How Business Works.. Or Not?
"Since you're not doing anything, serve me so I can get something done."
-Michael Patrick Murphy
Who are the masters of business? Who are the slaves? On any given day, in any given situation our roles might change. When we become fixated in one role, we can become bored or even angry. In this world with so many opportunities, too many of us can become fixated by the same jobs, or even the same personal activities. At least we feel more capable of changing our personal environments. But our professional world? That's where most of us get stuck.
Changing business fixations is what allows a business to grow and prosper. It is a never ending process that allows for vacations, but a process that must be picked up again when we return. Think about how many times a business owner or manager must address work related issues while on vacation. A manager might say, "I sure wished I'd trained them better, or that was the last thing I expected. Even when we try to make everything consistent, from product to process, the best laid plans of mice and men are often thwarted by none other than life itself. Read Further
by Michael Patrick Murphy,
April 10, 2008 Revised 4/11/08
The Small Businessman (SBM) is
energetically open to all kinds of ideas from many sources for small
and micro business assistance. The SBM's primary competitors are
those protected, funded or otherwise assisted by government. However,
The Small Businessman likes to make sure you know about them, too.
They are relevant to our success!
A friend of mine likes to refer
allegory that we're not that far out of the cave. In
our small business case, there is so
improvement that we could go in a myriad of directions
to out perform our competitors. One example surfaced
recently when I set up a website for a client. I asked, "Why not
make vendors feel appreciated?" In the restaurant's case we devoted
a page to vendors
that told them how much we'd like to hear from them about their
and services. Imagine how many vendors are subjected to scorn from
small businesses every day. Knocking on doors is a tough job. Too
many businesses treat vendors like a crude
interruption to their day to day activities. Vendors never fail
to arrive at the worst times. We even discourage them with "no solicitation"
warnings. We tend to forget that when we make someone happy, we're
lucky if they tell two people. When we upset them, they might tell
people to go to our competition. After all, who knows your business
and your competitors better than your vendors? Why not have vendors
work for us rather than for our competition? Why not make them happy
promoters of our business?
Both vendors and
chef via email addressed to "firstname.lastname@example.org." How special is
that? There are so many ways we can compete in the market
place, yet too many of us are stuck in common ruts thinking inside
a box. I say, "Leave that box to the corporate world where many
vendors don't even attempt to knock on doors."
by Michael Patrick Murphy, March
I don't want to fall into the
whining habit many of we small business folks fall into when it
comes to the topic of government. Unless you plan to take action,
can become such an obsession that it eats up too much time and energy.
I spend a lot of time fighting city hall on our behalf, but that is in part a
passionate hobby that I enjoy and then again, as a writer, I do
take action. I even went so far as to run for the California State
Assembly in 2006. It cost me a lot of money to go up against the
virtual wall placed in front of me by the political competition.
Hopefully the lessons learned will be remembered. Never the less,
the reality is that we do face competition from taxpayer funded
For example, in Rocklin, California,
of Commerce is
my primary competition. It charges members a minimum of $225
and then has the nerve to charge non-profits that compete with us
only $135. In the City of Rocklin,
cost of membership for small and micro businesses, they get
their lease in a new building built with City tax money, for only
per month. So the way I see it, I give them free rent but I don't
get a free membership. Of course the City doesn't offer The Small
Businessman this same deal, nor should it offer either entity the "quid
situation that inspires opportunities for collusion between government
and enterprise. The Chamber walks in lock-step with the City Council.
An example of the collusion would be when the Chamber endorsed
a Congressional Congressional Candidate Forum on local Cable TV
that didn't invite all the candidates. When I pointed
CEO offered me a written apology that never materialized. This
morning I tried calling during business hours (9 - 11 a.m.) to
I say, why post regular 9-5 hours when you're not going to be there for your
members? From a business standpoint, I see a Chamber that consistently
over commits and under delivers. For all intent, it is a government
acts accordingly. However, the chamber, propped up by the city,
is certainly not going out of business.
corporate members rather than by the small businesses,even when
they are a majority. Often, as in Rocklin's case, there is a
"quid pro quo" situation when the City gives the Chamber
a huge lease break. In essence, the Chamber is another arm of the
arm of development
and social services, all paid for by tax payers and local businesses,
through tricky and often unjustified fees that go into the City's
of Rocklin is more focused on helping what it judges to be quality businesses that employ large numbers of people, such as Wal-Mart,
a business recently approved over the objections of local residents
supposedly represented by their City Council.
Another example would be the various
non-profit associations that are there to help specific communities
such as the Latino community's Opening
Doors . I
called them this morning during normal business hours, and also
had nobody available
to answer the phones after 9 a.m. You may not be allowed to get
funding from them
if you are an immigrant.
Later, I did get ahold of someone who said the director would call
me back regarding their funding. (As of publication, I haven't heard
from them.) Many organizations are funded by the government to
macro manage minorities.
open up an all white association, you would be closed down immediately.
In a sense, this is reverse discrimination with Federal, State or
Local funding coming, in large part, from the white community.
Of course, realistically, nobody
told us life was going to be fair. Nor, when we look at the history
of all governments, do we see them making the world more fair. As
small businesses, we can't help but recognize all the inequities.
We should us that recognition so that
we can be
competition so that we can adjust our business practices accordingly.
If we gripe constantly without taking any action, I can guarantee
the waste of time and energy. Dwelling on it can lead to blaming
the government for our inevitable bitterness.
by Michael Patrick Murphy, March
these "government" funded groups compete with for-profit
companies like "The Small
Businessman." However, I can still be competitive. To my advantage,
I leave my doors open to all races, ethnic groups and cultural
and attempt to offer perceived
value to my customers, something the government seldom excels
at. That's a pretty fair and simple advantage I have over my
time requesting grants and filling out reams of paperwork. I
don't get any public assistance, nor do I have to ask for it.
leaves me free to focus on my mission to help small and micro
businesses (An SBM membership is only $9 ). Where
there is a will, there is a way. Like my restaurateur client,
focus on my business objectives and act accordingly. I save my political
passions for my spare time or for times that I can make a profit
from my efforts. Competition is too fierce and there are simply
too many undiscovered improvements to spend my valuable
time jousting at Don
Common Law Wife!
Everything You said You would Do.
by Michael Patrick Murphy,
March 6, 2008
of the world's great disagreements have been because somebody
didn't do what they said they would do. Those disagreements
often led to horrible death and destruction, all of which was
not good for most small and micro businesses.
One of the biggest reasons
any business fails is that they don't do what they say they
are going to do. Read
Love It or Leave It?
Email is far more Elegant in 2008 and using it is a Modern
Necessity, especially for Small and Micro Businesses, where
Email can give them some parity with Big Corporations
by Michael Patrick Murphy,
February 26, 2008
Email drives average small business
folks nuts! For many, it seems too many messages are a total waste
of time. Most small and micro business owners have never really
understood email as the powerful light saber wielding ally that
it is. Spoiled by email, you may have forgotten how awful it was
the phone to ring while you're in the restroom or helping a customer
spend their money. Sure, we want to be there for our off premise
customers at the drop of a hat, but trust me, they don't even
want to talk to you while you're taking a shower. Today, your cell
phone may be driving you (or someone with you) over the cuckoo's
nest. Worse it may actually be driving you off the road while your
ear takes on
accommodating shape. Email, doesn't do that to you. The
question you should ask is whether email is making you money? If
it isn't, it should be.You just haven't found your common ground
Email may not be the best tool to call 911 with, but it has a very
valuable place in our modern world and as a small business owner,
you'd better be using it. Read
a Small Business owner is like becoming President of the United
by Michael Patrick Murphy, February 11, 2008
The beautiful thing about
America is that anyone can become president. The ugly part is that
anyone can become president. The same thing
is true of those becoming small business owners.
The reason some choose this route is because they don't
like folks telling them how to live their lives. They tend to be fiercely
There are two kinds of freedom.
One kind is free from responsibility
and the other requires it. Too many small businesses owners expect
small business freedom frees them from responsibility, when in fact
they often become more encumbered by responsibility than they were
they worked for someone else. These folks are in for a rude awakening
almost immediately cost them their business. During the housing boom,
many in affluent areas would sell multi million dollar homes, move
to a more
rural area and then buy an equivalent home for half as much and spend
the remainder on opening a new pizza joint.
Reality would hit hard!
They found that small business wasn't only about making a great pizza.
They would often find themselves
absorbed by 12-16 hour days, or worse, delegating the whole thing to someone
else as an absentee owner. Read