Jay Goltz, Dana White, and Laura Zander talk about confronting what’s changing in their businesses, possibly forever. Dana is considering a new business model. Laura is considering moving her wholesale business from Texas to Reno. “Ask yourself," says Dana, quoting an adviser, "'What kind of business would you start today?' Because that's the only one that has a chance to survive.” Plus: We get into some interesting strategies for raising prices, for managing lower paid employees, and for balancing entrepreneurship and parenting.
In last week’s episode, we asked our panel of business owners this question: Would you be doing anything differently with your business if you knew for sure that a second shutdown order was coming? It seemed like a pretty straightforward question, but it triggered one of our guests, Jay Goltz, who called it a “stupid” question and encouraged the other panelists not to answer it. So this week, we decided to try again to see if we could better understand how Jay is processing these stressful times. And to some extent, we succeeded, and we did get a little further beneath the surface—although there’s still a part of Jay that seems to be in denial. But maybe that’s just what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur. As Jay likes to say, “There's a thin line between visionary and delusional, and I've certainly been on both sides of that.”
As the numbers of new coronavirus cases explode across the country, Karen Clark Cole, Jay Goltz, and Laura Zander talk about how they are trying to make plans for their businesses. The conversation heats up a bit as it becomes clear that one of our owners (Hi, Jay!) isn’t quite ready to confront the possibility that he might have to deal with another shutdown. By contrast, Laura tells us, “We're operating as if there is a shutdown. So, yeah, we're operating the same way we were two months ago.”
Jay Goltz, William Vanderbloemen, and Dana White—all of whom took Paycheck Protection Program loans—respond to an opinion piece that says “competent” business owners shouldn’t have had to go begging “shamelessly” for a government bailout, which got a particularly strong response from Jay: “I'm thinking of all of those entrepreneurs who are trying to run a business, trying to make happy customers—restaurants, hair salons trying to survive this whole thing, trying to take care of the emotional, the financial, and the physical needs… They're fighting a good fight, trying to stay in business so they can continue paying taxes, and he comes along and has to call us ‘shameless’ for taking money from the government.... Oh, we’re incompetent, because these people didn't have six months of savings stowed away?"
Karen Clark Cole, Jay Goltz, and Dana White discuss their pricing strategies and why raising prices can be such a challenge: Dana tells us she has often wondered, “If I raise my prices, is this the decision that's going to make me close my doors?” And Jay recalls a customer who came into his picture framing shop and told a sales consultant, “Wow, that's a lot more than the other place I've gone to.” “Really, why don't you go there?” “Well, they're out of business.” And that, Jay tells us, helps explain why there are far fewer frame shops than there used to be.
In episode 20, Karen Clark Cole, William Vanderbloemen, and especially Dana White have a painful, impassioned, uncomfortable conversation about trying to position their businesses and lead people in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder and the ensuring protests. What do we tell customers? What do we tell employees? What do we tell Black employees? Dana challenges us to take a stand—even if it’s uncomfortable—especially if it’s uncomfortable: “This is not about being comfortable. As business owners, you're either over there or you're over here.”
This week we focused on Laura’s struggle to get control of a Texas-based yarn supplier that she acquired late last year. She’s had issues with inventory, personnel, quality control, and then the general manager walked out, which has Laura feeling deflated knowing that some employees are talking about her and some just don’t like her: “I really struggle with that. Am I the only one who struggles with stuff like that?” Plus: Laura and Jay talk about seizing the opportunity when a competitor goes out of business.
Before the crisis hit, in episode 18, Jay, Dana, and William talked about what they thought the next recession might mean for their business and the benefits of starting a business during a recession: “What I've learned is, when things go bad and I lose $300,000 and I take out a second mortgage on my house, no one comes into my office and says, ‘Hey, boss, can I give you some money?’” Plus: Some making tough decisions on employee compensation.
This week, in episode 17, Jay Goltz and Dana White talk about overcoming the fear of raising prices (during a pandemic!), deciding when is the time to tell employees they have to come back if they want their jobs, and finding opportunities amid the crisis disruption. But the focal point of the conversation is Dana White discussing her realization that she’s been more productive during the crisis, even with her hair salons shut down, than at any other time since she started her business seven years ago. “I have been emotionally drained for years,” she told us. “And because I've been emotionally drained, I have not grown my business.”
This week, in episode 16, Karen, Jay, and Laura talk about dealing with questions they’ve never faced before: Is it safe to fly again? What do you do if you run out of inventory and can’t get more? How do you entice employees back into the office who’ve either been happy working from home or happy collecting enhanced unemployment? Do you offer hazard pay? And if so, how and when will you stop? “We're trying to stay in business, for God's sake,” says Jay Goltz. “We will have been shut down for two and a half months. And there's a point where I'm the only one who's gonna be losing money in this deal. At the end of the day, [my employees] are getting extra money from the government for unemployment. They're getting hazard pay. Everybody at the end of the year is going to have a banner year for income. And I'm going to lose hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars.”