Here's the latest installment of the SmallBiz Mailbag, a collection of some of the most recent and thought-provoking letters from our Feedback section. We want to hear from you, about which stories made you think and what issues affect your small business.
Ask for Help -- and Offer It (6/7)
"I find that I gain much more than I'm giving back." What a wonderful statement Mr. Wadhwa has made. I found this article to be truly inspirational and wanted to thank you for sharing this wisdom.
Very interesting, inspirational, and educational. Please thank Vivek Wadhwa for sharing these words of wisdom. I actually tried what he said and was delighted to get a direct response from the CEO of a company we had long been looking to partner with. I also realized that it's time for me to start giving back.
I found this column to be truly inspirational. I'm a product manager at a large tech company. I'm probably one of those whom Mr. Wadhwa referred to. I understand the challenges he has faced and appreciate his determination to let nothing get in his way. This is what it takes.
I'm looking to start my own company and shall take his words to heart. Thank you!
Interesting article for startups. This is what makes America great -- the blind optimism of an entrepreneur and the backing from folks who initially have no idea who this person is. My hope is that this inspires more folks to give back as they succeed.
Mercer Island, Wash.
Indie Bookstores' Survival Stories (6/2)
As a mid-list mystery author with a university press, I have come to depend on independent bookstores to get my work to appropriate audiences. Employees at most independent bookstores are there because they love books. They develop relationships with loyal clientele and know customers' likes and dislikes. For someone like me, who has to pay her own way for book signings and much of my promotion, I've chosen to focus my marketing dollars on independent bookstores because the return is so much higher both financially and -- equally important -- emotionally.
Thanks so much.
Pari Noskin Taichert
The Secret of Inspiration (6/1)
You've got it all wrong on the survey mentioned in the article. The main reason only 14% of workers are "very satisfied" is because it's the same 14% who are probably economically better off than the rest. The conclusion I draw from the survey is that 86% of the people make the remaining 14% better off. It's no wonder they're not very satisfied.
It's nice to think that we live in a world where people want to feel good about what they do, but I'd be willing to bet that if the 86% were given more economic freedom (i.e., more money in one form or another) so that they might not have to work the rest of their lives (? la corporate management), then they might become more motivated and satisfied with their work.
The corporate scandals in the last few years probably haven't helped workers become more motivated or inspired. I'd also argue that people are doing more work for the same pay, as evidenced by productivity gains. But these gains haven't given way to much income growth.
Will Women Think Pink? (5/31)
As a young female entrepreneur entering the world of finance, I love the idea of Pink. Traditionally, the financial-services industry has been an old boys' club. Business in general has also been known to have fallen under this category.
The reality today is that gender in the workplace is becoming less of a determinant of what position one will hold. Women are emerging from every part of the world wanting to express themselves. It's nice to have a magazine directed specifically toward women who face different obstacles in the business world.
Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
I've known Cynthia for a long time, and seeing what a great job she did at Atlanta Woman, I know she'll do well. This is what she was born to do.
Insource, Offshore, Outsource -- Help! (5/26)
Great story. Thanks.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Uncle Alvin's Long Run (5/25)
Although there was no family business for me to enter, I found the article very enlightening. I love my career as a mechanical engineer, and because of this, I don't "live to retire." I've always believed that those who love what they do are much better off than those who just work for a paycheck.
Cedar Grove, N.J.
You make a number of points well worth some serious mulling over. But, when I encounter an article such as this or read a particularly well-phrased eulogy, I always wonder whether the author ever conveyed these thoughts to the subject of the piece before he or she died. (Preferably well before, when the person's mind was still sharp enough to really appreciate the thoughts and know the beneficial impact he or she was having on others' lives.)
It seems to me that we too often wait until it's too late to fully appreciate those who have favorably influenced us and let them know how much we value their presence in our lives.
Anyway, thanks for sharing your Uncle Alvin.
Charles A. McNulty
Putting on the Dog (5/13)
How could anyone justify spending $10,000 on nonessentials for a human, let alone a dog?
As a pet owner -- who has adopted two retired racing greyhounds and two stray cats, in addition to owning a purebred dog -- for more than 20 years, I find it reprehensible that someone would go to such an extreme, when her largesse could be better spent in a philanthropic manner by funding Humane Society efforts to spay and neuter strays, supporting adoption programs, etc.
Ms. Weiss needs to put things in proper prospective. Her 10-year-old pet most enjoys her company, not the expensive and useless trinkets. The dog is not a doll to be dressed up and played with.
The Big Concerns of Small Business (5/12)
Karen E. Klein's article reporting that tort reform is not a top priority for small-business owners is way off the mark.
The data used to support that claim is in stark contrast to the results of a recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey of its small-business and medium-sized-business members. An overwhelming 80%-plus of the 1,400 businesses surveyed named legal reform as "an extremely high or very high" priority. Whether it's anything from caps on punitive damages to class-action reform, business owners are asking for relief from the frivolous lawsuits that threaten their very existence.
A study conducted by NERA Economic Consulting for the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform found that the tort system costs small businesses a staggering $88 billion annually. That means roughly $150,000 a year for each small business -- money that could be used to hire additional employees, expand operations, or improve health-care coverage for workers.
The costs associated with defending against unwarranted lawsuits are a substantial burden to employers of all sizes. However, for small-business owners, those costs can be the difference between success and failure. Because small businesses create 75% of the new jobs in the U.S., it is imperative that our elected officials provide them with relief from junk lawsuits. That will help keep the economy on the right track.
Lisa A. Rickard
U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform