Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Take No Prisoners Business Book

So you want to succeed in business, huh! We'll, according to George Cloutier, it's time to put business first.

In Cloutier's latest book, "Profits Aren't Everything, They're the Only Thing," he states that many business owners are not fully committed to the success of their businesses.

"When I do seminars around the country about building profits, it always stuns me when more than half the people in the room admit to not working on weekends, yet these are the same people who complain about failing to make big money," Cloutier writes in the book. "I meet a lot of resistance to this from clients at first. Of course you have every right to a life--if you don't care about making money."

If you are looking for some tough love when it comes to growing your business, this might be the book for you.

Here are some of the advice he offers small- and medium-sized business owners:

-Fire every family member but yourself.

-Weekends are for working, not seeing your children.

-Never pay your vendors on time.

-Wear your control freak badge with pride.

-Quit your denial: if your business fails during the recession, it's still your fault.

--Ron Ameln, SBM

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

5 Worst Movies, Part 2

A few months back I shared with everyone the worst movies I had ever seen. I decided to add a few more. This time, however, I went to the expert (I consider any male under 30 an expert because they've seen EVERY movie ever produced). My expert is Eric Joellenbeck. Here's Eric's worst pics:
1. Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2009)
Kevin James (who I'm a big fan of) plays dopey mall security guard, Paul Blart. When the mall he works for is taken over by burglars, it's somehow all up to him to save everyone inside. This movie makes ample use of "fat equals funny," which is not true. It might work once or twice, but you can't fill a whole movie of Kevin James not being able to run far or dance for a long time or eating lots of pie.
2. The Happening (2008)
Something terrible is happening to people of Earth. When the wind blows by them, they kill themselves. Did you hear that? That's the actual plot of this movie. And the way people kill themselves in this movie is completely preposterous, such as people feeding themselves to lions or stabbing their own throats with devices keeping their hair in place. This is M. Night Shyamalan's latest bomb in a recent string of terrible movies. And by the way, I don't think anybody is buying The Funky Bunch's Marky Mark as a science teacher. Not even Marky Mark himself.
3. The Good Shepherd (2006)
I'm surprised here; Robert DeNiro is directing. Matt Damon and Angelina Jolie are starring. And it's a spy movie. Well, it's probably the most boring spy movie I've ever witnessed. Matt Damon gives the worst performance of his career, it can be likened to a robot. And Angelina does a good job of just being a bitch for a solid 167 minutes! That's right. 2 hours and 47 minutes of boredom. So much more could have been done other than Damon brooding around the world and Angelina crying because she's having his baby.
4. The Squid and the Whale (2005)
Noah Baumbach's 2005 movie is about two intellectuals who divorce in the late 80's. Their two kids are deeply affected and change in great ways during the separation. What i hated about this movie was how I felt talked down to. This movie is full people who all think their smarter than everyone and will tell you so. It's never happened to me before this movie where I watched a movie where I literally thought, "Wow, I hate everyone in this movie." If you skip this movie and just have a college level student tell you that you're an idiot and don't read good books, you'll get the gist of this movie.
5. Suspiria (1977)
Considered a horror classic, Dario Argento's Suspiria is a completely idiotic tale of disgust. Yeah, that may be harsh and I know people love this movie. I don't know if the version I saw was, indeed, the original but I know I hated it. The music in it was highly distracting, in a bad way.
--Ron Ameln, SBM

Saturday, November 21, 2009

New Businesses Are Important To Recovery

Entrepreneur David Miller is our future, and it's time we start supporting him.
Miller, along with three other partners, are set to open their own sandwich shop, Sammy Scott's Sandwiches & More, in Creve Coeur this month.
Why is he our future? Because businesses like Miller's will be the ones pulling us out of the recession and employing some of the 10% seeking work. Miller expects $1 million in revenue his first year and then to increase the original store to 5-8 more in the area.
Layoffs and restructurings are continuing at blue-chip companies: Time, Inc., Johnson & Johnson and Microsoft recently announced workforce reductions. We shouldn't expect job growth to come from the Fortune 500.
According to a new study from Kauffman Foundation, companies less than five years old created nearly two thirds of the net new jobs in 2007. Growth will come from entrepreneurs like Miller and his partners.
It's time we, as a society, start embracing these entrepreneurs. Politicians, both state and local, and lenders need to start looking at folks like Miller a little differently. If the area's economy is to recover, it will be because of people like Miller and his partners.
--Ron Ameln, SBM

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Four Budget Cuts You Should NEVER Make

It's that wonderful time of year--budget time. Everyone is knee-deep into their budgets for 2010. (If you are not, shame on you.)

It's been a rough ride for entrepreneurs the last few years, budgets that would normally see a scalpel over the years have gotten the machete treatment lately. It's easy to start cutting, but there are certain line items that should never be cut if you are serious about building a quality business in the future. I speak from experience because I've mistakenly cut these areas and suffered the consequences.

1. Employee Recognition Programs. Maybe it's a birthday lunch, birthday gift, a fruit basket after a job well done....whatever, keep it. Employee recognition is the No. 1 motivator for employees. They are your most important asset.

2. Employee Pay. There is nothing worse than working hard and coming home with less pay than the year before. Sometimes it is essential when business is slow, but it should be a last resort. If you suddenly cut your prices, for example, you send a message to clients that you were either overcharging them or your service doesn't have as much value anymore. Are those messages you want to send to employees?

3. Technology. Technology is a great equalizer for businesses. The right CRM software, for example, can save hours out of your week. Find a new technology every 6 months that will make your more efficient.

4. Fun. Whether it is a happy hour or a bowling outing or a Christmas dinner, work has to remain fun, especially during economic downtimes. Maintain the fun.

--Ron Ameln, SBM

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Meaning Of Life--And Your Business

What is "The Meaning of Life?" Pretty deep, huh...especially from a former sports reporter. Reading a former sports reporter pondering the meaning of life is like listening to an Enron executive discussing integrity (okay, it's not that bad).
Seriously, what is "The Meaning of Life?"
To me, the meaning of life is affirmation. It is knowing you make a difference in the world. That's what we all want and we all crave. People want to know they matter. If they know what they do makes a difference, they will almost always step up to the plate.
So, where does all this fit into your business. Do your employees know they matter? Make a difference?
I know as a business owner I do a HORRIBLE (yes, capital letters) job of letting people that work for me know how they make a difference. I'm an intense person and I'm usually 100% focused on my daily tasks. I just assume employees know they make a difference. I don't think I'm alone.
In fact, a recent study said 50% of entrepreneurs ranked themselves as poor when it came to employee recognition. Another study stated "Recognition" as the No. 1 motivator, according to employees.
If you want to be a better entrepreneur and have more productive employees, start praising employees.
--Ron Ameln, SBM

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Who Has Solution For Older Employees?

It's not a good time to be an older worker in America. This may be the worst time in the past 60 years to be older and looking for work. Some 6.8% of workers over 55 are currently unemployed. You have to go back to 1949 to find employment stats this bad.

On average, it takes employees over 55 years old seven weeks longer (roughly 33 weeks) to find employment than their younger counterparts.

That's a shame because these individuals carry with them years of expertise and experience. And they are stuck on the sidelines.

"These older workers can't adapt to today's technology and the flexibility in today's workforce?" I hear this all the time. I don't buy it. These folks are as active online as any group these days, and businesses should have systems set up to make it easy for employees to get their jobs done, regardless of age.

Someone (business or industry) is going to come up with a way to hire and employ these individuals and their bottom lines will improve because of the decision. No one wants to hire them so you'll have your pick of the best. We're all living longer today and working longer so if you hire a 55-year-old you may have them for 15 years (the average employee only lasts 4 years with an employee these days). Now, these individuals are often too young for Medicare so benefits will be important to them. However, I think they'd be willing to give up some compensation in exchange for the benefits (they are unemployed after all).

Again, the best kept secret in the job market are older workers. Someone is going to wake up one day and discover them and find a way to tap into this talent pool.

--Ron Ameln, SBM

Surviving Tough Times As An Entrepreneur

I've always found boxing to be an interesting sport. Boxers work for 6 months to perform for two hours. The best boxers actually only box for four hours a year. The rest of the time is preparation.
One of the most interesting things about boxing is how the handlers treat the boxers. "You can do it Champ!" "No one can beat you Champ." It's interesting because every boxer is called Champ. It doesn't matter if he's just won one fight his whole career. He's Champ. In most cases, everyone knows he's not a champion...the boxer, the handlers, the fans, his banker, etc. Yet, he's referred to as "the Champ."
The handlers know their boxer needs a certain edge, a confidence that he can beat anyone at anytime. He can't go into the ring with doubts. They tell him he's the Champ because if he sees himself as the Champ, he may someday end up as the real Champion.
A business owner is no different. Times have been tough on all business owners, but now is not the time to lack confidence. Focus on your successes in the past and the success you'd like to be in the future.
Go Get'em Champ.
--Ron Ameln, SBM