Dave says…

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Dear Dave,
My husband was laid off a few months ago. He has a degree in graphic design, and has been doing that ever since to make money. He made $6,000 during his best month, but only $300 during his worst. I’m working with him on marketing now to get more clients, but we’re not sure if we should also get part-time jobs in the meantime or push extra hard to make this business a success.

Dear Sharon,
From what you’ve told me, I think your best bet is to get out there and work yourselves silly to find more accounts and generate revenue. If this guy can turn the page from a full-time job to something he was doing on the side, and make $6,000 in a month, there’s definitely potential there.

I’d also suggest getting a book called Guerilla Marketing by Jay Conrad Levinson. It lists inexpensive, grass-roots ideas for marketing. You need to read that book tonight. If your husband has professional-quality graphic design skills, he can create all kinds of marketing pieces.

I’m excited about this for you! Read the book immediately—together—then set a goal of talking to about 30 good, new prospects the very next day. Just cold call them with examples of your husband’s work in hand, and tell them you’re running a special. Offer 25 percent off any graphics work done on orders placed before week’s end.

Walk in with enthusiasm, great samples and make sure you talk to the decision maker. If you’ll do this, I bet you guys will begin landing some accounts that very day!

Dear Dave,
I’m going to sell my business and I’ve lined up a prospective buyer. When should I tell my employees?

Dear Mark,
If the roles were reversed and you were in their shoes, when would you want to know? At what point, if you’d worked for someone for five years, would you feel betrayed if you didn’t know about something like this? It may sound simple, but I think that’s a good way to process the situation.

If I make an error with my team, it’s always going to be in the area of over-communication. I expect and trust them to be adults and they know this ahead of time. Still, I like to remind them once in a while. I’m very transparent about how we’re doing, both as a team and as a company. And the truth is no small business owner could make it without great people around them. Your guys need to hear that once in a while, too, in addition to knowing you’re always going to shoot straight with them.

In my mind, to be a good and effective leader you have to be willing to share and discuss things—whether they’re good or bad. I try not to say too much or get into a lot of unnecessary stuff, but if there’s any doubt, I’m going to over-share rather than leave my team confused or create a lot of misunderstandings. Human beings want to be treated with respect and dignity, not kept in the dark and fed manure. That may be good for mushrooms, but it’s not for people!

Dear Dave,
I’ve decided to get a new job, and have heard about an investment specialist position with a financial firm. I would work independently from an office outside the headquarters, but offer the company’s products and services. So, it would be like I’m running my own business. I’ve worked in the insurance industry, so I know something about sales. Cold calling doesn’t bother me, either, if there’s enough income attached to the job and I believe in what I’m doing. What do you think?

Dear Jeri,
This is an interesting business you’re considering. Some people make a good living and have even become wealthy as stockbrokers. So, the question is whether or not you’d really like this kind of work. There’s a lot of turnover in areas like stock brokerage, real estate brokerage and insurance. In fact, the vast majority of people who go to work in these fields don’t make it through the first year.

Still, there’s nothing wrong with being a stock broker. I just think you need to explore this a little more before you jump in. Talk to some people who have worked the job, and find out what made it so easy for them to leave. Also, talk to some current stockbrokers and pick their brains about the job—the good and the bad.

You always want as much information as possible before making a career decision. Especially when the line of work requires you to run the business as if it were your own!

Dear Dave,
I’ve always been intrigued by the restaurant business and wanted to open one of my own. Recently, the opportunity presented itself to open a fast food franchise. I really want to do this, but it would take years for me to save up the money. Is it okay to borrow money to start a business?

Dear Jim,
You’re right. It will take longer to save up the money and open the business debt-free, but that’s exactly what you should do. Most small businesses fail within the first five years. One of the main reasons for failure is the struggle to repay debt.

If you’re into restaurants, try starting small with a catering business out of your home. This will give you a taste of managing your own food service business, and let you know if you really like that kind of work. It will also give you the opportunity to make and save some money. That way, when your restaurant dream becomes a reality you can honestly say that you own the business instead of it owning you!

Dear Dave,
My fiancee has a small photography business, and she wants to form a partnership with a college student who is majoring in business. I think this is a bad plan, but I’m pretty sure she’s not going to listen to me. What do you think about the idea?

Dear Bruce,
A partnership is always a bad idea. There’s absolutely no upside for her, and if you feel there’s nothing you can do to keep her from making such a ridiculously bad mistake, then you guys are going to have issues in your marriage, too. It sounds like she’s looking for emotional support combined with some business acumen. But that doesn’t mean she needs a partner, and she definitely doesn’t need one who’s still in school and has no experience. If she feels like she needs help, there are ways to do it without turning this into a partnership. She could hire this person and let them share in profits while she owns 100 percent of the business. That’s not a bad idea at all. But she needs to stop and take a breath, because if she walks headfirst into creating a partnership with this person, she’ll most likely lose clients, then sections of her business and finally a friend. On top of it all, it will create marriage strife.

As I said before, partnerships are never a good idea. But this situation goes much deeper than business practices. You two must learn to listen to each other’s instincts and make decisions together. If you can’t do that, then you don’t need to get married. And by the way, this is not an issue about the husband being the boss. You should be willing to listen to that little voice inside her, too, when it says something doesn’t seem right!

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