Seattle Business Journal

Our business blog covers a wide variety of business issues including business basics, answers to questions submitted by business people, and real-world stories that will both inform and entertain.

Why should you have an elevator speech?

June 8th 2017

When I’m talking about the importance of having an elevator speech, I typically get questions like “What should it include and how long should it be?” I have a 30-second elevator speech that I use over and over again. My goal is to generate interest in my products and services. Not only do I want […] Read more...


Working ON your business instead of IN it

June 1st 2017

All business people have a ‘to do’ list either written down or in their head. But where does that list come from? How much of your ‘to do’ list is populated with things that other people have asked you do? Things begin to look the way you expect them to look. You stop asking ‘what […] Read more...


The best music experience in the world

May 24th 2017

I just returned from my annual trip to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Jazz Fest), a seven-day (over two weekends) celebration of music from around the world. Although I’ve been to many music festivals during my long history in the music business, I’ve never found anything that even comes close to the experience […] Read more...


The One-on-One Meeting

March 3rd 2017

How do you interact with the people who work for you? In my experience, the best way is to have regular one-on-one meetings with your direct reports. This meeting needs an agenda which the two of you should develop together. If possible ask your employee to be the one to produce the agenda the day […] Read more...


Some thoughts on productivity

February 16th 2017

When you show up for work how many times do you wonder what you are going to do that day? Do you start your work day with goals that you want to accomplish? Or do you just jump in and react to what comes across your desk? The saying “You can’t see the forest for […] Read more...


Effectively managing your employees

March 9th 2016

Research shows there is a sweet spot when it comes to how many direct employees a manager should be responsible for. Read more...


Ways to improve your leadership

March 4th 2016

Here are five things you need to do really well to be a great leader. Read more...


Understanding a person’s temperament

February 25th 2016

Everyone has a different personality. This book is a great tool to help you understand different types. Read more...


Tips on financing your business

February 3rd 2016

Do you really need outside financing to start your business? Here are some tips about getting started. Read more...


How do web developers stand out?

December 11th 2015

Here are some ways for businesses who build websites to provide added value. Read more...


The secret of a successful startup

December 4th 2015

Focus on the only two things that matter - a great product and customers to buy it. Read more...


Is consulting right for you?

November 26th 2015

Consulting is much more than being your own boss and creating your own hours. Read more...


Tips for creating an inventory system

November 12th 2015

Here are seven areas that you need to get right in order to have a well-functioning inventory system. Read more...


Location is important when marketing

November 10th 2015

Find out why location is an important piece of data when developing your marketing plans. Read more...


Learning the art of delegating

November 5th 2015

Are you in the habit of doing everything yourself? Done correctly, delegating is a great tool that will help your business grow. Read more...


The value of brainstorming

November 3rd 2015

When approaching a challenge or a big problem, how do you brainstorm for the best ideas? Read more...


Dealing with the toxic employee

October 29th 2015

Check out some ways to manage difficult employees. Read more...


Is an MBA necessary for success?

October 27th 2015

Some thoughts on the pros and cons of getting an MBA. Read more...


Building a loyal customer base

October 22nd 2015

Find out the best ways to make a lasting impression on your customers. Read more...


Finding effective sales metrics

October 20th 2015

Is gross sales the best way to measure your sales? Read about some other metrics. Read more...


The value of business networking

October 15th 2015

Here are some tips on effective networking for your business. Read more...


How do you ask for a pay raise?

October 13th 2015

What is the best way to ask for an increase in salary? It may be easier than you think. Read more...


The momentum of a growing company

October 10th 2015

Be careful not to hinder your company's growth by not addressing internal issues. Read more...


My favorite business quote

October 7th 2015

"If you don't know what to do, don't do anything." Read why this is an important piece of advice for business people. Read more...


Rookie mistakes to avoid in business

October 1st 2015

Here are a few things you should avoid in the early stages of your business. Read more...


Do you dislike the performance review?

September 29th 2015

Here are some ways to make an employee performance review meaningful. Read more...


Before you begin, read The $100 Startup

September 24th 2015

Here is an easy to read book about getting started in business. Read more...


Getting control of your work time

September 22nd 2015

A few creative ways to gain more time during the workday. Read more...


Some do’s and don’ts for growing a startup

September 17th 2015

What are some of the things to focus on when growing your startup business? Read more...


Some key points to growing your business

September 15th 2015

If you have a great product and customers who want that product, you will experience growth in your business. But to be successful, you have to be out in front of the growth. Read more...


Are people the secret to success?

September 10th 2015

Before you hire people, make sure you have a great product and solid organization. Read more...


Do you have more good habits than bad?

September 8th 2015

How do your habits impact your business? Read more...


Managing your company’s ‘growing pains’

September 3rd 2015

At what point in your growing company do you change the way you manage? Read more...


Growth comes from more sales

September 1st 2015

Find out the five best ways to increase your sales. Read more...


Ways to recognize employees

August 27th 2015

What are some of the 'not so obvious' ways to recognize employees. Read more...


Ways to deal with a downturn in revenue

August 25th 2015

What are some things that small businesses can do when there is a shortage of revenue. Read more...


Getting more sales from existing customers

August 20th 2015

Ways to increase your bottom line by reaching out to your current customers. Read more...


Making effective sales presentations

August 18th 2015

What are the components of a good sales presentation? Read more...


Understanding the SWOT analysis – Part 2

August 13th 2015

Looking at the external factors that make up the SWOT analysis. Read more...


Understanding the SWOT analysis – Part 1

August 11th 2015

What is the best way to conduct a SWOT analysis of your organization? Read more...


How do you brand your small business?

August 6th 2015

How much should small businesses focus on branding? Read more...


What is productization?

August 4th 2015

How do you take your products and bundle them so customers better understanding what you are selling? Read more...


Tips on personal organization

July 30th 2015

How do you keep yourself organized in your workspace? It's actually easier than you may think. Read more...


What is requisite order?

July 28th 2015

In all our work processes there is a correct way to do things which I’m calling the requisite order. Read more...


How to manage meetings

July 23rd 2015

Effective meetings require a strategy. Always start with an agenda and outline your expectations. Read more...


What makes a business great?

July 21st 2015

The two things that you must get right is generating enough money and doing everything in your business above average. Read more...


Getting customers to pay their bills on time

July 16th 2015

How do you remind a customer to pay their bill on time? Read more...


How to develop key messages

July 14th 2015

What makes your business different from you competitors? Read more...


Do you have an entrepreneurial mindset?

July 9th 2015

An entrepreneur is a leader and thrives on innovation. Read more...


A key factor for employee reviews

July 7th 2015

A formula for preparing for an employee performance review. Read more...


Investing in new employees

July 2nd 2015

If you want great employees then invest in training them. Read more...


Hiring new employees

June 30th 2015

My best tips on hiring a person for an entry level job. Read more...


Interview questions that provide insight

June 25th 2015

Questions that the person being interviewed isn't expecting, but will give you a better understanding of how they will fit into your company. Read more...


How did I measure success?

June 23rd 2015

The final in a series of nine blogs looks at how I determined if the plan to open a new store was a success. Read more...


Implementing the plan

June 18th 2015

The eighth in a series of nine blogs outlines how I implemented my plan for a new record store. Read more...


Developing the plan

June 16th 2015

The seventh in a series of nine blogs explains how I developed the plan for a new record store. Read more...


Making the decision

June 11th 2015

The sixth in a series of nine blogs shows how I worked through the decision to actually go forward in to decide to open a new record store. Read more...


Turning a vision into a goal

June 9th 2015

The fifth in a series of nine blogs talks about taking my vision for a new record store and creating goals. Read more...


Turning an idea into a vision

June 4th 2015

The fourth in a series of nine blogs outlines the process for developing my vision for a new record store. Read more...


Following my instincts

June 2nd 2015

The third in a series of nine blogs shows how I flushed out the idea to open a second record store. Read more...


How I got the idea

May 28th 2015

The second in a series of nine blogs sets the stage for where I was with my record store career before opening a second store. Read more...


7 steps to accomplishing any goal

May 26th 2015

This is the first in a series of nine blogs showing how I used these steps to accomplish opening a second record store. Read more...


Spotting red flags in an interview

May 21st 2015

What are some things you should look out for when interviewing a potential employee. Read more...


Don’t waste time on the ‘business plan’

May 19th 2015

Don't get hung up on producing the perfect business plan. Read more...


Attributes of a Great Salesperson

May 14th 2015

If you want to be a great salesperson, find out the four traits you need to have. Read more...


Hiring mistakes to avoid

May 12th 2015

Find out the most common mistakes people make when hiring employees. Read more...


Tips for giving employees feedback

May 7th 2015

All employees want and need feedback from their supervisors. Here are a few simple suggestions. Read more...


Be ready to deliver your elevator speech

May 5th 2015

It's important to always have a clear and concise message about who you are and what you sell. Read more...


Spending less in your business – Part 2

April 30th 2015

Are you spending too much on marketing? What about other professional services like legal and bookkeeping? Read more...


Spending less in your business – Part 1

April 29th 2015

Are you spending too much for equipment and supplies? Here are a couple of suggestions to save money. Read more...


It’s not just for dummies

April 23rd 2015

This book provides an easy to understand description of the lean process. Read why I think it's a great place to start. Read more...


Include a cover letter with your resume

April 21st 2015

Find out why a cover letter with your resume is still important. Read more...


Establish yourself as an expert

April 16th 2015

What to get quoted in the media? Help a Reporter Out provides an opportunity to be a source for media outlets all over the country. Read more...


Questions to ask when interviewing

April 14th 2015

Interviewing a potential employee is a real art. What are the most important questions to ask? Read more...


When should you have a meeting?

April 9th 2015

Here are some tips on running successful meetings. Read more...


Having difficult talks with employees

April 7th 2015

Find out some ways to have those difficult conversations with your employees. Read more...


Introverts can be successful at networking

April 2nd 2015

How do you become good at networking if you are an introvert? Read more...


Location really does make a difference

March 31st 2015

The location of the United States has enormous benefits worldwide. Peter Zeihan's new book, The Accidental Super Power is a thought provoking and enjoyable read. Read more...


Creating a three-year vision

March 26th 2015

Creating a vision is very different from developing a plan. Read more...


Blogging, blogging and more blogging

March 24th 2015

Blogging is one of the best social media tools available for a small business. Read more...


Accomplish your goals with intention

March 19th 2015

Why is intending to do something so important? Because approaching your goals with intention will move you towards accomplishing them. Read more...


How to hire the best employees at all levels

March 17th 2015

How do you know if you are hiring the right employee for the right job. It may be easier than you think. Read more...


Asking for a pay raise

March 12th 2015

Do you have a hard time asking for a pay raise? Here are some easy steps to guide you through that process. Read more...


Getting rid of your clutter

March 10th 2015

Organizing her desk made a huge difference in her productivity. See the before and after photos. Read more...


The myth of multitasking

March 5th 2015

Find out why multitasking isn't always a good thing. Read more...


Are you a game changer?

March 3rd 2015

What are the moments in your business career that have made a significant change in your life. Read more...


Tips for motivating employees

February 27th 2015

What do employees really care about? It may be simpler than you think. Read more...


Steps to finding the right first employee

February 24th 2015

Hiring your first employee can be a daunting task. But following some simple steps will help you find the perfect person. Read more...


How does a sales funnel work?

February 19th 2015

Mistakes businesses make when managing the sales process. Read more...


What are two things a start-up must have?

February 17th 2015

Don't overlook the most obvious when starting a business. Read more...


Getting your inventory right

February 12th 2015

Find out why managing your inventory is critical to the success of your business. Read more...


How to build trust with your customers

February 10th 2015

Tips on building trust with your customers. Read more...


How to manage your work processes

February 5th 2015

Managing your workload is a critical element in accomplishing your goals. Read more...


Tips for getting clients to pay on time

February 3rd 2015

Leo Smith owns an architectural firm in Seattle, Washington. Read his tips for getting his clients to pay their invoices. Read more...


Doing the right first thing first

January 30th 2015

Getting a good outcome in your business depends on doing the right first thing first. Find out what that means and how to do it. Read more...


What makes a good leader?

January 29th 2015

What is the definition of a good leader? Are you 'born' with leadership skills? Find out what it takes to become a great leader. Read more...


Three hiring mistakes most businesses make

January 22nd 2015

What are the three biggest mistakes small businesses make when hiring a new employee? Read more...


Do’s and Don’ts for the sales battlefield

January 20th 2015

Follow these simple guidelines when it comes to getting ready and managing your sales. Read more...


The customer isn’t always right

January 15th 2015

The customer may not always be right, but never forget they are you're customer. My motto from "always right" to "always taking care" of the customer has guided me in all my interactions with customers. Read more...


Building relationships with your customers

January 13th 2015

Meeting your customers face-to-face is still the best way to build lasting relationships. Read more...


Running a business with your spouse

January 8th 2015

Have you ever thought about running a business with your spouse? Here's my take on both the challenges and benefits of working with your spouse. Read more...


The challenges of running a small business

January 6th 2015

Being a small business owner can be very lonely. However, there are some general rules an owner can follow to overcome the challenges of running a small business. Read more...


What do I sell?

January 1st 2015

How many times do you stumble over the answer to this simple question. Learn some useful tips that will help you clearly articulate what you sell. Read more...


How do you find the next great product?

December 31st 2014

Finding the next great product may be easier than you think. Before you go searching all over the universe, look in your own backyard first. Read more...


How do I increase my sales?

December 25th 2014

Simple strategies for increasing your sales. Read more...


Proven ways to get customers to pay on time

December 23rd 2014

Some simple do's and don't that will help you make sure your customers pay their bills on time. Read more...


Why do businesses need to grow?

December 18th 2014

There are some wonderful benefits and opportunities associated with a growing business. Read more...


How to build a vendor relationship

December 16th 2014

One sure way to build a good relationship is to give your vendors referrals that they can use as leads to other potential customers. If you bend over backwards for your vendors, they are likely to bend over backwards for you too. Read more...


Is social media the best way to market?

December 11th 2014

Just because you can use social media for marketing, doesn’t mean you should. Social media is a great way to leverage your other marketing activities but you may not be able replace them with social media platforms alone. Always ask yourself, “Is this marketing vehicle right for my business.” Read more...


How to market your business

December 9th 2014

There are some very basic things every business should have in order to market their products or services. Read more...


A simple lesson in profit making

December 4th 2014

When you sell something for more than it costs, you make a profit. So when my grandkids wanted to open a lemonade stand, I gave them a lesson in profit making. Read more...


“Ya gots to make a profit!”

December 2nd 2014

When I told everyone that I was about to launch my first business - a retail record store – they were excited to contribute their two cents. Several of my relatives had their own businesses and of course they all wanted to impress me with fabulous advice. Read more...


A business must make a profit

November 27th 2014

Let’s define what it means to make a profit. Basically, it’s the amount of money left over after you’ve made a sale and deducted the cost of the product or service AND you’ve allocated enough money to cover all your other expenses of running the business, including salaries. Read more...


What is a product?

November 25th 2014

My definition of a product is anything that a business produces and receives payment for. Some products are tangible which means we can hold or touch them. In general these products have a shelf life. At some point we will use them up or wear them out. Read more...


The magic of sales

November 20th 2014

Perhaps I was destined to sell music for a living. We all know there is something magical about music, but I also believe there is something magical about a sale. There is a moment of truth when a customer brings an item to the cash register. I have learned that people rarely part with their money unless they are buying something they need or want. I’ve been fortunate to experience that sensation over and over again. Read more...


You can’t sell what you don’t have

November 18th 2014

In 1974 I opened my first record store in Woodland, California. One of the first people to walk into my new store was an older gentleman in work attire complete with muddy boots. He asked if I carried any Buck Owens on 8-track tape. Not only did I not have any 8-tracks in my store, I had never heard of Buck Owens. Read more...


Exactly what is a sale?

November 13th 2014

Basically a sale is a transaction between a seller (that’s you) and a buyer (that’s your customer) which is an exchange of a product (that thing your business is doing over and over again) for payment (that’s usually money but also could be something else). Read more...


Consistency critical for all businesses

November 11th 2014

In business, the word “consistent” separates a person who does something over and over again from someone who does it once or twice. If you have a garage sale at your house in the spring you have an event. If you hold a garage sale every weekend, you have a business. Businesses sell things over […] Read more...


What is an organization?

November 4th 2014

For a business to consistently sell products and/or services for a profit, it needs a solid organization. An organization includes everything that needs to be done to accomplish the work of the business. The work of an organization includes such things as tasks, functions, processes, systems, time and space. Read more...


Exactly what is a business?

October 25th 2014

If you are going to operate a business, let’s start by finding out exactly what it is that you are running. The general dictionary definition for a business is “the activity of making, buying, or selling goods or providing services in exchange for money”. For me, that definition doesn’t adequately cover the key elements of a business. I think a better way of expressing the concept of business is “an organization that consistently sells products and/or services for a profit”. Read more...