The Risks for a Small Business Owner

The road for an entrepreneur is not a smooth one.

It’s bumpy.

There are potholes. If the road is even paved.

And more than likely, it’s crowded with those people who jump in front in you just to slow down. Grrr bad drivers.

But more than anything else on the road, there’s risk. In short:

-The risk of failure
-Debt
-Loss of Friends (sometimes because of the previous, but…)
-No Easy Decisions

But there’s a silver lining for every risk. This post (my 100th one…woo!) will examine both risk and reward.

1. The Risk of Failure

No one likes the feeling of attempting to achieve a goal and falling short. It’s not fun. That’s why many people are comfortable in the rank-and-file of Corporate America. Why try to do your own thing when some lifeless institution can give you a living. No doubt entrepreneurs, when they are on the brink of failure, can find that life to be appealing.

But if you’re an entrepreneur…you know that the risk is well worth it. Economics states that high risk reap high rewards. And what reward is higher than being able to go home to the people you love, eat the food lovingly prepared, and go to sleep at night knowing that your endeavor help made this life happen.

Not a single one.

2. Debt

Debt sucks. And if you are one of the lucky small business owners that started without any- you’re the envy of the masses.

But don’t let it way you down. Many people- who hate what they’re doing- might have more debt than you. So buck up chum! Plus, if financial theory still hold weight in this recession-but-not-really environment, having debt is okay, as long as it’s leveraged well.

If not, well…happy selling!

Debt is a part of risk. If you’re afraid of owing money, then entrepreneurship is not for you.

3. Loss of “Friends”

When you’re trying to fulfill one of your dreams as an entrepreneur, you find out who your real friends are in terrific speed. Sure, some of them may have invested in you in the very beginning, but you find out who really has your back in the middle of the venture, the valleys, and the tough times. Real friends aren’t needed in the hills and great business times.

So if there’s a rub between you and those “friends” now…deem it a blessing in disguise.

4. No Easy Decisions

I wish I could tell you that being a small business owner is terribly simple.

But that would be a lie. And I’m no liar.

A small business owner is faced with tough decisions every day. How do I get my business on the right track? Who should I partner with to increase my visibility? How is the best way to spend my time? What are my financial priorities?

And the list continues.

But is being a small business owner all gloom and doom? Absolutely not!

I would be hard-pressed to find something else as exciting, fulfilling, high-pressured, dramatic, and fun as being in small business. The lows suck, but for every 5 low-points, that 1 success turns those lows into a chuckle and a “that time sucked didn’t it?” remark.

But, there’s always risk.

Remember that Time…

…when you locked your keys in your car? Left them in the door? Forgot them when you were leaving for the day?

…left your cup of coffee on the counter?

…you said goodbye to a friend, and THEN remembered what you wanted to say to them?

…you left your clothes in the washing machine?

…woke up late for work, or an appointment?

…you had to choose between two options, you pick one, and then meet your friends who ALL picked the same thing?

…forgot to set your clock(s) for Daylight Savings?

…couldn’t decide what to cook, and went out to eat, or ordered in?

…you looked every where for that ring, necklace, pair of glasses, and they were exactly where you always placed them?

Memories. Consideration sets. There are several events in our lives that resonate with a large group of people. What’s so awesome about memories is that they bring up different emotions within that group of people.

It is the function of the communications professional to show businesses and organizations how to use those memories and emotions and find a connection to their brand.

Doesn’t sound easy, does it? Good. Because it’s not.

Whether you call it “e-motive marketing” or “slice of life advertising“, it seems that many communicators have been too focused on being a part of the conversation and being engaged, many forget why it is important to be “engaged” in the first place.

There’s a difference in putting your brand everywhere online, and putting your brand where your target audience is going to see it…and why they are looking at the channel in the first place.

Engagement. Why.

A good communications professional can control a conversation. A great communications professional is in control of a conversation and the consumer thinks that they themselves are.

Perception.

FDR was noted to have the uncanny ability to control a conversation and allow the other person to leave thinking they won him over- when that wasn’t the case. I’m not advocating leading on the consumer, but as communications professionals, we should not completely let the consumer rule. With imperfect information comes imperfect decision-making and inferior products/services ruling the marketplace.

The MARKETplace.

Next time you close your browser and then remember why you opened it in the first place, or dialed a different number than you wanted and instead of “being rude” and hanging up, you talked to them anyway, think about inventive ways your brand can enter that conversation.

Doesn’t sound easy, does it? Good. Because it’s not.

Marketing in Charlotte is…

Panorama of Charlotte

Image via Wikipedia

Don’t get me wrong. There are a few good agencies here that do good work. But to generalize, the Charlotte marketing industry is, at best:

“Eh.”

But to elaborate-

Bland: Overall, nothing very vibrant and fresh has hit the pavement and buildings of the Queen City. There’s no exciting viral campaign going on, no publicity stunts or news conferences. There is no agency dictating the perception of human behavior and perception.

Conservative: This tidbit overlaps with the previous one. Being in an over-built financial town, of course regulation (I’m looking at you FCC, SEC) will inhibit a lot of effort in communications. But there’s plenty more businesses in Charlotte that are able to loosen that white-collar, and do something flashy. It seems like we’ll be the ones that start it.

International: What is cool and blows at the same time is that the agencies that are based in Charlotte that we really like (BooneOakley, ok…so “agency”) do nothing but national and international work. Awesome. So, what about Charlotte? They must have seen what we’re seeing (maybe) and decided back then that they’re work has to go elsewhere.

Makes sense.

Social Media Focused: Charlotte if not anything else, is locked on to social media. I think the social media here rivals the likes in Silicon Valley, Denver, Atlanta, and is nipping the heels of Boston and New York City. I haven’t seen anything like it. But, when one talks about specialization, there’s the other side of the spectrum. Discussing market research, consumer behavior and other traditional marketing topics get thrown to the back-burner. Of course social media is here to stay, but discussing the integration of it shouldn’t (in my naive opinion) dominate the industry.

Young: Charlotte grew fast. Very fast. And with rapid growth some things lag behind. Urban development, for one (see my article “Making a City Sexy”), small business support, a solid and flourishing arts district (which is gaining traction), and of course- a thriving marketing industry. All the cities I’ve mentioned before has all of these. Charlotte is getting there, but its still an uphill battle.

Developing: Charlotte still has a strong “Good Ol’ Boy Network” where these groups of people (Board of County Commissioners, Center City Partners, Charlotte Regional Partnership, CCOG, Arts and Science Council) basically play musical chairs and keep power amongst themselves, and allow those who don’t threaten them to have a seat at the table.

That’s going to have to change. Charlotte deserves better.

And Charlotte will get better once this latest trend/shift of young talent and brain power starts to take hold of certain establishments in Charlotte.

And we’re itching to break off a piece.

An Open Letter to the DNC

Dear Democratic National Committee:

You people are simply astounding.

President Obama and his administration has passed historic legislation, you control both Houses and the Executive Branch, your congresspeople are racing against idiots…

…and you are UNDERDOGS?

I can’t understand how a party like you can be completely in power and powerless at the same time. I am continually amazed at how awesomely bad you democrats are at forming messages.

At first I was amazed. Then I was stupefied. I sat through the painful interview of DNC Chairman Tim Caine on the Daily Show. In Caine’s Democrat fashion, he is oh-so-happy to share the new tagline for the Democrats for InDecision 2010: Don’t Give Them the Keys Back.

???

No Caine.

You see, it really sucks for me because I actually like you guys. It pains me to see you all have the reigns of power, do quite well wielding the power, and then you have no clue how to tell the American people about it.

DNC, the phrase “Don’t Give Them the Keys Back” is way too cerebral for the American people. The Republicans win the people over in two ways: dumbing it down so morons understand, or scaring the daylights out of them.

It’s cute to see that the DNC believes in the intellect of the American populace, but if you want to stay in power, you got to face the facts.

The people that will decide the election are not the brainiacs  you target. The centrist and scare doctors will win the people. Pure and simple.

I wish it wasn’t the case either. See my previous post about changing the voting system in America.

Look, please don’t mess this up. The republicans have done anything and everything to see the Obama Administration fail, and nothing has worked for them. The Democrats have killer ammunition to go after these GOP fogies, and all you have to do is use it!

Here is a very short, 5-step way the Democrats can take back the lead in all the polls:

1. Create a Top 10 things we’ve done for the American People list.

2. Make sure the list is written at an eighth-grade level (because remember, the American populace isn’t as bright as you think)

3. Share the list with all the democrats running for office.

4. Make sure they all stay on point. And don’t elaborate on the points.

5. Anyone who deviates should be replaced by someone who won’t

Ta-da. Basically it’s being a republican disguised as a Democrat.

But you’ll win.

Cheers,

DW