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Chia-Li Chien | June 25, 2010


Borrow from your mother-in-law

Tight and expensive credit market has depressed small business growth

by Chia-Li Chien | Published July 8, 2010


Those businesses that survived the U.S. financial crisis since fall of 2008 must still find ways to keep their heads above water. The artificial fueling of our economy from government stimulus packages, recovery act or small business recovery act does not actually create more jobs, because spending is down worldwide. Couple that with the European financial crisis and slowing growth in Asia and we find that big or small, businesses no longer do the things they used to do. This mounting crises creates an environment of very tight and very expensive credit for small businesses (less than 500 employees). 

We’re fortunate that recently in Charlotte, our mayor and the chamber jointly hosted the 2010 Charlotte Chamber Summits: Access to Capital for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs. It coupled many of the financial experts in our city with 340 entrepreneurs eager to make connections that would help their businesses grow.

Chamber workshopI moderated the “Understand your Financial Position” workshop along with expert panelists John Blair, CPA, Blair, Bohle & Whitsitt, PLLC; Tom Davis, SVP, Business Banking, First Citizens Bank; Mary Hall, SVP, Charlotte Regional Credit Officer, BB&T; and Jim Mortimer, Business Counselor, SCORE

One consistent message I heard throughout the conference was that most business owners are not sure what financing tools are available to them and how to get them. In my previously published article “Need Money? Think Private Capital Markets,” I shared with entrepreneurs six different types of capital. To be honest, I felt that even the experts at the conference did not explain those options clearly to the participants. It is a complex financial subject, and most business owners really are not sure about what their financial numbers mean anyway.

Three ways to get your business model running like a well oiled profits machine.

by Chia-Li Chien | Published July 8, 2010

When I recently received a phone call from a client asking, “what’s going on in the stock market?” I had to wonder if they ever actually listened to what I said in the past. In the fall of 2009, I told every one of my clients to keep their investments in CASH, because by summer of 2010, the commercial real estate bubble would burst and the stock market would not do well. Unfortunately, no one took me seriously, because the stock market has been on the increase and a subject of hype during the first six months of 2010.

However, the European financial crisis, coupled with a slowing down of consumer and business spending, has created a very tight and expensive credit condition. Many small businesses (less than 500 employees) were cautioned about their spending and had to do more with less without the access to capital available in previous times.

In June, I served as moderator for “2010 Charlotte Chamber Summits: Access to Capital for Small Businesses and Entrepreneurs.” (You can listen to the audio recording here.) From the audience’s questions, it became clear that there are many businesses looking for financing. However, it also soon became evident that the 340 entrepreneurs in attendance have little or no information about the tools available and where to get them.

What does it take to become successful in life?

Visualize your success; otherwise you’ll just be doing “stuff!”

Chia-Li Chien | June 25, 2010

Successful Presidents courtesy of T.C. YenMy fellow Women Advisory Board (WAB) board member, Professor Pamela Hemphill, invited me to speak to her class at Central Piedmont Community College on June 22, 2010. Initially, Professor Hemphill asked me to speak on “what it takes to become an author” after learning about my book, Show Me The Money. But I knew not everyone in attendance would actually have a desire to become an author, so I changed my topic to “what it takes to become successful in life.”

It was 6 pm and still 95 °F with 85% humidity in Charlotte that evening. I could tell most of the people in the class were hot, tired, and only vaguely interested. I began the class by asking who would be graduating in the next one or two years. All of the class raised their hands. Then I asked if any of them were considering making money and possibly owning their own business. Again, almost everyone’s hand went up. However, when I asked who had family members who were already business owners, only one-third raised their hands.

You can learn many things in an academic environment, but the best way to learn how to own and run a business may still be by watching a family member run their business. Although there are many entrepreneur MBA classes out there, I feel that the 33% from this group of students is lucky to have family members to learn from. After all my years in business, I still consider watching and working in a family business the most effective way of learning to own and run a successful business in the future.

Tips for a Live Television Interview

For publicity, author, CEO etc.

by Chia-Li Chien | 06-17-2010

My public relations expert, Bert Woodard, from Next Level Communication has done a tremendous job in getting high visibility coverage in the Charlotte area for my book, Show Me The Money. He even scheduled two television interviews for the same week. There’s only one problem. I have no experience at all with television interviews. So, seeking guidance, I turned to people in the know as well as to Google to find tips on how to interview for television.

That said, I’d like use this space to share some wisdom from Cristina Cassidy, Executive Director/Producer of Cristina Cassidy Productions, LLC on how to interview for television.

Six Secret Variables

Steps to a Successful Start-up

by Chia-Li Chien | 06-14-2010

Many years ago, when I was looking into revamping my business, I was contemplating the purchase of a franchised business. Many of you out there who are thinking about starting a business will find that franchised, licensed or multi-level marketing type of businesses are convenient and ready to go. Best of all, there might be existing businesses that you can buy into instead of starting from scratch. Whatever your decision, certain factors will have to fall into place to ensure your success.

Of every six new businesses started, five fail within five years. Although the high failure rate can be attributed to many factors, one common issue I see (even after surviving the first five years) is misalignment with a business model. And a good business model really depends on how well something called the Six Variables factored in when you first started your business.

Helping Hands

Who can you benefit from? A coach, mentor, advisor or consultant?

by Chia-Li Chien | 06/14/10

courtesy of T.C. YenWhen I was in third grade, I had a passion for dance, so despite my mother’s resistance, I signed up for the school dance team and started my dance journey. I was so drawn in by my dance teacher that I followed her every move and learned how to dance like a Chinese princess. That year, our school team took third place in the City of Taipei, home of 2.8 million people. I continued to learn under different teachers throughout elementary school, middle school, and all the way to college. 

When I was a Director of Information Technology at an $8 billion publicly traded company, I was stuck in a job I did not like, even feeling like I knew more than my boss (who was the vice-president of IT). I had a strong desire to learn more. So, I requested a meeting with the Chief Information Officer, my boss’s boss, and asked her point blank, “Would you please be my mentor?”  She said, “Yes.”  Athough at the time I did not know what mentoring meant or how it worked, this person opened up many learning channels for me, even sending me to the Society of Information Management’s (SIM) nine-month leadership forum. I was one of the first two people in our firm to attend and graduate (even before my boss). Since SIM was an invitation-only forum and part of a center for creative leadership, without my mentor, I would never have received this type of opportunity, and most importantly, would not have been able to broaden my professional network.