Eighteen States Now Have Passed Regulatory Flexibility

Indiana is the eighteenth state to pass regulatory flexibility for small businesses.
“Indiana’s small business owners now have a seat at the table when regulatory decisions are made,” said Thomas M. Sullivan, Chief Counsel for the SBA Office of Advocacy. “When their voice is heard, better decisions are made, and that means more jobs and growth for Indiana.”
The successful passage and signing of Indiana’s Small Business Regulatory Flexibility bill resulted from Indiana small business stakeholders working together in a coalition. The Indiana National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce and Indiana Manufacturers Association also deserve recognition for their efforts in supporting the legislation and helping to facilitate a vibrant and growing small business sector in Indiana.
Indiana’s Small Business Regulatory Flexibility bill implements key elements of regulatory flexibility model legislation drafted by the Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration. Similar to the federal Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), the model legislation encourages entrepreneurial success by requiring state agencies to consider the impact of their policies on small business before they issue final regulations.
Reducing regulation on small business and entrepreneurs, cutting and simplifying taxes across the board, and education about the entrepreneurial process are the key elements to fostering and supporting successful entrepreneurial economic development according to most research.

Another Example of Targeted Tax Breaks

Targeted tax breaks do nothing over the long term to help in economic development, and yet we keep seeing examples like this one in Jackson, TN sent to me by Ben Cunningham. What creates more entrepreneurial development is lower taxes across the board. This has been proven in numerous studies, including this recent report from the SBA.
Such initiatives are a slippery slope that leads to more demands not only from the company you help today, but all the others that see this as a precedent for them to ask for a break. Since governmental official are incapable of cutting spending, this means the rest of us have to make up the difference in tax revenues.

New Age in Music, Media and Entertainment

Like many of us, the only time I read the USA Today is when I travel. We just got back from a trip to pick up our daughter from college. While in the hotel in Gaffney, SC I came across a feature that USA Today ran on the state of the entertainment industry. While much of it has been said elsewhere, it really provides a fascinating looking at where music and the rest of the entertainment industry may be headed. USA Today put together a diverse group of people who are helping to shape the industry’s future. As I read through the comments of the assembled panelists, I was struck by all of the immediate and longer term opportunities in the entertainment industry. Here are a few of the impressions I took away from their comments:
– What I am doing here this morning will soon be out of date. Blogs are just the early, archaic form of new ways to share ideas and communicate. The sprit of blogging will continue on, but its form will most certainly evolve and morph into other media.
– The market will no longer be such a “mass market”, but one that is full of product and market segmentation. The “long tail” of the market will become the focus of business development. The “long tail” refers to that part of the market that does not favor the popular choices in music and entertainment. They are made up of countless little market niches out there hungry for their specific interests to be satisfied. About half of the culture is in the very tall popular culture part of the curve, but there is an incredibly long tail of that curve that continues off to the right that contains all of the various sub-markets for entertainment. With this diverse group of consumers and new means to reach highly specialized market niches, the opportunities are limitless.
For example, there are bands making a nice living off of a very small, but loyal group of followers. They can reach them through the Internet in ways that build loyalty and intimacy that most marketers would kill for. Thousands of blogs have hundreds or even thousands of very loyal readers, who share a strong and passionate commitment to a common interest.
– New forms to catalogue, store and search through all of this media that will be at our fingertips in the soon to be wide open market will need to be developed. Think of it this way; right now I have all of my favorite CDs in a 200 disc player. I have little booklets that hold the covers of these CDs for me to look through and I have the CDs grouped in blocks by musical genres (classic rock, blues, country, folk, old jazz, new jazz, classical, and so forth). While this allows me to do some rudimentary searches for a specific song, artist or musical style, it takes time and effort for me to search through all of that. iPods have a more powerful search feature that allows you to search by title, artist, etc. Both of these are limited in space by the storage capacity and neither search feature is really satisfactory, especially when applied to an open market of music that will not be limited by or defined by any hardware that I happen to own. But how to we find and organize all of that? Certainly Google is not the answer. In fact, if the now corporate Google does not reinvent itself ten times over in the next few years it, too, will become irrelevant.
Soon you will be able to communicate your mood or the setting and artificial intelligence that has learned from your past decisions and information combined with an almost limitless database of entertainment will be able to, well, entertain you beyond anything you can now imagine.
– Advertising will need to reinvent itself as an industry, as well. Again, think of that long tail of little market niches that stretches on and on. Mass marketing techniques to a captured audience will not work in this space.
– The devices we use for music, video and other forms of entertainment in 2015 may not have even been dreamed of today in 2005. Convergence of our current devices is just an attempt to fit a bunch of round pegs into square holes. Eventually there will be a breakthrough or a series of breakthroughs. There will be another group of entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates who will bring this new world of media technology to us.
– Even what forms media takes will change. Video, audio, the Internet, as we now know all them, will all seem like quaint antiques within a decade or two.

A Real Opportunity or Just Another Crazy Idea?

Market? Margin? Me?
Those are the three questions that my students hear over and over when they come to me with new ideas. One of the most important keys to becoming a successful entrepreneur is learning how to ask and assess these three questions. This is not the stuff of some full blown business plan. It begins, instead, with a simple, common sense look at the market.
StartupJounral explores the “Market?” question recommending that potential entrepreneurs use easy to gather data, that often is right at their finder, tips to validate their ideas. Talk to people in the industry. If you don’t come across as selling they are usually happy to give you their opinions. Use the Web to gather information on major trends that may help or hurt your idea over the coming years. And get to know how your potential customers think and what is really important to them in making purchasing decisions.
Find out if the idea is a non-starter before you invest your time and other people’s money in the deal. Learn to fail on paper.

An Underserved Market: Americans with Disabilities

Disabled Americans have more freedom of movement, more access, and more opportunities than ever before. Fortune Small Business examines this growing market.
“After he had driven four hours to buy a wheel-chair that would allow him to play tennis-and was ignored by the salespeople at the company that made it-John Box was so angry that he decided to do something about it. When Box returned home, he and a brother, both engineers, teamed up to invent their own athletic-oriented chair. Box was soon marketing it at the wheelchair tennis matches in which he competed around the country.”
As we baby-boomers are now old (no longer getting older–just old according to my students), this market may become even larger over the next 20-30 years. Even today this market includes about 50 million Americans.

Economic Conditions for Small Business Moderate

Economic conditions for small businesses moderated in the first quarter of 2005, according to the Office of Advocacy’s newly released Quarterly Indicators: The Economy And Small Business. The report shows real gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 3.1 percent in the quarter and unemployment falling to 5.2 percent.
“The economy cooled in the first quarter of 2005 as higher energy costs weighed on the public’s mind,” said Dr. Chad Moutray, Chief Economist for the Office of Advocacy. “While real GDP grew at 3.1 percent, that is slower than the previous quarter. Small business owners remained optimistic, although at lower levels than in 2004.”
During the quarter, interest rates continued to increase as policymakers tried to dampen inflationary pressures. The average prime lending rate rose to 5.4 percent, while the 2004 average was 4.3 percent. Nonetheless, the Senior Loan Officers Survey showed the demand for small business commercial and industrial loans remained strong.
Energy prices played a key role in the first quarter of 2005. The average price of West Texas crude reached $54.31 a barrel in March 2005 — almost $11 more than the December 2004 average.
This increase affected consumer prices, so that between December 2004 and March 2005 they rose at an annualized 4.25 percent rate, with 1.37 percentage points of the rise attributable to energy costs. Producer prices followed a similar pattern.
(Source: SBA Office of Advocacy).

Belmont Students Take National Award

Sixteen students from the Belmont University Entrepreneurship Club attended the International convention of Delta Epsilon Chi in Anaheim, California this past week. The annual business conference hosted approximately 2,000 college and university students.
Belmont students won twenty awards in the various competitions that were part of this conference.
The team of Aleah Armstrong, Jessi Menish, and Heather Stohl took first place the Entrepreneurial Challenge. The team was awarded a $1,000 cash prize for winning this event.
The following students also won awards at the convention:
Financial Services Competition:
Ben Feller — Written Exam, Role Play, Finalist, Top 10
Joe Drake — Written Exam, Role Play, Finalist, Top 10
Marketing Management Competition:
Jessica Phillips — Role Play, Finalist, Top 10
Apparel and Accessories Competition:
Aleah Armstrong — Role Play, Finalist, Top 10
Lauren Alexander — Written Exam
Web Design Competition:
Sara Loeppke — Top 10
Cameron Powell — Top 10