By Gerri Detweiler –
“Do Schools Kill Creativity?” is one of the most popular TED Talks of all time. In his entertaining and provocative presentation, Sir Ken Robinson says (referring largely to the state of education today) that “..if you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original. And by the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong.”
Robinson doesn’t address entrepreneurship directly in his talk, but plenty of other people question whether our educational system helps prepare students to run their own businesses, often against the backdrop of stories like that of Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg dropping out of college to start their businesses. (more…)
By Gerri Detweiler –
What qualities come to mind when you think of those who build great amounts of wealth? Disciplined, hard-working, smart — perhaps even a bit ruthless?
You may be surprised to learn that there is another trait that may help you build wealth: optimism. Tom Corley devoted several years to studying the habits of the rich versus the poor, which he has shared in his best-selling book, Rich Habits: The Daily Habits of Successful Individuals.
Among the many habits he studied, he found the rich were more likely to be optimistic. “Sixty-seven percent of the self-made millionaires in my study forged the habit of being positive and upbeat. A positive, mental outlook is critical to overcoming problems, obstacles, pitfalls, mistakes and failures,” he says. (more…)
By Linda McMahon, SBA Administrator –
National Small Business Week shines a spotlight on our nation’s 30 million small businesses. Through awards ceremonies, media interviews and community events, we honor entrepreneurs whose achievements stand out. As an entrepreneur myself, I know the hard work that goes into starting and building a small business – efforts that don’t often get the attention they deserve.
Honorees in this week’s spotlight do not cast a shadow that dims the efforts of others; rather they serve as a beacon – to competitors, up-and-comers and communities as a whole. They show what is possible. They are innovators and problem solvers, creating products and services that are better, smarter or more efficient than what came before. They are risk takers. And through their success, they inspire others to dream and to create small businesses of their own. (more…)
By Gerri Detweiler
Amy Cantin and Larinda Rainwater had been travel agents for over 20 years. They loved helping their clients and were successful, but were finding themselves increasingly dissatisfied with their jobs at the travel agency where they were both employed. They knew the logical next step would be to open their own travel agency, but that prospect was intimidating.
“We knew how to sell travel but we didn’t know how to run a business,” says Cantin, echoing a common dilemma many would-be entrepreneurs face. “It was scary,” Rainwater adds.
Fortunately, a friend referred them to the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center, where, for nearly a year, they worked with business consultant Robert Bahn to develop a plan for their business and prepare to go out on their own. They also hired an attorney who, among other things, made sure they didn’t take any client information with them, which could open them to legal action by their former employer. (more…)
By Gerri Detweiler
Shane and Melissa Nichols’ five-year-old business, Arkansas-based Medex Waste, is on track to bring in $1 million in revenue, thanks in large part to the free help they received from the Arkansas Small Business and Technology Development Center. “I don’t think we could have made it without them,” says Shane. “Without them there to answer questions and to lead us in the right direction, it would have taken us a lot longer and cost us a lot more money.”
The idea for the Nichols’ business, a firm that transports medical waste for disposal, started percolating after Melissa lost her sales job with a large national medical waste disposal firm when her office closed. As a top salesperson, Melissa often found herself frustrated when some of her clients were unhappy with the services they received from the firm. Initially, she took the layoff as an opportunity to go back to school, but then decided to take a job with another firm in the same industry. When the new company tried to shortchange her on her commission, she decided with her husband to start their own business. (more…)
By Rhonda Abrams
Since 1963, the first week of May has been designated by the President of the United States as a time to celebrate entrepreneurs.
To mark the start of this year’s Small Business Week, small-business owner and USA TODAY contributor Rhonda Abrams sat down for a discussion with Maria Contreras-Sweet, the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Contreras-Sweet talked about technology and small-business lending, and elaborated on some of the challenges — and resources — for the nation’s estimated 28 million small businesses.
She also encouraged shoppers to spend at their local stores.
“When you shop at a small business, 64 cents of your dollar stay right in your neighborhood,” she says. In turn, she adds, those stores could become a “destination” for more consumers, leading to more job creation in the community. (more…)
By Maria Contreras-Sweet
With apologies to baseball and your mother’s apple pie, nothing is more American than National Small Business Week.
Our country was founded by risk-taking pioneers in search of new horizons. More than two centuries later, what sets America apart in the world is the willingness of our entrepreneurs to take risks. Small businesses allow Americans to be their own boss and improve their lot in life through hard work – a core American value.
Every year since 1963, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation declaring National Small Business Week to recognize the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs, who create nearly two out of every three net, new U.S. jobs each year. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said it was our small businesses that powered our recovery after the Great Recession. (more…)
It’s not easy being green, or so we’re told, but take a look around your office and consider: How “green” are you?
It’s no surprise that an increasing number of companies are working toward becoming more environmentally conscious: constantly introducing programs to reduce both costs and their carbon footprint. Typical areas of opportunity are employee telecommuting, lighting, recycling and paper usage.
Here are some suggestions that you might use in your green movement at work:
1. Telecommute to reduce and produce
It could be argued that people working from home face more distractions and are often less productive. In reality, reports indicate that the opposite is true — not only does productivity increase, but there is often reduced stress on the employees. Gone are endless hours sitting in traffic, and the stop-go of a slow car creates a lot more pollution than a car that never leaves the house. And what does it mean to ROI? Well, for the company, approximately $11,000 per year per employee, in addition to the savings made by the employee, and the not-to-be-forgotten oil and greenhouse gas savings. And in case you need to ask, yes — I am sitting at home writing this, and it’s past 5 o’clock. How’s that for productivity? (more…)
As a business grows, entrepreneurs must often reinvent themselves as a rite of passage. It’s often the very work habits that help you achieve a level of success that hold you back from getting to the next level. Being involved in all areas of the business, making every decision, and managing every outcome in the company becomes unsustainable as your business grows. I’ve gone through several reinventions as my own business grew and changed.
I started my company in 1989 at the age of 21. I was involved in every area of the business including strategy, sales, management, and administration. I always put the business first and grew it with stubborn single-mindedness. The company was structured in a hub-and-spoke model and I made every key decision. As we grew, I began to feel overwhelmed by the increasing complexity of the business. There was never enough time in the day. It seemed there was no end in sight and I began to resent my business. In fact, the more we grew, the worse I felt.
In 1995 I was invited to join a Young Entrepreneurs Organization event (then YEO, now EO). My first EO educational experience featured Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth. Gerber yelled at the roomful of entrepreneurs driving home this point: “If you’re trapped working in your business then you’re not an entrepreneur! You just have a job working for the most unreasonable boss in the world… yourself!” (more…)
Max Scheder-Bieschin, CFO of Ekso Bionics, just comes right out and says it: “We want to create Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit.”
Looking around his company’s warehouse in an industrial section of Richmond, California -– the same warehouse that 75 years ago produced many of the tanks and Jeeps used in the Pacific theater — it’s hard not to take him seriously.
The bionic suits, which look closer to those worn by Matt Damon in the upcoming movie Elysium, are overrunning the place. Over here, one hangs from an industrial-strength gurney while a technician welds circuitry into its knee joint. Over there, another marches in place without a human inside, indefinitely automated for stress tests (an eerie fixture for the last person in the office at night, staff admit.) At the far end of the room, suits painted with military fatigues sit half-assembled. And that’s to say nothing of what goes on in The Tent, a 20-by-20-foot pup assembled in the corner to conceal Ekso’s most confidential projects from anyone — employees included — not on a need-to-know. (more…)