Today we visit small business expert, Barbara Weltman
How her writing all began with her legal background
Big Ideas for Small Business® provides information for small business owners nationwide, primarily tax, financial and legal information. The concept grew out of the fact that I’m an attorney and I’ve practiced for many years and my clients are small business owners who all wound up asking pretty much the same questions. I thought I could address those questions on a more global basis by providing this information. So after many years of practice, I closed my business, and this is what I focus on now.
I had my own legal practice. I was also writing, and the writing aspect developed considerably. Now, I provide content not only for my subscribers and my viewers, but also for many other venues such as the Small Business Administration and American Express OPEN. I write occasionally for the Wall Street Journal and US News and many other venues, and I share original content in all of these locations.
I send out an idea of the day every day 365 days a year to my subscribers and post it on my website. The ideas are just a sentence or two with links and resources to let my readers know that this information is out there. It could be a new product or a new idea. I do that daily. I also do a blog on my website twice a week, I post a monthly newsletter and then I have my annual tax books that come out.
How she sticks out from the crowd
I have a niche, which is tax, financial and legal. I’m sort of very well known in the small business tax area. Wall Street Journal has called me the “guru of small business taxes”. I like that label and I use it. My information can be trusted. I’ve been at it a long time. I guess I’ve garnered enough respect in the area for people to want to read what I have to say.
A lot of the business books that I like are not necessarily business books per se, meaning that they’re not meant to be business books. For instance, Outliers I love because it has so much great information that I relate to business.
I had a radio guest Ken Blanchard and he just redid The One Minute Manager and after 30 years, and I really like that book. The revision shows how times have changed and how we all have to adapt to the new realities that are out there. Especially people like Ken Blanchard and me who have been around a really long time and things are dramatically different than when we started in business. So certainly those are some really good books that I really appreciate.
I like my own books too. I write tax books annually, JK Lasser’s Small Business Taxes. I just got my contract for 2017. We’re going to be approaching 25 years for the book. I’ve written many, many, many books, four different Idiot’s Guides and other business-related books.
But, one of my favorites is Smooth Failing, which is a book about small business people that I interviewed and they were very candid with me and shared the bloopers that they made in the hopes that people who read the book will be able to avoid those errors. We all learn from our mistakes and the reality is that those of us in business all make mistakes. I’ve made every one you could probably think of.
I like the book so much because the people that I spoke to and who shared their stories: they’re so candid and so real and I think that we can all relate to them.
Smooth Failing is an eBook. We tried to experiment. It didn’t work, but it was worthy of an experiment. We tried to do it as a living book, meaning that we’re going to add chapters and we did. But it kind of didn’t catch on in the way that I wanted. But together all of the chapters that we published turned out to be a really nice book.
Her favorite tools of the trade
I’ve been using QuickBooks on desktop forever and I’m just about to migrate to the cloud. In fact, it will be before the end of the year that I will be doing that. One of the reasons for migrating is access for my bookkeeper. That’s certainly one of the really good cloud services that I will be using.
The reason that I’m using QuickBooks is because I’ve been using QuickBooks for so long, about ten years or so. There’s no reason for me to make a change. But some of the other services, like Xero and FreshBooks, they’re very simple to use and can certainly meet the needs of certain businesses.
I live with many of them on a daily basis. I have my iPhone and my iPad. I couldn’t exist without those things. Google, that’s my search engine. Facebook, I’m on that for business and all of these are unique in their offerings and that’s what’s so great about it.
Each one of those giants offers so much to me as a small business owner. I’m so grateful that they’re all out there. They’ve really dramatically changed my business and me.
Ninja vs. Zombies
Ninjas or zombies! I’m not a zombie fan or I’m not into the living dead and all of that stuff. So I guess my answer would have to be ninjas – because I know there are ninjas.
How she manages work/life balance
Since I live in Florida, it’s so fantastic. I could work and then if I feel like it, I can just go out and sit by my pool and relax for a while.
I feel like I have a wonderful work-life balance, to be out and to be able to just walk and take advantage of being outside 365 days a year.
Weather-wise, it’s just wonderful and again the location. I’ve just met other wonderful small business owners and things are happening and it’s an exciting area and it’s exciting times.
Her advice for other entrepreneurs and small business owners
One of the things I would suggest is to think of starting the business. That’s a long-term activity and that you don’t have to be an overnight success. You have to continually redefine what you mean by success. In other words, success could be just making payroll for the month or seeing your first anniversary in business or being able to make a contribution to your community or being able to hire another employee.
I think that you have to continually define what it is to be successful and think of it as a long-term activity, that it’s not going to be something that’s necessarily overnight. It doesn’t have to be and that you can really get rewarded in terms of what you define as success.
There are so many different kinds of start-ups. Some start-ups, obviously they need to make a big flash. But for most businesses that are getting started, they’re going to be around for the long-term and they’re probably not going to look like what they look like now, five years, ten years from now.
The point is to just to be able to stay relevant and to stay up with developments. I’ve been at it for a very long time now. I have an app. Who could have conceived of something like that, you know, a short time ago? So certainly, what’s so great is that there are tremendous opportunities out there and there are a tremendous number of resources to help you. If you just stay optimistic and stay at it, then I really think everybody can succeed.