Keep customers buying, consultant tells Chamber

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 20, 2008

As his listeners on his syndicated radio show have come to know, Jim Blasingame’s pep talk to small businesses involves engaging customers to keep them buying.

But one thing the small business advocate isn’t buying into is the current recession. Or economic downturn. Or, as he put it Wednesday during a keynote address at Business Expo 2008 in Vicksburg, “whatever we’re in right now.”

“I’ve chosen not to participate in it,” Blasingame told about 150 members of the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce, elected officials and business owners during the luncheon and accompanying expo at Vicksburg Convention Center featuring 30 booths where area businesses distributed information.

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Blasingame cast the current economic crisis in terms of perception, one he said can be overcome by managing a special type of “odd-couple” relationship in running a small business.

“There are challenges and opportunities in business,” Blasingame said, adding the current business environment has created “maybe a few more challenges and less opportunities.”

“Spend less time listening to the talking heads and spend more time listening to your customers,” Blasingame said.

Two aspects to running small businesses in the past decade, the Internet and outsourcing certain functions to outside groups, remain important, Blasingame said.

“Fifty percent of small businesses still don’t have a Web site. You’ve got to have a Web presence,” he said, noting that ones that don’t “are dinosaurs waiting to become extinct.”

He stressed outsourcing remains at the heart of keeping businesses efficient, referring to the practice of subcontracting certain processes to outside parties “the best thing that ever happened to small business.”

“It has to be part of the question, ‘Can this be done in-house?’,” Blasingame said, adding the formula should revolve around customers.

“If it doesn’t touch the customers, then you probably don’t need to outsource that,” Blasingame said.

“Somebody is buying something from somebody somewhere right now,” Blasingame said. “It might as well be you.”

Blasingame’s syndicated Internet radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, broadcast from Vicksburg for the event. Guests on Wednesday’s show, available at his home site,, included VCC executive director Larry Gawronski, Chamber of Commerce executive director Christi Kilroy, VCVB executive director Bill Seratt and J.E. “Brother” Blackburn of Blackburn Motor Company.

Blasingame has written two books, “Small Business Is Like a Bunch of Bananas” in 1997 and “Three Minutes to Success” in 2006. A member of the U.S. Small Business Administration, he was named by the agency in 2002 as Small Business Journalist of the Year.

This year, Blasingame was given the Champion of Small Business Development Award by the Association of Small Business Development Centers.


Contact Danny Barrett Jr. at