Shop Local! Support the Contribution Small Businesses Make to Our Economy

The contribution of small businesses to the U.S. economy always amazes me given the scarce resources most of these businesses have. Support your local businesses through the holidays and through the first months of 2021. The first quarter of the years is always the hardest on small local businesses.

Remember the contribution small businesses makes to our economy:

44% of U.S. economic activity comes from businesses with less than 500 employees.

49.2% percent of private-sector employment and 42.9 percent of private-sector payroll,46 percent of private-sector output.

These businesses need support from the Federal level to return to pre-Covid-19 levels of productivity. In addition, Federal and State governments must create funding that provides the working capital to address the financial impact on business owner reserves and accumulated debt from commercial property leases, pre-recession business loans and home mortgages. For women and minority owned businesses the financial impact is particularly severe.

What Small Business Owners Can Do
Unfortunately, the public policy response to small business needs is slow and may take months to get funds to businesses. Here are examples of what business owners can do to keep customers coming back and attract new ones.

  • Add a personal touch to everything delivered remotely or by pick up.

We order tea from Perennial Tea in Seattle Washington because we drop in when we travel there. In every delivery package we get a personal thank you note from the owner, so we keep ordering.

In order pick up situations, say Thank You to every customer with good eye contact and smile even if they can’t see you mouth. Your eyes will be brighter and more engaging.

  • Create new related revenue streams. If you are in a market that is very unstable because of difficult open and closing rules, then create or invent new product or services lines.

In one of our group programs we led for small businesses in 2009-10, a florist with a specialty in weddings, added to page on her website to share pictures of Ikebana flower arrangements, a Japanese approach to floral design she was studying. A new set of customers started coming to her to buy arrangements in the Ikebana style.

  • Think about customer needs for personal services and expertise like your business has that can be delivered remotely that make quarantine conditions better.

Nail salons have been hit hard. Remember that people do need to take care of their hands and feet even more now that many are doing more cooking, home repair, and improvements projects. Deliver your expert knowledge about hand and foot care out to prior customers in zoom sessions. Then show them all the safety measures in your salon and invite them to enjoy having beautiful hands again.

Be bold and reach out to new potential customers like men to take care of their hands and feet better.

I saw one mature woman taking a young man to the hair and nail section in my local CVS. She pointed out the merchandise to buy and was giving basic instructions on how to use them. Share your knowledge and expertise when you can.

More on How Business Could Solve Complex Problems


Tackle complexity rather than avoid it!

By Darlene Crane and Elnora Webb

Businesses do solve problems and well-designed products do make life better.  Yet, when it comes to deep social and economic problems business methods have not led to breakthroughs.  More startups and SMEs (small and medium sized) businesses are focused on tackling complex economic or social challenges but are starved for capital and relevant services to expand their impact.    

This article proposes we literally reshape business thinking to develop solutions to complex problems.  To take this leap it will be necessary to:

  • Acknowledge it is time to re-envision the purpose of a business, work and value 
  • Create breakthrough solutions by tackling complexity rather than avoiding it
  • Design robust companies and products that improve social or economic problems

Acknowledge it is time to re-envision the purpose of a business, work and value? 

After decades of a single focus on shareholder value, one hundred and eighty-one corporate CEOs signed a letter as members of The Business Round Table on August 19, 2019 to redefine the role of a corporation.  The Business Roundtable letter stated,

“While each of our individual companies serves its own corporate purpose, we share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders,” said the statement signed by 181 CEOs. “We commit to deliver value to all of them, for the future success of our companies, our communities and our country.” CNBC

This is in stark contrast to the historical corporate focus on linear and inward thinking on stock value only.

The sole focus on shareholder value has led to complex long-term problems like climate change, income inequality and public health to persist.  Solutions to complex problems require flexible thinking to grasp this wider context. 

How can businesses create new solutions by tackling complexity rather than avoiding it?

Invest in developing leader mental flexibility before attempting to develop solutions.   When leaders understand their conscious and unconscious mental responses to difficult and uncomfortable situations, they can engage with big questions longer and hear the different stakeholder viewpoints.  With open exploration of problems comes deeper understanding and readiness to create more systemic solutions. 

With the mounds of data available, leaders must think critically as they interpret data, methodologies before making decisions. 

This is the time for leadership team of all sizes of companies shifts into planning and solution development from a long-term value creation approach.  Value creation looks at the value of the company under different external conditions and points of view.  This broader view invites information from financial and market analysts as well as public and local community sectors.  Controversy may develop, but with flexible and open thinking the sparks between the viewpoints can generate new and better solutions. Envisioning desired end results ten or twenty years out also leads to innovative solutions. 

What can owners do now to lead their businesses and solve problems

The turn of the decade is a critical time to research and analyze long-range studies and other data. Strategists forecast trends in the next decade that will be updated when the 2020 Census data are released.  Start now to:

  • ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Develop the practices of flexible and insightful thinking
  • Imagine what innovations and products your company can generate to sustain and grow your company into the next decade
  • Stay informed on the most urgent social, economic and environmental issues
  • Prioritize Social Responsibilities initiatives with business opportunities and risks
  • Develop external stakeholders who help define non-financial indicators of improvement 
  • Commit to investing resources to get results and minimize unintended consequences


Recently, McKinsey & Company released major reports on the Future of Work projecting an  adoption scenario of Artificial Intelligence indicating a potential 38 million jobs impacted.  The specific report on the impact to women in the full report stated:  

Men and women need to be skilled, mobile, and tech-savvy in the automation age, but women face pervasive barriers. Concerted and creative new solutions are needed to enable women to move forward.(McKinsey Global Institute analysis, 2019 )

This magnitude of change is difficult to comprehend, let alone begin to tackle. 

Practice asking the BIG questions to start tackling complex problems.

  • What can your leadership team do to increase flexible and insightful thinking?
  • What resources and data are now available to envision the company in 10-20 years?  
  • What solutions for the short-term support long-term success?
  • What risks must be reduced to external stakeholders?
  • What can your company invent that adds value to the company and key stakeholders?

How Business Could Solve Complex Problems

Free Webinar on Thursday, July 29, 2019

In this webinar you will learn

  • Why now is the time to re-envision work and value 
  • How businesses can create new solutions by tackling complexity rather than avoiding it
  • What you can do now to sustain business ownership, community and economic well-being

Register for a FREE webinar on August 29, 2019

12:00 noon – 1 p.m. PDT

How Business Could Solve Problems

Why now is the time to re-envision work and value:

For decades businesses have been managed from a linear and inward point of view. Move beyond that box to more flexible and open thinking and action.

The Difference Between Entrepreneurship and Business Growth

There is an important difference between these business activities. (Definition source:

Entrepreneurship is defined as: The capacity and willingness to develop, organize and manage a business venture along with any of its risks in order to make a profit.

Business Growth is defined as:The process of improving some measure of an enterprise’s success. Business growth can be achieved either by boosting the … revenue of the business with greater product sales or service income, or by increasing the bottom line or … minimizing costs.

The Differences:

Entrepreneurship is a set of behaviors that are important to starting and sustaining a business. Drive, motivation and focus to plan, complete projects and deliver measurable results is important for every business owner.

Business Growth is the result of major decisions and actions to increase company capacity to sell more product or expand the customer base. Growth is typically the result of specific projects in product development, marketing and sales or physical company expansion. The growth project is successful when it achieves specific operating performance goals and objectives. Business processes and decision making skills are required to successfully execute growth projects at pace the industry or customers demand.

This discussion could certainly be expanded. Chime in!

How Does a CGO (Chief Growth Officer) Help the Whole Company Achieve Goals and Hit Targets ?

Turn over at the C-Level is widespread.  So how will those taking on the new role of Chief Revenue Officer (CGO)succeed on delivering on end goals and targets.REGISTER NOW for LEVEL UP! Developing Business Growth Practices for Real People
Use promo code grownow for 50% discount for June 20 workshop

At the moment one of the great examples of an organization that delivers on every level is te the Warriors, the new NBA Champions.   While the NBA trophies are beautiful, what I love about the Warriors leadership team and Steve Kerr’s coaching is that it is all about joy, commitment to doing the work to play basketball at the highest level by the whole organization: top down, bottom-up and across every role. Everyone comes together to achieve the end goal.

The NBA Championship Celebration Parade in Oakland, California provided lessons for CGOs to look beyond numbers and standard business principles and pay attention.  The soul of the Warriors came through in the parade.  What you could see through the event was recognition of the contributions by ALL team members, being embedded with their fans/customers, and maturity over ego.

1.  Recognizing the contributions of each an every person on the Warriors team was remarkable.  World famous stars to operations and game day staff all walked in the parade with signs noting their role.  The TV commentators announced all the units and we could really see their faces not just confetti.

2.  The Warriors aren’t just aligned and engaged with their fans/customers, they are embedded with them.  When Draymond Green, Steph Curry, Steve Kerr and others got down from the buses and celebrated with the fans on the streets it was like a family.  Kerr’s comments that celebrating in Oakland was for all people was as authentic as you can get.

3. The maturity demonstrated by the leadership and team through the stresses of the playoffs was reassuring.  Each individual took responsibility for their actions, each other and the results.  There are a few organizations in the press these days that should take note.
​CGOs start pulling it all together across your company: use promo code grownow for 50% discount  for LEVEL UP WORKSHOP click here
Join us at LEVEL UP! Developing Business Growth Practices for Real People! on June 20, 2017
6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Oakland Asian Cultural Center
388 Ninth Street, Stuie 290
Oakland, CA 94607


I had the opportunity to do a webinar for the Pitch Finalists at the IEEE Women in Engineering Conference in San Jose in May.  The core theme was speak as a CEO of a budding corporation.  Here are the links to the slides and audio file if you are looking for more input to your pitch preparation.  Note: the audio file is about an hour.

Audio file link