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Weekly Small Business Advice

Jerry Osteryoung is the Director of Outreach of the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship in the College of Business at Florida State University, the Jim Moran Professor of Entrepreneurship; and Professor of Finance. He was the founding Executive Director of the Jim Moran Institute and served in that position from 1995 through 2008. He can be reached by e-mail at jostery@comcast.net or by phone at 850-644-3372.


Ritz-Carlton Experience - 11/9/2009

One of the things that is so powerful about the Ritz-Carlton is that each employee carries a card that states, "We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen."

First Day of Work - 10/26/2009

It is so important to realize that when a new worker starts, their first day at work is critical. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Focus Days - 10/19/2009

Interruptions (e.g. phone calls and email) kill your ability to concentrate and to accomplish necessary tasks and critically important projects.

Back Up Your Technology - 10/12/2009

However, without the proper backup measures, they quickly turn from friend to foe.

Be Theft Resistant - 10/5/2009

The more your employees and customers are financially squeezed, the greater the probability of theft of funds or assets.

Focusing On Accounts Receivable - 9/28/2009

So many entrepreneurs are having problems with cash flows, that paying late just seems to be becoming more and more pervasive.

Can Your Leadership Style Be Too Aggressive? - 9/21/2009

Being a leader is not a 100% of the time job. Most leaders vacillate between being leaders and being followers depending on the conditions.

Overselling Is a No No - 9/14/2009

If a business takes advantage of its customers through overselling, its customers will rightly turn away from the business, which is exactly what should happen in the free market system.

Cannibalization Works If Done Right - 9/7/2009

Cannibalization is a business concept where you devour your own sales to preserve or increase market share.

How To Prepare for the Turnaround - 8/31/2009

The Consumer Confidence Index and the stock market are beginning to show some positive signs.

Focus Your Marketing Plan - 8/24/2009

Now there is nothing wrong with having multiple product lines, but having too many will cause you to lose focus. The more you lose focus, the less control you have on your business.

Tweaking Your Website - 8/17/2009

Yoursite has to be periodically re-evaluated — annually at the very least, but quarterly is best.

Listen to Your Customers - 8/3/2009

The most critical management error is not simply having these problems, but choosing not to see or hear about them.

Dealing with Problem Employees - 7/27/2009

These employees tend to affect the morale of the entire organization and make your life very difficult.

Never Ignore Customers' Calls - 7/20/2009

If a customer calls to inquire about a product that you are servicing for them, and you do not have the information, you must tell the customer that you will find the information for them and when you will be getting back to them.

MVP Lounge - 7/6/2009

One of the things that is so important is rewarding the loyalty of your existing and best customers and making them feel appreciated.

Training New Managers - 7/6/2009

It has always troubled me to see so many businesses take their best worker and make him or her a manager.

The Right Way to Lay Off Workers - 6/29/2009

Having to terminate an employee who has a family and has done nothing wrong is so tough, but still must be done.

Stop Customers from Leaving - 6/22/2009

It is 20 times harder to get a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.

Help Junior Achievement - 6/15/2009

So many times at FSU, students wander into my office and are surprised that there is a major in entrepreneurship. They simply did not realize that this field existed.

Use YouTube for Additional Advertising - 6/8/2009

Lately, I have see many businesses start to use YouTube as a way to drive customers to their website -- for free

No Employee Should Ever Be Considered Irreplaceable - 6/1/2009

This might be the perfect time for you to consider purchasing that property that you have always wanted or to refinance some of your outstanding debt.

No Employee Should Ever Be Considered Irreplaceable - 5/25/2009

Occasionally, we deal with an entrepreneur whose story is so surreal that it is hard to believe it is true. This column is about one such case.

Recognizing Employees in a Recession - 5/4/2009

You must make sure that your staff is not being forced to do their jobs under an umbrella of fear.

Customer Rage - 4/27/2009

You can make so many cuts in your business, but once you start affecting customer service in any way, you directly impact the viability of your business.

Concentrate on Your Existing Customers - 4/20/2009

The low-hanging fruit is your existing customer base. They already have a relationship with you, and they already trust you. You need to cultivate your existing customer base to the greatest extent possible in order to increase sales or minimize reductions.

Networking During a Recession - 4/13/2009

While advertising is effective, networking and referrals are so much better.

Marketing During a Recession - 3/30/2009

The first thing is to not cut marketing dollars but to spend them wiser.

Crisis Is a Terrible Thing to Waste - 3/16/2009

Rather than saying, “We just have to survive this recession,” we need to say, “What can we do to make our company better to exist and grow in the future?”

Financing Your Customers - 3/2/2009

While you might be strapped for cash, your customers are even more so. As a result, they are just not spending money.

Layoffs or Salary Reductions? - 2/9/2009

As so many businesses continue to experience falling sales, you might have to consider cutting your labor expenses. However, there is no question in my mind that these should be the last expenses that you cut.

2009 New Year - 1/12/2009

It is so important to remember that we have gone through 13 recessions since the great depression and we have come out of each one of these. We will come out of this one as well!

Letting Workers Go - 12/29/2008

Before even considering letting any worker go, it is so important to exhaust all other possibilities for reducing costs. There might be subcontractors or other expenses that can be cut or reduced.

Brace Your Employees for Holiday Season-2008 - 12/1/2008

The intrinsic stress of the season combined with tough economic times means that your staff will be feeling tremendous pressure.

Things Are Going to Get Better! - 11/10/2008

While the economic news is not good now, concentrating on the negatives that are bombarding us daily is not good for you or for your employees.

Hell's Kitchen - 10/20/2008

One approach to quick crisis management can be seen on Chef Gordon Ramsay's TV show "Hell's Kitchen." While his approach is revolting, it might actually work.

Buy Local - 10/6/2008

So many consumers believe that there is little difference between making purchases at a local business and at a chain store. This is simply not true.

Credit Crunch - 9/22/2008

With so much happening in the financial world, each firm must protect its ability to acquire the funds it needs to operate. Firms in need of additional financing will find that there are three alternatives.

Bad Employees - 9/2/2008

Employees with bad attitudes are frequently the most difficult to judge. Generally, these employees do an adequate job, but they inject poison into the entire organization destroying morale.

Personal Internet Usage - 8/11/2008

Out of all the time workers spend on the Web, 26% is doing personal business. See what to do about it.

Four-Day Work Week - 7/14/2008

Switching to a four-day work week carries some significant benefits. But there are drawbacks.

Telecommuting, an Answer to Gas Crisis - 6/30/2008

Clearly there are many benefits of telecommuting for your employees, but there are also some pitfalls.

What is the Purpose of Business? - 6/16/2008

If an entrepreneur takes the attitude that he or she deserves to make all of the money, the business will suffer and will most likely crash and burn.

Unbundling of Services - 6/2/2008

Your customers are being squeezed and raising prices now is a sure way to lose sales. However, one very effective way to increase your profits without increasing your prices is through unbundling the services you provide.

Setting Boundaries - 5/12/2008

Setting boundaries in the workplace governs employee behavior, drawing a very clear line between what is acceptable and what is not.

Benchmarking - 4/28/2008

One thing every firm needs to have in place is a system to measure their performance against an industry average or some other criteria.

Good Things in a Recession - 4/7/2008

Now is the time to look into refinancing all of your assets. Whether you have short-term or long-term debt, now is the time to secure a much lower rate.

Liability Insurance - 3/24/2008

One of the biggest things that can help reduce the financial cost of a lawsuit is having general commercial liability (GCL) insurance.

Office Romances - 3/10/2008

While all of our jobs would be easier if these romances did not happen, they are unavoidable, and we must have a plan to deal with them. read more

Are You a Micromanager? - 2/25/2008

Micromanaging destroys the morale of an entire organization and discourages people from trying to be creative and effective. read more

Recession Is Coming - 2/11/2008

This recession is starting to affect all income levels, and many entrepreneurs are starting to feel the effects of this right now. read more

Talking to Spouses About Business - 1/28/2008

It seems to me that being an entrepreneur requires you to be very careful as to what you tell your spouse about your business. read more

Start of 2008 - 1/14/2008

It is just so hard to be a good leader and entrepreneur if you are not a complete and balanced person. read more

Adapt to Survive - 1/2/2008

In order to adapt, you must be able to recognize any changes in the market. In this case, the owners either did not see what was happening or refused to see it. read more

Learning to Say 'No!' - 12/17/2007

By far, the most effective way to improve your time management is just learning to say “No!” We want to say “Yes” to people because we want to please them and be liked. read more

Administration (yuck) - 12/10/2007

While many entrepreneurs wish they did not have to deal with them, administrative tasks cannot be avoided. read more

Vacations Forced - 12/3/2007

In many ways, the holidays are extremely stressful for both you and your staff. One way to help alleviate this stress is to encourage your staff to take vacations around this time of year. read more

Profanity in the Workplace - 11/19/2007

The best strategy for stopping profanity in the workplace is clearly explaining to the staff why it is just unacceptable and building this into the employee manual. read more

One-on-One - 11/5/2007

Every employee needs to feel appreciated and listened to. The more appreciated your staff feels, the more productive they will be. read more

Revenue Per Square Foot - 10/29/2007

Utilizing your space in your business is so critical. This is especially true in retail but all businesses need to take this into account. read more

Meetings So Important - 10/22/2007

Meetings are part and parcel of every business. Not having meetings really causes a significant decline in morale. read more

New Employees - 10/15/2007

Bringing new workers into a business is so critical. Studies have shown that 40 percent of all new hires leave before the end of six months. read more

Be Careful of Bookkeepers - 10/4/2007

One of the problems that I continually see in both my students at FSU and in entrepreneurs is the lack of understanding of financial statements. read more

Fear in the Workplace - 9/24/2007

One of the problems that I continually see in both my students at FSU and in entrepreneurs is the lack of understanding of financial statements. read more

Showing Emotion - 9/17/2007

We all experience emotions, but entrepreneurs have a special responsibility when it comes to showing them. Showing too much emotion can be disastrous. read more

Importance of Accounting - 9/10/2007

One of the problems that I continually see in both my students at FSU and in entrepreneurs is the lack of understanding of financial statements. read more

Importance of Accounting - 9/10/2007

One of the problems that I continually see in both my students at FSU and in entrepreneurs is the lack of understanding of financial statements. read more

Keeping Workers Involved - 8/27/2007

We must make sure that we minimize turnover, and engaging each worker is one of the best ways to do so. read more

GPS In Business - 8/20/2007

I think every business should consider putting one of these systems in their vehicles. read more

Industry Awareness - 8/13/2007

Joy in life and in business is so important. Without joy, what the heck is the purpose of life and work? However, finding it is not an easy process. read more

Finding Joy at Work, In life - 8/6/2007

Joy in life and in business is so important. Without joy, what the heck is the purpose of life and work? However, finding it is not an easy process. read more

Multipliers Suppliers - 7/30/2007

How many suppliers of goods and services do you want to have for the same products and services? read more

Revenue per Employee - 7/23/2007

One of the questions that entrepreneurs frequently ponder is whether the size of their labor force is proportionate with the amount of work that they have to do. read more

Severance Pay - 7/16/2007

One part of letting an employee go is trying to ascertain if severance pay should be given and, if so, what amount should be paid. read more

Profitability per Customer - 7/9/2007

Just because you have generated a profit, does not necessarily mean that you are earning enough. read more

Ego and Injury - 7/2/2007

Do not let illness and ego lead you to disaster. When you are ill, and when you feel as though you cannot make a mistake, remember to get as much sage advice as you can.read more

The Customer Service Experience: A Holistic Approach - 06/18/2007

You must make sure that the advertising message you deliver is congruent with the customer service experience you provide alongside your product or service. read more

Terminating an Employee with Integrity - 06/11/2007

No one ever likes to inflict that pain on an employee. When you know you have to let someone go, make sure you have done your homework so that it does not backfire on you. read more

10 Secrets of Profitability - 06/06/2007

The most successful entrepreneurs know how each of their decisions is going to affect the bottom line. Intuitively, they know that if they do not focus on profits, they will lose them ... read more

Marketing Niches - 06/01/2007

Recognizing underserved markets is critical to each entrepreneur. Marketing niches typically have very little competition and a customer base that is willing to step in and buy the product. ... read more

Websites - 05/28/2007

Websites are becoming more and more important for visibility as well as for transacting business online. No matter what your business, you need not just a good site, but a great site ... read more

Jim Moran Tribute

The recent passing of automobile icon, Jim Moran, is a loss for all those who knew him as well as for so many who did not know him. Being the humble, giving man he was, he had a knack for making people ... read more

Is Greed Good?

There have been many studies evaluating why individuals start businesses. The first two reasons why people start businesses, which are ranked higher than making money, are control of their own destiny ... read more

Gift Certificates

If you have any type of business, you need to consider offering gift certificates. Gift certificates are so attractive because they bring current and future customers into your business. read more


I normally do not write about books, but I just finished reading an incredible book by Linda Thaler and Robin Koval entitled The Power of Nice: How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness. This book really affected me ... read more