Although this year’s National Small Business Week is now behind us, don’t lose sight of the reasons to continue celebrating the benefits of being a small business.
American small businesses often have advantages over larger companies. It’s important to recognize them—and make the most of them—as you start and grow your company.
Here are six characteristics that often give small businesses an edge over bigger competitors:
- Personal Touch – Small business owners have ample opportunities to develop face-to-face, person-to-person relationships with prospects and clients. Leaders of small, local businesses are generally more accessible than those at bigger more broadly dispersed companies.
- Flexibility – Small businesses usually don’t have multiple layers of approval to pass through to adopt ideas and initiatives. They can implement creative ways to serve customers more quickly than many larger businesses.
- Agility – When changes need to be made to fix a process that’s not working well or to meet the challenge of competitive pressures, small businesses can typically act fast. They have fewer employees to communicate with and train for transitions.
- In Touch – Because they often directly interact with customers, small business owners are aware of what their market needs and can recognize how to better serve it.
- Power to Partner – Small business with complementary products or services and/or those located within the same community, can find power in partnering. By partnering to cross-promote each other or offer a pooled solution to customers, they can adeptly expand their expertise, extend their market reach, and enhance their credibility.
- Passion – Small business owners feel closely tied to their businesses and find motivation within themselves to seek success. That drive and desire can result in exceptional products and services—and customer satisfaction.
As you work to make your small business successful, remember all that you have going for you. As an entrepreneur, not every day will go as smoothly as you’d like, but realize there are many plusses to being a small business. Keep them in mind not only during the good times, but in the challenging times as well.
For more insight about the realities of starting and growing a small business, contact your local SCORE chapter to talk with a mentor.
Since 1964, SCORE “Mentors to America’s Small Business” has helped more than 10 million aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners through mentoring and business workshops. More than 11,000 volunteer business mentors in over 320 chapters serve their communities through entrepreneur education dedicated to the formation, growth and success of small businesses. For more information about starting or operating a small business, call 1-800-634-0245 for the SCORE chapter nearest you. Visit SCORE at www.score.org.
No crystal ball needed: Close calls predict the (dangerous) future
“Sweat the details” sounds like something an engineer or an accountant would do. But sweating the details is paramount when it comes to safe working conditions.
Little things can add up to something big. A small hazard will be multiplied by the number of people exposed to it and multiplied again by how long it remains before being corrected.
In fact, even straightforward injury numbers don’t necessarily mean that working conditions are safe.
Suppose a company has zero injuries — is it safe? Safety expert Don Groover wrote in Safety and Health Magazine that a lack of injuries could be more about luck than safety. Exposure and initiative are the keys to a safe workplace. Suppose an observer stands on the ground, watching a worker on a high platform. The worker is using a hammer, and, by chance, the hammer falls. But it misses the observer on the ground. Were there zero injuries that day? Yes. Was the worksite safe? No. You could say the observer was safety-conscious because he might have moved to avoid the hammer. Or you might say that it was luck that the hammer fell at the wrong angle. But over time, if nothing changes, the exposures create problems.
A new hazard can appear anytime, anywhere, and affect almost any job. That’s the time to get it reported and documented. All safety is protected by investigating everyday incidents and correcting minor hazards that could occur on any given day.
Sometimes, people think that a potentially hazardous condition is just normal and expected on the job. Instead, they should be particular about their area. They shouldn’t put up with things like grease on the floor or a wobbly step.
Be watchful. Find the leaking hydraulic hose, missing screws on stairs and railings, missing equipment guards, and empty fire extinguishers.
Watch for missing lights that make it hard to see and damaged signs that are hard to read. Ensure that chemicals are stored correctly and that eye wash units work.
When you discover that something isn’t right, report it right away. For every condition that is made safe, an injury is less likely to occur, says the National Safety Council.
Become An Action Taker To Live Your Dream Life
You’re a dreamer, but sometimes you don’t take action. Why not? Is it because you are afraid to fail? Maybe you feel you’re too old to start a new project. Or maybe you don’t want to mess up your current career.
Many people want to become successful, but they don’t know how to get started. You may feel like you’re stuck in a rut, but there’s always a way to break free. The only thing holding you back from being successful is your mindset. If you want to take action and follow your dreams, then it’s time to stop talking about it and start doing it!
Success is not a destination. It’s a journey.
If you want to take your life and career to the next level, it’s important to have a mindset that is focused on action rather than talk. Have you ever noticed that people who dream big and set goals seem to be able to achieve more than those who are content with doing what they think they should be doing?
Dreams are all well and good, but how do you turn them into reality? We’ll explore some simple yet powerful techniques for turning your dreams into action.
Take Small Steps Towards Your Goals
Many people set big goals for themselves but never actually act towards accomplishing them. They might put something on their bucket list and leave it at that.
You need to ensure you’re always taking small steps toward achieving your bigger goals. That means you have to put in more effort than you normally would.
If you want to succeed in anything, you need to embrace your dreams. You’re not going to accomplish anything if you don’t believe in your dreams or goals.
If you can’t act toward your dreams, they’re just pipe dreams to you. The fact is, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a trip to the moon to say you did. If you want to accomplish something big, then you need to take baby steps toward that.
Small, everyday actions can help you achieve your dreams faster than you ever could by just sitting back and watching your goals unfold before your eyes. It might be easy to say you want to get out of debt, but that’s much easier said than done.
You can actually go to your bank and request a lower credit card rate, or you can find a job and start working. You can even get your family on board with your dreams and get them to pitch in on your dream project.
Start with something small and get it going, and then you’ll have something that you can look forward to accomplishing. You might also find that you need a little help along the way, so you can work towards it with friends and loved ones as you build your business.
As you can see, you’re only going to get anywhere if you do something, and you only get to do anything if you take action. If you’re not progressing, you might want to reevaluate your situation and goals.
Mindset Drives Action
Your mindset determines the level of energy you have to put into a task, project, or goal you’re trying to accomplish. If you’re constantly negative, your energy levels will be very low, leading to poor results.
On the other hand, if you’re positive and upbeat, you’ll be able to tap into a lot of your energy to progress toward your goals. When you’re positive, you’re also able to see the obstacles in front of you as something that you will have to overcome, making them less intimidating.
One of the biggest problems people face is that they allow the obstacles and challenges that get in their way to becoming so large that they can’t be conquered. Instead, you should embrace them and learn from them.
Embrace failure as a way to learn how to avoid it in the future. The fact is, you won’t succeed if you don’t fail, and there are a lot of things that you can learn from failing.
For example, you can use failure as a means to improve yourself, and that’s what you should do.
You might think that failure is a bad thing, but if you can see the positive lessons you can draw from it, you’re more likely to succeed going forward. Even if you’ve failed in the past, you still have a lot to learn from, and you can apply that knowledge to avoid repeating the same mistake.
So the next time you feel like failure is inevitable, look at it as positive. It’s the only way to grow as a person and the only way you’ll be able to get through any challenge you’re facing.
You might be thinking that this mindset is one that only succeeds people have. The truth is, it’s not reserved for just those that are successful; it’s for everyone willing to take action on their dreams.
Successful people are not necessarily people who are all about action. They’re about the journey, not just the destination. It’s important that you realize that you can do a lot more than get where you want to go, even if that means a lot more work and struggle.
You can achieve more than you ever imagined. You can become the best version of yourself. You can make the most out of your life and even live your dreams.
If you’re truly passionate about what you want to do, you will find a way to make it happen. If you’re really driven and persistent, then you’ll succeed. If you’re willing to do whatever it takes to get what you want, you’ll succeed.
Don’t wait for someone else to make it happen. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you you can succeed. Just think about it and be sure about it.
If you’re ready to take your life to the next level, you need to start taking action. If you’re doing the things you need to do to achieve your goals, then you’re setting yourself up for success.
If you’re making some changes that you’re committed to, then you’re setting yourself up for success. If you’re doing what you’ve got to do to get where you want to be, then you’re doing the right things.
You might be scared, but you need to be scared. You might hesitate to jump into your dreams, but you must. You might be skeptical, but you need to be. There’s a reason why you’re where you are, and there’s a reason why you’re in the position you’re in.
It’s not luck, and it’s not good timing. It’s you. It’s your commitment. It’s your desire. It’s your persistence. It’s your will. You’re making it happen. It’s your dreams that are coming true.
Take the next step. Take the leap. Make your dream a reality. Don’t let anything hold you back. Don’t be afraid. Don’t be doubtful.
AI-generated images test copyright laws; disrupting the art world
Last year was huge for artificial intelligence as software giants like Microsoft and Adobe pushed generative AI tools to market, and new cash-flush AI startups flooded the scene.
Within a few months, anyone with an internet connection could use AI tools like Midjourney or Dall-E to create images from verbal prompts. These tools use machine learning algorithms to sort through large numbers of existing images to generate unique images to fit user prompts.
The resulting flood of AI-created images alarmed artists who wished to protect their ownership rights and livelihoods and raised urgent questions about authorship and intellectual property. Who owns the work that a machine creates? And how can human creators protect their work from being swept up into machine learning algorithms?
According to IP Watchdog, the United States Copyright Office (USCO) is now siding with humans. The USCO denied registration of an AI-generated image in early 2022, citing the Human Authorship requirement of the Copyright Act, which states that copyrighted work must be created with “substantial human involvement.”
In October last year, the USCO reversed a registration it had issued for a graphic novel that had previously made headlines as the first known instance of successful registration of AI-generated work. In a statement, the USCO explained that it would not knowingly issue registrations to works generated solely by AI and machines.
In the future, copyright laws must be updated to reflect degrees of human involvement, according to the Verge. AI companies will likely find ways to ensure their AI models cannot facilitate copyright infringement.
Artificial art? AI disrupting the art world
Could the next Picasso be a robot? AI-generated art has been around for some years, but most of the generated work was rudimentary and not worthy of the public’s adoration. Now? Artificial intelligence is crafting beautiful images on the fly, and interest in such art has exploded, with some artworks winning awards and causing concern among human artists.
Currently, much of the art generated by artificial intelligence still relies on images and artwork initially created by humans. You might head to an AI-generating tool and type in some keywords. The AI program will analyze data from other already-created images and create artwork based on that data set. From there, many programs allow humans to step in and use a variety of tools to modify and remix the art.
Given the increasingly blurred line between human and machine, perhaps ‘cyborg art’ is a more apt descriptor. In 2021, Jason M. Allen won an art award at the Colorado State Fair with his surreal work “Theatre D’opera Spatial,” wowing audiences and drawing the ire of other artists. Allen noted that he broke no rules, though many felt he took unfair shortcuts.
The concept of artificial intelligence platforms developing full sentience has been a mainstay in science fiction for many years. Often, that intelligence goes on to destroy the world or conquer humanity. Who knows — if AI ever does gain full sentience, maybe it’ll pick up a paintbrush instead.
Does your business have a DEI policy?
You may be familiar with diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as a social justice matter, but did you know this type of policy can contribute to your company’s bottom line? Here’s what you should know.
A DEI policy evaluates a culture, workplace, school, or other settings where groups of people come together. Diversity refers to the variety of people and perspectives within a group. Equity involves the effort to ensure processes are fair and impartial. Inclusion pertains to the sense of belonging members may or may not feel.
The goal of DEI policies is to remove any barriers to success individuals may experience while celebrating the differences that make an organization more creative and resilient.
Why it’s important
There are several reasons why organizations are incorporating DEI policies into their business model.
• Corporate values. Many employers are morally obligated to provide an equitable and welcoming workplace to people of any race, age, gender, or ability.
• Improved innovation. Companies must be agile to remain relevant in today’s competitive business climate. The more diverse your team is, the more perspectives you can draw from.
• Desirable work conditions. Organizations must be competitive, not only in their business offerings but also in their appeal to potential employees. An inclusive work culture is more inviting to top-tier talent.
You don’t have to be a large organization to incorporate DEI measures in your workplace. Talk to a DEI or human resource consultant in your area to learn how to make your workplace more diverse, equitable, and inclusive.
Five tips to gain recognition at work
Workers nationwide say they feel unappreciated at work. In fact, according to Inc. magazine, more than 60 percent of workers feel unappreciated on the job.
But there are ways to make yourself and your work shine.
1. Be positive and approachable. Accept assignments with a confident smile, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Greet others cheerfully. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Stay out of the gossip mill. Show others that you value your company and your job.
2. Stay organized. Keep your obligations and deadlines top of mind. Keep your desk tidy.
3. If you want greater responsibility, talk to your boss. Summarize what you have achieved in the past and explain why you think you could contribute more.
4. Lift others up. Your colleagues are more likely to recognize your work when you notice and appreciate theirs.
5. Take the initiative. Offer possible solutions to problems when you see them — don’t wait for your boss to assign a task.
CEOs fear recession in the near future
No matter the day, week, or year, if you check out business headlines, there’s a good chance that you’ll read that the sky is falling. Thing is, one day, the doomsayers will eventually get it right. With 90 percent of chief executive officers predicting a recession, their fears may seem plausible.
Consulting firm KPMG conducted a survey quizzing 40 leaders at major American companies regarding their outlook. The results are that 91 percent of CEOs believe that a recession will occur within the next 12 months. Worse yet, many fear the economy may take a long time to recover.
Unemployment goes up in a recession because there is a decline in trade and business activity.
Unfortunately, such dour sentiments may morph into a self-fulfilling prophecy. Roughly half of the CEOs reported that they were planning layoffs. If business leaders move to position their organizations for a recession, such as instituting layoffs or reducing investments, it could create a drag on the economy. This, in turn, could generate a self-sustaining feedback loop with a souring economy forcing companies to take even more drastic measures.
There’s some good news, however. Many business leaders believe their company is now better positioned to deal with an economic contraction. Further, many company leaders hold a positive long-term view.