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Small Business Conversations

Small Business Conversations

By Tom Shay
This is Small Business Conversations from Profits Plus Solutions. A program where we visit with expert individuals who provide awesome insight and new ideas of how to increase your profits plus build your business for the future. We find experts on small business accounting, marketing, ownership transition, leases, sales skills, merchandising, and most every aspect of ownership in your small business.
Your host is Tom Shay, principal of Profits Plus.
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Selling to affluent customers? Chris Ramey visits Small Business Conversations and Tom Shay to show how

Small Business Conversations

The SBDC - a free source of help for your business - Tee Rowe, President and CEO visits with Tom Shay to explain
The Small Business Development Centers (SBDC) provides a source of information and help for your small business at no cost to you. This is a federally funded organization with over 1,000 offices and 4,000 counselors available across the USA.  Tee Rowe, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the SBDC visits to explain how to find your nearest SBDC office; how to apply for your own SBDC counselor and the variety of ways the SBDC can help your business. As compared to the many "help vultures" we observe, the SBDC will work with your business in a one-on-one scenario with assistance customized to your business at no cost to you. Tee also provided an update and explained components of the PPP and EIDL. 
July 10, 2020
Your loyalty/rewards program may need a renewal; Ron Friedman visits with Tom Shay to share how to do so
Ron Friedman visits with Tom Shay to discuss what is wrong with the loyalty/reward program that many businesses offer. We share some interesting statistics of how paid loyalty/reward programs are being used by many businesses and how you can make one work for your business.
June 19, 2020
Ken Banks visits Tom Shay and Small Business Conversations to discuss marketing after the pandemic
Ken Banks is a member of the retail advertising hall of fame. As he visited with Tom Shay he discussed how businesses can market differently after the pandemic. We talked about the "retail apocalypse" and what types of businesses were a part of it. Ken shared experiences of being the head of marketing for companies like Circuit City, PetsMart, Levitz Furniture, Eckerd Drug, and as a consultant to many others.
May 29, 2020
Mike McCormick visits Small Business Conversations and Tom Shay to discuss how to respond to the Covid 19 pandemic
This program was recorded during the height of the spring 2020 Covid 19 period of isolation. Mike McCormick discussed how small business owners can protect themselves as well as how to utilize the assistance programs being offered by the federal government. We also discussed the challenges with selling a business at this time as well as the changes a business should make in their marketing efforts. As with Mike's previous visits, he has the unique ability to explain things in terms that we can easily relate to and understand.
April 17, 2020
Lisa Shimkat, state director for Iowa's Small Business Development Center visits Small Business Development Centers
The Small Business Development Center is a service of the Small Business Administration that far too many people know of. There is a SBDC lead center in each of the fifty states. California and Texas have multiple lead centers. On a local level there are over 1,000 local centers staffed with experts equipped to help you with your small business. Whether you see an opportunity for your existing business; you have an idea for a new business; your business faces a challenge; or you want to find a coach to help you, the SBDC is the organization you want to contact. The majority of the services of the SBDC are free. The SBDC also hosts webinars and workshops, some of which have a small fee to participate in, on topics that relate to small business ownership and management. Listen to this month's Small Business Conversation with Tom Shay visiting with Lisa Shimkat, the state director for Iowa's Small Business Development Center. Visit to find the SBDC office nearest you.
March 13, 2020
March 5, 2020
March 5, 2020
Joe Baer, CEO of Zen Genius - merchandising experts visits Small Business Conversations
We are thrilled to have Joe Baer, the co-founder and CEO of Zen Genius, a visual merchandising design firm headquartered in Columbus, Oh. Just before Joe and his staff head to Germany for EuroShop, we ask Joe to share ideas of what a small business can learn from large businesses who have sizable budgets for merchandising and visual display work. We discussed what happens when a customer can first see your business and many of the components when a customer visits your business that can affect their impression of your business as well as their desire to return to the business. This was an hour that was just like having this visual display and merchandising genius visit your business. You will definitely enjoy all the wisdom Joe Baer shares.
February 7, 2020
Henry Hutcheson, author of Dirty Litle Secrets of Family Business visits Small Business Conversations and Tom Shay
While the idea of a "family business" may bring up warm feelings about a business, it can bring challenges and opportunities when the ownership is transitioning from one individual to another. Our guest expert is Henry Hutcheson, author of Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business. Whether the business is a partnership among friends, a business transitioning from one generation to the next, or a transition involving siblings, cousins and other family members, Henry's expertise is helping make the transition smooth as well as helping make sure the business is ready for the transition and that the business endures. If you are a part of a family business, this is another of the very important Small Business Conversations from Profits Plus and Tom Shay.
January 24, 2020
Gwen Bortner, a virtual Chief Operating Officer visits to discuss what a COO can do for your business
Have you ever thought your business is missing an ingredient, or person, that will help your business overcome an obstacle or grow to the next level? Gwen Bortner has created herself as a virtual chief operating officer (COO); the person who can be that missing ingredient or the person who helps you overcome the obstacle. During this program Gwen discussed the challenge of a person understanding the difference in an owner, manager and leader.  Those who find they are not getting things done in their business and those who find themselves putting in too many hours trying to get things done will find this will be a very wise investment of an hour.
December 14, 2019
Ron Friedman explains SCORE on Small Business Conversations with Tom Shay
Did you know there is a network of over 10,000 experts on small business management who will volunteer to help you? Ron Friedman visits to explain how SCORE works; how you can sign up to work with a mentor. Ron also explained the webinars, courses on demand, and live events that you can participate in. Why would you consider paying someone, or subscribing to some service without first investigating how SCORE can be of help to your business. Ron shares his success stores and insight to taking advantage of this service. Did we mention the mentoring service is free? Did we mention that the few items having a cost them are as little as $5?
November 22, 2019
Beth Montpas, life coach, shares her "To-Be" list on Small Business Conversations with Tom Shay from Profits Plus Solutions
We read an awesome article that is applicable to every small business owner. The author was Beth Montpas, who is a life coach. The article, and our discussion for the program focused on what a life coach can do for a business owner. We also discussed how many of us have a written and/or mental to do list. Beth describes how we can and should have a "to-be" list with some 11 points of focus.  The October program was a fascinating hour with Beth and we are sure everyone can find value in what she shared with us.
October 8, 2019
Larry Pfarr visits Small Business Conversations to prep you for the holiday selling season
Larry Pfarr is a merchandiser extraordinaire. He spent 24 years with Bachman's of Minnesota; a well known retailer  with multiple locations. Bachman's is a stopping point for many tours of retailers. Larry also produces a segment on the Minneapolis ABC affiliate. This episode of Small Business Conversations has Larry sharing ideas of what you can do to get the most out of your business during the holiday season. We discussed displays, external appearance of your business, "experiential retailing" and how to prep your staff for holiday sales. This episode is a full hour of helpful information.
September 13, 2019
Jacinda Trask, a Wal-Mart veteran and now an independent shares lessons learned with Small Business Conversations and Tom Shay
What if you could listen to someone who had years of experience working for one of the big businesses? Would you want to ask them questions that could help you do more with your business? That is exactly what happened when Jacinda Trask visited with Tom Shay and Small Business Conversations. Starting as a part time cashier, Jacinda worked her way up in Wal-Mart management. Today she oversees the operations in a multi-location small business. Listen as we ask Jacinda what she learned from Wal-Mart and how she has applied it to her business today. There was a lot of information shared that can help you in your business. Enjoy an hour of lessons learned from Sam Walton and what it will do for your business.
August 26, 2019
Mike McCormick visits with Tom Shay and Profits Plus to ask if your business is the correct legal entity
When you business you are filing your tax return based on what is your "business entity". As examples, you could be a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a C corporation or a C corporation that has taken the S option. Mike McCormick, Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Certified Tax Coach (CTC), and author of "The Entrepreneur's Guide to Forming a Business Entity" visits for this hour of discussion on how to select the right one for you. In addition to providing a free download of this book, Mike explained how to engage your attorney and the individual who prepares your tax returns in making this very important decision.  While everyone has most likely made this decision, it is very possible you need to update your choice.
August 1, 2019
Selling to affluent customers? Chris Ramey visits Small Business Conversations and Tom Shay to show how
We frequently find that businesses and sales people are intimidated by affluent customers. Chris Ramey of visits with Tom Shay and Small Business Conversations to explain how you fascinate the affluent customer instead of trying to sell to them. This was an hour spent with a very articulate individual who demonstrated his mastery of his areas of expertise. This will be a well spent investment of your time to listen to the conversation between Chris and Tom.  Chris explains how the 10% of the public is doing 50% of the buying! Don't you want a piece of that market?
June 14, 2019
John Wheeler and Michael Kalscheur create a bucket list for your business
John Wheeler, CFP, CPA and Michael Kalscheur, CFP join Tom Shay in discussing a bucket list for your business. What do you expect your business to achieve for you financially? How do you make plans for when you want to get out of the business whether it be retirement or moving on to your next adventure. These two experts share their list, and the details, of how a business owner needs to converse with their accountant and their financial advisor.
May 17, 2019
Steve Drake asks if your business has a Strategic Initiative
What business are you in? What do you sell as a product or service? While most think they can easily answer the question, Steve Drake asks you to look a bit further. As an example he tells of an orthodontist. The answer to the first two questions may be "straightening teeth" for most people. The orthodontist in Steve's example says his business is "creating smiles". A business that understands this finds a much easier path to customers and profit. As another example we offer the arborist in Portsmouth, NH who approaches business differently. Take a look at the video of his work with the South Church tree removal.
May 1, 2019
The Small Business Development Center visits Small Business Conversations and Tom Shay
The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is an awesome free service provided to small business owners across the country. Tee Rowe, president of SBDC, and Jill Kline, executive director of Wyoming SBDC, visit with Tom Shay to tell of the many free services provided to small business owners - all for the asking. They explain how to find a SBDC center near you and how the SBDC will match a business owner with a consultant who can address their specific needs. The SBDC has live classes and webinars that you can participate in. The SBDC can also provide you with market surveys and research customized to your business. There are some events and services that have a minimal charge to participate or receive. Tee and Jill explain these. All told, this is an awesome business assistance program that we are wanting to make more small business owners aware of.
March 20, 2019
Ron Friedman visits to explain how to not discount products and services
Ron Friedman is unique as a visitor to our program as with every visit he brings a unique business idea. This month's program brings an idea of how to use gift cards as a way to replace discounting your products and services. With his concept we have created another free calculator on the website - gift card vs discount calculator - to show how you get more business from existing customers, referral customers and higher margins by using Ron's idea. 
February 8, 2019
Jeff Milchin, founder of AMIBA, visits Small Business Conversations and Tom Shay
Reading multiple online news feeds, we have frequently seen quotes from a group called AMIBA - American Independent Business Alliance. We wanted to learn more so we went to the top and invited co-founder Jeff Milchin to visit and tell us of the work of AMIBA which includes the "buy local" efforts.
January 25, 2019
Jill Kline, Wyoming SBDC visits Small Business Conversations and Tom Shay
We got to meet Jill Kline several years ago as we worked on a project with her state SBDC office. In addition to her concern for each of the clients her office works with, we were impressed by her business management knowledge. We have found that few small businesses know of the SBDC in their state and how the SBDC can help their business. Jill Kline spends an hour with us to tell the many benefits of contacting your local SBDC office.
January 25, 2019
D Wendal Attig, our favorite coach, visits Small Business Conversations
Those who have visited the Profits Plus website or attended a Tom Shay session have already seen a lot of the work of D Wendal Attig. Since the early days of Profits Plus, D Wendal has been responsible for the creation of many components - starting with the Profits Plus logo. He has also been the announcer of the monthly Small Business Conversations. Most importantly he is a brilliant consultant when it comes to marketing a small business. Join us for this program as we share our friend, D Wendal Attig with you.
January 25, 2019
Robbie Brown, financial wizard visits Small Business Conversations
Having written for  over 75 trade magazines, I get to see the material by a lot of columnists. Without question, Robbie Brown is the best when it comes to small business and anything that has to do with numbers. Enjoy with us an hour with this awesome small business consultant.
January 25, 2019
Joe Waters, author of "Selfish Giving" visits with Tom Shay
In addition to having written the book, "Selfish Giving", Joe Waters is an expert on how a business can leverage their giving to the community as a way to get customer attention as well as build customer loyalty. We refer to this as "Cause Marketing". Spend the hour with us as we visit with Joe and how you can make this a big part of messaging to your customers (instead of doing the usual "item and price" advertising).
January 25, 2019
Dick Calio, guest expert on Point of Sale systems
How did you select your POS (point of sale system)? Was it because a vendor suggested it? Another business owner had the system and liked it? Perhaps, you saw it at a trade show? Dick Calio has a unique niche business. He helps businesses of all sizes through the selection process of their next point of sale system. As you listen to this program, you will hear just how you can best narrow the selection process to get your money's work in your next system purchase.
January 25, 2019
Mike McCormick, CPA visits with Tom Shay on Small Business Conversations
Mike McCormick has a very unique talent. Listeners have told us they are challenged when speaking with their accountant. They do not understand what the accountant is trying to tell them as the accountant often gets into "tech speak". Mike is different. As a former small business owner he understand there is a place for "small business accounting" which is information being presented in a format you can understand and use to make decisions for your business.
January 25, 2019
Henry Hutcheson, author of "Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business" visits Small Business Conversat
Henry Hutcheson, author of "Dirty Little Secrets of Family Business" visited with Tom Shay during this program. If you are a part of a family business you know there are often many dynamics of family members working together. When there is a transition from one generation to another, there are often challenges of who has what responsibility and who gets what. Henry answered many questions during this visit as well as explained how to eliminate the "drama" that could occur in your business.
January 25, 2019
Ken Banks, retail advertising expert visits Small Business Conversations
Ken Banks is a member of the retail advertising hall of fame. The names of businesses that he has consulted with and worked for reads like a "who's who" in retailing. Ken spent an hour answering questions from listeners and addressing why we are seeing so many casualties in the retail arena. Understanding why big retail fails gives insight as to what you can do differently in your business. Listening to this session is a wise investment of your time.
January 25, 2019
Pam Danziger, expert on the affluent customer visits with Tom Shay
Pamela Danziger is the leading authority on the most powerful consumer - the affluent customer. She discusses, for both retail and service businesses, the profile of the affluent customer. In an hour packed full of information, Pam gave great insight as to how this affluent customer so strongly affects the buying. An author of multiple books on the topic; quoted by mainstream publications; and a sought after expert consultant on affluent customers; Pam's hour with us was most informative.
December 14, 2018
Neal Schuler, email content specialist visits Small Business conversations and Tom Shay
While you want people to see the product or service you are wanting them to purchase, you can get their attention when the written message you create is one they find engaging. Neal Schuler, vice president creative director of J Schmid, spent an hour visiting and sharing ideas of how your written message can best be received by your existing and potential customers. Your print message can include emails, blogs, catalogs, newsletters, signage - almost anything you can apply the written word to. Join us for this session to learn from Neal Schuler how to craft that right written message.
November 30, 2018
Craig Melby, author of Site Rite, visits Tom Shay and Small Business Conversations
Craig Melby is an expert on leasing. He is the author of Site Rite, an extensive book on what you should know before signing a lease for your business. This book saves business owners time and money, and helps them make the best, most profitable decisions when selecting a site and negotiating a lease. "You don't know what you don't know," and without expert help, mistakes WILL be made, and your lease WILL have hidden landmines.
November 27, 2018
Brent Niemuth, chief creative officer of J Schmid visits Tom Shay and Small Business Conversations
You have surely seen the work of J Schmid in many areas of advertising. In this episode we visit with Brent Niemuth, the chief creative officer who shares the ideas of what works in big business and how it can be applied to small business.
November 27, 2018
Cam Marston, generational expert, visits Tom Shay and Small Business Conversations
Cam Marston is the leading expert on generational change and its impact on the marketplace. Marston and his firm, Generational Insights, have provided research and consultation on generational issues to hundreds of companies and professional groups over 20 years.
November 27, 2018
Ken Banks, Hall of Retail Advertising Fame, visits Tom Shay
Ken Banks has a long and storied career as an expert in marketing for retail. Ken explains how marketing is more than creating a budget and then deciding where to spend that budget. Listen to this episode as one of the legends of the marketing industry shares his insight and experiences.
November 27, 2018
Bill Brunelle of Independent We Stand visits with Tom Shay
Independent We Stand is a big cheerleader of independent businesses. Tonight we visited with Bill Brunelle who heads the drive. He told us how an independent business benefits the community more than the 'big guy' competition. Bill explained how to use this information as you get your message to your customers. Whether you are product or service oriented, Bill's message will help you to get that advantage over the competition.
October 20, 2018
Mark Ryski visits to discuss conversion rate in your business
HeadCount's Mark Ryski spoke to our listeners about important measuring points in a business. Perhaps surprising, comparing to "same day last year" is not a fair measurement. Mark shares his years of experience dealing with traffic counts and conversion rates. There is a lot to be learned from the individual who wrote, "When Retail Customers Count" and "Conversion - The last great retail metric".
October 19, 2018
Outcalt and Johnson visit to discuss your profitable business
Pat Johnson and Dick Outcalt, co-founders of Retail Owners Institute join the August program. Pat and Dick are legends in the retail arena. Both are very knowledgeable with most everything that relates to the bottom line of your business. They have a very informative insight with lots of tools as well as hosting a weekly program called, "Topical Tuesday".
October 19, 2018
Michael Kalscheur, CFP discusses selling your business
Michael Kalscheur visits as we discuss the transition we all make from our business as we move to new challenges or retire. Whether the business goes to a next generation, employees, an outsider, or if you decide to shut the business down, there are a lot of things to consider. You have worked hard for what you have earned and you want to get as much as you can from the business. Michael, of Castle Wealth Advisors, shares his expertise in this program.
October 19, 2018
Joseph Michelli, PhD discusses great customer service
Joseph Michelli, PhD is known for observing and reporting on businesses that have developed great cultures of customer service and team work. His books include: Driven to Delight - Delivering World Class Customer Experience the Mercedes-Benz Way; Leading the Starbucks Way; The Zappos Experience; as well as books detailing Ritz Carlton, UCLA medical center, and the Pike Place Fish Market. Join us as Dr. Michelli details how they do it, and how you can have the same in your business.
September 25, 2018
Steve Drake visits to discuss "Cause Marketing" with Tom Shay and Profits Plus
Steve Drake owned a management company for many years. One of their accounts was the National Christmas Tree Association (NCTA). Under his direction the NCTA created one of the greatest marketing events; Trees for Troops. Enlisting additional organizations they have delivered to the families of deployed military, hundreds of thousands of Christmas trees. They create a big event as the FedEx truck arrives. In this program, Steve details how your business can create cause marketing to build your name and reputation in your community.
September 25, 2018
Troy Patton visits to discuss small business valuation with Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions
Troy Patton is an expert in business valuation and determining the particulars in selling your business. He has earned the CPA (Certified Public Accountant) and ABV (Accredited Business Valuation) designations. For many small business owners, the business represents your nest egg as you retire. There are a lot of details to determining the amount you sell your business for as well as preparing your business for sale - be it to an outsider, family member, or employee. Troy shares a lot of information to help you prepare.
September 25, 2018
Larry Pfarr, merchandising expert visits with Tom Shay
Larry Pfarr spent 24 years as the merchandiser for Bachman's; the most extraordinary stores in the upper midwest. Larry's visit included his five easy changes you can make in your business in preparation for the fourth quarter. Larry also spoke about the current trends he was seeing in merchandising and how even the smallest of stores can make these changes to their business easily and inexpensively. We discussed how the shopping technique of one generation varies from another generation.
September 7, 2018
Mac Fulfer, author of Amazing Face Reading visits Tom Shay
Mac Fulfer's previous career was being an attorney. Looking for an edge in jury selection he began to notice there were traits in a person's face that spoke to how that person would think and act. Having written the book, Amazing Face Reading, Mac now shares the techniques he has learned. This can help you understand your customers; do a better job of closing the sale; and be more on target to your customer with the information they want and need.
September 4, 2018
Bill Brunelle of Independent We Stand visits with Tom Shay
Independent We Stand! is a nationwide movement of independent small business owners whose mission is to inspire other small business owners to better understand and celebrate their locally-owned status while educating consumers about the importance and strong economic benefits of supporting them. Bill shared multiple studies showing how much a locally-owned small business actually contributes to a community and how much it costs a community to have a mass merchant.
August 24, 2018
Mike McCormick, CPA visits Small Business Conversations
Mike McCormick, CPA is one of our most popular guests on Small Business Conversations. In the February 15, 2018 edition of the program we take an initial look at how the 2018 tax code changes will affect your small business.
July 21, 2018