Jim gives his top tips for small businesses on MSNBC's "Your Business" (click here)

TALKERS publisher Michael Harrison reviews Jim's book titled
The Age of the Customer Prepare for the Moment of Relevance
(2014 SBN Books)

Blasingame is the longtime host of the very successful program “The Small Business Advocate Show” which is targeted to helping independent entrepreneurs and business owners cope with the day-to-day issues that face people running their own companies during this era of rapidly accelerating change. This book, Blasingame’s third, is “his best work yet,” according to Harrison and “must-reading for anyone out there on the perilous high seas of today’s turbulent marketplace…especially those who are doing it independently without the backing of the Wall Street/banking/big-time money machine.” Harrison goes on to say, “This includes those brave and hardy ‘Davids’ owning and operating independent radio stations and small groups, syndication companies and Internet communications startups bucking the death grip of today’s mega-corporate ‘Goliaths.’”

The premise of the book is that small business owners are operating at a time that is so momentous it has never happened before. Blasingame, a veteran of TALKERS magazine’s Heavy Hundred, identifies it as an epochal marketplace shift that’s causing the 10,000 year old Age of the Seller to be replaced by the Age of the Customer. With an introduction by Steve Forbes, Blasingame’s book reveals how these two ages are existing concurrently in parallel universes, and how much time business-people have left to join the emerging universe. He says relevance is replacing competitiveness and explains how to recognize when you arrive at the “moment of relevance,” how to connect with “new-influencers” who co-own your brand message; why you must be a good storyteller; the good, the bad and the ugly of social media; and he identifies the “killer app” that wasn’t a part of your past but will dominate your future.

October 24, 2008 Issue 72
Advocating For Small Business Go talk to your customers. Spend more time listening to them and less time listening to the financial talking heads on TV. Talk to every customer and remind them just how important they are to you. Ask them how you can help them today. Right now, somebody is buying something from someone somewhere. It might as well be from you.

I know you don’t do a politically-driven talk show, but give us your take on the impact on small businesses of the tax plan proposals presented by both presidential candidates. In my opinion, Senator Obama’s plan is completely illogical for small businesses because even those that make less than $250,000 a year aspire to that. He says he’s going to eliminate or reduce capital gains for small businesses, but guess what? Small businesses typically don’t have much in the way of capital gains. I don’t think Obama really understands the fundamentals of small businesses. As for John McCain, he actually gets it. He understands that lower taxes will grow small businesses.

How about the impact to small business of both candidates’ health care proposals?
Look, I’m no huge fan of John McCain, but his plan is actually built on the idea of health care coverage that is portable and deductible. In the 21st Century world, most people will have six to eight different jobs in their career. If you have your own policy, that your employer contributes to, but you went into the marketplace and bought for yourself, you can keep your insurance and take it with you to the next job. Obama’s plan is stuck in the 20th Century model that’s basically beholding to the concept of universal, single payer health care. I believe that American’s must change their thinking and become health care consumers, not health care patients. In almost anything else we buy in life, we know how much it costs and if we are getting ripped off. That’s not true with health care in America and that’s where all the waste is. So in short, when it comes to taxes and health care the small business candidate -- meaning which candidate will probably be better for small businesses’ bottom line -- is probably McCain.

What do you think small business owners, including local radio owners, can do to help get America through these tough and challenging economic times?
It’s very simple. We have to continue to believe in ourselves. Main Street believes in the marketplace. Wall Street doesn’t believe in anything. If there were any belief -- any trust, or sanity -- on Wall Street, why would the Dow go up 400 points in the morning and down 300 points that afternoon? We’ve watched 700+ point swings in a single day on Wall Street in the past couple of weeks. If you believed in the real, intrinsic value of anything in your world, how could that happen? Although he was widely criticized for saying it, McCain was correct when he said that fundamentally the economy is strong. Our biggest problem is a deficiency of trust in the marketplace and that’s what glues everything together. Demanding transparency and trust from business leaders is what will get the marketplace and our economy back on track. (You can learn more about Jim Blasingame at www. smallbusinessadvocate.com)
At the risk of understatement, times are tough. Times that demand you make tough decisions and have a tough constitution. Riding the daily Wall Street roller coaster on your desktop or iPhone is only slightly more stomach churning
than opening that latest 401K statement that came in the mail. Yet, most agree that in times of turmoil there are those who see defeat and those who see opportunity. No less than the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett advised this week, “Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.”
There’s an old adage that says, “When elephants dance it’s the ants that get trampled.” It’s not only big business being impacted by the economic turmoil of these days, it’s also small businesses -- Main Street businesses. And while much of our industry’s daily news focuses on big broadcast groups like Clear Channel, CBS, or Citadel, there are still stations across the country that remain comparatively small businesses, owned and operated by regional and local owners. OK, so maybe you won’t find many of those stations in New York, Los Angeles or Chicago, but you will still find them in towns like Tyler, TX, Kalispell, MT and Clovis, NM.

To get some advice on how small media businesses can survive and ultimately thrive in the tumultuous weeks and months ahead, I decided to check in with Jim Blasingame, founder and host of the Small Business Advocate Show. Syndicated nationally through Skip Joeckel’s Talk Shows USA, Blasingame is also the bestselling author of Small Business Is Like A Bunch Of Bananas and Three Minutes To Success, as well as a syndicated columnist who has been recognized by Fortune Small Business magazine as, “one of the 30 most influential people representing small business interests.”

Are things as scary economically as the media and politicians say they are?
There are scary things going on, but they’re not as bad as the media is making it out to be. Sure, it’s bad for the guys at AIG, but if you’re a small business owner and you have a track record, a business model that is working, and a relationship with your local bank, you can get credit. It might be tough to get a loan from Bank of America or Wells Fargo, but there are literally thousands of local community banks and credit unions that are making loans to small business owners right now. I have always advised small business owners to have two banking relationships with at least one of those being with an independent community bank. That advice has turned out to be downright prophetic in light of what’s happening right now.

Any advice for small business owners on planning for the weeks and months ahead?
Turn off the television. Don’t watch the Dow averages, or listen to the talking heads. It will make you nuts and put you in the wrong frame of mind with the wrong attitude.
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