WHAT IF YOU OFFERED A JOB AND NOBODY CAME?
I know this isn't happening in every part of the country, but the Bay Area is booming. And I'm getting a little sick and tired of all this economic prosperity...
THE FUTURE IS JUST AROUND THE CORNER
There's nothing like starting your morning by hearing that you will soon be obsolete. That's what happened to me last week...
PLEASE DON'T YELP THIS COLUMN
As some readers of this column know, or can certainly surmise, I don't write for a living. If I did, I would not only be broke (once a week doesn't pay all the bills, unfortunately), but I would also be deep in therapy, learning how to become less sensitive to criticism...
Competition Can Come in Handy
Capitalism is a beautiful thing, but it does raise some questions. For instance, when you have someone by the throat, how hard should you squeeze?...
An Affair to Forget
I wandered into her office one day not long ago, attracted by an advertisement I had seen. She gave me a come-hither smile and with a toss of the head her golden locks cascaded seductively past her shoulders.
Banks for the Memories
I needed money for one of my businesses. I didnít want to give up any equity to investors, and everyone in my family was still in good health, so I ruled out inheritances. I had no choice...
A Fool for a Client
I was preparing for the biggest legal case of my life last week. I would be lead counsel for the plaintiff, which would be me...
Banks Need More Analysis
For the past two years I have been going through analysis. It has not been enjoyable. Many dark, hidden elements have emerged, causing considerable pain.
Small Business Swallows Pride
I thought it was a nightmare. I innocently opened the pantry door for my morning cereal and cowered at the sight of a huge box of Cheerios looming over me...
A Bank that Gives it Away
Every once in awhile I feel the need to assure readers of this column that everything I write about truly happened. Even the characters are real people, their names altered only because I donít want them to...
A Birthday to Remember
This column has always been about the absurdities involved in running a small business. There are times when I stray, when nothing even remotely absurd happens in an entire week...
A Tale of two Firings
Two of my favorite employees got the ax last week. They were both young, smart and loaded with potential. And they were both fired for cause.
A Worthwhile Waste of Time
The subpoenas were flying. For the fifth time in the last two weeks, my general manager, Ralph, had been called down to the Hall of Justice to appear before the Grand Jury...
After 40 Years of Work, She Still Canít Retire
I had no idea she was that old. In the nine years she had worked for me, she never seemed to age. She took good care of herself, never a hair out of place, always impeccably dressed.
An Impostor on the Payroll
Thereís nothing like coming to work early in the morning and watching one of your key employees being led away in handcuffs.
Are You an Entrepreneur?
Over the course of my career as a business owner, one or two people have asked me what it takes, deep down inside, to be an entrepreneur.
Being on board can be a bore
It was a tense moment. Toward the end of our Board of Governors meeting, the esteemed president of our local business association asked if anyone cared to bring up any "New Business."
Big Brother is Watching you
One of the more unpleasant truths about organisms with brains is that they canít be trusted. Well, perhaps thatís a little harsh. Itís been four years, but Iím probably still upset...
Big Sister Plays Hardball
I was taught another lesson in business negotiating the other day. It was painful, primarily because I was outwitted by my big sister.
Business Blues in Las Vegas
My friend Simpson and I were lounging near the pool at the Las Vegas Hilton one afternoon last week. We sat in the shade, where it was only 105 degrees.
Business is a Balancing Act
More than once in my business career I have proudly handed over my companyís current financial statement to a banker or a creditor, all the time praying they wonít ask any questions.
Communication Can be a Drag
Most business owners or managers will tell you that good communication skills are a key to their success. I canít say I disagree, but I do wish theyíd stop talking about it.
Contesting a Losing Decision
About every three or four years I like to repeat my mistakes. So when Ralph, my general manager, suggested we have a contest to name two employees of the month, I was mildly receptive.
Dear: The Loot Ďis all mineí
My wife, Fidelity, received a small inheritance the other day from her recently deceased godmother. "Itís mine," she said with true love pouring out of her. "Keep your grubby hands off of it."...
Dilemma: To Bid or Not to Bid
Every time I have a construction job that needs to be done, I go through the same mental turmoil Ė should I get a firm bid or should I pay "time and material"?
Designing Big Pretensions
One of the greatest dangers in owning a small business is forgetting that there is a major difference between big business and small business.
Employee Loans Pay Dividends
Ms. Ferguson, my loyal office manager, was on the intercom. The tone of her voice, dripping with intrigue, told me that she knew something I did not.
Fighting the Water Wars
Like most wars, it started slowly and then escalated. I was simply approving some invoices and noticed for the 46
time that we were paying $20 per month to rent an employee drinking fountain.
Groveling Skills Canít Get Rusty
Smile. Nod. Bow. Smile. Nob. Bow. "What are you doing?" asked my wife as she watched me in front of our bathroom mirror the other morning.
How to Shop for Influence
My friend Simpson, who has a similar business to mine, was on the phone. He was in the mood to talk and, as it quite often does, the subject turned to politics.
Keep those Options Open
There it was again. That line Iíd written in my pocket calendar, under the "Things To Do" section: "Take Real Estate Exam."
Laws Leave Lots to be Desired
Powerless. Absolutely powerless. Thatís how I feel right at this moment. And a little angry. Well, furious might be a better word. Letís just say if someone offered me 12 cents for my business...
Life Goes on, Even in Business
Ms. Ferguson, my loyal office manager, came bounding into my office the other day. This was unusual, as she isnít prone to bounding.
Looting: Up Close, Personal
Given the choice, I much prefer to write about the lighter side of owning my own business. But try as I might, I can find nothing humorous about the "protest" last Thursday night, when one of my stores...
Love Will Find a Wway
The real-life soap opera continues. As dedicated readers no doubt remember, my warehouse manager, Bertram, was hauled away in handcuffs by immigration agents about a month ago.
Negotiating is Murder, Not Art
Ralph, my general manager, had been caged for too long. A born negotiator, he had patiently waited his turn to be let loose.
Never Trust Your Neighbors
A few weeks ago I came into contact with the most ruthless, merciless, cutthroat businessperson Iíve ever had the displeasure to run across.
No Easy Way to Say Goodbye
One of the most difficult aspects of owning a business is learning how to accept a loss. And as soon as I learn, I will be certain to explain it.
Pain No Gain for Employees
I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank my dentist, Harold, for saving me thousands of dollars.
Power of Guilt Is a Valuable Business Tool
I have an idea for a book. Since Iíll never write it. I might as well go ahead and give away the title: Management by guilt...
Procrastination Solves Problems
There. I did it. I licked the envelope myself and stuck it in the outgoing mail basket. Donít get me wrong. Iím not bragging about licking an envelope all by myself. Iím bragging about setting a new...
Put a Contract Out On this Rat
For the last couple of years, Iíve smelled a rat in my business. He (or she) has wreaked havoc in delicate areas, causing the loss of considerable sums of money. The ratís identity remains unknown...
Put Yourself to Labor Law Test
As an ongoing public service, I have done exhaustive research on the subject of California labor laws and have compiled the following quiz, complete with answers...
Return Calls for Profit, Politeness
I got back to the office late one afternoon last week. I looked in my telephone message box and, happily, there were three messages. Three people who wanted me...
Save the World and Save Money
One thing Iíve learned over the course of my life, and which I firmly believe has helped keep me alive up to this point, is the following: Donít mess with garbage men.
Saving for the future
Having had a decent year, and with our fiscal year-end fast approaching, I called my accountant, Fran, and asked him what I could do to help reduce my taxes.
Take my money Ė pleeease!
Hereís the scenario: You own a company that manufactures and sells widgets for $9.99 each. A customer calls who wants to buy widgets for $9.99 each. What do you do?
The business of camaraderie
Iím having a little trouble adjusting. For the last few years, whenever anyone asked the perfunctory "Howís business?" question, I would shake my head, purse my lips and talk recession....
The secret to avoiding taxes
My wife, Fidelity, is not one for subtlety. When she has an idea, which is often, she insists on sharing it with me. This week, her idea was we should pay less taxes...
The true value of having kids
Now that spring break is over and all the kids are back in school, I have come to an inescapable conclusion Ė my family needs to produce more children...
These calls are obscene
Itís always a little unsettling when you come home after a long day and your spouse announces a desperate need to call an attorney. "What did I do?" I asked my wife..
Trade shows Ė thereís an idea
My friend Simpson and I flew to Atlanta last week to attend the annual sporting goods trade event that is modestly called the "Super Show." Itís a show that is a must-see for anyone in the sporting goods busi...
True meaning of Labor Day
"Goodbye, my sweet," I will say to my wife, Fidelity, as I leave the house this morning. "Where are you going?" she will ask...
Untangling the telephone lines
Thereís nothing like a good catfight to get the old blood going. Feeling a little forlorn the other day, I decided to instigate a minor skirmish among the warring long-distance companies...
Vacation: Donít waste it on work
As the saying goes, "Life is short, death is long." Thatís probably the main reason Iím such a big fan of vacations. For example, Iíve always admired the French, who basically shut down their country...
When it pays to be ignorant
A great experiment has begun. After 12 years of owning and operating my own business, I decided it was time to hire a marketing person...
When the police canít protect
I was in a meeting last week with the owners of some neighboring businesses. The subject was security. The initial discussion revolved around the various human derelicts that have invaded our area...
Cash drips and creditors
There are many talents required for running oneís own business, but few are more important than the art of putting off creditors.
A casualty of the profit
Small businesses, like small fish, must always be on the lookout for hungry predators. A nibble here, a bite there, and before you know it thereís nothing left...
An opportunity to buy trouble
I am honored. In the mail this week came an invitation from the San Francisco International airport to open a retail store in the North Terminal Across from Gate 72...
Diary of a quitter
Iím a quitter and proud of it. Iím not talking about quitting smoking, fatty foods or gossiping. That takes perseverance and strong will, of which I have none...
Do it yourself, do yourself in
A few weeks ago I had to make a decision. There was some major remodeling to be done, and I needed someone to do it....
Dr Death says recession is over
I stopped by Budget Rent-A-Truck, picked up an 18-footer, and headed for the IJ building to collect my mail...
Dreams of glory die quick death
Fred, my commercial real estate agent, was coming by. He said he had some very exciting information for me. I could hardly wait....
Even Scrooge likes Christmas
Ms. Ferguson, my loyal office manager, buzzed me on the intercom.
"Iíve got the final head count for the Christmas party, she said, knowing Iíd be interested.
Fantasy cures any recession
I can see it now. The recession has finally swallowed me. The landlord is nailing the last two-by-four across the entrance to my final retail store. The sheriff is posting the "EVICTION NOTICE" on the wall.
Get results with groveling
One of the great misconceptions people have about the concept of owning your own business is the dream of "being your own boss."
A difficult time of the year
Every business has its ups and downs during the year. You can be riding high in March, shot down in May, then rise from the dead in September.
All we ask is a tiny smile
Every morning before dropping my 10-year-old daughter off at school, we drop by the local convenience store and pick up a donut and something to drink.
Bank on it: bottom line looking up in 93'
Itís the final week of 1992. I called my good friend, Simpson, who has a similar business to mine, to wish him a Happy New Year.
Battle of the sexes hits home front
One of the most difficult aspects of owning your own business is convincing those close to you that you actually work for a living.
Caution: watch for deductions
Every year, as April 15 approaches, I sit down to figure out my taxes and think of the same old joke. Doctor: (walking into bank) I need a loan.
Banker: No problem. I can offer you a loan at, letís see, 8 percent interest...
Clipping waster in the office
Ms. Ferguson, my loyal office manager, had brought me a stack of checks to sign, the invoices attached, as always, with a paper clip...
Finding just the right idea
At some point in their life, almost everyone has come up with an idea that they were certain would make them a million dollars...
Get the most out of family
I walked into the main office the other morning and noticed a fresh new face.
"This is Gina," said Ms. Ferguson, my loyal office manager. "Sheís the one I told you about."
In awe of the perfect employee
After years of searching, my quest is complete. I have found the perfect employee. Actually, my general manager, Ralph, found her. He burst into my office about four weeks ago obviously overwhelmed...
Jealousy is only natural
"Did you hear the news?" asked my friend, Simpson, when I picked up the phone last week.
Just a start is all he needs, but wonít get
He was busted. He had tried to run away when he was caught with a pair of Leviís he had shoplifted from one of our stores, but two of our faster employees had chased him for two blocks and tackled him...
Learning to love seminars
A couple of months age, Ralph, my General Manager, announced that he had enrolled himself and five of our store managers in a one-day management seminar titled "In Search of Excellence."...
New employee on the block
The accountant had spoken. Because of a complicated set of tax circumstances, it would be necessary to change the status of my company from a Sub Chapter "S" corporation to a regular "C" corporation...
Office parties need no talent
Iíve attended my fair share of office Christmas parties. And over the last 12 years of owning my own business, Iíve
my fair share of office Christmas parties.
One battle won in endless war over shoplifting
We had caught another shoplifter in one of our retail stores. We called the police, and the officer handcuffed the little rodent and then searched him...
Part Two: The Horatio Story
Out of the 35,000 IJ subscribers, there might have been 34,999 or so who happened to miss last weekís column. As a service to those select few, hereís a recap...
Partnerships test friendships
The subject of todayís lesson is "What Type of Person Makes a Good Business Partner?"
Weíll start with a quick quiz.
Please make me an offer
I have a recurring dream. Unsolicited job and business offers are pouring in from everywhere. Each day brings a new flood of mail and phone calls requesting my services...
Play the music, pay the price
The company mail had arrived. Invoice, invoice, solicitation, invoice, invoice, invoice. The usual, until I saw that ominous envelope with the firm name followed by a cryptic "Attorneys at Law."...
Raging down Mood River
I was not in a good mood. In fact, I was in a downright ugly mood. No reason for it, just my raging male hormones running amok. Unlike the opposite sex, I donít have the luxury of charting. It just happens...
Renewing the old headaches
Everyone has their least favorite thing to do. For some, itís having a sadistic dentist drill into their gums. For others, itís having their fingernails pulled off, one by one...
Small business gives thanks to necessary evils
With Thanksgiving only a few days away, I thought it appropriate to offer thanks to those people who are instrumental to the success of small business....
To sob stories by employees
How was your day at work?" asks my wife, Fidelity, when I come home, hot and tired. "Fine," I reply. "Sales were good, the Gustafson contract was finalized, I met with one of the new landlordsÖ"
Trade imbalance feeds on greed
I am delighted to report I have solved yet another major problem that has hounded the American economy in recent years. This time I set my sights on the trade imbalance between the United States and...
Unvarnished business advice for the needy
Itís time once again for that wildly popular feature, "Ask Dr. Business", where I answer tough, sometimes controversial questions about the business world with sincerity and simplicity...
How to say no to consultants
In my continuing effort to appear to be a busy executive, I rarely will see anyone without an appointment. Occasionally, however, the receptionist will announce someone with a company name that...
Iím a computer nerd wanna-be
I just signed a contract for some additional computer equipment. It wasnít a huge order, only about $6,000, which is very little by high-tech standards. But it makes me nervous for one simple reason...
I fought the law and lawyers won
I hate to sound paranoid but I think I have become the latest victim of a devastating conspiracy.
I used to be a fairly calm, well-rounded fellow. Not I wake up at three in the morning hyperventilating...
Itís all downhill after you open
Years ago, one of my former partners sent me a fortune cookie (minus the cookie) which I had framed and placed on my desk...
Loyalty can pay for both sides
The unfortunate part about being an employer is that it requires employees. The unfortunate part about being a father is that it requires children...
Need CPR after CPI rent hike
It was Monday morning and I was sorting through the papers on my desk approving the usual assortment of invoices Ė utility bills, insurance premiums, installment payments and finally, the dreaded rent statement...
One big leap for tenants
This may sound pathetic, but I began looking forward to this coming Saturday almost a year ago. Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Yearís . . .they just stood in the way of the real holiday yet to come...
Partnership quickly crumbles
Many business owners look forward to the day when their children join the company work force, continuing the legacy into the next generation...
Recession sure ruins vacation
I am writing this in pain. Iím bent over my word processor, clutching my stomach, bemoaning the day I decided I deserved that four-day vacation to Mexico...
Search for the perfect worker
Because I have an opening for a full-time bookkeeper, I sat down to write a classified ad for the help-wanted section...
Self-worth pays off
Without naming names, I can think of a few thousands small business owners who survive and prosper in spite of themselves. Their one true talent is finding quality people to manage their business, then hanging...
Tales for a fireside future
"Grandpa, Grandpa," little Jimmy will say many years from now when Iíve retired from my illustrious business career to my room in a tenderloin hotel. "Tell me again the story about the stupidest thing...
Tax time can tax the nerves
I met with my accountant, Frank, last week to discuss my 1991 taxes. I usually wait until the last minute, but I decided to be responsible for once and get it done a week early...
The battles of business calls
I make a fair amount of business telephone calls. That means I talk with quite a few receptionists, almost all of whom seem to hate me...
The phone cult is calling you
Like anyone else, I have a few convictions that I have held sacred for a good portion of my life. One that has always been dear to my heart is that it would be a cold day in hell before I ever bought a car phone...
Thereís a price on my head
When you own your own business, it seems everyone wants to take out an insurance policy on your life. Partners, investors, wife, ex-wife, children Ė they all want a piece of my rotting corpse...
The sick shall be rewarded
The health insurance man was on the phone. "Good news," said Bob. "Itís time for your group plan renewal and the increase is only going to be 17 percent."...
Vacation throws office into chaos
Ms. Ferguson, my loyal office manager, had accrued her vacation since the beginning of time and was about to embark on a five-week odyssey that would take her to distant and exotic lands...
Whining, dining with Dr. Death
I was meeting my friend Simpson for lunch. "Iíll be back round 1:45," I announced to Ms. Ferguson, my loyal office manager, as I headed out the office door. She looked up from her reports and...
Whoís camping on my doorstep?
Compassion has its limits, especially when trying to run a business. For example, consider the homeless problem...
Workerís comp gets a shock
Can you believe the luck? Just as I was about to write a column on never getting any benefits from the thousands I pay in workerís compensation insurance every year, one of my employees goes and almost...
Yes indeed, I love my banker
This is a column about banks. When I sat down to begin writing, it reminded me of my debut column many moons ago in which I blasted banks and bankers for their insensitive, plodding ways...
A tale of two terminations
Probably the most unpleasant task faced by any employer is telling an employee that life as they knew it is over.
The relationships they have formed, the routine of a workday and their sole source of income...
© 2006-2017 hoppecolumns.com
All rights reserved.