10 Reasons Small Business is Better Than Corporate America

Just another post that attempts to poke the Man with a stick.

Small business is awesome. And here are 10 reasons why:

10. Words like “synergy”, “team-building exercise” and “ideate” are not thrown around, with the attempt of looking intelligent.

9. Creativity thrives in small business. It’s not stifled once it gets to a “middle manager.”

8. Politics, red tape and other bureaucratic garbage is non-existent.

7. There’s no such thing as “standard operating procedure.” It’s either we’re open and in business…or not.

6. Social Media Policy…huh?

5. In small business, you are not employee number #618. You have a name, and what you do matters in the short end, and long end.

4. Meetings are necessary to get everyone one the same page, and for actions to be created and/or finished. Not for people to sit there, talk and sound important.

3. Though most small businesses are out of the “Good Ol Boy network”, small businesses are FORCED to innovate and move a city forward.

2.  Small businesses don’t have to come out with lame excuses for SUCKING at business (i.e. too big to fail)…we’re just unfortunate because we’re used as political chatter but then are forgotten about after elections.

1. Small business makes the world go round. Smart people who want to make a difference. These are the people that deserve every break, yet they stay up late at night, wondering how they’ll make it to the end  of every year. How they’ll provide for a family. How they’ll send their children to school. These are the creators. The thinkers. The Doers. The tweeters.

Cheers.

WANTED: Definitions

I have had the pleasure to be a part of several conversations that have focused on definitions. Definitions of words, phrases, ideas, and anything that takes space in our reality. I believe that our society grows when we force ourselves to define new things, and challenge the definitions of old.

Before we dive in, let’s set the foundation:

Define (v):
1a. to determine or identify the essential qualities or meaning of
1b. to discover and set forth the meaning of

Those two actions outlined above (from Webster’s Dictionary) happen in our everyday lives. Whether we are “defining” a relationship with another human being, to figuring out the color of a certain shirt, we are constantly creating parameters  in our environment.

Why? Because we need those parameters- those definitions we create- to understand.

Society (as we define it) is changing quickly, and the marketing industry is trying to be one step faster. As professional communicators and as citizens, we all are scrambling to apply current definitions to the new trends that are appearing before our eyes and fingertips.

We need to do better.

In previous posts, I have rambled on about bringing creativity back, encouraging playtime, and the like. Now I am challenging all of us to trash many of the definitions we know, and create new ones that fit our 2010 lives, whatever that may mean.

I realize that there are quite a few “thought leaders” who took a shot of doing the job for us, but we can’t let people think for us. That is not good for you. That is not good for me. And quite frankly, it is not good for them. A definition, to me, is like theory. It must be challenged, again and again, from all angles, until it can be accepted.

For example:

1. What exactly do we mean by two-way communications? Is that enough?

2. Does being politically correct mean we cannot offend anyone?

3. What’s the difference between ‘marketing‘, ‘advertising‘, and ‘sales’ ?

4.  Are there really experts anymore? (see Open4 Definition)

5. We are not a free enterprise system. Or are we?

6. What Generally Accepted Ideas in our society are wrong?

Just to start the mind thinking. Maybe those are good questions, maybe not. My overall qualm with our current state of interaction this that we have become too complacent with giving the soapbox to someone, and then not question a single thing that flows from their lips. The term “due diligence” is almost as archaic as good Nickelodeon cartoons (Rugrats, Are You Afraid of the Dark- my heart lies with you).

Definitions are the foundation of the consideration sets we create to form our perception of our environment (consumer behaviorists and psychologists eat your heart out).

The better, newer definitions we create, the better our human community becomes.

Communications Industry: You Are Officially ON Notice

“Fellow” communicators, my patience is growing thin.

As 2009 was coming to a close, all of these “Industry Outlook in 2010” conferences and workshops began to spring up. I was very disappointed in much of the content being covered, but I didn’t know why. As if everything else was being covered, except for the elephant, gorilla, and the herd or hippos crowding the room.

Minorities in communications.

Why it seems like I am one of the only ones bringing this up is beyond me (maybe because I’m the only one realizing no one in this industry looks like me?) but something needs to change.

I know a couple of young minority professionals who are thinking of leaving Charlotte (yes, one of the fastest growing cities in the nation) because agencies and companies are lacking minority representation. I thought that it may be due to the lack of minority talent, but some told me that they knew other capable minority talent unable to land a full-time position.

Hmm, interesting.

And then to see all the noise being pushed around about “trends of 2010” and not one “thought leader” mentioned increased attention to minority talent, makes me wonder whether all this “diversity talk” was noise as well.

(See “hmm” statement above).

I’m not sure where everyone got the idea that this lip service will suffice, but it will not. And don’t worry, I am not going to go all “angry black man” on you (racial epithet…too soon? Deal with it).

Though the lack of minority representation in marketing, public relations and advertising troubles me, the solution seems to elude me.

Are the organizations PRSA, IABC, AMA, AAF and the like to blame? Sure, that can be seen as the easy way out (see Jack O’Dwyer, though he raises valid points), but surely with those organizations COMBINED representing a small percentage of practitioners – especially the active members-there must be a bigger problem, and a more intricate solution.

What about the colleges and universities teaching the programs? At the Elon University PRSSA Chapter, during my four years there I can probably recall about a dozen multicultural students, and even fewer guys (though the latter I didn’t care too much about). And Elon happens to have one of the best communications program in the country. Is that where the blame goes?

Or is it just us? Is it in our blood and in our natural tendencies to have a natural aversion to enjoy a career in communications?

The media?

Oprah?

Young Jeezy?

Perhaps it is all of the above, or that scary, unknown category of “other.” Whatever the problem and/or solution may be, I want people- as in these conference goers and “thought leaders” to stop worrying about promoting their reputations as gurus and start tackling actual issues.

I could be wrong. Maybe it’s my age talking. According to one professional a year or so ago, I may still be a “little green.” Whether they were talking about my professional experience or my affection for our environment- I may be on a different page than every one else.

If that’s the case, I’d rather be by myself growing leaves than reaching my prime and losing them like everyone else.

Which finally brings me (sorry, a little long-winded) to my point. You all are on notice. If I need to be “that guy” who brings up uncomfortable topics (Black people! Latinos! Girl Power! Gays! Bureaucracy!) then I guess that’s my place. Though I will always appreciate company 🙂

Looking forward to an exciting discussion.

Cheers,

Dwayne

The Pros and Cons of People not Thinking Anymore

As the year 2010 begins, communicators and the like prepare for the year by listing trends for the new decade, industry reports and predictions, and resolutions that will change our way of business. Though I will touch on some predictions of my own, I think it is more pertinent as to how people will behave for the next few years. With the increase of clutter in our media channels, people are doing less due diligence of their own, therefore thinking and solving less problems for themselves. Below is my list of pros and cons about people thinking less.

Pros:

1. For Communicators- The Exponential Power of the Opinion Leader/Influencer

When one is crafting a message, the number one element to keep in mind is to whom the message is for. As people dilute their channels, they are relying on people they trust so there is no heavy-lifting on their part. Being able to identify and develop a relationship with an opinion leader is crucial. With people thinking less for themselves, finding those people that tell others what to think will help streamline your message, therefore making it more cost-efficient for you and your client.

2. Having a Captive Audience

Once you have the attention of the opinion leader, the audience is yours. Like an author going on Oprah promoting a certain book, it is highly likely that the rest of the books by that author will receive attention from Oprah’s Book Club. In that same light, your additional messages will be warmly received with much less marginal effort.

3. Not the “Right” way, or “Wrong” way, it’s “Your” way

As long as you stay on the same page with the opinion leader, you get the power to develop a sense of group mentality. Create, mold, or maintain an image for a group. And depending on the situation and/or message, that isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing. In fact, you and your opinion leader would get to choose whether you think if it is in fact good or bad.

Cons:

1. Death to Creativity

On a societal note, with people relying on others to cut through the clutter for them, so much creative material is left in the dark. Off the wall ideas, new thoughts, different opinions are all thrown to the wind because a certain few deem them as “ridiculous.” What happened to the fabled Commonplace for Ideas? Does that circle have a guest list now?

For our millions of communities to prosper, we got to encourage these opinion leaders to stop hogging the limelight and let others shine from time to time.

2. Free Riders/Groupthink

And like free enterprise, letting opinion leaders pioneer a message allows people to just join a cause regardless of their knowledge of it, or their acceptance of it (i.e. 2004 election, 2007-2009 financial collapse, Nancy Grace).

We. Need. to. THINK.

As a communicator, having a small number of people to relay a simple message to all my audiences would be sweet. But as an advocate for prospering communities, and a lover of new ideas, limiting access to the steering is not only harmful, but stupid. We got to 2010 because people were not afraid to think; and people weren’t afraid of telling others that they were thinking. The past decade’s themes of political correctness, conformity, and conservatism cannot be repeated. More of the same will set our society back tremendously.

Think about it.