Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

May 2012

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During the past 15+ years, my love of reality TV has waned – as has the interest of my closest friends and colleagues (i.e. my hairdresser). The reality TV of today seems to be of the ‘same thing – different day’ genre. Take American Idol, The X Factor, The Voice, and now, Duets, for instance (Take them, please!). All of them are merely copies of the original.

I don’t have access to the media minds behind these shows but it does seem that about the time the ratings begin to dip, a new judge is brought in to spark renewed interest. Which brings me to Howard Stern

At the precise moment I’m clicking through my DVR to remove America’s Got Talents from my recording history, NBC announces their latest judge, Howard Stern, one of the most controversial radio personalities of our time. He’s controversial, loud, foul-mouthed, opinionated – what I’m leaving out – and yet I’m sucked back in to the vortex that can only be compared to watching a train wreck. So, what does this have to do with business?

Think what you want about Howard Stern, he is a branding and marketing observable fact.  Each week I tune in to see what antics and entertainment Howard Stern serves up. In many ways, his branding is thought-provoking and fascinating.

Here are just a few things entrepreneurs can learn from Howard Stern:

1. Be an original. No one can argue that Howard Stern is like anyone else. As an original, he’s at ease with himself, his abilities, and it shows. He’s comfortable in his own skin.

2. Have fun. There’s no doubt that Howard is having fun – and so is everyone around him. He’s lighthearted and amusing. Being so puts others at ease and makes you want to join the party.

3. Be engaged. His energetic interaction with the other judges – and the contestants – brings out everyone’s best.

4. Have an opinion….and stick to it. There’s no doubting Stern’s point of view can be shocking but you don’t have to guess what he believes or what to expect.

These are important characteristics for every entrepreneur to develop, especially when you’re ready to take a quantum leap toward your dream.

Is there anything you’ve learned from the “Shock Jock”?

How often have you heard ‘have a positive mental attitude and you’ll succeed’.  Well, there’s allot more than believing you’ll succeed in business as Carol Dweck, a psychologist at Stanford University, discovered from her research.

According to Carol Dweck, success (in business and in life) is not determined by innate talents and intellect.  Rather, business success depends upon our mindset – the degree to which we believe we have the capacity to cultivate our intelligence and grow our abilities.  In her book entitled, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol identifies two primary mindsets – fixed and growth.

Those with a fixed mindset attribute their performance, and consequently their success, to a natural ability or talent. If they perform well and/or succeed, it’s because of their ability or skill. They believe their abilities are set and can’t or don’t change over time. A fixed mindset results in a false sense of security undermined by self-doubt, fear of failure and refusal to take risks, the need to prove oneself, and a  belief that failure permanently defines one as a loser. That’s no way to live!

Those with a growth mindset recognize their ability, talent or skill but realize a great part of their performance is due to effort put forth. They learn from their successes and their failures and capitalize on the way the brain works to make new connections and facilitate change and growth. A growth mindset loves to be challenged, learning and self-improvement, a willingness to work for positive results, and a belief that you can control the outcomes in your life with effort and practice.

Are you curious about your mindset?  Take the mindset test online to find out.

runs from May 20 – 26, 2012 and is the perfect time to take stock of your collective achievements as small business owners, entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, and owners of microenterprises.

Did you know…

  • There are 27.5 million businesses in the United States, according to the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy.  6.0 million of these firms have employees but the lion’s share – 21.4 million – are without employees.
  • 52 percent of all small businesses are home-based and 2 percent are franchises.
  • Small business produces 13 times more patents per employee than large patenting firms.
  • Seven out of 10 new employer firms survive at least 2 years, half at least 5 years, a third at least 10 years, and a quarter stay in business 15 years or more.
  • Non-employer firms have turnover rates three times as high, mostly because it is much easier for them to go into business and cease operations.
  • According to Kaufman Index of Entrepreneurial Index conducted in 2011, the greatest increase in entrepreneurial activity occurred in the age groups of 20–34 and 45–54.

Pretty staggering statistics, aren’t they.  (And possibly more information than you wanted to know J )

What defines a small business? Some define a small business by the number of employees and others classify it by revenue.  I believe a small business is defined by the owner and the parameters of his/her thinking.  With the introduction of technology, the depiction is changing as more small businesses play big and compete on a global plane.

One thing we can say for certain, given the statistics above, the small business owner is a vital part of the economy and plays a significant role in shaping the future.  If no one is celebrating your contribution to the economy, celebrate yourself.  You’ve done good!

What makes you most proud to be a small business entrepreneur?

With the explosion of social media, it’s easier (and more cost effective)  for small business entrepreneurs to gain exposure to their target audience. Have you considered what happens after they “Like” your small business on Facebook?

Recently I had the privilege of presenting at a clients staff meeting. As I arrived early, I made myself invisible in the back of the room as they wrapped up their staff meeting. The final point discussed was   customer service. It involved a Facebook contest and a client response to his wife’s winning and the feeling that he, too, should receive a gift.

The small business owner had learned the value of stellar customer service when he was a young boy. His father owned a men’s retail clothing store during the days when customers were greeted immediately upon crossing the threshold and treated as the most important person in the room. Customer needs were a priority.

As he shared how to care for their customers, he completed his sentence with an incredibly profound, thought-provoking statement – “I want them not only to like us on Facebook, I want them to like us in the office, too”.  Wow!

Think about it. Don’t you want people to “like” your small business on and off your Facebook page? Of course, we all do.  What have you found to be compelling reasons for “liking” a business on and off Facebook? We would love to hear your thoughts.

For many small business entrepreneurs, pricing is one of the most challenging aspects of their business. Properly pricing your services is a bit like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears – What price is too high? What price is too low?  What price is just right?

In most cases, under-pricing for services is a common dilemma. Unfortunately, with underpricing comes underearning. In a 2010 article at survey administrator, PayScale, the average income of small business owners varies widely ranging from $34,392 to $105,757 per year.

Just like with anything in our business, it’s important to recognize the root causes in order to identify a permanent solution. The most common causes of underpricing include:

Low self-esteem

This is the most common form of underpricing and underearning experienced by small business entrepreneurs. If you don’t believe in yourself, its challenging to charge a fair price for your business services. Along with believing in yourself, the ability to clearly articulate and define your value strongly influences your pricing.

Ignorance of market rates

Market rates vary from region to region. What may cost $75 in North Dakota, could cost $150 in California due to the discrepancy in the cost of living. It’s important to know the going rate for your services based on your expertise and perceived client value.

Unfinished pricing model

In a rush to get to market, it’s not uncommon to slap a price on your services, cross your fingers and hope your business makes money. Assessing all the elements that go into your pricing takes time. Like my Dad always said, “If you don’t have time to do it right, how much time will you have to do it over.”  Eventually, an incomplete pricing model catches up to you.

We’d love to hear from you. What are some additional root causes of underpricing (and underearning) that you’ve experienced?

Core Business Assessment


Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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