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Related News

SBAM members get terrific discount for March 20 "Economic Gardening" learning program in Grand Rapids

New “economic gardening” resources and programs designed to help small businesses achieve rapid growth will be showcased at an SBAM event March 20 in Grand Rapids. Click here for registration details. Tickets are $60, but the price for SBAM members is $30. Plus, SBAM members who purchase a ticket will receive a free one-year subscription to Crain’s Detroit Business (a $24.50 value. Must be a new subscriber.)

Sponsored by SBAM in partnership with Crain’s Detroit Business, the event will be held 7:30 a.m. – 10 a.m. March 20 at the Amway Grand Hotel in Grand Rapids. A keynote address will be presented by Mark Lange, executive director of the Edward Lowe Foundation. Panelists include SBAM President and CEO Rob Fowler; Bonnie Alfonso, president and Chief Embellishment Officer for Alfie Logo Gear for Work and Play in Traverse City; and Yan Ness, Chief Executive Officer for Online Tech Inc. of Ann Arbor. Alfonso and Ness will share what they learned from their participation in the Pure Michigan Business Connect Economic Gardening Pilot Program.

The Title Sponsor for the event is the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Premier Sponsors are Clark Hill PLC and Consumers Energy. The Major Sponsor is Comcast Business Class. The Supporting Sponsor is hiredMYway. The Location Sponsor is the Amway Grand Plaza.

Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/programwitch/

How you can create a productive, "leaderful" small business. Today at 10 a.m. on the Business Next free audio seminar

Program guest Dr. Joe Raelin talks with Michael Rogers about the key aspects of creating a "leaderful" small business operation. Raelin will conduct a March 14 program in Lansing sponsored by Capital Quality and Innovation (click here for details.) 

Listen today at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the Michigan Business Network. Listen to archived programs anytime at your convenience on your PC or mobile device by going to the Business Next show page

Get Business Next audio seminars delivered three times a week automatically to your iPhone or other mobile device. Subscribe in iTunes using this URL

Resolutions Would Block Union Elections Rule

From SBAM's national affiliate, NSBA:

On Feb. 16, Reps. John Kline (R-Minn.), Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) and Phil Roe (R-Tenn.), along with 65 cosponsors, introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives a resolution (H.J. Res. 103) to disapprove under the Congressional Review Act the union elections rule submitted by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) late last year. A similar resolution (S.J. Res. 36) was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.)which has 44 cosponsors.

Often referred to as the "ambush elections" rule, NSBA took a firm stance last year against the rule, filing comments which detailed the unfair process and significant burden it would pose for small businesses.

NSBA has submitted a letter in support of both resolutions which, if passed, would prevent the regulation from going into effect. Of primary concern with the ambush elections rule is the fact that unions can spend months or even years in advance of filing a petition to encourage employee support of unionization. The unions control when a petition is filed, giving them the upper-hand in planning and spreading information to the workforce. Employers, under this proposed rule, would then bear the full brunt of a shortened timeframe which, in certain circumstances, could be just 10 days following the filing of a petition. 

The current median time between a petition being filed and the elections is only 38 days. Moreover, unions prevailed in 71 percent of elections in FY 2011. It is unclear, therefore, that there even exists any major flaw in the process or major delays--as NLRB has claimed--that have prompted this proposal. 

The primary objective of the National Labor Relations Act is to “assure employees the fullest freedom to decide whether or not they desire union representation.” Employees ought to have unfettered access to information from both sides on the implications of a unionizing campaign before a vote would happen. This rule impedes that objective. 

The rule would dramatically limit the scope of the pre-hearing process. Previously, both the NLRB and courts have come to the conclusion that, as the law spells out, a pre-election hearing is necessary to ensure fairness to employers and to protect the rights of employees to make informed choices in the elections. 

How small business worked with the DEQ on environmental regulatory reform. Today at 10 a.m. on the Business Next free audio seminar

SBAM's Director of Government Relations Dave Jessup talks with Michael Rogers about the successful effort to begin reforming Michigan's environmetal regulations. Also, get advice on how to network more effectively, learn how a small office supply company thrives in southeast Michigan, and hear about the new Michipreneuers website. Listen today at 10 a.m., 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. on the Michigan Business Network. Listen to archived programs anytime at your convenience on your PC or mobile device by going to the Business Next show page.

Get Business Next audio seminars delivered three times a week automatically to your iPhone or other mobile device. Subscribe in iTunes using this URL.

Photo by http://www.flickr.com/photos/your_wht_knight/

Steven Strauss: Innovation Continued ...

In last week’s column we looked at how innovation can be nurtured in companies. Specifically, I shared the story of 3M and how the company used an innovation culture to foster the creation of Post-It Notes. It’s a fun and interesting story and I like sharing it because it shows that empowering one’s employees to be more innovative can really help a business grow.  

But it also begs the question: Why should a small business invest in innovation in the first place? After all, if you are in business, you already have plenty on your plate. Running and growing an enterprise is tough enough without having to worry about coming up with the Next Big Thing, right?

Right, and wrong. It is a correct assumption in that innovation is indeed too much work for some small businesses. That’s fine, understandable even. Innovation takes time and money, and those things are sometimes in short supply. So yes, if you don’t want to innovate, we can relate.

But it is equally true that being innovative in your business and with your products can be the secret sauce that allows you to stand out in the vast sea that is capitalism. There is no shortage of competitors who want to steal your clients, and if they innovate and you don’t, they just may. Moreover, innovation fires up the team, invigorates the entrepreneur, wows customers, impresses potential clients, and, when done right, grows your business.

Let me give you an example: A few weeks ago I was invited by Symantec (a company I previously did some work with) to a product launch at the world headquarters of Tesla Motors in Palo Alto. Let’s just start there. That’s an innovative way to launch a product, is it not? Rather than sending out a boring press release, showcasing their products against the backdrop of some incredibly cool $100,000 sports cars captured one’s attention.

And it is also a good lesson for the small business: Your innovation, your creativity, can look many different ways and still have an impact. Even something as different as showing your products in a different space can be memorable.

But beyond that, what I found most interesting was the commitment to innovation Symantec showed when it re-engineered its small business product Backup Exec. While creating a better system to help businesses protect and backup their data may not sound sexy, what is sexy is that the company put more than 1 million man hours over two years into rethinking its product and making it better, faster, less expensive, more usable, less complex, and more flexible.

Innovating in your business in this way offers many benefits, not the least of which is that it keeps you ahead of the curve and delights your customers when they see that you are trying to offer them the best that you have.

Now, maybe you are thinking that innovating is a lot easier for a big corporation with their bigger budgets and all. That is somewhat true. But small businesses innovate all of the time, just on a smaller scale. Whether it is a catering truck that lets customers know where it will be each day by being followed on Twitter or the furniture store that rents out furniture for real estate open houses, the idea is not that you have to invent the next iPad. Rather, the point is that innovation and all of the benefits described herein happens  when a company focuses on the end user, thinks about what their customers really need, and comes up with a better way to help those customers solve their problems.

Innovation in its many forms – big and small alike – is what can set you apart and make your business special.

Today’s Tip: “Innovation comes from people meeting up in the hallways, or calling each other at 10:30 at night with a new idea, or because they realized something that shoots holes in how we’ve been thinking about a problem.” – Steve Jobs