About the Small Businessman

Michael P. Murphy
5503 Butte View Court
Rocklin, CA 95765

(916) 435-9090

mmurphy@smallbusinessman.com

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Introduction

Businesses can increase productivity without sacrificing service & integrity. Doing so is an art. Its true that a lot of businessmen don't get it. Many have a hard time defining the value of integrity. For some it only means Church on Sunday and then bottom feeding on Monday. The Small Businessman is designed to be an alternative to the current trend that says you can market around dissatisfied customers. When that happens, businesses end up churning customers which looks good on the next quarterly report and for the current CEO's paycheck, but is a lousy practice in the long run for all parties.

Finding ways to improve the quality of business communication and overall efficiency without hurting the public, the staff, the management and stockholders is a real challenge in today's "got to have it all" price driven economy.

Though the perception game is still important, I like to facilitate a business relationship that goes beyond customer expectations and at least makes perception a reality. Today, companies without an image that people want to identify with won't do so well in a futurescape where people still buy on first impressions, but also demand quality and service as the business relationship matures. They have the Internet to look up business statistics, quality of service and overall reputations. The public is tired of getting less than they paid for and having to leap over hurdles to talk with a company representative to solve what would appear to have been a simple matter.

Things will change for the better and I plan to be an active part of that change!

Merchandising and Personnel Management

It was a time of road rally's and muscle cars. The Beach boys were big and surfing at the old tin can beach was my thing. In order to pay for gas and expenses, I started working at the coolest clothing store in Southern California -- Wild West Stores! I was so enthusiastic and into improving the already novel concept store, that by the age of eighteen, I became its merchandising manager. Later, I tried on the personnel manager's hat. In many ways, I found work to be as much fun as surfing. There were always challenges.

A few years later, I went into the banking business to sell home mortgages to investors on the secondary market. We Californians, wearing our loose open collared shirts, were the envy of the eastern establishment in their pure white shirts strangled by those skinny ties. Many longed to move out to California where there was a little less starch!

I noticed corporate "integrity" cracks in that industry that would lead to the corruption that would follow years later in the Savings and Loan debacle.

Unfortunately, today, a great deal of corporate America is following in the footsteps of the Savings and Loan industry. After such abuses, I notice days when it seems like nobody trusts anybody-- not stockholders of management, not management of staff; not staff of management; nor staff of each other and and last but not least, the customer of the company!

Hitchhiker to Tennis Pro

When asked to forge a signature, I refused and was offered a dead end position within the company.  Instead I decided to hit the road - literally.  At nineteen, after hitchhiking up and down the state of California and a few summers teaching Tennis and working at a ski resort by Lake Tahoe, I finally settled down to save a tennis club in San Mateo. As the managing tennis pro and business consultant, I brought the club out from under its cloud. I thought that was pretty cool!

First Independent Aerobics Instructor Training Organization

From there, the adventure continued as I started the world's first independent aerobics instructor training company - The Aerobics Academy. My company set the standards that the rest of the world is still absorbing today! (Check out the website for a glance at the old manual.) Now, almost anyone anywhere can learn from that manual with an internet service as the only price to view it. All sports participants could find food for thought there.

As the aerobics industry grew, it too, became full of corruption. Our state senators and assemblymen were going through Capital Scam at the time for similar issues. And though some were caught by the FBI, the damage their activities caused cost many training companies their businesses while the bigger companies survived the pillage that some of them had started.

Ten Years Playing with the Big Boys

In order to better understand the corporate competition that had survived me, I spent the last ten years studying them from every angle. I spent time with companies like Intel, Sony, Oracle, EDS, Allstate, Blue Shield, Aerojet and Sprint. It has been an interesting learning experience.

I noticed that these companies were so big that the right hand didn't even know where the left hand was, let alone what it was doing. This could be another reason so many large Corporations are becoming "paranoid." One executive even went a step further in an attempt to explain this mental state. He wrote a book, "Only the Paranoid Survive."

When things are out of hand or beyond our ability to control or understand, we feel a sense of fear. Corporations are losing control and the public's first impression mentality is waking up from their false perception of the health of the American Corporation. This is evidenced by the end to their blind faith in the technology stocks in the 1990's. Unfortunately, many companies, as I predicted, resorted to desperate measures as the millennium dust settled. The loss in their integrity as some lied, cheated and stole to maintain or gain market share was the subject of many talk shows and news hours. In the end, it was the undoing of many large companies.

Observations

The Darlings of the Stock Market are only an illusion. In their modern attempts to centralize and become business fortresses, we are finding entities too big to control. Chaos becomes more rampant and in many cases is already "business as usual" for many corporations.

Thanks to the Internet and new communications tools, the Small Businessman sees more opportunities than ever before to command a "Big Business" presence while keeping things a little tighter and more organized. The days of "big" for big's sake should be coming to an end with Google having one of the last hurrahs.

The new chaos is going to be very exciting! There will be plenty of opportunities for small businesses and savvy, tightly run corporations. No longer can wrong doing be as easily swept under the carpet. One corporate manager, on a daily basis, printed out the pages of a public site that constantly criticized his company's practices. There were piles of paper.

PR Damage Control or Problem Resolution

Unfortunately though, some corporations, because of the public's first impression mentality, tend to spend more on public relations damage control then they do to fix the problems in the first place. To them Perception = Survival. They may get to breathe through the next quarter, but then what?

Mike's Answers

Integrity, Training and Communications development.

Though you can't change people, you can become what people want to be part of. Many customers are weary of the lack of business and government integrity and want to deal with "good" companies. Some are beginning the "internet made easy" journey to seek out those companies that have a "To thine own self be true" attitude.

That is when companies touched by people like myself will shine the most. They will exhibit a healthy concoction made up of the best of the old, the best of the new, and some good ol' fun loving adventure! These directions are time tested.

With the internet making communication more economical and easier, more people will be able to see and hear a detailed story about our businesses rather than the sound bite we want to present. In addition, we'll see more cautious adaptation of "gee whiz" technology, better training for "change and rapid evolution" and more pronounced business themes and images, and best of all, more internet searches for business and market integrity!


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