of device users choose to use to view the site. Facebook’s New Look: What the changes mean for your small business

 Why did Facebook do this?

Take a look around as you go through the course of your day. How many people do you see that are ‘unplugged’—not actively engaging with any type of mobile device at all? Chances are the number won’t be too high. The reason it looks like everyone is using a smartphone or tablet computer is pretty simple: almost everyone is. Cisco’s Visual Networking Index has projected that there will be more Internet-connected devices than there are people by the end of this year.

A recent Google study found 90 percent of Americans move sequentially across multiple screens in one day to access information and entertainment. Facebook’s adoption of responsive design provides their customers with a satisfying experience no matter where they are. Facebook’s New Look: What the changes mean for your small business

Impact of responsive design

What happens if a customer who is using Facebook on their smartphone or tablet decides to follow one of your links and goes to your website? This is where website design becomes really important. If your business website is responsive, it will adapt automatically to look good on your customer’s viewing device, and they’ll have an optimized experience.

If your business website is not responsive, it may not look good or function well on your customer’s viewing device. The website that looks great on a desktop computer may not render properly on a smartphone. Customers are impatient. They’re not going to try to figure out how your website is supposed to look. They’ll just see that things are out of alignment or too hard to read and move on—and there goes your potential sale. Facebook’s New Look: What the changes mean for your small business

New Ways to Find Domestic Manufactures

New Ways to Find Domestic Manufactures

New Ways to Find Domestic Manufacturesby Erin McDermott.

New Ways to Find Domestic Manufactures. Having your goods “Made in the U.S.A.” may be getting a little bit easier for America’s entrepreneurs.

Referred to as in-sourcing, on-shoring, reshoring, or just simply “bringing jobs back home,” business news outlets are trumpeting the return of manufacturing to the U.S., including corporate giants like General Electric, Apple, and Whirlpool.

But smaller fish hunting for domestic production sites are often frustrated by time-consuming and sometimes-fruitless searches at trade shows.

Now a new infrastructure is taking shape that can help connect entrepreneurs with an idea and the motivation to make a product here at home. The ironic twist: The Internet, which once made long-distance manufacturing seem so simple, is being harnessed to link up designers and makers, sometimes in each others’ own backyard.

For example, in the apparel industry there’s now Maker’s Row, a website that’s helping to link domestic designers and manufacturers. Factory owners create a profile that includes their facility’s capabilities, turnaround times, videos of their work, and all information necessary to make production decisions. Customers can even leave reviews. There’s some 1,400 manufacturers listed, in all 50 states, with everyone from emblem-makers and furriers to knitters and shoemakers and people making any kind of accessory you can imagine. It’s a U-turn for the highly offshored industry.

Cofounders Matthew Burnett and Tanya Menendez got the idea for Maker’s Row after discussing his frustrations with overseas manufacturing and the difficulties he encountered in finding a domestic producer for his Brooklyn Bakery line of leather accessories. They’ve created a site that adds much needed transparency and connectivity to some of the nation’s old-world craftsmen.New Ways to Find Domestic Manufactures

“As a small business, I found there’s a lot of inhibiting factors about creating products overseas, like language barriers, cultural barriers, and time differences,” Burnett says. “Small businesses are seeing these big companies coming back as a signal right now. They’re trying to find American resources and manufacturers, too.”

“But there is no real, comprehensive database of manufacturers out there,” he adds. “That’s where we saw a huge challenge in our prior companies—and that’s where we see a huge opportunity for Maker’s Row.”

Burnett says the U.S. manufacturers they’ve approached have been very receptive and have opened them up to their entire networks. Menendez adds that designers have been referring their clients through the site, as the feedback system for each manufacturer gives them a built-in vetted audience ready to jump at new opportunities.New Ways to Find Domestic Manufactures

Their timing may be right for many reasons. Cheaper U.S. energy from new natural gas sources and rising global transportation prices are altering supply chain calculations. Alarming news reports of human-rights abuses in overseas factories have raised concerns; increasing labor costs are a factor there, too. And there are the perennial issues of dealing with the unknown: long-distance shipping delays, sustainability, and intellectual-property and security worries.New Ways to Find Domestic Manufactures

Since the recession, many U.S. manufacturers have become more willing to take on smaller-scale projects, as a supplement to bigger contracts and as a way to diversify their revenue streams.

Roberto Torres leads one small company dedicated to domestic manufacturing who’s tapping into Maker’s Row. He’s president of the Black & Denim Apparel Co., a Tampa-based clothing line that produces high-end jeans, custom T-shirts, and accessories, all from American-sourced materials. He grew up in Panama, and immigrated to the U.S. in the early 1990s, which he says influenced the desire to make his goods here, too. “We wanted to make it here. For men who understand what American-made means,” he says. “In the ’80s in Panama, if you wanted something to last, it had to be made in America.”

Tampa doesn’t have a Garment District, so Torres’s team was somewhat isolated in getting started. Finding suppliers and manufacturers was a slog, from phone books and trade shows to the Internet and word-of-mouth references, Torres says.

And that’s why he calls Maker’s Row a “game-changer” for his industry. When Black & Denim recently decided to add a women’s line, within two days they had found all the manufacturers they needed to get started, Torres says. “Anything that can bridge a gap between two brick-and-mortar stores is paramount right now.”New Ways to Find Domestic Manufactures

If you’re looking to make your goods closer to home, here are a few other sites worth a look:

MakeXYZ
Here’s a matchmaker for the 3D printing world. Got a MakerBot sitting idle? List your desktop factory here to get on the radar of other designers looking to fabricate something closer to home than at one of the bigger 3D printing sites like Shapeways. For creators looking to print, simply search by ZIP Code for machines available to make your doodad, upload your file, and select your colors or materials. You can either arrange to have the printer ship your item to you, or just swing by to pick it up. MakeXYZ takes a five-percent commission on your project and turnaround times are generally swifter than the big 3D printing services, and cheaper, too: prices start at 25 cents per cubic inch. Launched by Austin-based programmers Chad Masso and Nathan Tone in November 2012, the site has nearly 600 printers signed up so far.New Ways to Find Domestic Manufactures

Reshoring Initiative
Here’s an all-in-one resource for manufacturers large and small. This industry-funded group has several worthwhile tools, from its definitive library of white papers and case studies about in-shoring companies and news coverage to its built-in Total Cost of Ownership Estimator calculator, which allows users to do the math on the array of costs and freight expenses in order to compare how much they might save by using local manufacturing. They’ve also got a smart Twitter feed.

The Maker Map
This is a rapidly expanding open-source display of the world of makers, from hackerspaces and tool-sharing sites to bigger name fabricators and startup incubators. What started out as a Bay Area guide to local listing has recently gone global, but the majority of the entries are right here in the U.S. Manufacturers and parts suppliers that cater to this inventive group can create their own entries.New Ways to Find Domestic Manufactures

Many still have experiences like Sheila Duncan’s in trying to find a domestic manufacturer for her Trouble the Dog project. At first, Duncan was using a Chinese company to make the plush toy, which is a therapeutic tool for kids experiencing stress. After a round of frustrating back and forth, she decided to try to bring that work closer to home.

From her Marblehead, Mass., headquarters, Duncan says she spent “all day for six months” looking for a manufacturer willing to take up her initial run of 1,500, hopeful-eyed dogs at an affordable price. She traveled all over New England searching for a spot. In Maine, she encountered a sewing-factory owner who told her outright that “she couldn’t afford my price,” even though he was also sending out blanket emails soliciting new business. “So many I encountered just could not step out of the box of the way they were thinking to get something done,” she says.

Ultimately, Duncan did find her U.S. manufacturer, in Arizona. And although the costs are about 4.5 times what her Chinese vendor charged, she says she’s “glad she went through the hoops” to land a domestic source. “And I mean we are talking hoops.”

Why was it worth it? Duncan points to the reports of poor working conditions overseas that made her uneasy, and a bigger selling point these days: differentiation.

“Look in a child’s room and all the stuffed animals are made somewhere else,” she says. “What this is going to do for me, I believe, is give Trouble a way to stand out from everything else out there.” New Ways to Find Domestic Manufactures

Borrowing Money from Family and Friends To Start Your Business

Borrowing Money from Family and Friends To Start Your Business

by Susan Caminiti

Borrowing Money from Family and Friends To Start Your Business.Chances are they’ve been your biggest cheerleaders as you’ve started and grown your small business. But should family and friends also bankroll your business?

Borrowing money from your parents, in-laws, or even your best friend from college may seem like an easy financial solution when capital is not forthcoming in those early days. But small business experts say this option can be more complicated—and emotionally messy—than it seems. “Most small business owners who go to family for money approach it like they’re about to borrow $20,” says Andrew Keyt, executive director of the Family Business Center at Loyola University Chicago. “The process is too informal and that increases the possibility of tension and misunderstandings with family members down the road.” Borrowing Money from Family and Friends To Start Your Business

Despite those potential pitfalls, small business owners continue to seek out money from those near and dear. A business financing survey by the Global Entrepreneur Monitor, a research consortium that includes Babson College, showed that small businesses raised $41.6 billion in 2010 in so-called informal funds. According to the respondents, 32 percent said the money came from a friend or neighbor; 26 percent said from a close family member; 11 percent from some other relative; and eight percent from a work colleague.

Still, there are ways to borrow seed money from family and friends without making the next holiday gathering stressful and awkward for all involved. Below is some advice from small business experts on how to do it right. Borrowing Money from Family and Friends To Start Your Business

Be clear, candid, and professional

If there’s one topic that people are uncomfortable discussing, it’s money. Talking about money to family only notches up the pain. So says Karen Axelton, co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a market research and consulting firm that helps corporations and government agencies connect with small and mid-size businesses. “Glossing over the details of how much you need and why, because it’s awkward to talk about money with your parents or siblings, is never a good idea,” she says. Borrowing Money from Family and Friends To Start Your Business

FamilyFinancers_PQ.jpgRather, treat the conversation as if you are having it with a stranger—or better yet—a banker. Arrange a time to speak that’s good for everyone and focus only on the issue at hand. Explain the amount of money you’re looking for, your plans for the funds, and how you intend to pay the money back and over what period of time.

It also helps to present potential lenders (yes, even mom and dad) with a detailed business plan. Says Keyt: “Even your closest relatives will want to know if the money is going to some half-baked idea or a business that has a chance to succeed.” Give them time to read it over—preferably without you looking over their shoulder, cautions Axelton. And above all else, Keyt advises, be clear. “Problems arise when both parties have unarticulated expectations. Leave as little as possible open to misunderstanding.”

Define the investment

Are you looking for a loan, equity investment, or an outright gift? Each has a different set of issues—and financial responsibilities—so making sure you define the terms is critical, says Axelton.

With a loan, you’ll want to determine the interest rate you’ll pay on the money you’re borrowing, the repayment period, and what you’ll use the money for. An accountant can draw up these forms, or you can find them through an organization such as SCORE, she says. Borrowing Money from Family and Friends To Start Your Business

Unlike with a bank loan, when the money is coming from mom and dad or the in-laws there’s often wiggle room with the repayment schedule. Pretend there isn’t. Judy Barber, a family business consultant and mediator based in San Francisco, says even if family members don’t need the money repaid on time—or at all—changing the terms of a loan is never a good idea. “It annoys parents because it makes it look like their adult children aren’t taking them or the business seriously,” she says.

Money that comes in exchange for an equity investment is a bit more complicated and will require some soul-searching, say the experts. For instance, do you really want your business savvy father-in-law weighing in on expansion plans or questioning your social media strategy? “Those are the kinds of questions that entrepreneurs have to ask themselves if they’re taking money in exchange for a piece of their company,” says Keyt.

An equity investment also comes with a fiduciary responsibility to share financial data with investors, and in most cases, make them board members. “If you’re going this route, make it clear what percentage of the company they are getting in exchange for their investment and the liquidity options they have when they want to get their money out,” Keyt explains. Also make clear whether or not you’ll be paying dividends to these shareholders and if so, how often. And get professional guidance. Both Keyt and Axelton recommend using a lawyer to draft an equity investment agreement. Borrowing Money from Family and Friends To Start Your Business

As for gifts, well, they too have to be handled with care. To begin with, says Barber, make sure everyone involved understands that the money is just that: a gift, with no expectation that it will be paid back. Further, be sure to stay on top of IRS gifting guidelines. For 2013, the amount of money someone can give as a gift, tax-free, is $14,000, up $1,000 from last year. And of course, the money is not considered taxable income for the recipient.

Put it in writing

Just because these are the people who love you most in the world, doesn’t mean you get to take short cuts when it comes to money. Put everything in writing. “Family and friends are naturally excited for you and optimistic about your chances for success,” says Axelton. Bring everyone back down to earth with a written document that makes clear the terms each party has agreed to, she advises. Enlisting the services of a lawyer is advisable, but not always needed when drafting this kind of agreement, but getting any contract or written agreement notarized is recommended. Borrowing Money from Family and Friends To Start Your Business

It’s also a good idea to include in this document a list of the risks that the lender is taking on by loaning you the money or making an equity investment in your fledgling company. “Not every business succeeds and it’s up to the small business owner to lay out a worst-case-scenario plan,” she says. “What if the business fails and it takes you double the amount of time to repay a loan? Or you can’t repay it at all? You need to set down expectations in writing so everyone knows what the risks are.”

Maintain communication

No, you don’t have to send out daily emails detailing the new client you just snagged or that you’ve hired your third employee. But when you see or speak with your family investors (and you will) give them a brief, honest assessment of how the business is doing and any highlights, say the experts. And of course, if there are dire problems that could impact your ability to start or continue repaying your loan, alert them to that sooner rather than later, says Barber. Borrowing Money from Family and Friends To Start Your Business

New Year’s Resolutions for Entrepreneurs

New Year’s Resolutions for Entrepreneurs New Year’s Resolutions for Entrepreneurs

New Year’s Resolutions for Entrepreneurs.  Like many business owners, Patty Moreno-Fletcher has a few major year-end deadlines. Hers are a bit more unpredictable and life changing than most: She’s a doula—a non-medical coach who supports people through the labor, birth, and new-parent process, or as she calls it “mothering the new mother.” Three of her clients have due dates around the holidays. New Year’s Resolutions for Entrepreneurs

She’s setting a deadline for herself, too: In 2009, she purchased the domain name for her practice, Butterfly Babies NYC, but has procrastinated ever since. After relying for years on just positive word-of-mouth among New York families, she’s now made this her primary New Year’s resolution: Develop the website and start a blog to reach out to more potential clients. New Year’s Resolutions for Entrepreneurs

“Being a doula—it’s very hands-on work. But when it comes to the Internet or a Web presence or even managing an office or billing, it just give me a headache thinking about it,” she says, laughing. With 2013 just days away, business owners can celebrate the end of another year of hard work and look ahead at what’s to come—and what they might do differently based on what they’ve learned. While one notable study found the track record for successfully maintaining attempts at change wasn’t all that great, the dawn of every new year brings optimism for starting anew and becoming a little wiser and maybe a bit more efficient. Here’s a look at what a few business owners are saying they are hoping for, possibly with some inspiration for your own next 12 months. New Year’s Resolutions for Entrepreneurs

Hire new staff John Kwan, chief executive of VeriPic, says he’s resolving to increase hiring in 2013. With the economy still sluggish, “there are plenty of talented people available and many just want moderate pay,” he says. “This is the perfect environment for expansion as labor costs are low and this is also an excellent way to help the economy by hiring people.” New Year’s Resolutions for Entrepreneurs

Value your time “What entrepreneur doesn’t want to focus more?” asks Will Mitchell, a founder of the Startup Bros. business consultancy as well as owner of online marketer Clear Presence Media and reputation manager RepAssured in Tampa, Fla. He resolves to concentrate on one task at a time in order to see it to completion. “Once you start taking the initiative on this, it’s pretty impossible to ignore, particularly if you set up time-tracking software on your computer,” he says. He uses RescueTime, which tracks how much time you spend online and, importantly, shows where those stolen moments on Facebook or fantasy football sites are adding up, and detracting from more important tasks. New Year’s Resolutions for Entrepreneurs

Get better rest Mitchell says his family is full of entrepreneurs (he’s been doing business online since he was 14) and all have struggled with being able to tune out and get to sleep. “Most entrepreneurs will tell you the one thing they can do to improve their performance is get more rest,” he says. “But it’s rare that they’ll actually put down the computer and go to bed.”. How long have his resolutions lasted? “With sleep, historically I can get two to three months into that before the first crisis comes up and kind of ruins that,” he admits, chuckling. New Year’s Resolutions for Entrepreneurs

Be able to “glide” That’s what Heddi Cundle aimed to do after a hectic year of starting up myTab.co, a travel gift-card system she’s founded. After months of 18-hour days getting her start-up off the ground and chasing venture capital from Silicon Valley, Cundle says she and her team in San Francisco recently altered course and decided to license out myTab to e-commerce sites—a move that she said has been received with great enthusiasm. It’s also changed the company’s outlook going into 2013. “Things are falling into place,” Cundle says. “In the next 12 months at least, we can glide a lot easier because we’re not trying to push and strive to fit into a specific mold that we thought we needed to be in to generate revenue. We just found a different sort. Now we’re gliding into 2013. By licensing our technology to verticals, we can use revenue to invest back into myTab.co travel.” New Year’s Resolutions for Entrepreneurs

Get ready to market online New Year’s Resolutions for Entrepreneurs

Business Planning Harness the power of planning your time well, taking care to allocate your schedule according to priorities. Wait when it’s appropriate, hurry when it’s appropriate, and apply patience, vision and common sense. — Tim Berry, Business Plans

Social Media Do whatever it takes to get out of your comfort zone and into your “power place” to grow your business. Embrace change and new technologies, including social sites. Choose what works best for reaching your target market, and run with it. Most important: Have fun. — Starr Hall, Social Media

New Year’s Resolutions for Entrepreneurs Sales In 2011, show up to the meetings that you would have passed on previously. Never underestimate the power of face-to-face meetings for building stronger relationships and connections with your prospects and customers. Activity creates opportunity. — Barry Farber, Make the Sale

E-Commerce Develop and implement systems that will free up time that you can spend on other pursuits. What really matters most is making a measurable amount of progress in a reasonable amount of time and spending time with loved ones. Do the only things about which you’re passionate and work with only your ideal clients. — Lena West, Ask Entrepreneur

New Year’s Resolutions for Entrepreneurs Technology Take the security of your business seriously. Change all your passwords. Close down old unused accounts for emails, business software and social networks. And set up a password for your mobile phone. — Jonathan Blum, Office Technology

Managing Resolve to invest heavily in the people and technology necessary to meet client demands and seize market opportunity. — Paul Spiegelman, Corporate Culture

Online Marketing Understand your customers’ experience with your business. It’s essential for businesses to look at what they do from their customers’ point of view and then smooth out any rough edges. Customers have so many options. You can’t afford a single reason for one to choose a competitor’s business over yours. — Gail Goodman, E-Mail Marketing

Communications The new year will see an acceleration of the reinvention of media. With so many ways to reach so many different types of consumers, reaching out to a variety of outlets through diverse media is critical. Craft customized content and send it via multiple platforms engage customers wherever they may be. — Rachel Meranus, Public Relations

Productivity It’s critical to get absorbed in your business niche to achieve mastery. But, most importantly, laugh, love and live more fully. — Scott Halford, Brainy Business

Starting Young Forget the mantra of “work hard, get good grades and go to school to get a job.” For too long, young people have been force-fed this nonsense from their parents and mentors. It’s stifling their income generating potential. Gen Y needs to become the most entrepreneurial generation in history. — Scott Gerber, Never Get a “Real” Job

New Year’s Resolutions for Entrepreneurs Video Marketing Create at least one professionally-produced video for the homepage of your website and social media sites. It should show y why your business is the best choice among the competition and include a compelling incentive to make an immediate purchase and share the video with others. — John Arnold, Marketing Tools & Technologies

Selling a Business Prepare yourself psychologically. Make sure you’re emotionally committed and ready for the sale, or you may turn buyers off to your business. — Domenic Rinaldi, Buying & Selling a Business New Year’s Resolutions for Entrepreneurs

Buying a Business Making a concrete plan to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams, and take at least one action every day that will help you achieve your goal. Set a realistic timeline for when you will reach the major milestones on your path to entrepreneurial success. — Mike Handelsman, Buying & Selling a Business

Real Estate Question the experts in your field and find out who the real experts are. Hint: If they’re in Washington or on television, they might not be experts. — Greg Rand, Real Estate Realities

Growing Turn your small mom-and-pop business into a bigger opportunity this year by launching the projects you never got around to in 2010. — Lisa Druxman,Mompreneur

New Year’s Resolutions for Entrepreneurs Prioritizing Ask yourself, “What can I stop doing?” Begin to put stronger accountability practices into place to create a better business foundation. — Nina Kaufman, Making It Legal

Mobile Marketing Make mobile marketing a high priority. Capture mobile shoppers by updating your website to load quickly in a variety of browsers and making them Facebook and Twitter interactive. Offer competitive pricing and tap into the soaring popularity of coupons by texting them to your customers’ mobile phones. — Kim T. Gordon, Marketing Read more: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/217806#ixzz2mVpdpnAB New Year’s Resolutions for Entrepreneurs

Small Businesses Should Prepare for the Worst Case Secenario: Business Planning Is Key

Small Businesses Should Prepare for the Worst Case Secenario: Business Planning Is Key

A disaster striking your small business and the community in which it operates is a scenario no one wants to think about. Yet not thinking about what you will do in the event of a hurricane or flood can end up costing you much more than just rebuilding costs. Michael Bremmer, CEO of TelecomQuotes.com, likens disaster preparedness to planning for a funeral: “You know it’s going to happen, you just don’t know when, but you’re much better off if you’ve taken the time to have a plan.” In fact, as the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy on the east coast so clearly demonstrated, preparing your company for a disaster, natural or otherwise, needs to be an integral part of your ongoing business planning. Beyond buying insurance, having safeguards and continuity procedures in place are among the most important actions you can make for the health of your company.

 

 

Get set up virtually and remotely

Virtual storage and remote desktop systems have transformed the ability of businesses to continue to work even if their physical location is unavailable. It is essential to develop daily and weekly procedures for all of your employees utilizing these capabilities. Having data backed up via off-site servers (preferably in a location far from where your company is), as well as on a cloud storage system that can be accessed remotely allows your employees to work from home or a temporary location should the situation arise. Though you may have minor delays and slower output, you can still meet the needs of your customers if you invest in the technology.

 

During and after a disaster, your company will not only need access to data, but also to assets. Richelle Shaw, entrepreneur, author, and president of the National Association for Moms In Business, says one of the ways she prepared for a disaster was to have a relationship with two banks—one local and one national. “My cousin was located in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina,” she recalls. “Her local bank was flooded out, and she did not have access to money. When I heard her story, I immediately opened an account at a national bank.”

 

 

ContinuityPlanning_PQ.jpgDouble (or triple) up

Though you have copies of your important documents protected off-site, other elements of your business should also be duplicated. Jan Decker of Crisis Management Consulting suggests having alternate suppliers and ways to deliver your products. “If shipping is interrupted or specific products are not available, strategize alternatives and keep in contact with [your] customers,” Decker says, “Small business owners that depend on a single source [of] suppliers should have replacement or contingency providers.”

 

Justin A. Meyer, an attorney with Meyer and Associates who works with small businesses on Long Island, New York, takes the idea of doubling up one step further. “There should be at least two people with keys to the front door and at least two people who know the passwords to the computer systems,” Meyer notes, “Small business owners, because they may only have a few employees, are in a more precarious position. The most important thing they can do is to have some redundancy.”

 

 

Know who to call and who’s in charge

Whether your company has three employees or 300, the same priority holds true during a disaster: communicate with employees. “Have a current, updated list with contact information for each employee,” says Jeff Garr, founder and CEO of HR Knowledge. “It could be a chain of phone calls where the supervisor alerts his team, or it could be a website with centralized information. Whatever the plan is, be sure to communicate where the information can be found and how
it will be communicated.”

 

If the main person in charge is unable to resume control after a disaster, designate in advance  who will step into that role. “Small business owners need to have a power of attorney agreement with a trusted surrogate in the event the owner is unable to take care of business,” says Decker, “Good candidates are attorneys, CPAs, banking officers, trusted family members, or friends. This is to keep the business in operation until the owner can return or other suitable arrangements are
made.”

 

 

Make a detailed emergency plan and review it

Having a specific, written emergency plan is key for every business, and being sure everyone knows that plan is vital. “Review the plan with everyone in your company and trusted advisors, [and] confirm everyone knows their roles in case of an emergency,” says Bremmer. “Bad things happen, but confusion and fear make them much worse.” He adds that, just like your annual budget review, look over your disaster plan at least once a year. “Review your plan as appropriate for your business. Last year’s plan may not be viable any longer,” he says.

 

Business Continuity Planning: Why small businesses should prepare for the worst case scenario

Business Continuity Planning: Why small businesses should prepare for the worst case scenario

Posted by SBOC Team in General Businesson Nov 19, 2012 9:44:36 AM

ContinuityPlanning_Body.jpgby Heather Chaet.

 

 

A disaster striking your small business and the community in which it operates is a scenario no one wants to think about. Yet not thinking about what you will do in the event of a hurricane or flood can end up costing you much more than just rebuilding costs. Michael Bremmer, CEO of TelecomQuotes.com, likens disaster preparedness to planning for a funeral: “You know it’s going to happen, you just don’t know when, but you’re much better off if you’ve taken the time to have a plan.” In fact, as the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy on the east coast so clearly demonstrated, preparing your company for a disaster, natural or otherwise, needs to be an integral part of your ongoing business planning. Beyond buying insurance, having safeguards and continuity procedures in place are among the most important actions you can make for the health of your company.

 

Get set up virtually and remotely

Virtual storage and remote desktop systems have transformed the ability of businesses to continue to work even if their physical location is unavailable. It is essential to develop daily and weekly procedures for all of your employees utilizing these capabilities. Having data backed up via off-site servers (preferably in a location far from where your company is), as well as on a cloud storage system that can be accessed remotely allows your employees to work from home or a temporary location should the situation arise. Though you may have minor delays and slower output, you can still meet the needs of your customers if you invest in the technology.

 

During and after a disaster, your company will not only need access to data, but also to assets. Richelle Shaw, entrepreneur, author, and president of the National Association for Moms In Business, says one of the ways she prepared for a disaster was to have a relationship with two banks—one local and one national. “My cousin was located in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina,” she recalls. “Her local bank was flooded out, and she did not have access to money. When I heard her story, I immediately opened an account at a national bank.”

 

ContinuityPlanning_PQ.jpgDouble (or triple) up

Though you have copies of your important documents protected off-site, other elements of your business should also be duplicated. Jan Decker of Crisis Management Consulting suggests having alternate suppliers and ways to deliver your products. “If shipping is interrupted or specific products are not available, strategize alternatives and keep in contact with [your] customers,” Decker says, “Small business owners that depend on a single source [of] suppliers should have replacement or contingency providers.”

 

Justin A. Meyer, an attorney with Meyer and Associates who works with small businesses on Long Island, New York, takes the idea of doubling up one step further. “There should be at least two people with keys to the front door and at least two people who know the passwords to the computer systems,” Meyer notes, “Small business owners, because they may only have a few employees, are in a more precarious position. The most important thing they can do is to have some redundancy.”

 

 

Know who to call and who’s in charge

Whether your company has three employees or 300, the same priority holds true during a disaster: communicate with employees. “Have a current, updated list with contact information for each employee,” says Jeff Garr, founder and CEO of HR Knowledge. “It could be a chain of phone calls where the supervisor alerts his team, or it could be a website with centralized information. Whatever the plan is, be sure to communicate where the information can be found and how
it will be communicated.”

 

If the main person in charge is unable to resume control after a disaster, designate in advance  who will step into that role. “Small business owners need to have a power of attorney agreement with a trusted surrogate in the event the owner is unable to take care of business,” says Decker, “Good candidates are attorneys, CPAs, banking officers, trusted family members, or friends. This is to keep the business in operation until the owner can return or other suitable arrangements are
made.”

 

Make a detailed emergency plan and review it

Having a specific, written emergency plan is key for every business, and being sure everyone knows that plan is vital. “Review the plan with everyone in your company and trusted advisors, [and] confirm everyone knows their roles in case of an emergency,” says Bremmer. “Bad things happen, but confusion and fear make them much worse.” He adds that, just like your annual budget review, look over your disaster plan at least once a year. “Review your plan as appropriate for your business. Last year’s plan may not be viable any longer,” he says.

 

http://smallbusinessonlinecommunity.bankofamerica.com/community/running-your-business/generalbusiness/blog/2012/11/19/business-continuity-planning-why-small-businesses-should-prepare-for-the-worst-case-scenario

 

From CO to CEO: Q&A with veteran Chris Hale on making the transition from military leadership to civilian business management

From CO to CEO: Q&A with veteran Chris Hale on making the transition from military leadership to civilian business management

Posted by SBOC Team in General Businesson Nov 9, 2012 8:04:36 AM

QAchrishale_Body.jpgby Robert Lerose.

 

The most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau reveal that military veterans owned 2.4 million businesses in 2007. It isn’t always easy to go from a structured military environment to managing a civilian company. But veterans can bring a highly specialized skill set, discipline, and drive to help them excel in an increasingly competitive job arena. As the 43-year-old chairman and co-founder of Victory Media, a Coraopolis, Pennsylvania-based company that has marketed the military population to corporate America through different media since 2001, Chris Hale is intimately acquainted with both worlds. Business writer Robert Lerose talked with the former Navy officer about leadership and the “strategic advantage” that veterans offer.

 

RL: After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1991, you had a distinguished career in the military. Tell me about that.

CH: I went into the Navy Flight Officer Program, which is for people who don’t have the vision to become pilots. I spent about a year and a half after that as a navigator and communicator on a P-3, which is an anti-submarine warfare airplane. Then I moved up and became the tactical coordinator. He’s like the quarterback. When pilots fly the airplane over a submarine, the tactical coordinator handles the whole operation. I worked my way up to mission commander and was with the squadron in Jacksonville, Florida for a little over three years.

 

RL: When was this?

CH: The fall of 1993 through January of 1997. During this time, I did two six-month deployments to Keflavik, Iceland. I also spent some time in Sicily. After that, I did a three-year recruiting tour in Pittsburgh, which is where I’m originally from, and then left active duty at the end of 1999.

 

RL: Around the time you left the Navy, you co-founded a web-based military media company. You also worked as a manager for a Fortune 50 company. What was the transition like for you from military command situation to civilian management?

CH: I went through a civilian business school at night when I was at recruiting duty in Pittsburgh. There were a few things I had to learn. There are a lot of similarities, quite frankly, [between the military and civilian expectations]. In the private sector, projects require people with propulsion systems.

 

QAchrishale_PQ.jpgRL: What does that mean, “propulsion systems?”

CH: To take ideas, projects, and concepts to a point where they’re properly executed takes a propulsion system, or an engine, so to speak. It’s one of the core traits of leadership that you learn in the private sector. A lot of the skills I learned in the service were very, very transferable—leadership, teamwork, working in diverse teams, mission accomplishment, performance under pressure. In the military, there are serious consequences for not succeeding on a mission. In the private sector, you’re very accustomed to pressure-filled situations or performance under pressure or pulling all-nighters, if you need to, to get the job done.

 

RL: And the differences?

In the private sector, you don’t know where everybody stands. Some of the subtleties of corporate culture were new [to me]. It’s hard to tell where the rank structure is, where the social structure is, where the cultural structure is. It’s not visibly apparent.

 

RL: Your company bio says, “your principles have transformed corporate perspective on hiring military veterans from one of entitlement to one of strategic advantage.” Could you elaborate on that?

CH: Most organizations that exist to benefit veterans are based on the premise that there is at least a part of that veteran that is worse off because of their service. We take a very, very opposite approach—that you’re far better off because of having served. Those skills are so transferable. The things that you learn in the military prepare you for success in the private sector as an employee of somebody else, as a business owner yourself, or as what we call a hybrid of those two things, which is perhaps opening a franchise.

 

RL: You also believe “that military service is the best training regimen in the world and corporate America benefits from this every day.” How so?

CH: Don’t hire veterans because you feel it’s your moral obligation to do so. Hire veterans because these guys and women can transform your company and make it better. They’re model employees. They are like alumni of one of the greatest training organizations in the world—the U.S. military. When you hire a veteran, your company is benefitting from the training that the federal government has already invested heavily in. It’s a tremendous workforce development expense that companies don’t have to incur.

http://smallbusinessonlinecommunity.bankofamerica.com/community/running-your-business/generalbusiness/blog/2012/11/09/from-co-to-ceo-qa-with-veteran-chris-hale-on-making-the-transition-from-military-leadership-to-civilian-business-management