• I Decided to Slow Our Growth

    11 GIU 2024 · This week, in episode 199, Jennifer Kerhin tells Shawn Busse and Jay Goltz that she finally managed to take her first real vacation since starting her business almost 20 years ago. The vacation is part of a decision she made last year to regroup a bit, in part by backing off on her sales and marketing outreach. The goal is to give her team and herself a bit of a respite while they catch their breath and while Jennifer institutes processes that will improve operations. Of course, that raises an obvious question: Will she be able to turn the growth back on when the time comes? Plus: Shawn and Jay explain how they’ve eliminated negotiation from their hiring regimens. And all three debate who’s really responsible when owners pay for a marketing plan that doesn’t work: Is it the salesperson who pitched the plan? Or the owner who fell for the pitch?
    55 min. 57 sec.
  • Dashboard: Can You DIY a Business Acquisition?

    10 GIU 2024 · This week, Tracy Bech, who is co-author of the “60 Minute CFO” and who has bought and sold businesses herself, offers some guidelines on how to approach an acquisition. Some of it is looking at the numbers, of course. Some of it is understanding the story behind those numbers. And some of it is psychological, controlling your emotions and maintaining a willingness to walk away from the deal if something doesn’t break right. And by the way, Tracy says, it’s never a bad idea to use the same lens to analyze the performance of your own business.
    21 min. 39 sec.
  • The Year So Far? It’s Difficult Out There

    4 GIU 2024 · This week, in episode 198, we get updates from Laura Zander, Sarah Segal, and Jay Goltz. Laura wonders whether the time she’s put into integrating her latest acquisition might have been better spent focusing on her core businesses. Sarah, who has shifted to pursuing smaller clients, asks Laura and Jay to articulate the PR pitch that would interest them. But how do you evaluate the effectiveness of a PR campaign? Does it have to generate sales? Plus: Jay explains why he views confronting his current business challenges as a matter of triage. He also says that if he could write a check for $200,000 and solve his technology problems, he would do it in a heartbeat. Any takers out there?
    48 min. 20 sec.
  • Dashboard: Gene Marks Says CEOs Will Not Be Replaced By AI

    3 GIU 2024 · This week, Gene responds to a New York Times article suggesting that CEOs should be among those worrying about whether artificial intelligence will take their jobs. For one thing, companies could save a lot of money replacing their leaders with bots. But Gene’s not buying it—although he does see Microsoft and Google making big progress with their AI offerings, so much so that he’s adjusting the services his own business offers. He says it’s time for owners to start paying more attention to AI.
    26 min. 30 sec.
  • How to Sell a Business That Won’t Sell

    28 MAG 2024 · We’re calling it a We-SOP. The term, coined by Jay Goltz, refers to a business transition that is something of a do-it-yourself ESOP, or employee stock ownership plan, but without the expense and complication and debt of a full ESOP. It’s a transition that lets owners get money out of what has been their life’s work. It’s a transition that lets loyal employees keep their jobs and preserve the company’s culture. And it’s a promising solution for the Silver Tsunami of retiring Baby Boomers because it can provide a sales path even for owners who have never managed to extricate themselves from their day-to-day operations. And in this week’s episode, we take you through an example of how it can work. Jay introduces us to Jill and Paul Choma, co-owners of a business, https://www.gmframing.com/, that Jay recently guided through the We-SOP process. As you’ll hear, all three believe that what has worked—at least so far—for Jill and Paul could also work for many other business owners.
    47 min. 52 sec.
  • How to Waste Money on Marketing

    21 MAG 2024 · It’s easy! Anyone can do it! This week, in episode 196, Shawn Busse, Jaci Russo, and William Vanderbloemen talk about a whole slew of marketing challenges. From strategizing for trade shows, to whether your logo has to tell a story, to understanding what constitutes a brand, to whether https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntjkwIXWtrc was terrible or brilliant, they discuss what makes marketing so difficult. It all starts, Jaci says, with the industry’s refusal to set standards: “I can't find another industry that treats themselves so badly. Electrician, CPA, Realtor, hairdresser, nail salon tech, everybody else has some semblance of something to say, ‘I am a legit entity.’ Except our industry.” Which is part of the reason, Jaci says, that the constant refrain she hears from frustrated business owners who hire agencies is, “We paid them all this money. And we got nothing for it.” Plus: how do owners get past that feeling that they need to be the hardest worker in the office, the first one in and the last one out?
    56 min. 57 sec.
  • Dashboard: The Software Isn’t the Problem

    20 MAG 2024 · You are. That’s Gene Marks’ story, and he’s sticking to it. This week, Gene talks about all of the people who love to hate on Workday’s HR platform, and he argues that whatever problems exist are really the fault of the companies using the software, not the company that makes it. Plus: Gene tells us what we need to know about the latest ChatGPT upgrade. Spoiler alert: He says we will long remember the spring of 2024 as the moment when the true power of artificial intelligence became clear, but so far it’s mostly big businesses that are reaping the benefits.
    23 min. 5 sec.
  • Yeah, I Can Hold Myself Accountable

    14 MAG 2024 · This week, in episode 195, Mel Gravely tells Jay Goltz and Liz Picarazzi about his recently executed succession plan, including what’s worked and what could have gone better. The main thing that could have gone better, Mel says, is his purchase of another small business where he says he misdiagnosed the challenges the business is confronting: “I thought they just had a bad model and they weren't managing it well. It was worse.” All of which leads to a discussion of the role that a board of advisors can play in helping an owner build a business. While Mel has said he wouldn’t run a lemonade stand without a board, Liz and Jay—like most business owners—have taken a different approach. The notion of having a board of advisors, Jay tells us, is something he struggles to get his head around. “I’ve been doing this for 45 years,” he says, “and I’ve never had anybody to answer to.” Plus: with the talk of tariffs getting louder, Liz updates us on her search for an alternative to manufacturing her trash enclosures in China. “We really have to have a Plan B,” she says. “We'd be stupid not to have a Plan B.”
    52 min. 44 sec.
  • Dashboard: Gene Marks Explains "Open" Banking

    13 MAG 2024 · This week, Gene talks about an intriguing banking trend that’s come out of Europe and could be headed our way. It sounds a little dicey, but it could take some of the work out of applying for a loan. Plus: business owners say they expect artificial intelligence to increase--not decrease--their headcount. Could they be right? And can we all agree on the definition of a small business?
    32 min. 49 sec.
  • I Don’t Hate Regulation, But …

    7 MAG 2024 · This week, in episode 194, Shawn Busse, Jay Goltz, and Jaci Russo talk about the new rules that may—or may not—ban non-compete clauses, increase the number of employees who must be paid overtime, and eliminate TikTok in the U.S. How much would those changes matter to each of their businesses? What might the owners do differently? Do the changes make sense? And why does it so often seem as if it’s small businesses that get caught in the cross-fire when the government tries to rein in abusive big businesses? On the question of non-competes, Shawn says he thinks they are often used by lazy businesses that haven’t done the real work of building loyalty with employees and customers. Plus: Do Shawn, Jay, and Jaci ever regret starting a business? Have there been times when they’ve thought about packing it in and trying something else? And also, are the terms “business owner” and “entrepreneur” interchangeable? Or do they carry different connotations? Might there be a better term? Jay thinks there is.
    46 min. 35 sec.

The 21 Hats Podcast is a weekly conversation with entrepreneurs who share their challenges and compare notes on how they’re coping with the pandemic, whether their businesses are as profitable...

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The 21 Hats Podcast is a weekly conversation with entrepreneurs who share their challenges and compare notes on how they’re coping with the pandemic, whether their businesses are as profitable as they should be, how big a price they are willing to pay for growth, and why they hired their brother-in-law. Every week, host Loren Feldman has a conversation with three of the show’s six regulars: Karen Clark Cole, CEO of Blink UX; Paul Downs, CEO of Paul Downs Cabinetmakers; Jay Goltz, CEO of The Goltz Group; William Vanderbloemen, CEO of Vanderbloemen Search Group; Dana White, CEO of Paralee Boyd; and Laura Zander, CEO of Jimmy Beans Wool. Every week, the owners talk about news stories that matter to business owners, and track what’s working and what’s not working on their own entrepreneurial journeys. Visit 21hats.com to read episode transcripts and learn more. The show is produced by Jess Thoubboron of Blank Word Productions.
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