How the talent shortage affects your kids

The talent shortage is affecting businesses across a variety of industries. As our world has moved firmly into the digital age, more and more companies are looking to hire employees who have digital skills, including web design, digital marketing, social media, and more. However, many businesses are finding that there aren’t enough job applicants who possess the required skills, resulting in a talent shortage.

It is not that recent graduates aren’t getting quality educations, but rather that educational institutions have not yet incorporated the needs of today’s job market into their curricula. The end result is that there are numerous jobs available in the digital areas of business, but those applying for the jobs don’t have all of the skills required.

If you have children, of course, you want them to have the best possible chance of success in their future careers. Particularly in the digital space, it is essential not to rely solely on formal education to develop the skills needed to be successful in the modern business world. Until the world of education catches up with the rapid pace of growth in this area, students may need to take it upon themselves to learn these crucial skills.

Encourage your children to expand their knowledge outside of traditional outlets. The more experiences you can expose them to, the greater their chances of discovering where their passions lie. Take the time to sit down with each of your children individually to discuss their goals for the future. Then, you can advise them on which skills will be most desirable to employers.

Of course, finding employment is not the only goal of getting an education, but it will help your kids find a way to get paid for doing what they love. Encourage your kids to think outside the box in terms of career opportunities and courses of study. When your child finds what he or she is genuinely passionate about, you’ll know which avenues of education make the most sense and which areas may need to be studied independently.

Talent shortages are not uncommon in the business world and most often occur after rapid advances in technology and techniques. The current workforce must act quickly to adjust to the latest trends, and those just entering the industry are in the best position to make the most of the latest developments. Because they won’t be bogged down by the way things were done in the past, your children can focus on driving future development and growth.

If your grown children are struggling to find employment in today’s rapidly changing business environment, don’t let them get discouraged. With a bit of creativity and effort, they can find a suitable job that makes the most of their innate talents and personal passions. Taking some time to further their education with the most in-demand skills in today’s market is often a better choice than trying to force-fit themselves into a job that isn’t quite right. Although we may never be able to eliminate the skills gap, our children have the chance to minimize it as best they can.

What if Your Customer Has a Point After All?

Sometime back in the early seventies, I was getting in our family car in a Kmart parking lot when I looked down and found a badly weathered eight-track tape (ask your mom) on the ground next to the car. The tape was in bad shape but closer inspection revealed that it was The Turtles’ Greatest Hits album.

I didn’t mention the find to my mom, because she would have made me report my find to a Kmart sales associate. “Uh, hello. I want to turn in a badly mangled eight-track tape that I found in your parking lot. Do I get a reward or anything?”

At the time, I had no idea who The Turtles were, but it was a free rock ’n’ roll album so I wasn’t going to be picky. When we got home, I begged my mom to let me sit in the car and play the tape on the car stereo, and guess what? I found that I actually liked two or three cuts on it, including the song that was written out of sheer spite.

There is hardly anything musicians hate more than getting notes from the suits, telling them how to make their music. Just after the Beatles’ huge hit, Eleanor Rigby, The Turtles received such a note from their label that said something like, “How about you guys writing something that makes lots of money like Eleanor Rigby?” If there’s anything musicians dislike more than being told what to do by record labels, it’s being compared to (who they believe to be) the competition.

The members of The Turtles were incensed. How dare those business people dictate how the band expressed themselves musically! Why didn’t they stick to running the business end of things and let them handle all the music stuff?

So, to make their point, they conceived an ingenious plan. They would outwardly comply with their label, while giving them the worst Eleanor-like song they could compose. The result was a song titled Elenore in which they included sappy, ridiculous lyrics like,
“I really think you’re groovy.
Let’s go out to a movie.”
Laughing in their sleeves because they had pulled one over on the record company, they recorded the silly song and presented it to their label.

Fortunately, the folks at the record company didn’t get the joke. In fact, they loved the song and released it for airplay. Elenore became one of the Turtles all-time biggest hits.

While you’re digesting that, chew on this for a minute. In 1853, Chef George Crum was attempting to satisfy the complaint of a cranky diner. The restaurant patron kept demanding that the potatoes he had ordered be sliced thinner and thinner. Finally, an exasperated Chef Crum sliced the potatoes as thin as possible, fried them, and sent them out to the diner to make his point.

The diner loved the chef’s sarcastic invention, and a new snack food was invented.

But what do potato chips and a song by a rock ’n’ roll band you probably haven’t heard of (or didn’t remember) have in common?

They both were phenomenal successes produced in response to annoying customer suggestions. Yes, they were produced in spite, but get this: it turned out that the customer was right after all. Sometimes, it pays to listen to the customer even when we are sure they are dead wrong.

The question we need to ask ourselves is: what if? What if we listened to input we receive from those we don’t like? What if we opened ourselves up to the innovation that comes from hearing other people out?

It might be the thing that propels your career, business, or relationships forward is the very thing that you least want to hear.

© 2020 Charles Marshall. Charles Marshall is a nationally known humorous motivational speaker and author. Visit his Web site www.CharlesMarshallSpeaker.com or contact him via e-mail at Charles@CharlesMarshallSpeaker.com

Should you lower prices now?

The impact of COVID-19 will go well beyond the pandemic itself, with serious effects expected on the global economy as well as on people’s lives. During periods of economic downturn, people’s incomes are limited, and their spending habits change significantly. To stay afloat and retain customers, some businesses will choose to revise their prices and fees downwards. Naturally, with the stiff competition that characterizes many markets, you may be tempted to follow suit. Even as you strive to make the right decisions for your business and customers, it would be essential to understand the visible and hidden adverse effects of lowering prices.

The negative effects of lowering prices

The negative effects of lowering prices can be categorized into visible and hidden outcomes—the visible results related to profits and sales volumes. While a good number of business owners think that lowering prices will help to drive sales, the move can lower your earnings by a significant margin. Reduced profitability will have a substantial negative impact, particularly on startups and small businesses. For any business to enjoy the same level of profitability after lowering prices, they will need to sell more products to customers. In a shrinking economy, it may be difficult to sell more than you used to do previously.

Apart from the visible effects, the hidden ones can have a considerable impact on your business. Cutting your prices may lead customers to believe that they will get lower quality from you. This notion could affect your reputation as a business that sells high-quality products or services. Another possible outcome is that long-term customers will feel that you have been overcharging them, a factor that could see you lose some of your current customers. Also, customers who think that they overpaid will not refer others to your business. You may also not end up attracting more new customers if your competition lowers their prices as well since things will still be the same.

With these effects, adjusting your prices downwards could be counterproductive, effectively dealing a blow to your efforts to drum up business, and as such, lowering prices during a recession would not be a smart strategy.

What you should consider doing

To help you get through the tough times, there are several steps that you can consider taking. With declining demand, you will need to come up with smart and innovative ways of keeping your business going. If you only handled big projects in the past, it would be time to consider taking on smaller projects with smaller budgets. Taking on more modest projects will not only keep you going but could also earn you new customers. Another option would be to provide free consultations while maintaining the prices of your products and services at the same level. Since the value defines the amount that customers enjoy, you can also choose to increase price and value simultaneously. However, this will require that you pick the right time and decide how much to change the prices. In the end, you will want to make changes while ensuring you encounter the least resistance from your customers.

In the long run, the pandemic will ease off, and the global economy will rebound. However, adjusting prices can have long-term effects that will take a long time to rectify. Provided you deliver value to your customers, we recommend that you charge what you believe is a fair price.

 

Rent Due? Renegotiate?

Should You Renegotiate with Your Landlord and Vendors in the Wake of COVID?

COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges for small and medium-sized business owners and managers. While we’re still learning what the true economic fallout of this pandemic will be, one thing is clear: companies that want to survive, and even thrive, need to double-down on efforts to manage cash flow. That means finding ways to deal with big-ticket expenses such as rent, contracted services and wholesale orders.

Should you try to negotiate a rent reduction?

One of the obvious strategies in light of the pandemic-related restrictions on businesses is to try to negotiate a rent reduction. This provides immediate financial relief, giving you time to reconfigure your business in a way that meets the current economic realities.

When deciding whether to seek a rent reduction or rent deferral from your commercial landlord, consider the following:

Who owns your building?

Is it a private investor, a property developer or a commercial investment firm? Understanding the short and long-term goals of your landlord will help you know whether they’re likely to accept a reduced rent or rent deferral arrangement.

What has your relationship been like with your landlord?

If you’re a good tenant with a positive tenant-landlord relationship, chances are good your landlord will want to work with you. On the other hand, if the relationship has been rocky, don’t be surprised if your landlord uses COVID as an opportunity to terminate your tenancy.

What are your long-term business plans?

Even if you’re unable to pay your full rent right now, you may be able to negotiate reduced or deferred lease payments with your landlord in exchange for extending your lease. From the perspective of the landlord, this may be a better option than losing you as a tenant, which means they’ll have to try to recruit another tenant — that’s not something most landlords want to do during a recession.

During the recession of the 1980s, commercial property vacancies nationwide skyrocketed from 4.9% to a staggering 18.9%, so there’s a good reason for your landlord to want to retain their existing tenants.

Can you enter into an income-sharing agreement?

Rather than thinking of your landlord-tenant relationship as an us-vs-them situation, consider proposing an income-sharing agreement. This arrangement involves paying a percentage of gross revenues rather than a set rental rate, and it’s commonly used in the agricultural industry where the landowner crop shares with the tenant farmer. Not only can this type of agreement help you stay in business, but it can also align the goals of all parties involved.

What about vendors?

Rent or lease payments aren’t the only big-ticket expense that many businesses can’t afford during COVID-19 — a number of companies are unable to meet their contractual obligations to their vendors. Whether or not you should try to renegotiate vendor contracts depends on a number of factors, including if your contract contains a Force Majeure clause.

A Force Majeure is an extraordinary event or set of unforeseen circumstances that prevent one or more parties to a contract from fulfilling their contractual obligations. If the right conditions exist, the contract will be temporarily suspended for the duration of the event that triggered the Force Majeure clause, and in some cases, one or more parties may be entitled to compensation.

Even if your contracts don’t contain a Force Majeure clause, you should be proactive by starting a conversation with your vendors about how COVID-19 has impacted your business. Given the global nature of this crisis, everyone has been impacted, so chances are good your vendors will be open to working out a plan that is viable for everyone involved.

Petal Area Chamber of Commerce

 

 

Our Task Moving Forward

Moving forward and accepting new realities is the task businesses, churches, non-profits, corporations, and individuals face ahead.   The destructive path of COVID-19 is much broader than health concerns.  It hasn’t left anyone behind, and in one form or another, we will all be affected.

There is a silver lining to the devastation that has struck.  It has brought out the best in many of us, as did Hurricane Katrina, tornados, floods, 9/11, and many other disasters.  But, the problem is that once we meet the challenge, we seem to revert to pre-disaster days, and our collective memory fades.  We move on, but don’t change.

This COVID event has demonstrated many inequalities and inadequacies in our country.   We now have an opportunity to do better and be better.  We have witnessed our abilities and talents redirected to face current challenges.  We have seen communities taking responsibility for meeting the demands of caring for each other.  We have observed heroes at work and at home.

From this point on, we need to face the realities before us and deal with the challenges.  Just re-opening our businesses is not enough.  It’s not enough to shop locally. More stimulus programs and strategies are not enough.  We must re-envision our role in moving forward.

We must envision who we are as an individual, business, or organization.  What is our worth to our community?  What do we do that is essential?   How can we leverage the partnerships and common goals which formed during the crisis?  How are we relevant?

Our task is not to simply get back to normal.  Our task is to build a better normal.  What must we do to make a better community and country?  It is our responsibility to seek, learn, and commit to practices that will uplift our nation.  The process has begun.

It’s About Main Street USA

As the world starts to ask what’s going to happen when this pandemic is finally over and we can look at what it will take to jumpstart the economy again, one venture capitalist says we have to save Main Street and not bail out banks and hedge funds. Chamath Palihapitiya said in a CNBC interview that the way back requires a different perspective.

“On Main Street today, people are getting wiped out. And right now, rich CEOs are not, boards that had horrible governance are not, hedge funds are not. People are.”

You know that we spend no time here at Small Biz Survival pointing fingers or laying blame, and we’ve been here with you for years helping rural and small town businesses navigate the world, and that’s why this interview might prove interesting to you. It’s an important voice telling the nation that your business is who needs the help.

Don’t Wait for Handouts

As with all things, anything the government intends to do to help your business won’t come quickly enough for most people. It’s your job to rebuild and get your business back to thriving. Don’t wait for the handouts at all, but when they come available, don’t let your pride get in the way of filling out a few forms to get some “wiggle room” on the way to your recovery. You’ve worked hard and deserve that money more than the usual people who get bailed out.

Get to the Core Business

Over the years, maybe you’ve added and added and added to your business. Coming out of this pandemic might be a time where people will want the core of what you do more than anything else. Everyone is dealing with information overload, choice fatigue, and overall world-weary feelings. Make everything easier by offering your core service. If you do people’s taxes, offer your tax time services and monthly/quarterly bookkeeping. That’s it. Don’t get all that heavy into the other offers. Look at what makes your business important and strengthen that, keep the the “extras” and choices to a minimum.

Upgrade Your Payment Methods Now

Make it easier to accept payment from different sources, such as PayPal, Venmo, CashApp. As people struggle to make ends meet, smaller and faster money transfer technologies are used more. It’s worth your time to get your ability to be paid in multiple ways up and running faster than not. Never forget that YouTube has plenty of free videos to walk you through the setup and use of any new app you don’t yet understand. It’s a lot easier than you think (with a little guidance).

Reach Out

When times are tough, we tend to clam up and go inside. We don’t want other people to know we’re going through a bad spot. And it’s fine not to highlight that too loudly, but rest assured. The entire world is in this with you this time. Everyone out there is missing a payment here and there. People are digging into their life savings more often than they want. You’re not alone.

Reach out to your buyers. If someone hasn’t been in lately and you know how to reach them, do it. Ask if you can help. Offer different arrangements, if possible and if that helps. Don’t cut your prices. Everyone has to eat. You’re not a charity (unless you are). But connect with people and make sure they know you’re here to help. Send mail if you have their email address. Call if you’ve got a number. Keep your customer base warm.

You’re Valuable

We’ve said it all along. Small town businesses and rural companies are the backbone of what makes this nation run. Don’t wait for the cavalry. You’re the one who will save your business and you’re the one who will put this country back on its feet. Go get it.

 

By Chris Brogan

Petal Counts!

The 2020 Census is live online! I can’t stress enough how important it is to complete the census. It can be completed online or you may have received the questionnaire in the mail. IT IS NOT A SCAM!  I have seen several posts from people questioning whether they should complete the form.  YES!!!  It is absolutely confidential and it is a crime for the census bureau to divulge your information to anyone else.  The government will NOT use this information against anyone.

If you have acquaintances, friends, relatives or co-workers that are unable or afraid to complete the form, please help them and inform them of the importance of the census.  An accurate census helps ensure fair representation at all levels of government, it directly impacts the process of planning for education, infrastructure and transportation, emergency preparedness, disaster relief and resiliency protocols.

Get Counted, Petal       Link to Internet Self Response

Aliens, Flying Monkeys, and the Coronavirus

I wanted to write a post addressing the coronavirus and what we can do to help our businesses.  However, I saw this article by Charles Marshall that had a different twist which may be helpful to some.   Valerie

These are scary times and I should know because I’m no stranger to fear. When I was nine years old I watched Earth vs. the Flying Saucers on TV and it flat out scared the living bejibbers out of me.

Most of the movie wasn’t all that bad. I could handle the flying saucers zipping around the sky. I was okay with the battle with the aliens on the military base. But the part that really got me was when the group of earth people entered the saucer. When that glowing, flower-shaped communication device slowly descended from the ceiling and (spoiler alert!) drained the brains of the general and policeman, for some reason that did me in. I was afraid to look around corners for days afterward for fear of aliens jumping out of the shadows and sucking my brains out.

Not that that would have hurt me that much. If my grades back then were any indication, it might have even added a couple points to my IQ.

I had the same experience when I first saw the Wicked Witch of the West’s flying monkeys on The Wizard of Oz. Man-a-livin’, that’s scary cinema. Again, the witch herself wasn’t that bad, but you throw some wings on a few dozen monkeys, and you have yourself a real horror flick.

Fear is a relative concept, though. It depends on the individual and the age in which you live. In World War I it meant bombs, bullets, and sometimes death by mustard gas. Just after WWI, came the Spanish Flu which infected about 500 million people and killed 20 or 30 million people. Then came the Great Depression with a 25% unemployment rate. Then came World War II with more bombs and bullets, and a couple of atomic bombs thrown in to boot.

The fact of life is: scary things come along all the time in history. And relatively speaking, we’re still okay right now for the most part.

Admittedly, life has recently changed for a great number of us and many people are panicking. Grocery stores are being raided for hand sanitizer, water, and toilet paper. I’m not really sure why people are stocking up on TP, though. My guess is they’re building toilet paper fortresses and barricading themselves in.

It’s not my intention to minimize the danger of this current heath scare because it’s definitely something we all have to think about. But I have found the best defense against worry and fear is to get a plan, so I suggest the following ideas to help you in both your business and personal lives.

Don’t focus on:

  • Things you can’t control. You’ll drive yourself nuts trying to control a crazy world. It’s far better to think about what you can do rather than what you can’t.
  • Sensationalist news reports. Yes, we all need to be in the know. But staying glued to your computer or television is not healthy, mentally or physically.

Instead, focus on:

  • Improving your office systems. Now is a great time to get rid of activities, equipment, and behaviors that waste your time and money.
  • Improving your customer service. Why not take advantage of this moment and use it to add value to your business? I have several YouTube videos that you can use to achieve this goal with your staff.
  • Your health. Yes, of course, you should wash your hands and use hand sanitizer. But now is a great time to start eating right and exercising. When so much is out of control in your life, you’ll feel a lot better if you can point to at least one area that has improved.
  • Your vision. It’s a great time to think about where your want to go and how you want to spend your days on earth.

Your goal during this time is to come out stronger than when you began. I know it doesn’t look like it, but we all have been given a gift. We have a pause in our society right now that will allow us a moment to re-set, re-focus, and re-prioritize.

So turn off your TV and come on out of that toilet paper fortress. The world is still a pretty great place and you need to be part of it.

© 2020 Charles Marshall. Charles Marshall is a nationally known humorous motivational speaker and author. Visit his Web site www.CharlesMarshallSpeaker.com or contact him via e-mail at Charles@CharlesMarshallSpeaker.com

This Little Dollar

Originally published in the Mississippi Business Journal. Permission to reprint with attribution to Mississippi Business Journal and Phil Hardwick.

THIS LITTLE DOLLAR STAYED HOME

This is a tale of two dollars. One stayed at home. One went to another town.

Once upon a time there were two dollars. They each lived with their owners in the small town of Make Believe in rural Mississippi. Make Believe was a nice little town. There was a Main Street that had lots of little shops that sold special items and arts and crafts and catered to people who drove through town. There was also a grocery store. There was even a doctor in Make Believe. It was a nice little town that was enjoyed by all its residents, none of whom wanted it to change.

This story of the first dollar is easy to tell. Its owner placed it snugly in her purse and drove 45 minutes to a nearby, larger town with a shopping mall. The owner stayed all day at the mall and spent the entire dollar on things bought in stores owned by big corporations in faraway states.

Part of the first little dollar stayed in that town and part of it went to the state government, but most of it went by electronic magic to another state. At the end of the day, the owner went back to Make Believe with all her treasures. Not one penny of the first dollar ever saw Make Believe, Miss., again.

The story of the second dollar is much different. The owner of the second dollar went to a little shop in downtown Make Believe. There the owner talked a long time to the shop owner about the beautiful merchandise in the store.

The shopkeeper told all about the things that were made right there in Make Believe. There were birdhouses built by Bob, beveled glass made by Beverly, blouses of silk designed by Betty, mocha chocolates by Missy, and even silverware crafted by Sam.

This owner of the dollar spent the entire dollar right there in the shop. The journey of the second dollar was much different from that of the first dollar. Yes, the first 7 cents arrived at the government in Jackson. One penny was sent back to the local town. So one penny of the sales tax came back to the Make Believe City Hall.

The owner of the shop took the next 50 cents and sent it to the manufacturers of the items that were bought. Because all of them lived right there in Make Believe, the 50 cents stayed there.

The next 16 cents went to the employee of the shop owner. Yes, you guessed it; the employee lived in Make Believe.

There was rent to pay on the shopkeeper’s retail space. It was paid to the owner of the building, who had lived in Make Believe all his life. The rent was 10 cents of the dollar.

There were operating expenses that the shopkeeper had to pay. Things such as utilities and maintenance and insurance. Sixteen cents of the dollar went to pay those expenses and some of the people that got paid lived in another town far away. Still, eight of those 16 cents was paid to people in Make Believe.

That left 8 cents. What would happen to it?

That’s right. Eight cents was the shopkeeper’s profit she got to keep. Of course, the shopkeeper lived in an apartment upstairs above the shop.

If we total where the second dollar went, we learn about 86 cents stayed in Make Believe.

I wonder what will happen to the 86 cents. Will the manufacturer, the employee, the real estate owner, the shopkeeper and the others spend the 86 cents in Make Believe? Or will they go somewhere else?

I wonder how much of the 86 cents will be spent in Make Believe. Because every time another penny is spent in Make Believe, the little town is better off because someone in Make Believe received it instead of another town.

Each person has a right to spend his or her money wherever and whenever he or she wishes. But when people spend their dollars in other towns, it does not help the economy of their hometowns.

The Tale of Two Dollars is told at this time every year because many people don’t know when they spend their money in their own hometown it helps their hometown.

You Asked, We Deliver

There have been numerous strategic planning sessions over the years in which the goal was to determine how to make Petal a better place to live and do business.  Scores of individuals have devoted time and energy into these discussions and many ixmprovements have been made.  Strategic planning is ongoing and ever evolving with new issues arising and old issues remaining to be solved.

One item that has been a constant on the list of “we would like” is more family friendly activities for our residents.  Often, the comparison is made that our next door neighbor, Hattiesburg, has Live at Five, Art Walks and the Brown Bag Lunch Series.  Why can’t we have some of those type of events?  Well, we can!

The Petal Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting the first Downtown FAM Jam (Food, Art, Music & FAMily friendly)  on Friday, November 15 from 5:00-8:00 at Wilson Square Park (newly named for the beautiful green space shaded by towering oaks behind Petal Family Dentistry on S. Main Street)  The event will feature live music, food vendors, arts & crafts and art activities for the kids.  Bring a lawn chair or blanket and enjoy the evening with friends.

Depending on the support and response to the Downtown FAM Jam, this could grow to be an annual event, quarterly event or monthly event.  It’s up to you!  See you there.