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Ami Kassar's business has a diversification problem.
Is the Change Temporary or Permanent?

That's the first question to ask when things go awry at your business. Here's how some businesses have approached recent challenges.

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 169: I’ve Never Had to Lay off Anyone Before
I’ve Never Had to Lay off Anyone Before

This week, Sarah Segal tells Shawn Busse that the other shoe has dropped. A couple of months ago, as she’s shared here previously, Sarah lost two big clients in one week. Now she takes us through her decision to lay off three of her employees, including what it means for the business and what it means for Sarah’s own role in the business. Before the layoffs, she had gotten to the point where she was working on the business—but now that’s changed. “I'm not working on the business,” she says. “I am working for clients. I am getting the job done. I am making sure that we're successful with our clients, and that is my priority right now.” Plus: We also discuss how to choose a CRM, why Sarah and Shawn’s home cities of San Francisco and Portland have been getting such bad PR, and whether former business owners are employable. “I wouldn’t hire me,” says Sarah.

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.

What’s Going to Happen to My Business?

This week, Jay Goltz tells us that, on second thought, he did learn something important watching HBO’s “Succession.” He still wants to work as long as he can—even if that means dying at his desk—but he now realizes, thanks in part to Logan Roy, that he needs to put a plan in place in case he were to get hit by that proverbial bus. This realization was also furthered by hearing the story of a 51-year-old entrepreneur who died in his sleep recently, leaving his wife to figure out how to keep their bank from calling its loans. As part of his hit-by-a-bus plan, Jay says he’s crossing streets very carefully, but also considering creating a board of advisors that will be able to offer advice to his survivors. But that’s a little tricky because, as you may have noticed, Jay’s not exactly a board-of-advisors kind of guy.

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.

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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.

What’s Wrong With Small Business Marketing?

It’s not always about marketing. Sometimes, the real issues go deeper. Sometimes, before you can figure out how to sell, you have to figure out who you are.

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?

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.’

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