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The SBA Adopts a Double Standard in Lending

Getting cash into small business hands in two days sounds good, but is this good for the economy and for taxpayers? Or is it a return to the Wild West?

About 21 Hats: What We Do. What People Say. How We Got Here

Have you read our testimonials? At 21 Hats, don't tell you how to run your business. But we do publish news articles, Q&As, webinars, podcasts about what it takes to build a business.

Washington Is Missing the Point on Pandemic Relief Fraud

The SBA and Congress are back to fighting about the $200 billion in Covid loans that may have gone bad.

Command and Control Wasn't Working

From Our Sponsor: Kevin Walter says Tasty Catering didn't have its most profitable years until he and his brothers stepped back from the business.

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Episode 176: We Need to Go Back to Marketing for Humans
We Need to Go Back to Marketing for Humans

This week, Paul Downs tells Jay Goltz and Jaci Russo about the latest developments in his year-long campaign to stop relying so heavily on Google AdWords. At a specially arranged, two-day marketing event, Paul got to sit down with a series of architects and designers who had already been vetted and who he hopes will become repeat customers. So far, Paul says, the results look promising. Plus, we also discuss: Do you write your website copy to please Google or to please people? Is there any way around skyrocketing property insurance rates? Why has Jay decided he no longer needs a chief financial officer? How big a disadvantage to owners are the new laws forbidding employers from asking job candidates about their salary histories? And would you reject a candidate simply for trying to negotiate a starting salary? I know someone who would.

Top Podcast episodes
Escaping the Valley of Death

This week, Shawn Busse tells Jay Goltz and Jennifer Kerhin that he’s realized that his business, too—like Jennifer’s—is stuck in the valley of death that we first discussed a couple of episodes ago. Shawn’s realization prompts a discussion of what it takes to cross the desert and get out of the valley. We also have a surprisingly entertaining and enlightening conversation about insurance that makes clear why you should occasionally review what policies you have and why you have them. “I have something called directors insurance,” says Jennifer, “and I don't really even know what that is.” Shawn notes that he found a company that helped him reassess several of his insurance lines. “What I like about that,” he told us, “is that while insurance brokers are incentivized to oversell you, because they make commissions,” this company sells its expertise and not policies. Plus: we start the episode with Jay explaining why binge-watching HBO’s "Succession" brought back all of his worst nightmares about owning a family business.

Marketing Workshop: I Didn’t Know It Was Going to Work

This week, Shawn Busse and Loren Feldman talk to John Garrett about his contrarian approach to newspapers, marketing, and competition. Garrett has built a Texas-based chain of print newspapers that has managed to outcompete established news organizations and digital platforms for both community engagement and local advertising. Not surprisingly, when he first took out a $39,000 credit card loan in 2005 and started telling people that his business model would feature a monthly print publication that he would mail to everyone in his target communities for free, he didn’t get a lot of congratulations. And not everything he’s tried has worked. An expansion into Arizona, Tennessee, and Georgia, for example, failed early in the pandemic. But almost 20 years after its debut, a period during which most local publications have been in retreat, Community Impact is thriving. And from his seat as a publisher, Garrett offers a perspective on marketing that any business owner would be wise to consider.

Best of: Sometimes, Dreams Do Come True

If you’ve been listening to this podcast, you know we spend a lot of time talking about all of the things that can go wrong for a business owner. And yes, in part because we started recording these conversations just a couple of months before the pandemic hit, we’ve had plenty to talk about. Even this year, with the worst of the pandemic behind us, we’ve been talking about everything from excess inventory to lost clients to layoffs to ineffective marketing to surviving the valley of death. So, with that in mind, this week, I’ve chosen to replay an old episode both because it offers an inspirational message and because, well, we here at the home office need a little break. It’s the episode we recorded two years ago when Karen Clark Cole sold her business. Especially given that Karen had only recently been through a tough period that prompted her to take time away from the business, the conversation is a nice reminder that sometimes things do come together. It’s also full of great advice for anyone who thinks they may want to sell their business one day.

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Never miss a 21 Hats Podcast episode
The Changing Face of the Yarn Industry

For many, knitting may still conjure an image of a grandmother in a rocking chair, her cats sleeping and her doilies taking shape. In recent years, however, the quiet industry of tiny neighborhood yarn shops scattered across the U.S. has become an unlikely cultural battleground. It’s been divided by charges of racism and cultural appropriation that have erupted in a series of social media firestorms, prompting some owners to close, sell, or rebrand their businesses. It may seem surprising that such a quiet pursuit could produce so much conflict, but it’s really not all that different from the fissures afflicting the country as a whole. In this conversation, we meet three women who were not content to stick to their knitting: Adella Colvin, whose business, LolaBean Yarn Co., is a prominent independent dyer based in Grovetown, Ga.; Gaye “GG” Glasspie, a leading yarn industry influencer whose signature color is orange and who is based in Clifton, N.J.; and Felicia Eve, who owns String Thing Studio in Brooklyn, N.Y., one of the few Black-owned yarn shops in the country. The video offers our entire conversation. You can also listen to a slightly edited 21 Hats Podcast version of the conversation wherever you get podcasts.

Brent Beshore Takes a Radical Approach to Private Equity

Brent Beshore likes to say of the businesses he invests in, “Boring is beautiful.” It’s one of the things that sets him and his firm, Permanent Equity, apart. He runs a private equity fund with more than $300 million in capital, but he’s not really a private equity guy.

A Business Owner Dares to Start a Real Conversation About Race

White owners often ask Mel Gravely, CEO of TriVersity Construction, what they can do to help. He’s got an answer for them, which he offers in this interview and in his challenging new book, ‘Dear White Friend.’

What’s in It for the Owner? A Skeptical Conversation about ESOPs

Both Jeff Taylor and Jim Kalb run companies with employee stock ownership plans. Jay Goltz is thinking about implementing one — but he’s got questions, such as: Where does the money to buy the company come from?

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