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Think You’re a Good Speaker?

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(This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur)

If you desire to be a truly professional public speaker, don’t make the same mistake that Steve from Florida made.  I’m calling him “Steve from Florida” because I’m a Howard Stern fan. Steve is a real person and this is a real story. Steve’s name is Steve, but he’s not from Florida. Steve from Florida doesn’t really know me and I doubt he remembers me. That’s the problem. He should. I certainly know him.

Steve was the speaker before me at a conference of regional bankers recently. He wasn’t a bad speaker. He seemed to know his topic. Of course, he should. Steve from Florida’s company provides financial management consulting services, products and training for CEOs and managers. Read More…

Why Should I Accept Your LinkedIn Connection?

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(This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur)

You just sent me an invitation to connect on LinkedIn. Should I accept it?

If I knew you, that would be one thing. I get invitations from lots of people that I work with or have personally met or emailed so that’s usually a no-brainer. I don’t understand how anyone in business can’t be using this professional social media service. I told my college-age kids (and their friends) when they first started looking for internships and summer jobs that the first thing they needed to do was setup a good LinkedIn profile.Everyone in business needs one. Every prospective employer looks at it.

What exactly is a good LinkedIn profile? It should be the same as your resume, because really, isn’t LinkedIn just a database of resumes? It should have a short description of your accomplishments, but not too long because we all know you’re a hard worker, passionate and committed, reliable — so is everyone else. For God’s sake, make sure your picture is professional and wasn’t taken at a happy hour or Game 6 of the NBA playoffs. This is LinkedIn, not Facebook, and I want to see what you’ll look like at work, not when you’re sweaty and drunk. I’m so shallow I’ve actually turned down job applicants because I hated their photo on LinkedIn. Read More…

4 Ways a Good Controller Helps Grow Your Company

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(This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur)

You know you’re no longer a really small business when it’s time to hire a controller.

When you started up the company all of your accounting was done by you or your spouse on a spreadsheet. Then you grew and moved the numbers from a spreadsheet to a basic accounting system. You grew a little more. You hired an outside accountant to do your books and tax returns. But you needed someone around more often. So you brought on a bookkeeper.

So that’s where you are. A couple of dozen employees. A bookkeeper. An outside accountant. But wait…your company is still growing. It’s getting close to the time where you need to hire a controller. Read More…

Here’s a Strategy for This Year: Be Afraid

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(This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur)

Monday, January 2nd was a holiday for most people. And hey, why not? The Federal government was closed. So were schools. It was the day after New Year’s Day and because New Year’s Day fell on a Sunday most companies were also closed. But not for some business owners I know.

While most employees at larger companies slept in and enjoyed the last few moments of their hard earned holiday break, all across my city some businesses and restaurants opened their doors. I saw coffee shops, dry cleaners, barbers, nail salons – even a pet supplies and a shoe repair store with its lights on. I also saw a few familiar street vendors at their usual place. Remember – this was on January 2nd, a Federal holiday and school holiday where most offices in the city were shut. But these people were working. Why? I know why.

They’re afraid.         Read More…

A Stupid 3-Word Phrase That Instantly Ruins Your Credibility

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(This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur)

I’ve just met you. You’re looking to buy a product or a service that I sell. I can see that you have the need. You ask questions. I answer them. Things are moving along. I think you’ll be a good customer. But then you say three words. And now I can’t trust you as much. Your credibility has been ruined.

“Money’s no object,” you say. Read More…

Cut Any Expense You Want But Don’t Dare Take the Coffee Away!

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(This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur)

I had a lunch the other day with a friend of mine who was just elected to be the managing partner of a mid-sized enginnering firm. Being the good manager that he is, he’s been reviewing the firm’s books to familiarize himself with how things operate. One thing took him by surprise.

“Coffee,” he said to me, shaking his head. “Can you believe that last year our firm spent close to $100,000 on coffee?”

I believed it, and I told him a hundred thousand dollars seems like a lot! But I also gave him some advice: for God’s sake, don’t take it away. Read More…

This Small Business Saturday, I’m Shopping at Amazon

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(This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur)

Small Business Saturday is coming. It’s the day after Black Friday and, if it is as successful as last year, it will yield more than $16 billion in sales for small and local merchants across the country. Small Business Saturday is a great marketing promotion that American Express created a few years ago. As a small business owner and one who writes about and speaks to small businesses, I’m a big supporter.

Even so, I’m shopping at Amazon. Read More…