Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This Is Not the Future Our Parents Foretold

Don Reynolds, the noted economist and futurist, states that 70% of the jobs that are going to be created over the course of the next decade will be in firms employing less than 50 employees. He goes on to predict that 70% of those businesses creating the jobs will be women or minority owned. He continues with the belief that 70% of these new jobs will NOT require a college education and that 70% of those jobs will be engaged in international trade.

These prophetic words reinforce the prediction that micro businesses (five employees or less) are the fastest growth sector in the US economy. Many of the people who’ve been laid off have either been unable to find jobs or have chosen to start their own businesses rather than further subject themselves to the impersonal whims of big business.

Peter Drucker wrote that it was easier to buy innovation than to grow it inside large corporations. The corporate cultures that innovate run counter to the cultures that leverage products and services and scale them up for wider distribution.

The irony here is that the mind set that invents and innovates frequently also runs counter to the simple systems needed to take creativity and turn it into a successful business.

As Michael Gerber wrote in his landmark book, The E-myth, there’s a big difference between baking a great pie and running a great bakery business. As I mentioned before, many of the people who are and will be starting these micro businesses are probably experts at what they do, but the vast majority are going to need assistance turning their expertise into a business.

What all of these random theories add up to is the idea that over the next decade and probably into the foreseeable future there will exist the opportunity to fashion an industry around providing affordable, business-systems and processes for micro business people.

What business opportunities do you see arising out of the changes brought about by the current economy?

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Highest Common Denominator

I was thinking about how the basics in life are the basics in business….being honest and consistent in your business practices and brand-messaging. Don’t over-promise…over-deliver. These sorts of thoughts run through my head all the time. I don’t separate my life into work and other. Work is one of the ways I invest my time as I live my life. As such, I don’t have one set of values for work and another set for the rest of the time.

It’s hard work finding customers. I want to keep them. It’s too expensive to just work with people once. I feel the same way about my friends. However I found them, I appreciate them. I’ve invested in our relationships and I don’t want to squander that investment.

So, whether it’s at work or elsewhere I behave in a manner that I believe encourages trust. I believe I’m worthy of people’s trust and I behave accordingly.

I mentioned being honest and consistent about what I say. I do my best to manage expectations. I want people to feel they get more out of their time with me than it “cost” them. I want people to want to have a relationship with me, business or otherwise.

I treat people with respect. I do my best to be on time and I want others to show me the same courtesy. I listen to people when they talk to me; I want others to give me their attention when I am speaking to them. I treat people fairly and want to be treated so in return.

This is beginning to sound like a rant and that’s not my intention.

What I’m offering is the belief that treating people with respect is appropriate behavior at all times: at work, behind the wheel of your car, at home, everywhere. Not everyone has gotten this message. All I can do, is do my best to lead by example.

I am asking everyone who reads this, to do your best to lead by example, as well. Holding ourselves accountable to the highest common denominator standard of behavior will enrich all of our lives. I think that’s what civilization is supposed to do for us.
If I may, let me encourage you to choose civility.