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Should I Buy the Building?

An entrepreneur is considering buying a building with as much space as he’s currently leasing. Or he could buy a bigger building and find a tenant. Or maybe he should just invest in his business.

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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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Latest PODCAST EPISODE
Episode 184: That Would Put Me Out of Business
That Would Put Me Out of Business

This week, Mel Gravely, Liz Picarazzi, and Jaci Russo talk about how they set prices. Jaci explains why she refuses to respond to requests for proposals. “We have not participated in a single RFP in 15 years,” she says, “and we won’t under my watch.” Mel explains how his construction company manages to get work despite always being among the highest-priced bidders (which is why he never gets government jobs). And Liz tells us what happened when she was forced to raise prices because of the tariffs placed on goods manufactured in China. But first, she tells us what she’s thinking now that there’s a possibility those tariffs could go to 60 percent. Plus: We review how the three owners handle employee reviews.

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We’re Making Good Money. I’m Not Sure How.
TIME TO LISTEN: 48:56

This week, Jay Goltz, Jennifer Kerhin, and Liz Picarazzi discuss their efforts to get a better grasp of what drives their profits. They ask how much of their finances they should manage themselves. And how much should they rely on an accountant or a fractional CFO? When does delegation become abdication? Jennifer says she’s benefitted from hiring a fractional CFO who has taken an active leadership role, including setting up a database that helps Jennifer see in real time whether the fees she’s charging cover the labor she’s deploying. “Whatever she's charging me,” says Jennifer of her CFO, “it's absolutely worth it.” Liz, meanwhile, thinks she should be doing more herself. And Jay says he was paying big bucks for a full-time CFO until late last year. “And it was a complete waste of money,” he says, which is why he’s decided not to replace her. Plus: Liz reveals her secret strategy for marketing directly to municipal government officials, some of whom have started to use the term “Citibin” generically. And the owners respond to a question from the head of a cost-reduction service who wonders why she’s struggling so much to get business owners to try her risk-free service.

Escaping the Valley of Death
TIME TO LISTEN: 41:26

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.

This Is What It Takes to Build a Business, Vol. 2
TIME TO LISTEN: 2:11:20

This week, we take a look back at the conversations we had last year about the many rewards and responsibilities of business ownership, highlighting some of our happiest, smartest, funniest, and most difficult exchanges from the past year. Along the way, we discuss topics such as escalating salary demands, how much profit a business should make, a new way to sell a business, the problems with ESOPs, how to sell cookies on LinkedIn, breaking a million dollars in annual revenue, escaping the valley of death, and the pain of having to fire a long-time employee.

There aren’t many places where you can hear entrepreneurs talk about the real-life problems they are confronting right now, today, as they happen—with no guarantee of a happy ending. But those are the conversations I have every week with Paul Downs of Paul Downs Cabinetmakers, Shawn Busse of Kinesis, Jay Goltz of Artists Frame Service, Mel Gravely of Triversity Construction, Jennifer Kerhin of SB Expos & Events, Liz Picarazzi of Citibin, Jaci Russo of BrandRusso, Sarah Segal of Segal Communications, William Vanderbloemen of Vanderbloemen Search Group, Dana White of a soon-to-be-named successor to Paralee Boyd, and Laura Zander of Jimmy Beans Wool.

In this episode, we also highlight several appearances by special guests who stopped by in 2023 to discuss their journeys, including Muhammad Abdul-Hadi of Down North Pizza, Jeff Braverman of Nuts.com, Michael Brown of Teamshares, Brad Herrmann of Text-Em-All, Grayson Hogard of Grove Cookie Company, Lance Tyson of the Tyson Group, and Ari Weinzweig of Zingerman’s. If listening to one of these highlights makes you want to go back and listen to the full episode, that can be done most easily by going to 21hats.com. There you’ll find a transcript of this episode with links to all of the episodes we sample.

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Never miss a 21 Hats Podcast episode
Latest CONVERSATION
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.

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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 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.

The Changing Face of the Yarn Industry
TIME TO WATCH: 1:34:43

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.

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