Jake Redman from Modhop

http://www.schoolforstartups.com/jake-redman-from-modhop/

from my interview with Jake Redman….

modhop“Well, it really depends on what you’re blogging about. I think in the travel space, it’s not an easy go. You have to have a really defined niche like this. You really have to be able to have a corner of the market that nobody else has, or at least have something really unique about your product.

I go to some of these travel blogger conventions and travel website conventions and it’s a lot of people. It’s just a lot of people trying to get into the same space because everybody wants to get on fancy planes and go places and see the world and blog about it. So, you really have to have something that makes your site unique. So, if you can do something like what I’m doing, or if you’ve got something really specific about points and miles that you can point out, or had a completely different angle than most people are out there with now, then I think that’s really going to lend to your success as a blogger.

And it’s one of those things where, you know, I think about this a lot, if I didn’t like my day job so much, I would just go head-first into Modhop and maybe diversify what it is, and make it something more robust maybe. But, it’s not time for me to take that leap, you know? It’s one of these things that it’s a great thing for me to do and I really enjoy doing it, and I put a lot into it, but it’s really secondary to what I do for a living, which is produce for a radio.

Well, what I do is a lot on the music side. I produce the interstitials that go in between songs, you know, the little, ‘boom this is this channel, boom this is that channel’, and then I host on occasion a lot of fill-in. Basically I do a show on alt nation or alternative music station, and then I appear on Pulse every once in a while. That’s our adult contemporary station, so a lot of that. But mainly, my job is to produce those little things you hear between songs.

So, I’m well into my career at this point. I’m really happy with what I do but I don’t know what’s next. The entrepreneur thing is really something that’s intriguing to me, so if that’s the next thing for me then I’m ready to dive head first into it, and really get into doing what’s next. And Modhop is one of those things where I’m putting my toes in the water and really seeing what’s out there.”

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Credit Counseling w Christopher Honenberger

http://www.schoolforstartups.com/credit-counseling-w-christopher-honenberger/

from my interview with Christopher Honenberger……

Christopher Honenberger “Probably 30%, these again are round figures, but probably 40% of our revenue from ClearPoint Credit Counseling comes from corporate contributions and again one of the things that we do, one of the services that we provide is what it’s called ‘The Debt Management Plan’ and about 20% of the people who come to see us do have unsecured debt that they can’t satisfy that we have – we will recommend to the people for whom it would make sense, that they would go on a debt management plan.

Incidental to that debt management plan, creditors get paid off and many of those creditors make contributions back to our organization to assist us in what we do. You know frankly because in some regards they consider that to be a good way from them to get repaid, but secondly those corporations also appreciate the fact that we are helping consumers who have gotten themselves in trouble with unsecured debt.

About 40% of our income comes from fees for services that we do charge for. By law we are required to charge for certain of our services like reverse mortgage counseling or seniors who want to get a reverse mortgage they have to have a counseling session before they can do that. People who want to file bankruptcy, they have to have a counseling session before they can file for bankruptcy or be discharged from bankruptcy.

We provide those services and by the way those are not counseling services to assist people to go bankrupt. They are actually counseling services that provide alternatives to bankruptcy and if they do file for bankruptcy then it provides educational information on how to budget, so that hopefully they don’t go bankrupt again.

And then about 20% of our funding comes from federal, state, and local grants. Well again we don’t make value judgments on whether any, almost any credit product is a good or bad product. What we do is give people the information about the product and let them make the decision. What I’m always concerned about with a reverse mortgage is why are you taking the money out? If you are taking the money out because you want to live a lifestyle that exceeds your income and your income allows you to live a reasonable lifestyle, then I don’t think a reverse mortgage is a good idea.

If on the other hand, you are a senior who maybe has experienced, very high prescription medication costs or now needs somebody to help them to stay in their home and the only you can do that is to get a reverse mortgage, then that they may be a very good idea. It all depends on what your circumstances are.

Go to our website, there are access points that are very easy to get on but I you know and for your entrepreneurs if I would if I could put in one plug we do have a new program called My Financial Blueprint and that is a case management program that we are building to assist people who are not in crisis but want to have aspirations to advance to the next level of financial success and it is for low to moderate income individuals and that program, again I think would be a great up to a lot of folks who do have who are trying to start businesses, we also have it for the Hispanic and Latino community and it’s called The Hispanic Center for Financial Excellence. Again, that’s available.”

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Kevin Popovic on Social Media Evolution

http://www.schoolforstartups.com/kevin_popovic/

from my interview with Kevin Popovic…..

kevin_popovic“Well, you know, I think, one of the things I realized as I’m writing my second book, Satellite Marketing, is that the people still don’t treat social media like media. I think that we’ve all got enough experience with these different new medias, that we’re comfortable with the audiences that are on these different channels. For instance, when social media got started it was, ‘Oh, well, you can put this kind of content for this person, and you can put this kind of content for other people.’ The assumption was that you could get to everybody on every channel. That has kind flushed out where that’s not really accurate.

You know, I compare social media to television now. If I’m buying television ads, right, and I’m trying to get to women, I’m buying Lifetime and Oprah and the Hallmark Channel. They’re channels that are predisposed to women, 25 to 45 in a certain demographic. If I’m in social media, and I’m trying to get to those women? I’m on Pinterest. It depends on really what their interest is. Now, if I’m trying to get to kids on television, I’m buying ads on Nickelodeon and maybe Disney. If I want to get the kids social media, I’m on Instagram and I’m on Tumblr.

That’s one of the mistakes that I see people not doing is treating social media like regular media and having that same expectation for the demographics, the psycho-graphics, all that quantitative and qualitative data that you would look at, you know, reach frequency, impressions. All that data is available now just like it is for other media, which I think is good. So that’s the big mistake I see. It’s not different. Even social media, it’s not a big deal. It’s like every other media. All it is is people trying to connect to other people using technology. You don’t think about the phone as being this really ‘Oh, my God, this very complex type of thing.’ No, people just use the phone to communicate. They don’t think about the phone, they think about talking to the person.

I think as we get more and more comfortable with the technology of social media, it will also become a bit more invisible. The technology will become invisible, and it’s just something that you do. Kind of like Google Glasses, you get a Google Glass, and you can connect with somebody. You’re able to show them what you’re doing and they’re able to share what you’re doing, that technology becomes more and more invisible.

So Satellite Marketing is a process that I developed in 2006, to use social media for business. One of the things that I was seeing early on as we were working on a project for Mojopages, which is an online directory, like an online Yellow Pages with ratings, one of the first ones that were online. We combined different media that hadn’t been incorporated before. It was video, multimedia content and it was public relations. It was at what was at the time called the blogosphere. By creating, by mixing the media, we were able to generate higher traffic, higher word of mouth and a bigger reaction.

I started applying that to business, and I came up with a process that helps set up, if you think of them as marketing substations or satellites that have a higher frequency and reach around your target market, meeting them at conversations where they’re already having them. That’s what Satellite Marketing is use of social media for business. It’s an actual process on how to go about doing it. A lot of it is not as complex as you may think, but the order in which you do things really does make an impact.”

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goodmortgage Founder Keith Luedeman

http://www.schoolforstartups.com/goodmortgage-founder-keith-luedeman/

from my interview with Keith Luedeman…….

Keith Luedeman“I got some advice from somebody a couple of years ago, but as we started training our management team that, ‘Hey, this is what’s going to happen yet in the next generation. You’re actually going to have somebody that you interview and they’re going to call and say, hey I need to ask my parents if I’m going to take this job.’ And lo and behold, that actually did start happening. Yet, that the challenge is getting them to understand business is not like summer soccer, not everybody gets a trophy. There are going to be winners and losers. You know, people can still treat people with respect and everybody can be happy, but at the end of the day someone’s going to win and there’s only going to be one trophy.

I still think there’s a book in there. You know, the fun thing to watch is when millennials become managers, because they have an expectation of how they want to be treated. But as a manager, they don’t treat others that way, so it’s a challenge. Just like our parents probably thought we were crazy, and you know, hey look we’re business casual in the office now and a generation ago people were never that way. This generation will do okay, but there’s certainly a lot of friction between the baby boomers and the millennial’s.

Yeah, you know, it’s funny, I tell people about, you know, what it takes to be an entrepreneur. It’s you got to have a good side and a bad side. You’ve got to have a side that goes hey we’re the best and we’re going to win, but you’ve got to spend a couple minutes each day going, hey why am I not doing better? What can I do better? What am I doing wrong? So as long as you can look at yourself both ways and, come out at the end of day and be happy, it’s great. So Ernst & Young, why do we do it? And that’s a great organization. And just going to these events, you meet incredible speakers, you meet incredible other entrepreneurs going through the interview process, the judges. So just being part of that ecosystem and meeting some of the people, you make some lifelong connections. So that’s why we take the time and energy to go through it.

And honestly, there’s external PR, which is great. I’m happy to be talking to you today. But seeing the pride in your employees’ faces, to know you’re one of 24 finalists from across six or seven states, they love it. And that means a lot to them and keeps them happy and motivated. So hey that’s good for me.

Absolutely, there’s an organization here in Charlotte called the Business Innovation and Growth Council, the BIG Council. And I will tell you what, the first day I showed up and met some of these people, I went home and I told my wife that, “Hey, I found out where all the people in the world, all the crazy people like me are, they’re all entrepreneurs. They’ve all started their own businesses.”

And we’ve actually got a breakfast group that’s been getting together for six or seven years now. I call it group therapy for CEOs, because it’s so much fun to sit at the table. And say you’ve got six of us, two people are having a problem, two people have already had the problem, so they can provide advice, and two people are going, hey I think I’m going to have that problem soon. So just going through things with other entrepreneurs and getting advice from them, because, man, our jobs’ tough. You know, we go through a lot of things each day that we can’t share with our employees, that we can’t share with our management staff. But it’s nice to know that other people are in the boat, and they can help you row.”

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ActionCoach Jeff Lovejoy

http://www.schoolforstartups.com/actioncoach-jeff-lovejoy/

from my interview with Jeff Lovejoy….

ActionCoach“My role is to free up time. Because a lot of times, what I find business owners… what’s taking their time is they’re in the back flipping the hamburgers. They’re doing the work that other people can be doing, that they should hire people to do. Consequently, they’re not focused on the strategics. So one response would be, ‘Well, look I’m going to help you free up time so that you do have time to work on this. Because growing the business is important to you, isn’t it?’ Inevitably they come back and say yes. So that’s how I attack that time issue. You know if you want to grow the business, things typically have to change and how you manage your time is a key element that typically has to change.

With regards to expense, I’ve got a variety of programs that anybody can afford. There are some expensive programs, but they’re some programs that are very affordable. I’ve got some very small business owners on a couple of my programs. I’ve done that because the expensive programs aren’t for everybody and there’s clearly a market of business owners that need very affordable programs and so I’ve developed some for that.

Yes, ActionCoach is a franchise. We’ve got a thousand coaches around the world. And the value of that is that size alone doesn’t mean anything except that the intellectual property that is gathered and accumulated by those thousand coaches gets shared among all of us. So I’ve got strategies and experiences and access to these thousand coaches. If I’ve got a situation with one of my clients that I want to get some outside input on, I’ve got a thousand coaches I can access at. That’s the value of it. I’m not like someone that is kind of working by themselves with a single shingle out, I’ve got a tremendous amount of resources behind me to kind of help me be more effective at working with my clients.

Well, a couple things to think about there, Jim, is you know trust is a big factor here. So how are you able to work with this person on an ongoing basis? I meet with my clients on a weekly basis, some every other week and so I develop relationships with these people that can get very strong. If the person doesn’t think they can build that type of relationship with a coach, then that’s not relationship that’s going to work. They also want someone that’s going to be brutally honest with them and not someone who’s going to let them off the hook from an accountability perspective.

Accountability is a big piece of this. We’re going to build a plan and I work with my owners to do that, but if I let them off the hook in terms of following up on that plan, well, there’s no value in having created a plan at all. So when you’re looking to get a coach you need to make sure that the person is going to hold you accountable and not be your best friend and let you slide. The other piece of it, Jim, gets around the amount of expertise in terms of intellectual property that the coach can bring to the table. I run into a lot of coaches as well that came out of different backgrounds and they thought that because they had some experience in the corporate world they would be good coaches on the small business owner.”

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Local & SEO Websites w Brian Coryat

http://www.schoolforstartups.com/brian-coryat/

from my interview with Brian Coryat….

Brian Coryat“You have all the gorillas in the room. Google is 97% of search and 67% of local search. So Google, Yahoo, Bing, YP, Yelp, Superpages, Merchant Circle, and then of course there’s Facebook and Twitter. That should be dealt with by small businesses. Make them do it themselves; there’s no money needed at all. It takes time and it takes some patience. You need to gather up your descriptions and your pictures of your business and things like that. And then just visit these sites in turn and create accounts, and submit those accounts and monitor those accounts as well, so that you’re involved… Number one, you’re getting found on these local directories when people are searching on their cell phone or asking Siri, “Where’s the best sushi restaurant in town?” If you’re not in that list, you’re not in existence to the customer.

So you need to make sure your digital presence is present on all of these digital platforms. And I’d say for local businesses that’s really the most important thing, and then monitor Yelp, Google and Yahoo and the other publishers that have comments and reviews and make sure that you’re responding to those reviews and listening to those reviews, because there is a conversation going on about your business. And if you’re not part of it, then that’s just a shame. Now, so what I would recommend, and I’m going to put this out there for businesses that want to do this with no cost.

What I would recommend to do for this is, number one, have a website, have a clean website that makes sense. Make sure it can be visited on all platforms and devices. It needs to be good on mobile. Okay that’s step one. Step two, make sure that you’re findable, so in other words you have a correct listing and an enhanced listing, meaning photos and all of the data that they will look at on Google, Yahoo, Bing, and the other major directories. And number three, monitor conversation. One way to monitor the conversation is by using a free service online called Mention. And I use Mention.net I believe it is, and on Mention, you can put in the name of your business, and whenever that business is mentioned online, you get an email, and it tells you what was mentioned and how it was mentioned and then you can go and look at that.

And then as far as monitoring, when you open your account at Google, Bing, Yahoo and Yelp, they ask for your email address, and whenever there’s a comment about your business, they will email that to you. And then you can participate in the conversation.

So I think with those three steps, by building your presence, announcing your presence, and monitoring the conversation, is really at the core of whatever your local business should do, even before they start to look into any type of promotions on Facebook or Pinterest or any of these other exciting things, you need to have the basics. And the basics are those three steps. I don’t know if we are in some other bubble, but we’re certainly in the midst of a revolution, and a new evolution and revolution in the internet, because technology is moving so fast now that technology companies can become worth billions of dollars in a very short period of time because of this huge scale and mass that is out there that can be reached. Or, on the other flip side of that coin, it can be rendered irrelevant just as quickly because this technology is moving so fast, that it creates a lot of opportunity across all fronts.”
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E&Y Scholarship Winner Donte’ Watkins

http://www.schoolforstartups.com/ey-scholarship-winner-donte-watkins/

from my interview with Donte’ Watkins……

donte_watkins“Well, back in seventh grade, my teacher actually offered for me to come in after school to volunteer tutor a few of my peers, you know, that were struggling with class. I figured, well, why not? I do this every day in class, you know, I help everyone else out, anyway, why not come after school? So I started coming after school and I noticed that, you know, as I was tutoring students, she would give me the students who were really struggling, and for some reason, as I tutored them, they just got it, like, it was almost like naturally, they just received it. I couldn’t really understand, because I knew this was a good teacher, because I learned from her. So I knew she was a good teacher, so I went into almost like a critical thinking period to consider how come they’re getting it when I explain it, and they’re not getting it when she explains it? From that, it all started to make sense.

Well, I sit in a classroom every day just like these students. So as a student also, I can understand, you know, those struggles that we go through. You know, I’ve sat in a classroom and being of almost a blank mind when I get a test or, you know, I know those individual struggles that students go through. Using that, I’m better able to tutor and I was better able to help these students, not to mention the communication level as students. So at the beginning, once I actually got those, you started using those concepts, it just proved itself to be successful. That’s actually what began the Second Chance Tutor Program.

It absolutely is, absolutely is. Well, the Second Chance Tutor, we’re comprised of all high school tutors. So if you ever come to get tutored by anyone from Second Chance, it will always be a high school student. Also, as high school students, rather, we have that special first hand insight into the classroom that I spoke of, because, you know, we sit in classes every day and say, I may tutor math, and this may be a math tutor, so maybe math is their favorite subject, or they’re very [inaudible 00:02:03] in mathematics. But I’m sure there are other classes that they struggled in before. So using that knowledge of what it’s like to struggle and what the actual problem is, we’re better able to understand how to tutor. Like, you know, I can better understand that, you know, it’s not necessarily that you don’t know it, maybe it’s that I need to help you with testing skills. Or maybe those study skills that’s really holding you back from reaching your full potential.

Also, we’re on a better communication level, because I’m a student, you’re a student, so we’re better able to communicate and speak with each other. I mean, I’ve had students that struggle and they don’t really speak to teachers in the classroom, but as soon as we start tutoring, when we start communicating, they actually know the problem. They can openly discuss the problem with me and just let me know. So that’s our actual difference is high school tutors. And actually, there are statistics that supplemental education is really failing, and I believe that’s because, well, it’s maybe you have a lot of teachers or those who want to be tutors, and it’s like, you know, they leave the classroom and get a part time tutoring job, or maybe they retired, but my question is, you know, if it didn’t work the first time, you know, in the classroom with a lot of students when you taught it the first time, what makes you think, really, that the second time around, when you repeat the same information, that it’s gonna work that time?

Well, actually, I began right in middle school, and I could only really tutor around then. I moved up to the next middle school that I went to which was Tucker Middle and I was in there, But in the last few years, I’ve actually opened up a tutor alliance for the high school. I’m and a few other high schools across Georgia, all across to Cobb County, actually a few schools from another county. I’m actually tutoring students at a — actually, we’ve launched our online platform where we can actually, say you’re in Illinois, and you really need help and somehow you get the information for Second Chance Tutor, we have an online platform, where we can not only see each other face to face, but through through the platform, we’re able to use graphs, and a pointer, all the math tools that we need to get tutored. So we really expanded a lot.

We’re building our network and we’re actually looking at possibly working with some…actually going into, you know, students out of different schools we need the help, we’re actually looking at possibly going into maybe a contract or agreement with some of the local counties. Because it’s sad but it’s true, looking at some of the results from the standardized testing on the city level, the state level, and some even on the national level, it’s truly proven to be a problem with the mathematics system of the day.”

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Social Starts’ VC Mike Edelhart

http://www.schoolforstartups.com/mike-edelhart/

from my interview with Mike Edelhart….

Mike_edelhart_VC“You know I think this notion of this singularity is of a dramatic and interesting concept. I actually don’t think it has a whole lot to do with what’s going on here and what’s going to happen in the near term. I actually think what we’re seeing is the unleashing of human power, much more than machine power. We’re seeing the emergence of a generation that believes at any point that if they choose to they can solve any problem. That all of the information is available, all of them are available. And if they put their full will behind it, they can do anything. And they don’t think about borders. They don’t think about limits.

As I was saying to a friend, there’s a meme going around the internet these last few weeks, of a picture from a satellite of the Sahara Desert with little squares on it. “This is how much of the Sahara Desert it would take for solar panels to make enough electricity for all of mankind, here’s the smaller amount required to make electricity for Europe, here’s the smaller amount required to make electricity for Germany.” And you’re trying to make the point that it’s a solvable problem. But when I was looking at that picture I can imagine in a few years the young adults, the rising generation, looking at that picture going, “Oh, the heck with it. Let’s just go do it.”

And, you know, that merging of will, yup, and even more so to quote things than that. So our focus is on companies whose existence is a by-product of the social construct. Where the company is, in one way or another, responsive to these changes in behavior. We have four primary areas of focus. Media, marketing analytics, the numbers are driving the new ways of connecting people and organizations, people and one another, social platforms we have the good fortune to be among the very first investors in Pinterest. We’ve been involved with social platforms since very early on. And we believe that more people will share more aspects of their lives, more places in the future than now, so that there’s going to be lots of opportunity there. And gaming, which we see as representing the core of entertainment in the future.

Well, we call that The Neverending Story. That immersive environments, immersive experiences, very intense experiences that interact with their audiences differently. And we invest in two stages at the very beginning, which is the fun that I run. And we’re very active in that space, 122 first money in investments over the last several years in those four areas. And then, last year we added an A round and after fund. So we both follow first money and investments that I do, and participate alongside VCs that we know and that know us in developmental round. So that’s fund invested in Mashable and TripleLift which is kind of a Pinterestization of images all over the net, Elite Daily, one of the leading social publishers. And we’re long standing denizens of change and technology, of development, and want to do all we can to help these really extraordinary young people. Help create the future.

Yep, exactly. We think that that’s just the beginning, that the next Disney will start with that kind of intense audience interaction. Then you’ll see the movie being spun out of the game somewhat like the Lego movie is being spun out of a brand. And the products and the theme restaurants of some of the more longstanding, the media will wind up becoming aftermarkets for games. And not only do these modern games have an extraordinarily intense relationship with their audience but their economics. The way the game and the audience interacts with one another is very different and very powerful.

We have one investment that emerged from data worth $5 million a year in revenue, predictably because of the way the audience interacts with the game. There’s so much activity that the smart game developer can get a very precise sense of what the community is going to do next, where their interest go and offer advanced experiences, advice, all sorts of things that the community wants and is willing to pay for. We’ve also seen the games emerging from the screen.

We have one portfolio company that is doing game-related contests and tournaments. And one of the tournaments brought more people to the Staples Center in Los Angeles than the NBA finals did. So I agree with you. We’re seeing the emergence here, not of just some good games about farm animals and medieval weapon really, but an entirely new approach to media.”

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Tamar Lucien on Starting Up

http://www.schoolforstartups.com/tamar-lucien/

from my interview with Tamar Lucien ……..

Tamar Lucien“Oh, wow. Okay. So the first six months of entrepreneurship is interesting. I always tell people, “If you’re an aggressive business go-getter and you are top in your company, President’s Club, you know, what have you, entrepreneurship is very interesting because there is just so much learning. You have to kind of slow down that go go go mentality to really learn the craft.” I was formally educated, trained as a staffing manager. I ran a very successful staffing branch. I also achieved President’s Club.

When I decided to basically take everything that I knew about staffing and do what ATMs did to bank tellers in a sense, it just required lots of my attention to learn things, to understand what algorithms mean, to understand what full staff development is, to understand design and how the users are going to interact with the design once they come on to the platform. If I could offer anything to entrepreneurs, I would first say if that’s the route you want to take it’s absolutely attainable and you don’t have to be already a millionaire to do it.

The first six months was us, obviously, spending money out of our own pockets, but also bootstrapping. You really learn, that whole extreme couponing thing can totally be applied to the tech world because it take a lot of that same researching and figuring out how you can do things on a zero budget or on a dollar.

So like I told you guys, I came from the staffing world, and in staffing we have this saying that we say — well, somebody coined it, so I’m not going to take credit for it. “There’s the who and then there’s the what.” You have to put the who first and then the what. So you have to figure out who that key person is, who’s on your staff, who’s going to help you be successful and then you execute what it is that you want to do.

So a lot of people that I had met early on when I got into the industry were really extremely focused on the product and I took the approach of what I knew about staffing. And I put the people first. I put the person first. So I made it, aside from the product, I spent six months just looking for a co-founder who is a full stack developer who could be the CTO.

And you know a lot of people told me I was crazy, I’m wasting a lot of time and this and that, but lo and behold, I found Kwame Ampen, my CTO, found him, got connected, just asking a lot of questions, got connected to him from Angela Benton who is the CEO of NewME Accelerator out in San Francisco. Qwami was living in San Francisco at the time. So it’s just putting that person first and then we executed what we wanted to do. And yeah, we bootstrapped it from there.”

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SBA Ombudsman Brian Castro

http://www.schoolforstartups.com/sba_ombudsman/

from my interview with Brian Castro …….

Brian Castro“Well, one regulator that touches virtually every small business, if not every small business, is the Department of Labor’s OSHA, Occupational Safety and Health Administration. And they, as you know, inspect workplaces for work conditions and make sure that we keep our workers safe, which is absolutely critical. And they are responsible also for rolling out new standards, and new rules and regulations from time to time. And so one of the mandates of this office is to help get federal agencies, including OSHA, as they do that, to roll out new rules and requirements in a way that’s fair to small businesses, in a way that helps them comply. We are not about gotcha enforcement, we want to ultimately get to a place where everybody’s got a safe workplace, and that’s really the end game. It’s not about how much we can collect in fines on the back of small businesses. So we typically get quite a few cases involving small businesses and OSHA inspections.

And to share with you one example from just last year, the Department of Labor had initially imposed a $19,000 sanction on a small building company in Maine. And that company was able to get the fine reduced to about $7600 because it was small. And the rules and regulations provide that where a company is small, and therefore poses less of a risk that a much larger one, among other things, there can be a reduction at that level, even before coming to my office. The small business owner then contacted this office, and noted that these were really very, very minor violations in their case.

I’d like everybody to remember the figure 89 cents. One of the issues that was cited could be fixed for 89 cents, another one, for $15. Yet, the result was a $7600 fine. So, we reached out to our partners at OSHA, who are incredibly committed to small business success and to striking the right balance between regulation and workplace safety and the impact on small business. And they took another look at it, and further reduced the fine by 50% to $3800.

So we receive a fair number of cases along those lines, similar facts, although the figures can be quite different from case to case. And it’s certainly not a get out of jail free card. The point, as I mentioned before, is getting to a place where we have workplace safety, our employees are protected from danger, and we help small business centers understand how they need to modify the workplaces if necessary to make their workplaces safe.

That’s exactly right. We help both proactively, hopefully before there is any citation or violation, with the agency responsibility. Every federal agency, in fact, has a responsibility under statute to provide compliance assistance to small businesses, so that small businesses can receive the specialized, particularized guidance on what does it would mean for my business to be compliant with this rule or regulation.

So even before there’s ever been an inspection or a citation or a fine, there’s a role for this office and all federal agencies, a very important role, in making sure that we are as transparent as we possibly can be to small businesses about what compliance looks like. And OSHA, again, is another good example of this because they, in fact, have a separate division, apart form their enforcement division, that exists purely to help employers through voluntary inspections, but not compliance inspections.

Workplace reviews that are strictly voluntary, and that where issues are found, there’s not a citation issued, but compliance is the end game and the goal. And that part of the department never intersects with the enforcement part. So an employer is in a great position to being able to fix any problem, before it leads to a violation, or even worse, an injury or death on the job of an employee.”

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