BY RUSS ALLRED Contributing columnist
It's fun to think about scary things and trick-or-treating because in them we see no real threats. Most of the pranks in a haunted house are the startle of a loud noise or the abrupt appearance of an unfamiliar object. Then there are the deep-seated phobias that frighten us away from our goals and limit our ability to function. For example, from the time I was bitten as a 3-year-old, I have been afraid of dogs.
We can overcome the little fears simply by evaluating the threat. Given the perspective of time and experience they are not scary at all. The things we most fear are not as easy to explain away or overcome, but it is possible. Business threats are similar. Some business fears can be assuaged with further analysis. The others require experience, motivation and maturity to surpass.
As a business owner, I am startled by many regulations, such as IRS requirements. Calculating and reporting employee income tax withholding is an annoyance, but with some reading and help from IRS Consulting, it can be learned and implemented. Personality conflicts and opposing work ethics have caused many entrepreneurs to throw up their hands and downsize their businesses to eliminate personnel. A few minutes invested with the likes of Holly Culhane of P.A.S. Associates or Robin Paggi of Worklogic HR Legal Solutions can offer the benefit of experience that will overcome concerns.
There are at least two real business threats that require further analysis and mitigation to overcome. One is a market downturn. There is little business owners can do when a majority of customers stop buying what their industry produces.
Consider the printing industry. The money spent on commercial printing has steadily declined as personal printers and Internet publishing have increased. Many people still want printed materials, but they are dispersed among several print shops. You might buy your competition as their sales decline and continue your business. The key is to steel yourself against frightening foes like a general decline. In the good years, save money, watch for signs of decline and look for opportunities to diversify outside your industry.
The other real business threat is the vilification of business. We hear terms like "corporate greed," "evil executives," "outsourcing jobs" and "excessive compensation." Personally, I am in favor of excessive compensation as long as it is mine. However, I have seen entrepreneurs hesitate to grow because of the social stigma. Statistically, the market tends to pay people according to the value they provide. If they fail to provide value, they are fired at all levels.
Many successful entrepreneurs have incorporated the judicial use of outsourcing to provide skilled labor or cost savings as they build their companies. Outsourcing is nothing to fear. It is a mechanism for business growth, higher profits and economic stability.
As for evil executives, those who abuse their position and commit fraud should be prosecuted and punished. However, being an executive is not inherently evil. Neither are corporations inherently greedy. In fact, corporations are amoral. They act at the discretion of elected bodies to advance the interests of shareholders. Shareholders are people like you and me who are saving for retirement and trying to better ourselves.
My experience has helped me to overcome my fear of dogs. As business owners and executives we must quell the fears of the public by being honest, acting with integrity and boldly growing to provide jobs and improve the economy.
-- Russ Allred, MBA, is a business consultant and author with Sunbelt Business Brokers & Advisors. These are his opinions, not necessarily those of The Californian.