Tag Archives: promotion

The Nimble Small Business

Almost since time began, the nimble small business has been axiomatic. Large corporations are like big ships, the common knowledge goes. They take a long time to change direction. That is a comforting thought to business owners who choose to see … Continue reading

Posted in Building Value, Entrepreneurship, Exit Options, Exit Planning, Exit Strategies, Marketing, Marketing and Sales, Sales, Selling a business, Strategy and Planning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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Resisting Technology

A substantial number of business owners are still resisting technology. Clearly, they can’t be doing so in the expectation that it will go away. The only possible rationale is that it could hurt their business. One laggard in adopting technology … Continue reading

Posted in Leadership, Strategy and Planning, Technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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How Much Does that Gorilla Weigh?

How much does that (fill in your preferred number here) pound gorilla weigh? I always refer to an 800 pound gorilla, but I’ve heard others use everything from a 400 pound gorilla (which is pretty close to their real size) to … Continue reading

Posted in Customer Relations, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Marketing, Marketing and Sales, Sales, Strategy and Planning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2 Responses to How Much Does that Gorilla Weigh?

  1. Eric Taylor says:

    This is a great post John.

    I think it’s fair to say that most of us in the small business community have had to deal with gorillas in our respective industries. They are usually customers, but can also be competitors or vendors.

    In the past year, we have dealt with many issues in which we have been dictated to by gorilla customers. One very large pharma company changed their terms to Net 90, another required us to pay a $2000 fee to order to do business with them, and another required us to pay for a system that they implemented that tracks their/our safety program.

    In all three cases, the outcome could have hurt us as a small business. Net 90 terms could crush us on large projects, the $2000 fee was more than the profit we would have made on the project, and the safety program requires considerable time and effort on our part in order to maintain compliance.

    In all three examples, we prevailed. Our relationship with the customers in all three cases was so strong, that all it took was a conversation with the local decision makers. They were sympathetic to our situation, and worked with us to come up with solution. In one case, they agreed to allow us to invoice them for all of the parts at the start of the project, giving us an extra 30 days, ultimately reducing the net 90 terms to net 45. In the other two cases, our local contacts allowed us to add the costs we incurred to the project.

    In my experience, when you explain the hardship the gorillas policies place on our business; reason prevails and an acceptable solution is the result.

    Happy Holidays,

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History Begets Attitudes

History begets attitudes. I’m back from my biannual depressurization trip. This time it was to Central Europe. As always, I assess new and different things through a business owner’s eye. We visited five countries (Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary), … Continue reading

Posted in John's Opinions, Leadership | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

4 Responses to History Begets Attitudes

  1. Doug Roof says:

    Using the analogy between a handful of European countries and the population of small businesses is a great vehicle for driving home your argument for the importance of history in forming the attitude of a business, John. In so doing, you’ve offered a real thought-provoker to business owners/leaders. You’ve also given them an approach to open a conversation about company history and attitude with their employees. Thank you.

  2. Kelly Hall says:

    As usual – the master at work with your observations! Happy you are scheduling some depressurization time! Will use this nugget of wisdom on a client today!
    Kelly H.

  3. Kelly Hall says:

    Nice article!

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Employees Who Make Bad Choices

Employees who make bad choices in their personal lives usually create problems in the workplace. Should you take their issues outside of the business into consideration when hiring or assigning responsibility? The legal answer of course, is “no.”  Employers are … Continue reading

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Managing Employees, Strategy and Planning | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

2 Responses to Employees Who Make Bad Choices

  1. Tracey C says:

    I had a small family business with one employee. She was very loyal to us as a family and came to work nearly every day (which was an important part of the job because we were very small and very dependent on each other). She could manage herself and her work load very well. The customers loved her, she knew the business, understood the risks involved and – probably most importantly – knew when to ask for help and when not to. She always got the job done and did it well. She started on a part-time basis and then moved into full.

    After she became a full-time employee, I began to see the horrific choices she was making in her personal life (because she would come and talk to me about them – often for long periods of time). Her issues began to dominate the office started causing more and more problems for me. One day, our work was interrupted because someone showed up to repossess her car….but how do you fire someone for that? And through it all, she still came to work every day, got her work done and the clients still loved her.

    I tried to create boundaries to manage the drama, but probably didn’t do a great job of it, and it had a fairly negative effect on our relationship. I also had a hard time getting support from the other family members for terminating her because she did such a good job with her work and knew the business so well, and was so loyal to us and the company. In many ways, she would have been very difficult to replace.

    It was a difficult situation that really had no good answers or solutions. In the end, it was resolved because we had to close the business for reasons that were completely beyond our control (and had nothing to do with her).

    Closing the business actually solved a number of problems that had been brewing beneath the surface and threatened to make families dinners rather painful, but I can’t really recommend it as an effective or ongoing problem-solving tool.

    • John F. Dini says:

      Thanks for the story, Tracey. I wish I could say it was the first such I’ve heard. Closing the business is a more radical solution than I’d typically recommend, however! 😉

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