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Meet Doug & Polly

Doug and Polly White love working with small businesses. Through their columns, which appear weekly in several online publications including Entrepreneur.com, their books, videos and speeches, Doug and Polly focus on helping small business owners and their managers grow and improve profitability, understand and manage their people and their finances and achieve organizational efficiencies.

Doug White
Doug White spends his time solving business problems for entrepreneurs and their organizations. His background in physics, math, engineering and business gives him an ability to go beyond the easy, surface solution; to dig deeper and find unique answers to the problems that plague small businesses. Read more ...
Polly White
Polly White spends most of her time on the "folks." Whether it is helping owners and managers learn how to get the best out of their people or walking companies through a complex HR situation, Polly's expertise is unparalleled. She has that unique ability to understand people, their behaviors and personalities. Read more ...
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Latest Articles

What to do When Facebook and Adwords Don't Work

Q.I've been spinning my wheels trying to market my small counseling practice. I've done some AdWords and Facebook campaigns with little Return on Investment. The world of SEO has gotten far more complex than I can fathom or have time for. Do you have a recommendation for marketing my business online?

A. First, we would suggest that you not jump to the conclusion that Facebook or SEO (Search Engine Optimization—improving the chance that your website will come up when someone searches on selected key words) will do you any good at all. In fact, before spending any more time or money on marketing, we would suggest that you take a step back and answer the first three questions that every business must answer. Those questions are:
 
Read more ...

Business Plans


Q.Some friends have told me that I should have a business plan for the small business I am planning to launch in the fear future. What do you think?

A.You will most assuredly need a plan for your business. You may, or may not, need a formal business plan. 

Every business must answer three questions. They are:

1.  Why should a prospective customer buy your product or service rather than a competitor’s? Read more ...

Transitioning Your Business to the Next Level

Q.  I’ve been told by a number of people that I need to take my business to the next level. I’ve been successfully growing the business (increasing revenue and adding people), but how will I know when my startup has grown to the next level?

A.  Before we can tell you how you will know when you have reached the next level, we will need to define the three levels of businesses: micro, small, and midsize. In defining these three types of businesses, we do not use the typical measures of business size (i.e., dollars of revenue or number of employees). Rather, we look at management structure. Read more ...

Ancillary Functions of Small Businesses

Q.  I have worked for several years as an automobile repair technician. I know this field well and I enjoy my work. I’m thinking about opening my own business. Do you have any words of caution?

A.  We often advise people not to open a bakery because you love baking cakes. If you love baking, get a job as a baker. The minute you open a bakery, you’ll discover that there is a lot more to running such a business than baking cakes. You’ll have to wait on customers, keep the books, order inventory and sweep the floors. Read more ...

Should I Purchase the Extended Warranty?


Q.  I am in the process of purchasing a new computer for my business. The store where I’m purchasing the computer has offered me an extended warranty. Should I purchase the extended warranty?

A.   The answer is a resounding no, you should not. These policies are a great deal for those that offer them, but they are a terrible deal for the consumer. There are five reasons why:

·         Insurance is a losing proposition – It has to be. Insurance companies pay all of their expenses and make money on the policies they issue. They can do this only because, on average, you will pay them more than they will pay you—a lot more. Companies continue to offer these policies and insist that their salespeople push them so hard because they are very profitable. If the policies are profitable for the companies that issue them, they are unprofitable for the consumer that purchases them. Therefore, on average, insurance is a losing proposition.


Over your lifetime, you will purchase hundreds of appliances, computers, cell phones, automobile repairs, etc. Some of the devices you purchase will break prematurely. The odds are that you will be far better off to pay these expenses out of your own pocket than you would be to purchase insurance to cover their cost.

 
When our daughter was a teenager, she may have been the exception to prove the rule. Her cell phone most often looked like it had been tied to the bumper of her car with a long piece of wire and drug down the road. It frequently had missing keys, a cracked screen, etc. Unless you abuse your property in this way, you’ll be money ahead not to purchase the extended warranty.

 
This isn’t to say that all insurance is a bad idea—it’s not. If the loss against which you are protecting would be financially devastating (e.g., the loss of the home you own), you would be well advised to protect yourself with insurance. Even though, on average, homeowners insurance is a losing proposition, you can’t afford to run the risk that you are the unlucky one whose house burns down.

 
However, the cost of a television that fails prematurely, an automobile repair or a new computer, while disappointing, is not going to be financially devastating. Therefore, you would be well advised to play the averages. Don’t purchase the extended warranty.

·         You may be purchasing insurance you already have – Most products you purchase will carry some type of manufacturer’s warranty. If your purchase fails prematurely, this warranty may well cover your loss.

 
If the manufacturer’s warranty has expired, you may be covered if you paid for your purchase with a credit card. Many, but not all, credit cards offer some form of warranty protection. Find out what other protection may cover your purchase. It’s a ridiculous waste of money to purchase something you already have.

 
·         The fine print can be costly – Most extended warranties come with volumes of fine print. You won’t read it. Essentially no one does. The companies that issue the extended warranties know this. However, they know exactly what the fine print says. Their lawyers wrote it to protect them. When a claim is filed, if there is anything in the fine print that will allow the company to avoid paying the claim, they will take advantage of it. You may find out that your purchase isn’t covered against whatever caused the damage. You lose. The company that issued the policy wins. Remember, these companies make money by avoiding claims not by paying them.

 
·         Your purchase will depreciate quickly – How much is a used computer or a used cell phone worth? The answer is probably less than you think. These purchases begin to deprecate significantly the moment you take them out of the store. If you are covered for the market value of your purchase rather than the replacement cost, even if you get a settlement, it may be well less than you need to obtain a replacement. This is another of the things in the fine print that you won’t read.

 
·         Breakage – Companies that issue these policies count on breakage. That is, many who suffer a covered loss, won’t file a claim. They’ll forget that the purchase was covered. They’ll remembered that it was covered, but won’t be able to find the paperwork to prove it. Whatever the reason, many covered losses go unclaimed. Again, the company that issued the policy wins and you lose.

The point is, with small purchases, you are far better off to self-insure. That is, don’t buy the overpriced extended warranty. If you suffer a premature loss, cover the replacement cost yourself. In the long run, you will be the financial winner.

Read more ...

Q.  I am in the process of purchasing a new computer for my business. The store where I’m purchasing the computer has offered me an extended warranty. Should I purchase the extended warranty?

A.   The answer is a resounding no, you should not. These policies are a great deal for those that offer them, but they are a terrible deal for the consumer. There are five reasons why:

·         Insurance is a losing proposition – It has to be. Insurance companies pay all of their expenses and make money on the policies they issue. They can do this only because, on average, you will pay them more than they will pay you—a lot more. Companies continue to offer these policies and insist that their salespeople push them so hard because they are very profitable. If the policies are profitable for the companies that issue them, they are unprofitable for the consumer that purchases them. Therefore, on average, insurance is a losing proposition.


Over your lifetime, you will purchase hundreds of appliances, computers, cell phones, automobile repairs, etc. Some of the devices you purchase will break prematurely. The odds are that you will be far better off to pay these expenses out of your own pocket than you would be to purchase insurance to cover their cost.

 
When our daughter was a teenager, she may have been the exception to prove the rule. Her cell phone most often looked like it had been tied to the bumper of her car with a long piece of wire and drug down the road. It frequently had missing keys, a cracked screen, etc. Unless you abuse your property in this way, you’ll be money ahead not to purchase the extended warranty.

 
This isn’t to say that all insurance is a bad idea—it’s not. If the loss against which you are protecting would be financially devastating (e.g., the loss of the home you own), you would be well advised to protect yourself with insurance. Even though, on average, homeowners insurance is a losing proposition, you can’t afford to run the risk that you are the unlucky one whose house burns down.

 
However, the cost of a television that fails prematurely, an automobile repair or a new computer, while disappointing, is not going to be financially devastating. Therefore, you would be well advised to play the averages. Don’t purchase the extended warranty.

·         You may be purchasing insurance you already have – Most products you purchase will carry some type of manufacturer’s warranty. If your purchase fails prematurely, this warranty may well cover your loss.

 
If the manufacturer’s warranty has expired, you may be covered if you paid for your purchase with a credit card. Many, but not all, credit cards offer some form of warranty protection. Find out what other protection may cover your purchase. It’s a ridiculous waste of money to purchase something you already have.

 
·         The fine print can be costly – Most extended warranties come with volumes of fine print. You won’t read it. Essentially no one does. The companies that issue the extended warranties know this. However, they know exactly what the fine print says. Their lawyers wrote it to protect them. When a claim is filed, if there is anything in the fine print that will allow the company to avoid paying the claim, they will take advantage of it. You may find out that your purchase isn’t covered against whatever caused the damage. You lose. The company that issued the policy wins. Remember, these companies make money by avoiding claims not by paying them.

 
·         Your purchase will depreciate quickly – How much is a used computer or a used cell phone worth? The answer is probably less than you think. These purchases begin to deprecate significantly the moment you take them out of the store. If you are covered for the market value of your purchase rather than the replacement cost, even if you get a settlement, it may be well less than you need to obtain a replacement. This is another of the things in the fine print that you won’t read.

 
·         Breakage – Companies that issue these policies count on breakage. That is, many who suffer a covered loss, won’t file a claim. They’ll forget that the purchase was covered. They’ll remembered that it was covered, but won’t be able to find the paperwork to prove it. Whatever the reason, many covered losses go unclaimed. Again, the company that issued the policy wins and you lose.

The point is, with small purchases, you are far better off to self-insure. That is, don’t buy the overpriced extended warranty. If you suffer a premature loss, cover the replacement cost yourself. In the long run, you will be the financial winner.

“I HIGHLY recommend Polly and Doug. They have wonderful insight to help small business owners prioritize and identify strategies for growth and improvement. Wish I had met them 20 years ago!”

Sharon MaderePresident / Premier Pet Products

My team and I have had the privilege of working with Polly on our business. Polly's keen business insight and savvy is something special. She was honest, direct, and tactful about her observations and recommendations for our team and how to grow our business. It was a pleasure having her help us and I would tell anyone that’s serious about growing their business to call Polly. She’s great!

John O’Reilly, Broker/OwnerBase Camp Realty

“Doug and Polly, I want to thank both of you! The past few months have been enlightening and overwhelming all at the same time. Your guidance, direction, wealth of knowledge, and wisdom have exceeded all my expectations. No words could ever completely describe just how amazing of a “dynamic duo” you two really are!”

Dawn Beninghove, RN, CCM, CRP, PNChief Executive Officer / Companion Extraordinaire Nursing Network, Inc.

“Doug White took on an unfocused operation (in the financial services sector) and created an efficient, centralized system dedicated to excellence. He did this not by driving change from the top down, but by helping the entire team see how their part of the process could be improved. Doug then mentored us toward effecting the changes ourselves. He taught us all how to bring our “A game,” and how to take ownership and pride in what we do.”

Donna LevinVice President of Operations / care.com

"I have had the privilege of working with Polly White for several years on a variety of projects. She consistently provides clear direction on how to resolve a wide range of employment-related issues. I look forward to my continued relationship with Polly."

Elizabeth WilkinsBusiness Manager / Manorhouse Management, Inc.

I have known Polly for more than ten years. As an HR Manager, I have utilized Polly’s training expertise at my former company and with my current company. Polly exceled at assessing the needs of our management teams and tailoring training programs that resulted in visible positive change. I also know I can count on Polly as a resource on any HR topic or bounce ideas off of her when I need a second opinion. Polly has been a mentor to me and I have always appreciated her willingness to listen and offer valuable advice and expertise.

Leigh McCullar, HR Business PartnerUniversity of Richmond

I am truly impressed with the abilities of Doug and Polly White, thank you! What a difference your expertise have made in helping Associates grow in their careers. Your dedication to excellence through empowering the individual and strengthening the Company is enlightening. I do and will continue to recommend Whitestone Partners to the Executive Market.

Suzanne Pittman, MEd VAMAC, Inc.
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