Hosting a company holiday party can mean your business could be held accountable for employees’ actions. Small business expert Susan Solovic explains. Photo: iStock/mediaphotos
Oct. 29, 2014 – 2:13 – FBN’s Charles Payne, Tea Party News Network News Director Scottie Nell Hughes, A&G Capital CIO Hilary Kramer, small business expert Susan Solovic, retail analyst Hitha Prabhakar and Penn Financial Group founder Matt McCall on Amtrak’s list of ‘suspicious’ behavior to watch for.
Oct. 29, 2014 – 3:11 – FBN’s Charles Payne, Tea Party News Network News Director Scottie Nell Hughes, A&G Capital CIO Hilary Kramer, small business expert Susan Solovic, retail analyst Hitha Prabhakar and Penn Financial Group founder Matt McCall on Whirlpool’s ‘smart’ washing machine.
Oct. 31, 2014 – 2:42 – FBN’s Charles Payne, small business expert Susan Solovic, Competitive Enterprise Institute Fellow Carrie Sheffield, A&G Capital CIO Hilary Kramer, retail analyst Hitha Prabhakar and Penn Financial Group founder Matt McCall on the outlook for Zebra Technologies.
A&G Capital CIO Hilary Kramer, small business expert Susan Solovic, FBN’s Charles Payne, retail analyst Hitha Prabhakar, Penn Financial Group founder Matt McCall and FBN’s Tracy Byrnes on the opportunities for investors in the defense sector.
FBN’s Charles Payne on Hanesbrands.
What businesses should I be thinking of starting now?
What businesses will still be around in ten years’ time?
Where will tomorrow’s jobs be?
Will there BE a future for small business in the next 20 years?
I have given the matter quite a bit of thought (being a professional speaker means you have a lot of downtime in trains, planes and automobiles), and have come up with a few visions of what the business world is going to look like in a decade or two, assuming of course that present trends continue.
While not a complete picture of the business world circa 2030, I think a lot of future business trends can be summarized in four simple, commonplace, household words.
The words are: “digital”, “global”, “virtual”, and “24/7” (okay, maybe the last one is two words).
Now, to make sense of them.
The future will be DIGITAL
Since about 1980, our world has been increasingly computerized and digitized. Entire industries that used to live in the physical world now live almost exclusively online. Do you see any Mom and Pop retail stores on your local commercial strip? I’ll bet you don’t.
When looking for small business opportunities, don’t look at anything “brick and mortar.” Rents in most commercial districts are skyrocketing, and only larger businesses that can cover their monthly “nuts” with substantial, predictable revenue (think “big box” retailers, franchises, and banks) will be able to afford those rents.
If you are thinking about a basic retail or service business, it must live on the Web, because that’s where costs are affordable. Put together a Website that is “e-commerce enabled” (that means people can buy stuff directly from your website without having to call you), together with a Facebook page that is linked to your Website, and market the Dickens out of it.
The future will be GLOBAL
The Web has erased local, state and national boundaries, probably for good. Much of our legal and tax system is based on these boundaries, which is why our legal and tax system increasingly makes no sense.
Take sales taxes, for example. These taxes, which have been around for the last century or so, are based on the proposition that the seller and buyer in any sales transaction will always be in the same physical location.
But that doesn’t happen on the Web. The vast majority of online sales are interstate or international in nature, and sales taxes are not charged on those transactions. Just last week I bought something online from a vendor in Russia. As a kid growing up in the Cold War 1960s, if I purchased something from a vendor in Russia I would have had the FBI in my living room within 24 hours.
Today people are finding they have more in common with people in Zimbabwe than they do with people who live down the street. Any business that plans to survive in the future must cast its marketing net globally.
The future will be VIRTUAL
It used to be that companies were organized into pyramids, with hierarchical steps that employees would climb like a ladder, trying to get as close as they could to the top before they are downsized or forced to retire.
In the future, company structures will be flat, and there will be few if any living and breathing employees. Work will get done by a system of “virtual project teams” that will assemble for particular projects, then disassemble when the project is done, then reconfigure for other projects involving different companies.
Picture a “lava lamp” in your mind (if you don’t know what this is, you can see a video demonstration online at http://www.lavalamp.com/c/7/classic-lava-lamp). Notice the way the different fluids merge into each other, then separate, then merge again in different configurations. That is how the world will be working in 20 years.
There will still be companies, of course, but they will be little more than jigsaw pieces that fit into various project teams. It will be the teams that matter, and determine your career path.
The future will be 24/7
The barriers between work, play and study will completely disappear in 20 years. There will no longer be weekends, holidays and vacations. Every day will be a work day, every day will be a play day, every day will be a study day.
Last Sunday I worked four hours on client projects, but on Wednesday I took two hours off to shop at a local bookstore and pick up my dry cleaning, when both stores were empty.
Are these four “megatrends” good or bad for the human race? I don’t know. But I think they are inevitable, and as with any organic evolution, you either adapt or die.
• • •
Cliff Ennico (www.succeedinginyourbusiness.com), a leading expert on small business law and taxes, is the author of “Small Business Survival Guide,” “The eBay Seller’s Tax and Legal Answer Book” and 15 other books.
Image: “FutureShop HFX 2007” by Robert Alfers – Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.
ST. LOUIS MO, (KTVI) – Are you planning for a job interview? Well you should know that the color of your clothing could potentially make or break your career. The average American has a 4 to 6 second attention span and small business expert, Susan Solovic tells us which colors can show potential employers that you are a dependable team player, with leadership qualities. She also recommends the colors and patterns that should be avoided.
Hello, my name is Tammy, and I am a smartphone addict. Well, at least I was until very recently. But, before I go into my experiment, what led up to it, and ultimately what the results were (although you can grasp from the title that the results weren’t bad), I thought it might be good to go over five telltale signs that will tell you if you, too, are a smartphone addict.
5 Signs That You Are a Smartphone Addict
1. Pictures are posted to Facebook before they even sync to the cloud.
Who needs iCloud when you are there, posting events in your life almost as they happen, and in fact, while they are occurring. You child has probably said something to the effect of, “Mommy, take a photo of this for Facebook.”
2. The “ding” on your phone elicits a Pavlov response.
You know what I’m talking about. Maybe it’s a text, or a calendar invite, but you react to simply the noise, knowing exactly what it is and exactly what it means. You’ve probably even set special tones for certain people, which elicit a good or bad response, depending on who it is…
3. You grab your phone on any commercial break, or break in conversation, or silent time.
Never mind chatting with your spouse, or just enjoying the silence — you instinctively grab your smartphone to check on… well… anything… Not because you have to, but because… well, just because.
4. You will turn around and drive back to your house if you forgot your phone.
You will likely be surrounded by other technology that could serve you equally well during your workday, but not having your phone leaves you feeling naked, so you opt to drive 30 minutes back to your house to make sure you have it, to ultimately sit in your pocket while you work.
5. You’ve invested in a waterproof case.
Be honest, it’s not just to “lifeproof” it, secretly it’s because you want to check your phone in the bath.
Was there life before a smartphone?
I remember life before a smartphone. Heck, I remember life before any cell phone. Cell phones really became popular when I was in college, so it’s not like I have grown up knowing nothing else (anyone else remember keeping a quarter in their pocket to use the pay phone?). But in such a short time the smartphone has become so much a part of my everyday life, that I sometimes find it hard to imagine any version of the world that didn’t have this type of technology.
“It goes with the job…”
I am CEO and co-founder at MarketMeSuite, a fast-growing tech startup. The operative word there is fast. Everything we do is fast, it’s agile… we move quickly. Technology, and specifically, my phone, has played a huge part in keeping me networked in, even when I’m out of pocket (which is a lot). So, you can understand why I developed a fondness for my tech…
Recently, my company and I got to spend some time at Constant Contact, piloting their SMBinnoloft program. For the first time, I was exposed to a tech company doing awesome things at scale, and I was fortunate to spend time with a lot of the really cool people who work there. One day, I got to talking to Dave Wachtendonk, who had run his own startup before Constant Contact ultimately acquired it. He told me you need to unplug from time to time. When you come back, if all went well you should be refreshed. Your team will appreciate you being fully charged.
I wasn’t convinced. I shared this with my team at MarketMeSuite and the response was overwhelming: Unplug!
I thought they would be nervous about me off the grid, but they really thought it would be a good idea. Someone even said, “It’s not like the world is going to explode while you’re gone.”
Wow. It made me think, here I’ve been so connected all the time, making sure that none of the plates I’ve been spinning will drop, doing it because I love my company, because I love my family and want to make sure I am successful for them, because I want my child to see that hard work pays off. But, perhaps Dave and my team are right. Perhaps I would actually be more effective if I unplugged…
My 72-Hour Experiment
I discussed with my husband, and we decided to book a trip to New Hampshire to one of those really old hotels (think The Shining without the murders). I figured what better place to unplug than a hotel that had people visiting quite happily and tech-free for almost 125 years.
I decided that the night before I left I would turn off my phone. That was the hardest part. I set a vacation response for my email. I checked my Facebook, sent one last tweet saying I was unplugging, checked my email, my texts… And then did that all again for good order’s sake. And then…
I shut my phone off.
My phone had not been off in four years, except for the occasional restart, or on an airplane, and the feeling was odd. At first I felt a bit jittery, what I imagine a smoker may feel like when they quit cold turkey.
The next morning we packed up to leave. My husband grabbed his phone (which was our in-case-of-emergency-and-camera phone) and off we went.
A Simpler Time
This hotel was perfect for my experiment. The game room didn’t have any video games; instead it was chess, checkers and table tennis to occupy our time. The lobby was warm and inviting, and guests were encouraged to socialize and talk to each other.
We only had one phone, so when my husband and I did different things, we had to make meeting times and places, because we couldn’t rely on a text. I had almost forgot how to plan in a non-tech way, so this in and of itself was refreshing and freeing to know that we had to use our brains a little, and some common sense. “Oh, they aren’t in the pool, I guess I’ll check the hotel room.” There was no panic, just a slow relaxed exploration until we found each other.
Time To Be Mom
I had no idea how amazing it was going to feel to be free from tech and be able to focus on my little guy with zero distractions. I hadn’t realized how much my attention was divided, even on weekends and nights… times that I, in theory, took my CEO hat off and put my Mom hat on. And I really had no idea how much my 4-year-old was going to notice this change. More than once he said, “Mommy, I really love this vacation…” or “It’s fun to hang out just me and you” (my husband got to take advantage of this “alone time” as well, so everyone was happy).
One time work had to call me, so, as rehearsed, they rang my husband’s phone, I answered the question, and then I was free to get back to being unplugged.
The World Didn’t Explode
Okay, I never really thought that the world would end if I shut off my phone for a few days, but clearly, subconsciously I had major concerns. This experiment proved something very important to me:
Sometimes, things can wait.
We are so connected, so right now, so available, that I think we often forget that sometimes, things can wait. Answering an email in a timely manner is important, but family time, uninterrupted, that’s important too. And taking a step back really give one some perspective. I came back a better leader for my company, a more inspired entrepreneur, and a better wife and mother.
And if you’re wondering if I came back to a pile of emails? Not really. There were under 100, and most people followed my request in my vacation response of resending the email the week I return, so I didn’t miss anything important.
Will You Take The Challenge?
This experience was so positive for me that I really would encourage anyone who fits the “phone addict” description to give it a try. I’ll even create a hashtag for it so you can post all about it when you’re back online. Post with #unplugged72 and let me know how your three-day challenge goes! I promise, the world won’t explode.
• • •
Tammy Kahn Fennell is CEO and co-founder of MarketMeSuite, the leading social media management dashboard for small- and mid- sized businesses. In late 2009, after spotting social media trends and recognizing the needs of small business from her own experience, Tammy launched the MarketMeSuite platform to help SMBs easily manage & monitor their social media presence, find targeted leads, build engagement and measure the ROI of their social marketing activities. Today the easy-to-use, affordable platform has over 30,000 users. Tammy has a lot to say on social media topics for small business, so she speaks and blogs frequently. She is also the owner and editor of the community driven blog, WeAreSocialPeople.com.