President Obama recently gave his address on jobs to congress, and it seems the solutions he’s presenting are more of the same that we’ve seen from the Bush and Obama administrations. What the president and congress seem to not understand is that funding, regulations, and taxes are not the biggest problems for small businesses, a lack of customers is! It’s not surprising, considering the fact that the president’s council on job creation is helmed by CEOs and board members of fortune 100 companies, with a token member who runs one of the largest labor unions in the country. There is ZERO representation from small businesses. Large businesses have essentially created zero net new jobs over the past decade- almost all new jobs in this country are being created by small businesses, so why aren’t the president and congress listening to those who actually know something about job creation? If they say that it’s too hard to find small businesses that are qualified to be representatives, that’s a problem that has a solution. Every year the SBA gives out awards to honor the best run small businesses in America- there are regional, state, and national winners for these awards (and in 2003 I was named Small Business Journalist of the Year for California.) Why not tap these business owners as a resource to give input on how the federal government can help small businesses? While I don’t claim to have the answers to the problems our economy faces, I do know what the problem is. Let’s end the focus on tax cuts, regulations, and funding, and focus on the real issue- getting more business!
Grocery store workers in Southern California have authorized a strike as part of their labor negotiations with the management at Ralphs, Vons, and Albertsons. Whether this leads to an actual strike or if it is just used as a negotiating tactic remains to be seen, but what we need to consider are the ramifications for small businesses that rely on supermarkets as anchor stores and those who service these markets.
Below is a press release I recently issued on this important topic that as of yet has been ignored by the press.
If your business relies on a supermarket for much of its business or as an achor store driving traffic to your location, please let me know by e-mail. Even if the rest of the media ignores this story, I will do my best to publicize this issue.
Innocent small business owners and employees in Southern California have a lot to lose from an impending grocery store strike, says small business expert Mark Deo.
With a strike authorized by the United Food and Commercial Workers becoming increasingly more likely, it is important that small business owners that have locations in shopping centers anchored by Supermarkets prepare now for the potential drop off in foot traffic.
The last major supermarket strike/lockout in 2003 cost the grocery stores $2 billion in business and many workers lost their life savings. What is often unreported is the drop off in business that the thousands of small businesses that rely on these stores incurred. Businesses that provide products for sale to supermarkets lost hundreds of millions in the last strike, and so did those merchants that have storefronts in areas that rely on supermarkets to drive traffic.
“If negotiations break down between workers and management, a strike could occur at any time” says small business expert and author Mark Deo. “It is important that business owners prepare now for the drop off in business they are likely to suffer”
He offers these five tips for business owners that may face difficulties:
- Create an emergency fund. To help you get through unexpected drop offs due to strikes, natural disasters, or other uncontrollable issues, save some money when sales are good. By committing a small amount per week to this fund, you can survive temporary reduced sales.
- Get contact information from your customers. At your storefront, obtain as many e-mail addresses as you can from your clients, which will allow you to maintain contact with them in the event of a strike. You can then use this contact information to offer specials or other reasons to get them to your location in case you see reduced foot traffic.
- Communicate with picketers. Meet the strike organizers at your location, and make sure that they understand that your business also needs access to the parking lot and driveways that are shared with the supermarket.
- Ensure your online presence is ready. In 2003, many small businesses weren’t engaging in e-commerce or had minimal online outreach to their prospects and clients. In 2011, most small businesses have websites, and you should make sure that your website is ready to sell your products online and accept payment in case you have disruptions at your location. You can also use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to reach clients and drive additional sales.
- Improve your delivery offers. If practical for your business, offer to deliver your products and services to those customers that don’t wish to show up to a location near picket lines. A modest delivery fee can help to recoup the additional cost. You may also find that this winds up being a valuable addition to your business model.
With the threat of a strike looming large, it is imperative that small business owners prepare for the worst, or they risk being a victim of a situation over which they have no control.
About Mark Deo
Mark Deo is an advocate and expert with over 20 years experience helping small business owners grow their business. He has hosted a show for CBS radio and appeared on the Fox Business channel, and has written articles for and been quoted by Business Week, Entrepreneur, Fortune, CNN/Money, the LA Times, the Hollywood Reporter, and numerous other publications. Mark was the “go to” expert for small business fallout due to the WGA strike in 2007, and has become a media favorite. In 2003 he was named “Small Business Journalist of the Year” by the Small Business Administration, recognizing his work as host of “The Small Business Hour” on CBS radio. His first book, “The Rules of Attraction” was one of Amazon.com’s top 100 business books for 2009, and his next book, “This Isn’t Your Daddy’s Business Anymore” will be published in early 2012.
I am sick and tired of hearing about how we need to stimulate funding for small businesses. As if that will have any impact whatsoever! The last thing a small business needs is more debt! On the contrary they are attempting to pay off the debt that they currently have. The problem for small business is NOT lack of funding, scarcity of loans or an inability to participate in the global economy. It is lack of demand. The plain, simple fact is that these businesses just don’t have ENOUGH CUSTOMERS because their customers just don’t have the disposal income that they once had. I am not at all surprised that politicians and economists have misconstrued this for so many years. At first I thought they were just “dim” and unaware of the real challenges facing small businesses. Then I began to realize that I was dim! Of course they are aware of this. After all they are Summa Cum Laude Harvard graduates who spend much of their time sailing, playing golf and attending dinners with bankers, corporate lobbyists and foreign financiers. They could care less about small business. In fact small business just amounts to the fruit fly in their Mouton Rothschild! Don’t you think it’s odd that in order to “save our economy” we used taxpayer’s money to rescue the banks and mega-corporations who were the very villains that brought about the real estate/mortgage debacle that tanked our economy? OK, so now we face the national reported unemployment rate of 9.5% percent. Right? WRONG! Today many experts believe that the true unemployment rate is more like 25% or more! We need to include those people who are looking for work, underemployed, or who have given up looking. We all know that the government cooks the books to make it look far rosier than it is. There are 28 million small businesses in the U.S. employing 83% of all non-government employees. Of these approximately 600,000 business owners employ 63% of the workforce. Can you imagine what would happen if they united? Can you imagine what would happen if politicians started listening to them? Can you imagine what would happen if we created laws, tax breaks and incentives for these, the real leaders of the free world? I could. It would mean the end of the good days for the political, financial corporate big wigs that got us into this mess and the beginning of prosperity for hard working Americans.