Millennials and Our Future

I am not a big fan of business books. So many are one small idea blown into a book and poorly written too. But I recently read a book with some ideas useful to any small business or non-profit.

When Millennials Take Over by Jamie Notter and Maddie Grant

This is an optimistic look at the future of business. It is a short, easy read. Better yet, you may already being doing parts of what they suggest is the future of business – to be digital, clear, fluid, and fast. As you know if we have met, I am not a big fan of the hype surrounding the millennials. They are not so different or so bad but are much like past generations were in their 20-30s. What they do bring is a different view of many technologies and of data-gathering. The book recognizes the hype early but uses them to organize its premise of the changes hitting most organizations over the past five to ten years and how millennials expectations can offer some solutions.

Digital refers to ‘organizing and working in ways that leverage’ the possibilities of digital technology.
Clear refers to the ‘value of clarity’ inside organizations. And many small businesses do this just to stay in business and grow.
Fluid refers to how the ‘heirarchy shifts and morphs decision-making’ as needed to be most effective.
Speed refers not to incremental steps but to the mindset and practices that allow your to leap forward as needed.

The book helps you make sense of ways to reduce the administrivia that stops many people from contributing all which they can. It not only demonstrates the critical aspects of your organizational culture to your success but also shows how that impacts the […]

By |December 29th, 2015|Business planning, Policies and Practices, Small Biz|Comments Off on Millennials and Our Future

Celebrate Small Business!

Just returned from talking to the Women Veterans Conference on starting a business. What a great group of interesting ideas and plans among the attendees! As we celebrate Small Business Week, here are some useful background details for your use.

There are 23 million small businesses in the US and 3/4th are solopreneurs. Small businesses generate 54% of all US sales and provide 55% of all jobs.

Studies show that entrepreneurs who want to build a company flourish in places that
– have plenty of other entrepreneurs already,
– provide extensive learning options, and
– offer inspiration.

Veterans own 9% of all small businesses and are more likely to succeed than people without military service. These 2.4 million vets have $1.2 trillion in revenue. Their success is built on three main advantages. They understand the need to think ahead but also that plans change or fall apart and you have to be flexible. They have dealt with diverse people and groups successfully. They are experienced in hard work and used to heavy demands common in starting up. A slightly higher portion of veterans build companies than go out on their own in comparison to civilians.

Women are the fastest growing group of new business owners. There are 9.1 million women who have $1.4 trillion in revenue. A higher portion of women are solopreneurs than build companies. New women owned businesses are growing at a rate of 1288 per day according to SBA figures!

Currently there are a wide range of organizations supporting efforts to help people become successful entrepreneurs. These include the Kauffman Foundation, AARP, and many others.

How are you using Small Business Week to grow and develop your own business? Are you celebrating it in any way with your customers or […]

How Can I Help You?

I was appointed to the Virginia Small Business Development Center’s Advisory Board and am quite honored. One of our roles has to do with enhancing outreach. What does this mean to you and your organization?

Do you know about the many services available through your local SBDC? Do you attend events there to meet people who might be good business connections? Or go to learn critical information to your success?

I have worked for several years with the Alexandria SBDC to provide free seminars on critical HR topics for small businesses and non-profits. Last year they began offering their clients a free hour of my time to discuss HR issues – and we have covered a wild (and wide) range. They offer many other such free seminars and events covering social media, marketing, health-care reform, and business planning.
If you are interested in learning more, do contact your local SBDC and see what they can do for your organization! If you are interested in specific issues which might be a good focus for the SBDCs across Virginia, let me know. I look forward to helping small organizations benefit from SBDC services. And to representing small organizations, solopreneurs, and veterans to the Virginia SBDC.

Smart HR Moves for 2014

Come join me for a great discussion at the Alexandria Small Business Development Center. We will talk about easy ways to tame your HR challenges.  This will include some simple solutions, ideas for creating a pro-active employee communication process, and provide compliance deadlines you need to know for your calendar and planning.  Whether you have employees or sub-contractors or independent contractors – or just want to get ready to grow,  this program can help.

And SBDC events are a great way to grow your network too.   Plus the price is right – free.

Just register at:

Happy New Year!

Now is the time of articles on all the things you should start doing now for a successful year. My contrary view is that you might be wiser to think about what you should stop doing now.

Too often we do work, keep practices and policies, even hire people just because we have done so this far. One of the smartest things most of us could do would be to look at what we should stop doing. What is not really worth your time? What is no longer productive for anyone to do? What are you doing because,,, just, because? Cut it out!

Health, productivity, and joy for 2014! I look forward to wishing you these in person soon.

Growth Tips: Networking

You can hardly open your browser or a business publication without seeing something about networking. Why? Studies show regular networkers are more successful in business and in life.

Read more on the Alexandria SBDC blog:

The 10% Solution

Do you know the difference between an average player and a Hall of Fame player’s statistics is about 10%?

What could you change to become a Hall of Fame executive?

Here are the top areas that even a small improvement in makes a significant difference in your success.

First, a strategic mind-set.

When you lead an organization, there are tons of demands on your time and attention. And yet you must withdraw your attention from daily demands regularly enough to create mental space for thinking about the bigger, more important issues critical to your organization’s success. Schedule the time, block your calendar, shut off all the interruptions – even an hour a week to start will help.

Second, improve your management skills.

Do you really hire effectively? If not, learn how. Attrition is expensive and if you are losing people within the first two years or have high turnover, it is usually bad hiring that is the cause. Next, how do you manage performance? Are your goals and expectations clear? Do your actions and systems support what you say? Do you provide regular feedback? Far too many managers and executives hate conflict and dislike managing people. But it is critical to your success.

Third, keep learning.

Reading, professional meetings, and networking all provide ways to keep current with trends which will influence you. They provide new ideas and, often, challenge your thinking. Insights from totally different arenas can provide just the stimulation you need to solve a vexing problem or create a new service.

You too can be a ‘Hall of Fame’ leader!  Will you do the work to become one?

Values at Work – Why Bother?

I recently facilitated an exploration of potential values for an organization rebuilding after extensive changes. The staff collaborated not only on defining the most important values but on how they would be demonstrated at work. This effort had a team-building impact. The group had specific ideas, interesting insights, and expanded each other’s concepts. They found it hard work, but revealing and fun. Most importantly, it helped define the norms for behavior, for success, for work as they move forward under difficult circumstances.

Why might this matter to you?

Because the values you actually have in an organization are critical to its success.  Too often they are undermined by actual practices, spoken about but not lived, and create failure.

What values do you espouse? Are they right for your organization NOW? Do you use these values to guide action? To manage? To measure performance?

The winter season is often a time of thinking and reflection along with budgeting and performance reviews. Might it be time for you to review your organization’s values so that they enhance your future?

WOW – Hiring at 730am

It’s 7:30 on a Sunday morning in October and 50+ small business people are looking at me, standing before them in a hotel convention room. What made them get up so early?

Not me, but the topic of hiring and retention.

So we started with ‘culture’. Every organization has its own culture – a potent brew of planned and defined concepts mixed with ‘the way we do things’ and internal contradictions. What is your culture?

How many cliches came to your mind as you read that question? How many wonderful, positive aspects did you dream up? And your real culture – what is it? How do you know? What do you actually want it to be?

Hiring and retention are critical issues for every organization. And culture influences them in many ways. How you do the hiring and how you treat people depends on your culture – the real one, not the dream.

There are many small organizations who do not really understand how to hire the right people. They get tangled up in personal beliefs. Hiring is fairly infrequent, so there is no process. The founder or CEO does it all – and rarely has had any help or training on how to do it. Friends and family may be hired without clear thinking about the actual position needs.   What makes people stay with your organization?  Are they the people you actually want to retain?

I had really wondered whether anyone would come despite the convention planner’s assurances – I doubt I would get up for any seminar at that hour on a Sunday myself, had I not been the speaker at NCPA 2013!

So I was delighted as we had a good conversation over our 90 minutes together. Lots of great […]

The ‘Shutdown’ – What You Can Do Now

Small organizations are at extra risk during the government shutdown – you already know that.   But what can you do?

1. Keep your fears at home.
Your employees need concrete information and clear communications. But don’t add to their burden by discussing your fears.

2. Grab control where you can.
A big part of this problem is the lack of control we all feel.

Read the rest of this post on the Alexandria SBDC blog at