Community Economic Development Fund

Articles and podcasts to help plan and operate your enterprise.

Run your business like a champion

Among the many offerings of CEDF’s business advisory services as explained on our website is this phrase: “…management of emotional components of business ownership.” This example serves not as a claim that our business advisors are miraculously competent clinical psychologists but to point out that one of the most under-appreciated and under-discussed challenges of small business ownership is handling the stress and tension of confronting the day-to-day problems.

For an action plan on this we can almost always find a nice lesson in sports and this time of year it’s hard to ignore football, especially when the regional favorite is again Super Bowl champions. This article reminds that Tom Brandy earned all of those rings following simple advice.

It’s easy to admire an athlete playing well beyond the age of his teammates – he’s nearly the oldest player in the league.  With that must come not just physical resilience but tremendous mental toughness to look beyond the crisis of the moment – 3rd down and 20, or whatever.

Notice how the man seems to become more inspiring to his teammates and more dangerous to his opponents when there is precious little time left on the clock and the game is on the line. But he always gets there by his own simple advice. If you haven’t clicked the link above to see what that is, do it now. Your game may be on the line soon.

How will your customers ever forgive you?

It’s pretty easy to throw stones at airlines nowadays, what with stories of passengers being insulted, beaten up and dragged off the plane, or held hostage on the ground for hours. And that’s just by the airline employees. Even many of hijackers in the 1970s were more considerate.

So when a company in the industry shows it knows how to make up for a misfortune or a mistake, there’s a lesson for every other business, and not just the competitors, on how to do right.

Read about how Singapore Airlines chose to make it up to customers for, what to some people, might be considered a relatively small inconvenience. Having a flight entertainment system malfunction for the whole plane is not exactly going to ruin your life. And maybe you have to be of a certain age to know how to live for a few hours without suckling onto a video screen.  Did the airline really need to provide gift bags as recompense? May we point to our January podcast with Chick-Fil-A owner/operator Devon Scanlon and her reminder of Maya Angelou’s famous quote about “how you made them feel.”

So think about what big or small disasters could occur in your business and what’s going to be your reaction beyond a perfunctory apology?  What’s your strategy for making sure that your customers only remember something other than anger, frustration and contempt for you and your business?

Can you really finance a business on social media?

It was probably inevitable that the tried and true friends and family approach to small business financing would make its way to the small screen. And while it is hard to imagine making a pitch for an equity investment or a loan to Uncle Charlie or your second cousin’s brother-in-law, it appears some people are doing it this way.

If this sounds slightly ridiculous to you, rest assured that the experts suggest it’s really just the internet age version of something much more conventional -- sending a note to request a conversation.

You must admit that for those who have built a community of dozens or hundreds of contacts, it only makes good sense to announce your fund-raising drive and leverage your network to lead you to what might be a workable source. Perhaps the confusion comes from the crowd-funding phenomenon and the assumption that you can finance your business start-up or expansion in $20 increments. Except for very unusual circumstances, this isn’t the model to rely on.

But in an era when banks pay hardly anything in the way of interest, people do look for more attractive investments that they can understand and perhaps monitor. It might be a good thing that you remembered to send your Aunt Polly a Christmas card every year.


Small Business As Usual 19-2, innovation

Chris Raimo

Innovation doesn't come from brainstorming. It sneaks up on you like a cat at the intersection of experience and observation. Chris Raimo, owner of Happy Cat Hotel in Windsor, CT, explains how his concept evolved into what might become an industry disruptor.




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