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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Though popular media may be having a field day with grinding out stories of abject gloom regarding slowed business activity and rampant job losses, my experiences of the past several days tell a different story. Just below the big media radar, there is intense activity involving America’s small business owners, and those men and women are proving that despite what you may hear or presume, business does go on.

I’ve just spent two days in San Francisco, California taping interviews with a variety of small business experts for a Wells Fargo online series called, “Insight.” Gathered in a video studio at the edge of Chinatown, were business owners and bankers who were well prepped to share information about how to develop, market and grow small businesses, even in today’s tough environment. Put me in a room like that with successful entrepreneurs and I become a tireless question machine!

The people I interviewed included Gene Marks, a technology consultant, Jagdeep Dayal, a banker and expert in commercial real estate, Barry Moltz, a business author, and Lisa Lambert, an attorney with deep knowledge of 1031 tax deferred exchanges in real estate. They were all fountains of information and good advice. I’d say that most college professors would be hard pressed to equal their practical knowledge and enthusiasm for their subjects.

Here are some of the thoughts that emerged from our two all-day tape sessions. Jagdeep Dayal, who offered some very useful guidelines for buying commercial real estate, feels that opportunities to acquire properties at good prices are beginning to emerge. The year 2010 is becoming a target year for many property investors. Gene Marks reminded me that there are 25 million small businesses in this country and that there are thriving segments such as low cost restaurants and credit counseling services. We Americans tend to think in terms of succeeding by hitting a home run but Gene said that in today’s marketplace getting to home plate hitting singles and doubles is just fine.

Barry Moltz, who says that he is “crazy about business and insane for success,” is a serial entrepreneur and author (Bounce! Failure, Resiliency and the Confidence for Your Next Great Success) who has boundless energy. While acknowledging the tough times we are living in Barry says business owners should focus on profitability, not growth, and focus on cash, not sales. Lisa Lambert took me through some of the ways that a business person who owns real estate can use a 1031 exchange to help manage their tax burden. If you didn’t know, the Internal Revenue Service’s 1031 rules allow you to defer payment of capital gains taxes on income properties under certain circumstances.

So, while gloomy seems to be the color of choice for many in the business world today, there is always another side to any situation. We hear that banks have gone into hiding but to create this useful material, Wells Fargo is partnering with several small businesses including Imagination Publishing of Chicago, Nelson Davis TV Productions, and Media One Studios. Joint ventures and special cooperation between disparate large and small businesses is a wave that isn’t waiting for the future. It is easy these days to speculate on how we’ll work our way through the big time challenges we are all facing. I’ll say yes to the entrepreneurial spirit lifting us from these doldrums and with the past few days as evidence, I’d bank on it.

By the way, my conversations with these vibrant and knowledgeable folks will be condensed into information-rich, five minute segments that will be streamed on a Wells Fargo web site, www.Wellsfargo.com/biz/education/insight. At the site you can already see some of the wonderful small business advocates that I’ve interviewed during the past year.


For More Information On:

Lisa Lambert & 1031 exchange: http://apiexchange.com/

Gene Marks: http://www.marksgroup.net/

Barry Moltz: http://barrymoltz.com/


Let me know your thoughts by e-mail: nelson@makingittv.com


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