Monday, March 21, 2016

Beating the odds as a small business

By the numbers, AMY INK should be a fond memory by now. And I should have boomeranged back to a corporate office.  About half of all small businesses only survive for five years and only one-third make it a decade.

It’s a good thing numbers don’t tell the whole story. This April, AMY INK celebrates its 16th year, and the only time I think about returning to the corporate fold is when I’m having a nightmare. It’s not that I don’t love the work; I just don’t want to be confined to one workplace and one subject and the certain uncertainty of budget cuts and downsizings.

There have been a number of changes in AMY INK over the years, as annual reports and employee magazines – my specialties – fell out of favor with corporate budgets. These days I tend to write more marketing-oriented projects than corporate communications. Instead of financial performance and global growth strategies, I write stories about people that humanize the products and services offered by my clients.  

More changes have come with technology, allowing me to be efficient and productive. I remember early days of sitting near the landline phone, or in front of my desktop computer, so I wouldn’t miss a client message. Now all I need is my smartphone within reach to stay in touch wherever I might be.  

Microbusinesses like AMY INK – which have fewer than five employees, including the owner – have been called the mainstay of the U.S. economy, representing greater than 90% of all businesses. We’re an interesting group of mom-and-pop shops, one-person “solopreneurs”, consultants, specialists, artists, musicians, freelancers, tradespeople, and other SOHOs (small office or home office).

The one statistic that does ring true for AMY INK is that one-fourth of small businesses last for 15 years or more. I am thrilled to officially be in the “or more” category.

I extend my sincere thanks to all the clients I’ve had the privilege to write for and to the designers who have made me part of their team. My hope is to provide fresh thinking and effective writing for many more years to come.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Your money is no good here

Has anyone ever told you, "Your money is no good here"? If so, you would expect a freebie.
Someone else would be picking up the tab on your behalf.

That's what I used to think. Now I’m not so sure. Maybe there’s a more literal meaning, one having to do with the anticipated cashless society. The demise of cash and checks has been making headlines, as have the proliferating options for mobile payments. Below are just a few:

The Truth About the Death of Cash
“Will cash disappear? Many technology cheerleaders believe so…”

Is It Time To Write Off Checks?
“In the age of digital alternatives, checks are fading.”

Samsung follows Apple into Chinese mobile payment market
Mobile payment platforms use smartphones in place of physical credit or debit cards – and they’re now available on more phones and in more markets.

Then there’s bitcoin, the digital currency – virtual tokens – that can be exchanged for goods and services with those who accept them.

But don’t ditch your wallet or checkbook just yet.

Sometimes you need a little folding money for small purchases from local shops. Or to pay your share when splitting the check. Or, like me, your smartphone has compatibility issues with payment apps (think BlackBerry Q10 on T-Mobile). Or think about your grandmother, who still sends checks for your birthday.

What I like most about having every currency option available is choice. There are times when credit cards or online bill payment make sense, and others when traditional checks are best. I usually pay for purchases in stores using a credit card, but I keep folding money handy for when cash is the only payment accepted. At some point, I’ll spring for a new smartphone that will make mobile banking and bill paying more accessible, but I’m still weighing my options.

Maybe I can take a page from Popeye’s Wimpy, who claims: “I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today.” Although, as we all know, Tuesday never comes.