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Chairman John Cruise President/Executive Publisher Steve Levine Vice President/Publisher/ Creative Director/Editor Barbara Davis-Levine 'LMIJ*MRERGMEP3J½GIV Ervin Hughes Publisher’s Assistant Jerome Davis Graphic Designer Genera Media Photographers Gwen Juarez Contributing Writers Chip R. Bell Nick Darlington Barbara Davis Ruben Gonzalez Hank Moore

Christi Ruiz Gail Stolzenburg Pam Terry Jack Warkenthien Aimee Woodall

Chief Advisor Hank Moore Publisher’s Advisory Board Denise Adjei Sonia Clayton Donna Cole John Cruise April Day Dr. John Demartini Maya Durnovo Kathie Edwards Mila Golovine Dory Gordon Greg Grant David Holt Richard Huebner Ervin Hughes Jeffrey Jones Darryl King Sandy Lawrence Craig Klein Wea Lee Bertrand McHenry

Hank Moore Lisa M. Morton Mike Muhney Leisa Holland Nelson Annise Parker Page Parkes Howard Partridge Susan Repka Maria Rios Grant Sadler Tony Samper Rita Santamaria William Sherrill Gail Stolzenburg Pam Terry Linda Toyota Mayor Sylvester Turner Jack Warkenthien Carlecia D. Wright Aaron Young

Phone: 832-419-2814 E-Mail: Steve.Levine@SBTMagazine.net Or Write: Small Business Today P.O. Box 31186 Houston, TX 77231 See us on the web at www.SBTMagazine.net




nother year has passed and we have a chance to write a new chapter in the book that is our life and/or our business. Was 2016 a great one for you, your family, and your business or a bit of a disappointment? I must admit that 2016 had its share of blessings and challenges for us. For example, our last issue (November/December) was only the 5th issue that we published of our (normally) monthly magazine. Most of that was due to Barbara’s poor health and the extreme pain she was in due to her needing a hip replacement. As a result she had difficulty focusing on the writing and editing of the magazine. I am happy to report that Barbara has had her hip replacement and also her heart condition is under control. She is no longer using a walker and is navigating just fine on a a new cane. We are “back on track” and are even starting a new quarterly magazine focusing on the health and wellness of our federal employees. Health Under Government Employment (H.U.G.E.) is making it’s debut in December. In the meantime, check out the website: www.HUGEMag.net. It has great advice for everyone on being in the best shape that they can be! I have always believed that life is about choices and changes. The choices we make this year will determine the life we lead and the business we run. A new year gives us the chance to do just that. It gives us a chance to make better/different choices and approach changes (which are inevitable) with a different outlook. Learn from your past experiences and realize that setbacks give you a chance to be a stronger, better entrepreneur and person. This month’s cover honorees, Mike & Mary Homma of Gap Engineering, know that they must keep their team motivated and armed with the latest information that they need to get the job done. They know that education and communication are paramount to the success of their business. You will indeed enjoy their story. It is time to let you get started on this first issue of the new year. Let’s make it a great one! Success to you! Good Reading, Good Sales, & Success to You,


President/Executive Publisher, Small Business Today Magazine




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03 12 14

Publisher’s Column


Management Styles

How to Deliver    Seriously Sparkly Service  


Starting A Networking Group – Part 2  


Financial Astrology January 2017

Your Next Step – Top 10 Needs of  Small Business Owners

 15 Leveling Up in 2017  (And Beyond)                       16 Productivity Tools for  Public Speakers

INSIDE :9;C;GN=J WBEA Oge]fk:mkaf]kk Enterprise alliance




A Powerful Duo…Committed to Filling the Gaps Through Innovation



ike and Mary Homma are truly a powerful duo. Married for over 30 years, they have worked hard at having a successful marriage. Likewise, they made the decision to work hard in having a successful business together, which is no easy task being with someone 24/7, day and night! As the saying goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention”, and that certainly is the case with the Hommas. Life wasn’t easy in their early years of marriage, but the necessity for them to pay rent, tuition, and support a growing family was the driving force that sparked their various entrepreneurial endeavors. Eventually culminating in an innovative company committed to filling the gaps… Gap Engineering, Inspections, and Construction was born.

Mike & Mary Homma are terrific partners in life and in business. Photo by Gwen Juarez

In addition to Mike and Mary, Stan Kersch was also a partner when Gap first began in 2004. Through the founders’ innovative thinking, they were able to identify certain gaps that needed filling in the engineering industry. In addition to engineering, Gap specializes in automation, electrical design, and construction.

The automation they do is largely industrial. They install and upgrade control systems that run refineries and chemical plants, which include the wiring and instrumentation. The company focuses on engineering, design, and construction of these control systems which can also include specifying all the instruments and components required. They are also involved in assembling smaller control panels that run individual pieces of equipment. But, these control panels are subcontracted. They established Gap through their filling gaps in client organizations, with a major focus on refineries. During the early 2000s, companies were restructuring, and so, many organizations were downsizing. Employees were either retrenched or companies were waiting until their retirement. The focus was on letting go of those employees who were the biggest cost to the company. These employees were also generally the most experienced. So, Mike and Stan filled these gaps by hiring these people with their specialized skills. Since then, Gap has grown from 2 to 25 employees. Mike bought out Stan in 2010 and Gap is now largely a family business. Despite their current success, things haven’t always been easy for the Hommas.

being part Shoshone, Navajo, and Irish, and her dad Shoshone, Ute, and French. Mary cannot remember when her parents met but she suspects it was after they both returned from different boarding schools. In their grievous attempt to westernize Native Americans, the U.S. forced the children to attend boarding school. In addition, the children were prohibited from speaking their language and this contributed toward the destruction of the Native American culture. Thank goodness, this shameful practice no longer exists but the long-term damage remains! Mary has fond memories of her dad who was a Sundancer. The Sundance is a ceremony still practiced by some indigenous people of America and Canada. It involves people gathering to pray for healing and offering up personal sacrifices for their families, their community, and the world. To become a chief, one must dance at least 14 times and follow a stringent process thereafter. In his late fifties, Mary’s father opted to no longer follow the arduous practice but had instilled the customs in the family. Four of Mary’s late brothers were also Sundancers.

Mike and Mary grew up in Utah. Mary is from Neola and Mike is from Salt Lake City. Besides growing up in the same state, Mike and Mary came from different backgrounds. Mike was exposed to entrepreneurship from a young age and had an interest in computers, math, and science. Mary did not want to depend on the government and became employed at the young age of 14.

Sadly, Mary’s parents have since passed away but she still endeavors to practice these customs. She even incorporates the customs into her work. She says, “I pray by myself [it’s believed that looking at your prayer feather sends your words, thoughts, and feelings to The Great Spirit]. I use cedar and sage with a hawk wing and many blessed eagle feathers.” Feathers are an important part of Native American symbolism, with the eagle feather a symbol of honor.

Growing up in Neola, Mary was second to last out of a family of 15! She is part Ute, Shoshone, and Navajo. Both her parents were Native American; her mom

As a youngster, Mary’s parents were in assisted living. Because she wanted to support herself, she started working for a community swimming pool. She ex-

plains, “I was one of the counter people. Our job was to collect money, wash towels, and clean toilets.” Thereafter, she had several periodic jobs. She dropped out of school in the eleventh grade, married her first husband, and conceived two children. This was long before meeting Mike. Supporting her family was difficult back then; she was even working while pregnant. In contrast, Mike of Japanese descent, grew up in a small family with two other siblings. He has one sister and one brother. His mom and dad were both born in the U.S., while his grandparents were not. He speculates that his grandparents arrived in the U.S. in the early 1900s to seek out a better quality of life, as life was tough in Japan. Following Pearl Harbor, life was quite difficult for his parents in the United States. On his father’s side, the government placed them in concentration camps. On his mother’s side, they were placed under house arrest in the small town of Ely, Nevada. The family in Ely weren’t perceived as a threat by the local government, so they were allowed to move freely around. Mike’s mother returned to Japan three to four years before World War II with her older sister, younger brother, older brother, and Mike’s grandfather. Because they were Japanese with American heritage, they were treated poorly and conscripted into the Japanese military, stripped of their rights, and ostracized from the rest of the family. At 22, his mother returned to the U.S. after World War II where she later met Don Homma, the man she would later marry. Growing up, Mike was interested in electronics and computers. When he attended college, he became aware that chemical engineers were paid more. He jokes, “I realized that chemical engineers [ JANUARY 2017 ] WWW.SBTMAGAZINE.NET 7


Meet Gap Engineering’s “Power Team!” They are (left to right, back row) Michael Yeh, Buchanon Dowling, Troy Snead, Ryan Ramsey, and Adam Magruder. Front row, left to right are Mary, Dana Hewling, Mike, and Jeannette Oyervide. Photo by Gwen Juarez

were higher paid, so that’s the way I went.” But to his surprise, when he entered the engineering industry, he was able to combine his interest in electronics with his degree. He states, “I found that doing process control as a chemical engineer allowed me to play with all the expensive toys [computers].” Mike credits his entrepreneurial spirit to his parents who were both self-employed. His dad owned many businesses, mostly in manual labor. Mike wasn’t interested in manual labor so he decided to study chemical engineering instead. Were it not for his parents, he may not have mustered up the courage and motivation to start his first business - a teen disco in Salt Lake City. Mike’s father has now passed away but he is still blessed to have his mother, Yeiko Homma, who is 91. After running the disco for a period of time, Mike had to shut it down. Shortly thereafter, Mike received an offer to move all the equipment to an Indian reservation in Fort Duchesne, Utah. An Indian reservation is an assigned area

of land managed by a Native American tribe, under the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, separate from the U.S. Government. There he ran the bar for the Bottle Hollow Resort. Initially, there were two barmaids. Mary, from nearby Neola, was the third barmaid they hired. That is how Mike and Mary first met. Mary recalls, “We had this chemistry. He would flirt with me by throwing pieces of ice and beer tabs at me. We would throw that back and forth. One New Year’s Eve, I asked him if he wanted to go to an after-hours New Year’s party. He agreed, and we have been together ever since!” In fact, they’ve been together for 36 years, of which they have been married for 30. The Hommas currently have four living children out of six. Tragically, two have passed away. The early years were a struggle. The Hommas not only had a family to support but they also had to pay Mike’s tuition fees. Ever resourceful, they were always coming up with innovative ideas to make money. One of their businesses involved removing gold pieces from


electronic boards and returning it back to gold. Mike remembers one gold piece being about 10 ounces! Mike was even a cook in a Chinese restaurant during that time. While times were hard, Mike was motivated to graduate and build a successful engineering career. Following his graduation, Mike started working for Hercules Aerospace (Utah) in 1985. He made carbon fiber for the military. He did this for five years before the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty was signed with Russia. The treaty led to a drop-in production and Mike knew what this meant. “The writing was on the wall!”, he exclaims. “It was only a matter of time before they laid people off.” So, he went to work for Fina Oil and Chemical in Big Springs, Texas. While the pay was better, Mike realized that the rules for making money were set. “Because of how they structure salary increases, I was never going to get enough increases to reach everybody else”, Mike recalls. “They told me it would be better to go elsewhere once I had enough experience in the oil business.” So he went to work for Coherent Technologies.

Never losing his entrepreneurial spirit, Mike created another business called M and M Computers. Mary recalls, “My son and I would put the CPUs together while Mike was working. When he returned home, we would eat, and then assemble the computers together. We sold many computers for the police department and several elementary schools.” They did this on a small scale for a few years before heading to Callidus Technologies in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Callidus Technologies specialized in building combustion equipment like burners and flares. Shortly thereafter, Mike accepted a position at Aspen Technologies in Houston. Two years in, they started laying people off, so Mike returned to his roots in engineering and construction. He went to work for an engineering company called Magen Automation. They too ran into difficulties. Mike states, “They asked us to sell our own work, which was possible then. Later I decided to enquire if I could become a partner by buying stock in the company. But, this was impossible.” With no incentive to stay, Stan

and Mike started Gap and Mary was the secretary then.

tough economic times and in 2010, Mike bought Stan out.

Mike drew from their retirement money and used credit cards to start the company. Mike and Stan started as contract employees. “We were contracting back to the big companies and acting on their behalf ”, remarks Mike. Stan had a project to upgrade the instrumentation for a refinery (Valero) in Oklahoma, and Mike was working with Motiva. The company started through these two long-term projects with Stan and Mike filling gaps in larger organizations. The two projects lasted three to four years.

As Gap expanded, they hired their daughter Merlaine Martinez to help with technical computer work. They also hired many of the experienced engineers who were laid off during the early 2000s. Currently, their team is 25 employees strong. Mike and Mary are President and Treasurer, respectively. Their son Mark is an engineer and Vice President on the Gap Board of Directors, and Merlaine now helps with the accounting. Miko Homma works part time helping with data entry and the youngest, Mike Homma, Jr., works in AutoCAD and drafting.

The company began evolving. “They liked the work we were doing”, states Mike. “Both of us had gone in, fixed everything, and made it work. We started picking up extra jobs. We then switched hats and became contractors who were selling back to big clients. We were now the people other people were managing. Despite having less control, we were bigger and there was more money on offer.” Their team grew, but they also experienced

The Hommas have the utmost appreciation for the dedication and hard work of their employees and contractors. “Without them, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” expressed Mike and Mary. As the company continues to expand, the Hommas recognize the opportunities that are there for Gap and other small business-

Mike and Dana are seen here inspecting a new product for “Unique Cosmetics. Photo by Gwen Juarez


Mike and Mary believe in team work and continuing education. Photo by Gwen Juarez

es. Within the last year, they also identified the importance of branding and marketing in their efforts to become a larger company. Mike remarks, “If you act like a small company, then people will think you’re a small company. It doesn’t matter if you know you can deliver on the job. What matters is what your clients think. You have to prepare for meetings. You can’t show up to meetings in jeans and a t-shirt. Competing requires you need to act like you’re already a big company. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.” With this realization as a driving force, the Hommas focus on networking. They recently returned from the Houston Minority Supplier Development Council (HMSDC) Oil and Gas Expo. The HMSDC assists in connecting corporate members and minority business enterprises for mutual value. At the Expo in 2015, Mary was instrumental in acquiring several connections in Entergy, the electrical power company. They landed several contracts, and in 2015 it was the single largest source of revenue! This year, they’re also poised for more growth after they attained 10 solid contacts. In comparing why there was such a marked improvement, Mike says, “The difference was the preparation before we went to the event. We emailed and called before to remind people we were attending. We tailored our pitches according to each client. We started to participate at a higher level!”

It’s such preparation and homework upfront that Mike recommends for other aspiring small business owners. When asked what he would have done differently, if he knew what he knew now, he said the following, “Doing more homework and gathering more knowledge is essential. The difficult thing is that you often only gain this through the “school of hard knocks” - that’s often the harsh reality of it. Secondly, connecting with mentors is also important, but again it isn’t always easy. Lastly, using resources like the HMSDC from when we started.” Aside from the HMSDC, there are other company associations that are propelling growth for Gap. They are also associated with the Asian Chamber, while Mary is affiliated with the Native American Chamber of Commerce. The Hommas also recently received their 8(a) Certification for government work through the SBA. In addition to Gap, Mike has a company in its infancy entitled Unique Cosmetics featuring the patented line of nail polish and topcoats with the product name of ChillZone. What’s great about the product is it’s fast drying, long-lasting, does not need UV light, and can be easily taken off with nail polish remover. They’re also focused on helping the community. Mary says, “We donate money to


the Houston Livestock Rodeo Association Scholarship Program once a year. We also give back to the Native American Chamber of Commerce through helping children on reservations. Lastly, we also give to the Star of Hope and Feed the Children. While starting any business is hard, as a married couple, there are different dynamics. It can be difficult to separate business from private life. Mary says, “We are always butting heads. Everything that is bothering me I write down and then we discuss it”. Mike continues, “As a married couple, there is always going to be one person who runs around wanting to do everything while the other hits the brakes. Mary is the compass who steers us back on course”. Achieving balance then, is key. Mary goes on to say, “For a marriage-run business, loyalty, honesty, and transparency are crucial!” Mike and Mary have come a long way since the early days. They’ve raised a family, suffered loss, experienced many milestones, paid off student loans, and launched several businesses. They complement each other just right in providing the perfect balance for the continued growth and success of Gap Engineering, Inspections, and Construction. One thing remains certain: together they are a powerful duo committed to filling the gaps through innovation. SBT

Mike is always available in person and through phone and emails, etc., to service his clients and work closely with his team. Photo by Gwen Juarez

Eac]Yf\EYjqkAffgnYlan]A\]Yk^gjKm[[]kk 1. You need to be financially prepared. Don’t start a 7. Establishing your branding early on is essential. business if you’re in debt. Running a business isn’t always a pleasant ride and you need that safety 8. Have a solid plan. Creating a business plan will asnet. sist in acquiring the necessary finances. 2. Business is tough and it helps to have a backup 9. Be prepared at all times, not only before you esplan. For example, if your business is suffering fitablish your business, but also before you meet with potential clients. nancially in one month, having alternative sources of revenue will soften the blow 10. Know who your ideal clients are and seek them out even before you open your doors. 3. Persistence is key. You need to realize that a business will consume your life for a few years. You need to be prepared to work beyond the regular 8 11. Good mentors are difficult to find, but try and to 5 job. find one as it will improve your odds of success. 4. Transition your business into a medium sized 12. Make use of resources. For example, companies business as soon as you can. Transitioning will like HMSDC can help your small business grow. allow you to grow beyond a one-man-show, and improve your quality of life. 13. Remaining honest and transparent throughout is critical. 5. A key part of transitioning is learning to delegate. You don’t have to do everything yourself. 14. Integrity is also crucial. 6. Don’t underestimate what you need to do to mar- 15. Never, ever give up, and always remember to have fun. ket and brand yourself. A key part of this is to ensure that when people see you or your company name, they know exactly what it is that you do. [ JANUARY 2017 ] WWW.SBTMAGAZINE.NET 11




rganizations should coordinate management skills into its overall corporate strategy, in order to satisfy customer needs profitably, draw together the components for practical strategies and implement strategic requirements to impact the business. This is my review of how management styles have evolved. In the period that predated scientific management, the Captain of Industry style prevailed. Prior to 1885, the kings of industry were rulers, as had been land barons of earlier years. Policies were dictated, and people complied. Some captains were notoriously ruthless. Others like Rockefeller, Carnegie and Ford channeled their wealth and power into giving back to the communities. It was an era of self-made millionaires and the people who toiled in their mills. From 1885-1910, the labor movement gathered steam. Negotiations and collective bargaining focused on conditions for workers and physical plant environments. In this era, business fully segued from an agricultural-based economy to an industrial-based reality. As a reaction to industrial reforms and the strength of unions, a Hard Nosed style of leadership was prominent from 1910-1939, management’s attempt to take stronger hands, recapture some of the Captain of Industry style and build solidity into an economy plagued by the Depression. This is an important phase to remember because it is the mindset of addictive organizations.

The Human Relations style of management flourished from 1940-1964. Under it, people were managed. Processes were managed as collections of people. Employees began having greater says in the execution of policies. Yet, the rank and file employees at this point were not involved in creating policies, least of all strategies and methodologies. Management by Objectives came into vogue in 1965 and was the prevailing leadership style until 1990. In this era, business started embracing formal planning. Other important components of business (training, marketing, research, team building and productivity) were all accomplished according to goals, objectives and tactics. Most corporate leaders are two management styles behind. Those who matured in the era of the Human Relations style of management were still clinging to value systems of Hard Nosed. They were not just “old school.” They went to the school that was torn down to build the old school. Executives who were educated in the Management by Objectives era were still recalling value systems of their parents’ generation before it. Baby boomers with a Depression-era frugality and value of tight resources are more likely to take a bean counter-focused approach to business. That’s my concern that financial-only focus without regard to other corporate dynamics bespeaks of hostile takeovers, ill-advised rollups and corporate raider activity in search of acquiring existing books of business.


To follow through the premise, younger executives who were educated and came of age during the early years of Customer Focused Management had still not comprehended and embraced its tenets. As a result, the dot.com bust and subsequent financial scandals occurred. In a nutshell, the “new school” of managers did not think that corporate protocols and strategies related to them. The game was to just write the rules as they rolled along. Such thinking always invites disaster, as so many of their stockholders found out. Given that various management eras are still reflected in the new order of business, we must learn from each and move forward. In 1991, Customer Focused Management became the standard. In a highly competitive business environment, every dynamic of a successful organization must be geared toward ultimate customers. Customer focused management goes far beyond just smiling, answering queries and communicating with buyers. It transcends service and quality. Every organization has customers, clients, stakeholders, financiers, volunteers, supporters or other categories of “affected constituencies.” Companies must change their focus from products and processes to the values shared with customers. Everyone with whom you conduct business is a customer or referral source of someone else. The service that we get from some people, we pass along to others. Customer service is a continuum of human behaviors, shared with those whom we meet.

Customers are the lifeblood of every business. Employees depend upon customers for their paychecks. Yet, you wouldn’t know the correlation when poor customer service is rendered. Employees of many companies behave as though customers are a bother, do not heed their concerns and do not take suggestions for improvement.

then management is the real cause of the problem. Customer focused management begins and ends at top management. Management should speak personally with customers, to set a good example for employees. If management is complacent or non-participatory, then it will be reflected by behavior and actions of the employees.

There is no business that cannot undergo some improvement in its customer orientation. Being the recipient of bad service elsewhere must inspire us to do better for our own customers. The more that one sees poor customer service and customer neglect in other companies, we must avoid the pitfalls and traps in our own companies.

Any company can benefit from having an advisory board, which is an objective and insightful source of sensitivity toward customer needs, interests and concerns. The successful business must put the customer into a co-destiny relationship. Customers want to build relationships, and it is the obligation of the business to prove that it is worthy.

If problems are handled only through form letters, subordinates or call centers,

Customer focused management is the antithesis to the traits of bad business,

such as the failure to deliver what was promised, bait and switch advertising and a failure to handle mistakes and complaints in a timely, equitable and customer-friendly manner. Customer focused management is dedicated to providing members with an opportunity to identify, document and establish best practices through benchmarking to increase value, efficiencies and profits. SBT

Website: http://www.hankmoore.com. Email: hankmoore4218@sbcglobal.net. Phone: 713-668-0664. Hank Moore has advised 5,000+ client organizations, including 100 of the Fortune 500, public sector agencies, small businesses and non-profit organizations.



Lgh)(F]]\kg^KeYdd:mkaf]kkGof]jk BY JACK WARKENTHIEN

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s we round the final turn of 2013, each one of us must position ourselves for two â&#x20AC;&#x153;outcomesâ&#x20AC;?: A fast (and furious?) finish for this current year, as most of us are on a calendar year versus a fiscal year, and a fast start for next year.  To that end, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time for a â&#x20AC;&#x153;pit stopâ&#x20AC;? to reflect and position your firm for the Winnerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Circle.  As I reflect on what our â&#x20AC;&#x153;raceâ&#x20AC;? strategy is, for the final three months, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d like r to share a few things for you to consider:




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"1MBOË&#x17D;.PTUPXOFSTIBWFUIJTWJTJPOPGXIBU they want to be and where they want to go, but they donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t document a PLAN.  Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a name for that.  A VISION without a PLAN is a hallucination! " 4BMFT $VMUVSFË&#x17D;  /PUIJOH IBQQFOT VOUJM something is SOLD, and yet so many company owners choose to have a Technology-Centric culture, or Operations-Centric, or many choose a Financial-centric culture.   Sales must be at the core of every firmâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s culture. "4DPSFCPBSEË&#x17D;"OË&#x17D;PXOFSNVTUJOTQFDUXIBU they expect, and you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t manage what you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t measure.  Agree on the important Metrics for the respective company, measure results, and post for all to see. " -FBEFSË&#x17D;  " -&"%&3 MFBET QFPQMF BOE B MANAGER manages things.  An owner must make sure they remember the difference. " 1BUI GPS &BDI &NQMPZFFË&#x17D;  0VS NPTU WBMVable assetsâ&#x20AC;Śour People.  In a Small Business, we must define a path for each employee based on THEIR destination, not ours.   The â&#x20AC;&#x153;Millennialsâ&#x20AC;? (Generation Y) who work for us are there for a good time, not a long time, and they require special attention. " %JWFSTF $MJFOU #BTFË&#x17D;  *G NPSF UIBO POF third of Sales revenue comes from one Client, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re exposed.  Assume youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll lose your largest Client this year.  Can you still hit your numbers?  Donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t sit back and take them for granted.   Stuff happens.   Diversify and have many Clients. "1VCMJD3FMBUJPOT4USBUFHZ *LOPXZPVMMMPWF this one, Matt!).  Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a HUGE difference between Editorial content and Advertising.




Your P/R Strategy is a â&#x20AC;&#x153;Pullâ&#x20AC;? strategy, as whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s written about you pulls new Customers towards youâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the visibility is far more credible than your Advertisements and a â&#x20AC;&#x153;Pushâ&#x20AC;? strategy.  One of the best things a Business Owner can do is to contribute articles to their local Business Journal, or â&#x20AC;&#x153;Letters to the Editorâ&#x20AC;? for the daily paper. "O&YJU4USBUFHZË&#x17D;&WFOJGZPVEPOUFYQFDUB â&#x20AC;&#x153;liquidity eventâ&#x20AC;? for years to come, be prepared for the VC firm thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been watching you from afar.  They may be considering an offer to buy your firm, and even if youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not interested, you MUST know what your firmâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s worth is.  Get an â&#x20AC;&#x153;appraisalâ&#x20AC;? and know what your respective â&#x20AC;&#x153;numberâ&#x20AC;? is, just in case. "7BMVF&RVBUJPOË&#x17D;.BLFTVSFZPVVOEFSTUBOE whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s unique about your business (U.V.P. or Unique Value Equation), since most of us sell a â&#x20AC;&#x153;commodityâ&#x20AC;? at the end of the day.  Ensure EVERY EMPLOYEE can answer this question: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re the ONLY ones who â&#x20AC;Śâ&#x20AC;Śâ&#x20AC;Śâ&#x20AC;Śâ&#x20AC;Śâ&#x20AC;Śâ&#x20AC;Ś..â&#x20AC;?, so you can differentiate. " 1BTTJPO GPS UIF #VTJOFTTË&#x17D;  8IFO UIF ĂłSF starts to diminish and youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re not passionate about the company, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time to make a change.  A convicted Owner is a successful one; so keep apprised of your industry and donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be intimidated at the speed of change.  In todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s economy, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not the Big that eats the Small, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the Fast that eats the Slow.  So today, when you wake up, ask yourself:  â&#x20AC;&#x153;Am I the Dinerâ&#x20AC;Ś..or the Dinner?â&#x20AC;?

Remember, in todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s economy and market--regardless of your industry or product/service--one axiom rings true: â&#x20AC;&#x153;WHEN IT COMES TO THE HUMAN RACE, THERE IS NO FINISH LINE.â&#x20AC;?  As Jim Collins states in one of his â&#x20AC;&#x153;Good to Greatâ&#x20AC;? books, the enemy of great is good.   Now is the time to tune your race â&#x20AC;&#x153;carâ&#x20AC;? and not coast to the finish in 2013.  Study each of the ten needs above and huddle with your race team.  Many people opine that the Pit Crew Chief is even more important than the Driver.

Âť;gflafm]\GfPage 20





o stand out in the business world, you need to do something valuable and unique— and you need people to know about it. Simple, right? Totally simple—you just have to have an integrated strategy, a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram, an SEO-optimized blog and a video production arm that creates snackable content.

O`]o&Aelaj]\bmkllqhaf_l`Ylk]fl]f[]& Marketing today, even for a small business, is complex. It’s a choreographed dance of content, cadence and clicks that makes even the most seasoned marketer go bonkers. There’s a reason there are so many articles that promise “10 Tools to Pump Up Your Digital Strategy,” and “Internet Ninja 101: How to Win Twitter,” and so on for infinity. The truth is, there’s a reason the marker seems so crowded: It IS and there is always something new to learn, to keep up with or to conquer so that your message is heard. The good news? The game keeps changing, but there is a true path to marketing success that will withstand the test of time. Here’s how you reach people no matter what year it is.

)& :];d]Yj& Like trying to follow a person’s rambling story about that one time they went on vacation to Croatia (or was it Latvia? Or was it Prague?) and they can’t keep the details straight, your brand needs a message. A clear one. One that speaks to the heart of what you do. Often called an elevator pitch, this bite-sized story needs to be communicated quickly and easily no matter where your audience encounters it. (Even though we all know people don’t chat on elevators anymore.)

Qgmj[mklge]jakfl ]n]jqZg\q ]n]fÚjkl%q]YjeYjc]laf_ klm\]flkcfgol`Yl&=eZjY[]o`g qgmj]eY\]^gj&?]l_jYfmdYj YZgmlo`gqgmn]ZmadlYZmkaf]kk lgk]jn]Yf\_gk]jn]l`gk] h]ghd]oal`_mklg&L`gk]l`Yl \gfl_]lal[Yfbg_gf& year marketing students know that. Embrace who you’re made for. Get granular about who you’ve built a business to serve and go serve those people with gusto. Those that don’t get it can jog on.

+& EYc]E]egja]k& Memorable brands are the ones that stick around. That’s why marketing experts are always chasing the “sticky” brand experience— one that people will remember and think fondly of for years. In a noisy world of brands competing for eyeballs and dollars, think about how you can create memories for your customers. How you can draw them in and wow them so hard they can’t help but tweet home about it. No matter what platform people are freaking out about next, no matter how “new” new media gets, these principles can guide you to a brand people don’t forget. SBT

Aimee Woodall is the owner of the Black Sheep Agency, a cause-driven brand strategy firm that works with impactful companies and organizations to activate people around things that matter. To reach her, visit theblacksheepagency.com, email info@theblacksheepagency.com or call 832.971.7725.

*& ?]lKh][aÚ[& Your customer isn’t “everybody”—even first[ JANUARY 2017 ] WWW.SBTMAGAZINE.NET 15


Productivity Tools for

HmZda[Kh]Yc]jk PAM TERRY


n this article, I’ll review a few apps that I have found to be winners and why.

LastPass For keeping track of all my passwords, LastPass wins. No matter what device, I don’t have to a) use the same password or b) remember any password. LastPass is free and for the most part, the free version worked for me until I became dependent on my phone for a lot of website access. I finally broke down and paid the $12 a year to be able to use LastPass on my phone and it has been well worth it. When Yahoo had a vulnerable break with passwords last year, LastPass sent me an email with all the websites that I needed to change my passwords and made it super easy to do so. If you’re the type of person that uses the same password for everything, you don’t need LastPass. However, once you understand the vital and critical importance to have different passwords, you should consider LastPass to make it super easy to keep up with them. LastPass can either generate super complex passwords for you or you can create your own. Either way, LastPass will remember them for you.

I finally discovered a super simple productivity tool, Toodledo, and love it. It’s super easy to use and becomes your to do list keeper on your laptop, phone, and/or notepad. It works across all of your devices and has five separate areas, Tasks, Notes, Outlines, Lists, and Habits. Although it’s only as good as your devotion to it, its simplicity and ease of use make it a winner. What I like about it is that I can put all of my “to dos” in one place and have access to them on

A^qgmj]l`]lqh]g^h]jkgf l`Ylmk]kl`]kYe]hYkkogj\^ gj]n]jql`af_$qgm\gflf]]\ DYklHYkk&@go]n]j$gf[]qgm mf\]jklYf\l`]nalYdYf\[jala[Yd aehgjlYf[]lg`Yn]\a^^]j]fl hYkkogj\k$qgmk`gmd\[gfka\]j DYklHYkklgeYc]alkmh]j]Ykqlg c]]hmhoal`l`]e&DYklHYkk[Yf ]al`]j_]f]jYl]kmh]j[gehd]p hYkkogj\k^gjqgmgjqgm[Yf[j]Yl] qgmjgof&=al`]joYq$ DYklHYkkoaddj]e]eZ]jl `]e^gjqgm&


my phone. I also like that I can group my tasks, not only for my projects, but also for my calls and errands.

I have tried just about every productivity tool out there or at least a multitude to help me keep up with all of my goals, tasks, to dos, and reference information for my business and my life. Most of these apps have been too complicated or cumbersome.

My problem with any task list is my lack of attention to it. I haven’t found an app, yet, that can help me create better habits. However, Toodledo does have a Habits section that I have yet to utilize. The only thing that has worked to


help me improve my work habits has been either an accountability partner or a coach. But, I find that Toodledo is the best tool for keeping all of my tasks, lists, and reference information handy and organized across my devices.

?gg_d]<jan] Google Drive helps me to access certain documents from anywhere. That’s a nice feature when you are using someone else’s computer. It also lets you share documents with your team. Sharing a document is important when your team needs to provide input and make changes on a document rather than emailing it back and forth. With Google Drive, you get 15G of free storage which includes Gmail, Photos, and documents on Google Drive. I find that Google Drive is a lot easier to use than Drop Box and you get a lot more free storage.

Waze I was a diehard Google Maps user until I read about and tried the Waze app. I found Waze to be better than Google Maps because of the real-time input from other drivers about police cited, potholes, accidents, and other road hazards. It’s free and the interactive feature makes it fun to use. It has a little bit of a learning curve but nothing major. What apps do you like to use to help you be more productive? SBT Pam Terry is a highly recognized speaker coach and marketing strategist. For a complimentary copy of her eBook, “How to Easily Develop a Presentation,” visit www.pamterry.com or contact Pam at 832-276-4153 or pam@pamterry.com.



Seriously Sparkly Service BY CHIP R. BELL


hen I grow up I want to sell kaleidoscopes! What could be more rewarding than helping customers purchase a product that brings such joy and pleasure? But, if you’ve been a small business owner longer than twenty minutes you know there is more to creating happy customers than ensuring they get happy products.

With the holidays upon us, and three young granddaughters with healthy appetites for unique animated things, I had been on the hunt for “the” present to light up their Christmas morning. The big boxes like Wal-Mart, Target and Toys “R Us had the usual predictable stuff. So I realized my find was going to come from a small business. One stop along the path to squeals was a small toy store on Main Street. It specialized in unique, hard-to-find toys. Once inside the story my eye spotted a tiny pink drone for $35. The picture on the box was of a girl about ten years old operating the remote controlled drone. “Tell me about this toy?” I asked the storeowner. “It flies,” he said as if that thought had not occurred to me. “Is it safe for an eightyear-old?” I continued, trying my best to turn the corners of his mouth in a direction that matched the objective of the toy. “It depends on the eight-year-old,” he said without looking up. His unhelpfulness began to provide a clear reason his shop was so tiny…and, uninhabited except for me. “I’ll keep looking,” I told him as I backed out of his now chilly shop. As the door closed, I heard him cynically say, “Suit your self !” Later that day I logged onto Kaleidoscopes To You.com in Manly, IA. Just the name gave me hope this was a customer-centric enterprise. Bad visions of “Unique Toys for Me” were still in my head as I thought about how hard the shop-

Oal`l`]`gda\Yqkmhgfmk$Yf\l`j]]qgmf_ _jYf\\Ym_`l]jkoal``]Ydl`qYhh]lal]k ^gjmfaim]YfaeYl]\l`af_k$A`Y\Z]]f gfl`]`mfl^gj l`] hj]k]fllgda_`l mhl`]aj;`jakleYkegjfaf_& keeper had worked to make sure I did not buy his toys. Their website was colorful and fun; ordering was easy and simple. My order was for a unique combination of a kaleidoscope and a colorful liquid motion wand—the one with slow moving sparkly oil inside. The video on their website showed the image of colorful fireworks this combination created. The order came faster than I expected. It was actually more attractive than the gorgeous photo on the kaleidoscopestoyou.com website. But, here is the best part. The invoice had a smiley face and a personalized hand written note from Karl that said, “Thank you and enjoy. Please do visit us again some time!” And, this was just a $16 item! It was a kaleidoscope response to a kaleidoscope order! And, now for the rest of the story. My newest book coming out in February is entitled Kaleidoscope. I needed a special gift for the fifty or so people I am asking to help me with book promotion. “Why not a kaleidoscope?” I thought. So, I not only ordered fifty kaleidoscopes, I called kaleidoscopestoyou.com to thank them for their great service. Guess what!! The Karl who signed my invoice is Karl Schilling, co-owner of the company along with his wife, Jean. Now, that is seriously sparkly service! SBT Chip R. Bell is a renowned keynote speaker and the author of several best-selling books. His newest book is Kaleidoscope: Delivering Innovative Service That Sparkles and will be released in February [ JANUARY 2017 ] WWW.SBTMAGAZINE.NET 17


Starting A Networking



n part one we covered aspects of Starting a Networking Group such as: Your reason Why, Law of Reciprocity, Group Type, Location, Goals, and Recruiting, We continue the criteria in this article.

Leaders - John C. Maxwell says, “Everything begins and ends with leadership”. The selection of the group leaders (officers and committee chairs) is very important. Officers could include a president, vice president, secretary, and treasuer. Committee chairs could be membership, marketing, education, social media, visitors, growth, librarian, social events, and more. Everyone in the group should have a position because participation will increase referrals and retention. You may have heard that people will do more for recognition than they will for money. This applies to networking groups also. So leaders presenting certificates for accomplishments is a must.

Accountibility – It has been proved many times that measurement affects improvement. Very few of the business networking groups keep a weekly total on attendance, referrals, 121 meetings, visitors, income generated, and eduction sessions. How would your members feel if they received a report each week showing the progress of every member in the group? What if they had a weekly newsletter that refreshed their memory about referrals requested, upcoming events, and visitors to be invited for next week’s speaker? Publicity – Promoting your group through newspapers, trade shows, emails, and social media is a great way

to have growth. What if each week there was a post on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, etc. about next weeks speaker, achievements by members or upcoming social events? Meeting day/time – Most of the networking groups focus meetings on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, although there are a few meeting on Mondays and Fridays. Morning meetings seem to be more business focused, lunch meetings generally have a speaker, and evening meeting are more social. Training – Would you hire someone and ask them to just watch the other employees to learn what they are doing? Every successful company has a training program and it begins on the first day and continues for a period of time. Each member of a networking group should have specific training for their position in the group and they should also be cross trained. Meeting agenda- Rather than being about the members, the meeting agenda should be focused on visitors. They should see the opportunities for giving and receiving specific referrals, for learning networking techniques, for leadership training, for developing contact spheres, for access to resources, and for opportunities to help build the group. Education –,The education segment should be focused on networking education, rather than focusing on marketing or sales training, which are available through a number of credible organizations, some of which may have a representative in your group. Networking education can cover subjects from giving


elevator speeches to creating contact spheres. There should be a part of each meeting that is dedicated to networking education. Personal Development – Networking is really about personal development so it should be stressed at each meeting. Nothing in GREAT until you change. The way to change is by growth and the key to growth is intentionality. You might ask yourself the same two questions that John C. Maxwell asks himself every day: “What am I doing for personal growth?” and “What am I doing to help others grow”? The best way for you to grow intentionally is to make a commitment, in fact, make the commitment public so it will have meaning. Then identify the areas you want to grow in and set aside one hour each day to focus on them. Finally, share your growth with others. Mentoring – Most successful people have mentors in various areas of their life. Mentoring is different from coaching or training. Successful networking groups have a mentoring process where they are able to share experiences, set goals, check progress and hold members accountable. Of course, there are other aspects of Starting a Networking Group. If you implement the ideas shared in Part 1 and Part 2 you will have a good start. See you at the next networking event! SBT Gail “The Connector” Stolzenburg Author of “Connections Now – Contacts to Clients” Gail@GailStolzenburg.com 281 493 1955 www.GailStolzenburg.com


Financial Astrology



ercury goes direct ( forward) on the 8th into the sign of Sagittarius. Full Moon in Cancer on the 12th of January 2017.

F]oFggfaf9imYjamkgfl`]*/l`g^BYfmYjq*()/& Aries March 21st to April 20th – Mercury direct in Sagittarius will bring understanding and resolve to conflicts. The Full Moon in Cancer will have you focus on controlling your emotions and creating a strong foundation for your business. The New Moon in Aquarius may create difficulties with those around you that may feel left out. Use your diplomacy to harmonize those feelings and seize opportunities for success. Taurus April 21st to May 21st – Mercury direct in Sagittarius brings future projects and legal matters to the forefront take your time and do not rush things. Full Moon in Cancer, do not follow impulsive urges to jump ahead. This is time for you to be patient. New Moon in Aquarius brings offers for you to take the lead, or to make a fresh start. You will have the right progressive attitude at this time.

Gemini May 22 to June 21  – Mercury direct in Sagittarius brings the opportunity to tie up loose ends so you can move into a new cycle. Full Moon in Cancer allows your intuition, imagination, and heart to direct your movements and decisions. The New Moon in Aquarius will bring out your inventive, innovative and friendly persuasive personality. Take this time to get rid of debt. Cancer June 22nd to July 22nd – Mercury direct in Sagittarius will give you the desire for freedom from restrictions. Get rid of the things that are holding you down such as old commitments or associates. The Full Moon in Cancer brings empathy as you allow others to take the lead. This is a good time to expand your interests. The New Moon in Aquarius brings insight into a previous unexplained matter. Talents/resources can be shared profitably. Leo July 23rd to August 22nd – Mercury direct into Sagittarius brings creativity and recreation that will benefit you financially. The Full Moon in Cancer brings the opportunity to associate with idealistic people that would be good for your business. The New Moon in Aquarius will be a good time to plant what you want to grow in your business or with money dealings.

Virgo August 23rd to September 23rd – Mercury direct into Sagittarius will help fade and dilute old obstacles in logistics. The Full Moon in Cancer will bring new revelations and your own deep yearning for change. Be innovative with business and grasp new opportunities. The New Moon in Aquarius a clear path, you will see how to increase income. This is a time to investigate financial conditions of any new projects. Libra September 24th  to October 23rd  – Mercury direct in Sagittarius find that change of attitude or circumstances refreshes your enthusiasm on an old project or business opportunity. The Full Moon in Cancer makes great progress in your business and financial funds. The New Moon in Aquarius opens your heart to opportunities you have said no to in the past. Take time to reconsider alliances or collaborations. Scorpio October 24 to November 22 – Mercury direct in Sagittarius will clear up financial paperwork after you get past all of the confusion. The Full Moon in Cancer will assist you in getting your point across in business negotiations. The New Moon in Aquarius will bring unpredictable situations due to an influence of Mars, so sit back and be patient. Sagittarius November 23 to December 21st – Mercury direct in Sagittarius will allow you to redo with precision a project that was stalled recently. Focus on increasing your income. The Full Moon in Cancer brings financial prowess and ambition. The New Moon in Aquarius sets off local activities that will enhance your business and give you new ideas. Focus on improving the service you render others. Capricorn December 22nd to January 20th – Mercury direct in Sagittarius will be a great time to brainstorm an old subject from a new angle very productive and will bring you wealth. The Full Moon in Cancer your focus should be on committed partnerships that will bring a new direction or new money into the business. The New Moon in Aquarius will give you the financial leverage you may not have know you had. Look for ways to improve income, budgets and investments.

»;gflafm]\GfPage 20 [ JANUARY 2017 ] WWW.SBTMAGAZINE.NET 19


»;gflafm]\>jge Page 14 Your Next Step – Top 10 Needs of Small Business Owners Said another way, as the Business owner, you’re still the one in the cockpit, but you’d better have a trustworthy Crew Chief (ie. COO, V.P., etc) and engage him/ her early and often. Divide and conquer is always a better strategy than doing it all yourself.  As you’re delegating responsibilities--perhaps even assigning each of the needs to another trusted party--be sure to empower at the same time.  Sales are a Team Sport, and operating a company is truly a team effort.  Don’t fall into the pit that some owners end up in - they assign the responsibility but not the authority. I recall a time in the nineties where I was President of another Consulting practice. This was in San Antonio where Dan owned the firm, but I was the day-to-day operator.  I use the term loosely, since every decision I made was reviewed by Dan.  After a while, it became apparent to our Team, as well as to every Client we had, that I was a figurehead and why bother with me since Dan touched every deal.   What a business lesson I learned!  I was given the responsibility to drive Sales and profits, but no authority to decide anything.  Ever since that year, I warned my Clients not to do the same.  By the way, the postscript on that story - Dan is now comfortably retired in Magnolia, Texas, having built THE most expensive home in the 10-County area surrounding Houston from the Sales of his very valuable Consulting Practice. Finally, while you’re at it anyway, never lose sight of the fact that your most valuable assets are NOT furniture and fixtures, inventory, accounts receivable, or goodwill. Your treasure is in each of your employees.  This is the time of year to separate the laggards, if you have any, and send a message to your Pit Crew that you’re holding each one of them accountable for their actions. Cherish and love your contributors; make sure they know your expectations of them.   In doing so, you’ll position yourself for a run at the checkered flag in December, and a fast start at your next race that starts on January 1, 2014.  Best of luck to you, and I’ll see YOU at the finish line! SBT Jack Warkenthien, CEO, NextStep Solutions. Call him at 832-344-6998, Email him at jwarkenthien@nextstep-solutions.com, or visit him on the Web at www.nextstep-solutions.com

»;gflafm]\>jge Page 19 Financial Astrology January 2017 Aquarius January 21 to February 19th – Mercury direct in Sagittarius brings a shift in connections and preferences with new allies in business. The Full Moon in Cancer will be a time to release stress and tension, so that you can create a new or clear vision of your opportunities. The New Moon in Aquarius will promote the new increase in your income. Caution this is no time for self doubt; this would deflate your financial opportunities at this time. Pisces February 20th to March 20th – Mercury direct in Sagittarius will open a clear view of what you need to get going in the area of immediate future gains. The Full Moon in Cancer you may provoke ruptures in realignments in negotiations or partnerships. The Full Moon in Aquarius brings a chance to perform humanitarian acts. This also can improve your education and self worth that will impact your business. SBT Love & Light, Christi Ruiz Business and Spiritual Life Coach christiruizchristi@yahoo.com O: 713-773-0333 C: 281-904-2658 www.christiruiz.com

Profile for Digital Publisher

Small Business Today  

January 2017 / Houston

Small Business Today  

January 2017 / Houston