Small Business Expert Advises: 'Don't Blame the Economy'

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If you are starting a small business or your small business is encountering headwinds, blaming the economy won't help. What you need is passion and a plan backed by S.M.A.R.T. goals -- and action. That's the advice of veteran small business coach Mike Goldman, president of Performance Breakthrough and author of "Performance Breakthrough, The Four Secrets of Passionate Organizations."

With unemployment now topping 9.7 percent, * veteran business coach and author Michael Goldman says many of the 6.9 million laid off since the recession began are no longer seeking jobs, they are creating them.** Goldman is helping many small business owners, new as well as established ones, plug into success.

"You cannot believe the economy is responsible for a downturn in your business. If you own a business -- you are responsible. If you blame the economy, then you are going to miss opportunities happening all around you," says Goldman, president of Performance Breakthrough in Paramus, NJ. "There are opportunities in every type of business, regardless of the economy."

In January, after saving a client $10 million in another business, Rodney Nicholls parlayed his cost-analysis skills into a value-based environmental consulting firm. Tantum Environmental, Inc. (Teaneck, NJ), an affiliate of solid-waste consulting giant Environmental Waste Solutions, gives prospects an irresistible offer: Cash back from existing waste streams. "We split the savings -- and if we don't save you money, our service is free," Nicholls explains. "With help from Performance Breakthrough, I'm zeroing in on three major targets -- industrial companies, food manufacturers, and senior living facilities."

"Mike helped me define how each area of my business is impacted by my behaviors on a daily basis. As a result, I've increased my productivity and become more effective in tracking my performance," he says.

Linda Pollock, a former real-estate property manager who started a home staging and renovation business in 2006 and is also now a design consultant for The Closet Depot, says, "I am amazed at the things that I have learned about myself and my business ownership skills since I started this program. I have sharpened my time management and goal setting skills and I am seeing that payoff." Pollock's company, Setting the Stage (Tenafly, NJ), recently designed and installed closets with custom cabinetry for a 20-plus room mansion in Alpine, NJ.

Throughout his 17 year career, including at consulting powerhouses Deloitte Consulting and Accenture, Goldman sharpened operational strategies and managed dozens of teams for such marquee brands as Polo Ralph Lauren, Liz Claiborne, Levi Strauss, Dillard's, Chanel and Disney. While he still conducts motivational programs for major organizations, as president of Performance Breakthrough (Paramus, NJ), his primary focus is now small business because, he says, that is where the "fire" is hottest. Both an author and frequent speaker, Goldman provides one-on-one and group coaching sessions in sales, leadership, customer service and strategic planning.

"I am passionate about my business, and I want to work with others who are highly passionate. Small business owners and entrepreneurs have to be. They live and breathe their business 24/7. It's survival. They can put strategies they discover in my training sessions to work the very next day, and I get to see the lights go on."                                                    

In Goldman's newly released book titled, Performance Breakthrough: The Four Secrets of Passionate Organizations, he tells a loosely autobiographical tale of a small firm in serious need of a turnaround. The owner, struggling with a child at home with Asperger's Syndrome, picks up important lessons on the homefront that ultimately create fresh energy and a renaissance at the office. Not surprisingly, the no. 1 organizational secret is passion.

Goldman is instantly engaging. He speaks with a staccato style cultivated on the streets of the Bronx, and from battle-tested experience. He understands the value of tending the fire of passion -- and the dangers of letting it ebb too low.

In 2004, he left a nearly $200,000/year consulting job to start his own New Jersey staffing firm. "I had all the trappings of success: I owned a nice home in the suburbs, I drove a Lexus. But I traveled 80 percent of the time, and I was away from my family. To the outside world, I was successful, but I was miserable. My family needed me. I wanted to be a better father to my children. What I lacked then and what I now have is passion and balance. I wouldn't trade those things for all the money in the world."

A Gallup research poll on workplace attitudes concluded that only 29 percent of employees are truly engaged in the work they do. "That means 71 percent of your employees are just trying their best to get through the day …Imagine a company where eight out of 10 people were truly engaged," he says. But just being engaged is not enough.

Feed Your Passions

Goldman says his staffing firm was successful, but it taught him another important lesson. His true passion wasn't finding people jobs. "I did a fair amount of training and coaching for my staffing clients, and I really wanted to do more of it. So I started Performance Breakthrough in 2007. And that's one of the main things that I coach. Design your work so you can do more of the things you feel most passionate about. Cultivate your strengths; feed your passions; and coach others in your organization to do the same."

Even sales pros with years of experience find room for improvement. Tom Moore, a REMAX broker in Montvale, NJ, with more than 15 years in real estate says, "Mike Goldman's goal-setting and time-management program is helping to take my business to new heights. I am growing my business and providing even better service to my clients."

New Performance Breakthrough sessions are scheduled to begin this fall. A tri-sponsored seminar is scheduled for the Holiday Inn on. Rt. 17 So. in Hasbrouck Heights, September 23rd, 8:30-11 a.m. For more information, group sessions, webinars, one-on-one coaching, or to book Michael Goldman as a speaker, call 201-301-2841 or visit http://www.pb-coach.com. (Available Image: Bio photo)

*U.S. Labor Department, press release Sept, 4, 2009. http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm

**During the second quarter, 8.7 percent of job seekers gained employment by starting their own business -- about double the rate of a year earlier. (Source: Challenger Job Market Index, August 2009.)

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CHARLES BINS

Mike Goldman