Career Advice

Planning for Success - A Positive Approach

Planning for Success - A Positive Approach

By: Robert Evans

Are you a good or bad planner? Do you cringe at the very mention of the word 'plan'? If you do then you are not alone. Thousands of online (and offline) marketers find themselves in the same position.

A good many of these people may well have never considered a plan of action as part of their daily marketing activities. Others may think they are too busy to spare any time for planning. Still others may feel they do need to plan, can see the benefits to be gained from planning, but don't think their skills or personality are suited to this task.

It seems perfectly clear to me that without planning, the long term success of any business,large or small, is unlikely to be realised!

A plan need not be elaborate. It need not be detailed, but you should at least commit something to paper.

Start off by taking a positive view of planning. Don't just look at it as 'another boring chore I've got to do'. Say to yourself 'This is my plan for success.'

Also consider the following benefits to be gained from good planning:

  • you can meet deadlines
  • you can meet or even exceed your targets
  • you can create a feeling of achievement for each step you fulfill
  • you can monitor and control your marketing activities to greater effect
  • you can initiate improvements
  • you can achieve personal growth and success


Once you have accepted that planning for success is a positive thing, it is then time to think about your goals. And just what do you want to achieve? Why are you marketing this or that product in the first place? Do you know what your short term and long term aims are?

Answering these questions accurately will enable you to take a big step forward to achieving whatever goals you ultimately set yourself. So what are your goals? And how do you plan to achieve them?

The great thing about targets is they give you a way to measure your performance and give you a sense of direction - you are going somewhere. It is important also to consider that in order for your goals to have substance and meaning they should satisfy the following criteria:

  • they should be achievable
  • they should be measurable
  • they should be challenging though NOT impossible


Here are THREE achievable, measurable and challenging goals that Bill, an Ezine owner, has set himself:

  • to get 200 subscribers within the first three months following launch
  • to ensure that AT LEAST 70% of subscribers are still in place after 6 months
  • to increase the number of subscribers by 800 in the year following the initial 6 month target


What three goals relating to your business can you think of that meet the above criteria? Write them down.

Now let's look more in depth at each of Bill's goals to see how he can evolve an Action Plan that will enable him to meet each goal in a systematic, cost-effective way.

In order to work out the Action Plan he should consider a set of specific questions he should ask. These questions are:

  • When should this happen?
  • How is it going to be carried out?
  • How much is it going to cost?
  • Who is going to do it?


GOAL ONE:
To bring in 30 subscribers

WHEN:
Within the first 30 days

HOW:
By advertising in Ezines, on PPC Search Engines, via opt-in email lists, and via other media such as Classified Ad sites and also offline via magazines and periodicals

WHO:
In the first instance Bill himself and then by others as the subscriber base grows

HOW MUCH:
The budget is under $50 a month

Bill's next step is to start to put together the Action Plan in more detail. This is a very important stage of the overall plan because it focuses on specifics:

  • how many hours is he going to devote?
  • which specific advertising media is he going to use and how often?
  • which advertisements is he going to use?

When getting down to the nitty gritty of executing his plan, Bill will try to keep in mind:

  • his daily advertising routine (stick to it)
  • whether he is keeping to the budget
  • his target


When considering your own marketing campaign always think to yourself that EVERY day you follow your Action Plan is a step closer to the achievement of your goal!

Author Bio
Bob Evans has been doing business online since October 2000. He utilises a powerful marketing action plan of his own to generate targeted traffic to any website: http://www.market4profit.net/marketing-action-plan.php

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The Types of Staffing Services Explained

The Types of Staffing Services Explained

By: Mahalakshmi Prabhakaran

Staffing companies help organizations with their manpower requirements. There are primarily three different types of staffing services offered by staffing firms:

Temporary Staffing Service
As the name suggests, temporary staffing meets the short-term needs of employing organizations. Temporary staffing helps companies fill in for positions made vacant by their absent employees or helps in supplementing the existing staff during times of high workload. Temporary staffing enables organizations to meet their working challenges with minimum human resource overheads and avoiding lengthy recruiting and assessment processes. The huge cost savings involved make temporary staffing an attractive alternative to permanent employment.

Long-term Staffing / Project Staffing Service
Long-term staffing services involve placing employees in long-term assignment, where there's no definite period of time involved. This type of staffing requirement is common in the professional and technical sectors, where people are required on a project-to-project basis. It makes more sense for these organizations to hire on a project basis than on a permanent basis, so as to avoid idling of human resources.

Temp-to-Perm / Contract-to-Hire Staffing Service
This type of staffing service is a combination of temporary staffing and permanent employment. The temp-to-perm staffing service allows a company to take an employee on a temporary basis for purpose of evaluation and should the employee meet their satisfactory requirements, the company may then take the employee onto their payrolls. This type of staffing service gives the company a safe alternative to permanent hiring and allows the company to critically evaluate the capabilities and managerial skills of the employee in concern.

Most staffing companies offer all these types of staffing services. You will also find specialist agencies that offer industry -specific staffing services.

Author Bio
CAMO Technologies is Specialist Staffing Provider meeting the IT staff requirements of various organisations. Mahalakshmi Prabhakaran is a Content Writer for CAMO Technologies.

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Chasm of Change - Restructuring - The Goliath of Change

Chasm of Change - Restructuring - The Goliath of Change

By: Rick Johnson

Richard L. Daft one of the country's recognized academic leadership experts raises the question, "What kind of people can lead an organization through major change?" A Turn-A-Round restructuring qualifies as major change and requires transformational leadership. Daft points out that this type of leader is characterized by the ability to bring about change through innovation and creativity. This type of leader motivates people to not only follow their lead but to believe in the vision of corporate transformation, the need for revitalization, to sign on for the new vision and to help institutionalize a new organizational process." Daft points to four principles in discussions about leading an organization through major change. These four principles are the foundation of the restructuring Turn-A-Round process.

1. Create a compelling vision
2. Create a new organization
3. Mobilize commitment, Empowerment
4. Institutionalize a culture change

Caution - Beware of the Dip
A "Transitional Performance Dip" is common when introducing major change accompanied by a culture shift. Performance most commonly gets worse before it gets better. There are four phases of the transitional dip with associated cause. They include:

  • Denial - Confusion exists, feelings of being overwhelmed, acting like nothing is different & checking out are common employee reactions in this phase. Communication and sharing of information is critical to overcoming this type of employee reaction
  • Resistance - Complaining, blaming others, spreading rumors, frustration, anger and erratic performance are common employee reactions. Again, communication, understanding and listening skills are critical during this phase of the transition. 
  • Acceptance - Renewed energy starts to become evident, optimism appears and doubt begins to dissipate. Excitement and risk taking become evident. This is when the vision must be restated and shared with every employee taking the time for full explanation and answering all questions.
  • Commitment - Discretionary energy is released. Employees become action oriented toward new goals. Ownership of the vision is now company wide. Rewards and reinforcement are essential during this stage.

The length of time or "depth & width of the dip" depicting this phenomenon cannot be accurately predicted due to the complexities that determine it. Factors contributing to the length of time before the change efforts begin to show improvement can be impacted by the following factors:

  • Magnitude of the structural changes
  • Success of the communication to all employees
  • External environment factors
  • Critical mass of the company itself
  • Competency of the middle management group and their experience with structural and cultural change
  • Competency of the executive staff and their people skills
  • Effectiveness of leadership at all levels
  • Severity of the financial crisis or level of financial success
  • Timing


Change Process
The restructuring change process begins with the strategic restructuring of the organization, which is required to "Stop the Bleeding." This process starts with the immobilization of the old culture. This is mandatory, as introduction of change into any existing culture is difficult at best. Introducing change into a losing or stagnant culture is almost impossible. This change must deal with organization theory, social psychology and business history. It must be dynamic and include the introduction of fresh new leadership. This is a behavioral process. People can create change but people also resist change. The change process introduced must answer the question, "How do we get from here to there?" The answer to that question is your new vehicle for success.

This vehicle includes the restructuring plan, individual one-year departmental plans and every strategic initiative developed by the new management team. Most importantly, this new vehicle is submerged in the empowerment theory releasing individual employee initiative. The plans must be unified, simple, consistent and universally understood by everyone. Most of the change that has been introduced must be induced change versus autonomous change. Autonomous change has a life of its own. It proceeds due to internal dynamics and follows its own course. It is not easily controlled as it forms its own dynamics. Induced change is calculated and planned. It can be controlled if buy in is generated through sincere communication and employee involvement. Each step along this path will be accompanied by distinct challenges. As questions arise, management must be prepared to answer openly and honestly. While the old culture is suspended, change can thrive under the right circumstances. It is the responsibility of the executive team to insure that these circumstances exist. The primary ingredients that create the right circumstances include open honest communication, empowerment, risk taking, acknowledgment and reward.

Organizational Behavioral Process (OBP)
This is basic to creating change, and it becomes an important part of the new vehicle for success. OBP may be described as the wheels of the new vehicle. This process will carry the organization on to new heights, new accomplishments. Organizational behavior has its roots in organizational theory and group dynamics. People are the most important ingredient to every organization and the organizations behavior. People and how they are treated will reflect the organizational characteristics, the way it acts and interacts with its own people.

Empowerment, the decision making process and the communication channels are examples of how the organization interacts with its people. Organizational behavior is not easy to change. That is why it is so important as mentioned earlier to immobilize the old culture to introduce change. (E-mail rick@ceostrategist.com for a list of immobilizers) The behavioral process of the organization can withstand personnel changes. In other words, changing out management does not guarantee change in organizational behavior. You must take proactive steps designed to create new organizational behavior. The new vehicle is part of that. It includes, focused specific objectives, open channels of communication, empowerment and a sincere respect for the individual employee and his contribution to the organization.

Organizational behaviors become generalizations. They are discovered from observations of everyday work habits and they have no independent existence apart from the work processes in which they appear. They are difficult to identify but they are extremely important. They affect the form, the substance and the character of the work processes themselves. They actually affect the way the work process is carried out. They are different from culture because they represent more than just values and beliefs. They actually are involved in the sequences producing work. The decision making process is a major characteristic of the behavioral process. The decision making process is a much studied process beginning with the studies of Chester Barnard and Herbert Simon who argued that organizational decision making was a distributed activity, extending over time and involving a number of people. In other words, decision-making is not the personal responsibility of a single manager but a shared, dispersed activity that they only need to orchestrate and lead. This is still a surprising and often unaccepted theory of managers today.

The Eight Road Blocks to the Change Process

1. The lack of a sense of urgency
2. The lack of buy-in, a coalition of support
3. An unclear vision
4. Failure to communicate the vision
5. Failure to provide resources and remove obstacles
6. Not systematically planning and creating short term wins
7. Declaring victory too soon
8. Failure to anchor change in the culture as it is occurring

Sense of Urgency
Success at anything requires a sense of urgency, a commitment to accomplishing something. If employees don't have this sense of urgency, complacency can become an issue. To meet difficult challenges, to excel at anything, to create competitive advantage it is absolutely essential that employees release their discretionary energy toward achieving company objectives. Discretionary energy is that extra that you can't ask an employee to give but is automatically given by those employees that have a sense of urgency. Of course, no employee will release that discretionary energy for a leader that has not earned their trust and their respect. A leader will not be respected by the employee until he shows respect for the employee. A leader will not be trusted by the employee until he shows trust in the employee.

Forming a Powerful Guiding Coalition:
Success is not an individual accomplishment. Initiating change requires buy in and agreement. A group of believers, achievers and team players must be assembled to not only support the change process but to drive the process. The group must function as a unit showing unilateral support of the change process. Examination of market and competitive reality is part of the challenge as well as identifying and discussing potential crisis, critical constraints and major opportunities.

Creating a Vision:
Success at initiating change starts with the creation of a compelling vision that provides a roadmap for the change. This roadmap clearly answers the question "What's in it for me". WIIFM. The vision is supported by the development of strategy and action planning to achieve the vision.

Communicating the Vision:
Success requires leadership and leadership without communication is like a gun without a bullet. It looks impressive but it can't do anything. A specific communication strategy must be outlined and acted upon to insure that all employees are aware of what the vision is and how it is expected to be accomplished including defining individual roles and contributions. It's about buy in.

Empowering Others to Act on the Vision:
When critical constraints or roadblocks are identified, they must be removed or overcome quickly. This means allocating resources accordingly. Systems or structure that can undermine the change must be eliminated. Empowerment involves trust and allowing people to use their initiative and creativity.

Planning for and Creating Short-Term Wins:
Milestones need to be set up to mark progress and allow victory celebration along the change path. Success breeds success and excitement breeds' excitement. Create that success and excitement by setting interim goals that can be achieved and celebrated. Recognize and reward employees accordingly that are part of the accomplishments.

Declaring Victory too Soon:
Interim success and short term victories are important but don't spike your own Kool Aid. Be realistic and keep your long term goals in sight. Consolidate those short term improvements to produce continuing change. Use increased credibility to change systems, structures, & policies that don't fit the vision. Hiring, promoting, & developing employees who can implement the vision is essential to continued success during a major change effort. Reinvigorate the process with new projects, themes, and change agents.

Institutionalizing New Approaches:
Success must be anchored as it occurs and then built upon by articulating the connections between the new behaviors and corporate success. Leverage this success to ensure leadership development and succession.

Make no mistake, effective leadership is about creating change. This is true in every circumstance, whether a company is facing restructuring or dealing with the challenge of accelerated growth. Change is the defining moment that identifies true leaders from imposters. To become an effective leader, understanding change, creating change and most importantly managing change is the first prerequisite.

Author Bio
Dr. Eric "Rick" Johnson (rick@ceostrategist.com) is the founder of CEO Strategist LLC. an experienced based firm specializing in Distribution. CEO Strategist LLC. works in an advisory capacity with distributor executives in board representation, executive coaching, team coaching and education and training to make the changes necessary to create or maintain competitive advantage. You can contact them by calling 352-750-0868, or visit http://www.ceostrategist.com for more information.

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The Ready Reckoner to Finding the "Right Person for the Right Job"

The Ready Reckoner to Finding the "Right Person for the Right Job"

By: Mahalakshmi Prabhakaran

Ever heard of the "round peg in the square hole" syndrome? It can essentially be used to describe a situation where you have hired the wrong person for the right job or vice versa.

Most companies generally hire employees based on their essential qualifications and experience. However it holds wise to remember that there are a multitude of factors that need to be kept in mind, while hiring a new incumbent. No matter how long it takes to find the perfect person for the job, it pays to wait for the right candidate to walk in than hurry and choose an ineffectual.

Sadly in spite of a growing awareness about these factors, a lot of companies still go wrong in the hiring process and end up placing the wrong person for the job. A wrong hire does not only add to the cost burden but also to the work and time burden of a company. As is often said, 'wrong hiring is worse than no hiring'.

This article seeks to provide you with answers to the essential question: Why do so many companies still make the same mistakes? Additionally giving you pointers on what you should remember during the interviewing process.

Look beyond qualifications and experience
Generally, when a job need has been identified, HR executives draw up a brief, detailing the job tasks and the relevant qualifications and experience needed from potential candidates. So while IQ and aptitude required for the job is listed, the EQ and attitude required for the job is given a see-through. The failure, to assess the inter-personal and intra-personal qualities needed of an individual for a job, is one of the more common reasons for hiring a mismatch.

Pointer#1
To avoid this mistake remember to list the qualities you think are required for a job profile. This makes for a scientific hiring process. One that will help you pick the right candidates from the wrong.

Prepare for the interview

An interview is by far the most accepted method to recruit new employees. Given its criticality many companies, in reality, rarely give a thought to planning the interview process. The fallout of an unplanned interview is that the right questions remain unasked, leaving you with a misfit in hand.

Pointer #2
Plan the interview. Determine the questions you want and a general guideline of the answers you expect for the same. As an interviewer, YOU need to guide the interview process. A well-thought interview process will effectively help you to evaluate a person's skills and determine if he/she is the right candidate for the job.

Follow the 80/20 rule

An adage that interviewers generally tend to forget is that "It pays to listen". More often than not, it's the interviewers who end up talking more than the interviewees!

Pointer #3
While interviewing follow the 80/20 principle: Listen 80% - Talk 20%. You need to learn as much about the candidate as you can, to best judge if the incumbent is the best fit for the job. At the same time, remember to allocate sufficient time to brief the candidate on the company and the basic job requirements.

We've listed some of the more common reasons for wrong hires.  
What if you've already made a wrong decision? In such circumstances, just be patient and let the person grow into the job- have them groomed for the job by offering them the necessary training and letting them learn on the job. Else, you may want to examine the possibility of redirecting the candidate to a job more suited to his aptitude and skill set.

All said and done, the hiring process should be dealt with, with more care and thought. While this ready reckoner will make your job of interviewing easier, it definitely pays to hire a professional staffing company.

Author Bio
Mahalakshmi is a Marketing Writer for CAMO Technologies. CAMO Technologies is a global IT Outsourcing solutions provider offering IT Staffing services, Application Development services, Software Testing services and Web Services.

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How to Organize a Seminar or an Event

How to Organize a Seminar or an Event

By: Matt Bacak

Seminars and events have always been implemented as a holistic experience to participants. Thus, organizing an event requires extensive planning and preparation with most work implemented at least a few months before the actual event. Most of the time, seminars seem to run like clockwork with all events flowing smoothly according to schedule. In reality however, much groundwork has been worked on with the purpose of developing the right atmosphere in addition to a beneficial experience to partipants.

1. Establishing the theme of the event
Each event follows a theme and purpose which will drive the event set-up, the target audiences or the participants, the guests and the marketing approach. In general, a business event such as an international conference for a particular industry will appeal to participants conducting businesses within that industry as well as sponsors who gain mileage out of publicizing their products during the event.

Apart from that, the theme of the seminar will also determine the type of marketing channels to be used to for publicity. This also holds true for the seminar marketing team who will need the event theme to correctly identify target participants and companies to sell the event to.

2. Selecting a venue
Venue selection is highly dependent on the scale of the event. Usually this is determined by the number of participants, the presence of any guests of honor (such as royalty or politicians) the activities during the event, or if there are additional floor space required for exhibition purposes.

A typical seminar of about 100 - 200 can be comfortably implemented in a hotel seminar room, possibly in a theater style setting or classroom setting. However, larger scale events with participant numbers scaling be! tween 500 - 1000 may require a large hall, ballroom, auditorium or a convention center.

The location and quality standard of the venue is also important especially if the event involves the participation of VIPs. With this, a reputable location would be imperative, including good quality and wide range of seminar facilities available. It is always wise to explore the possibility of a few venues and examine their location suitability, level of services, ambience, and costs before coming to a decision.

3. Seminar Marketing and Publicity
Seminar marketing is by far the most critical and often most challenging task in event organizing, and is often regarded as the most critical factor of an event's success. This is because the number of participants turning up for a seminar is highly dependent on the strength of marketing activities and publicity. Whether or not the event achieves its objective or whether the organizers will walk home with a profit or loss largely depends on the marketability of the event. This means that the right marketing strategy and seminar positioning must be adopted in order to draw adequate event sign-ups.

Most of the time, event organizers who have large budgets will turn to above the line marketing such as newspaper and magazine advertisements as well as radio and television advertising to publicize the event. Press releases may also be sent in to major newspapers, in order to create the awareness of the upcoming event. Additionally, large advertising media banners and posters can also be purchased to advertise the event in high human traffic areas. When using print advertising, the specific magazine or newspaper used must have the target audience of your event as their primary readership base. Also all print media should be copy written with an enticing approach, highlighting the extensive benefits of participation.

However, if budget is a problem, then below the line marketing may also do wonders. If the event is industry specific, mass faxing to companies belonging to the industry would be feasible. Telemarketing is a very effective marketing channel to create awareness within the right participant group. Additionally, dispatching sales personnel to attend to the requirements of large participant groups is an ideal and effective strategy. Mass emailing has become one of the most cost-efficient methods to reach out to large target audiences. This would be really useful if the event organizer already have an existing database. Otherwise, a list of names can be rented from database companies to attain the same results.

4. Collaboration with sponsors
Getting reputable sponsors to participate in an event will help boost the creditability of the event, as well as reduce costs. Sponsors can also help with marketing, as they also help publicize your event to their customers. Apart from that, some of the sponsors can chip in on venue rental in exchange for exhibition space or publicity for themselves. Some sponsors also require a short message of their company to be given to the participants during the event. Others give away sample products or door gifts to participants.

5. Managing People and working with speakers
A seminar will not be successful without the people running it, as well as the speakers sharing their knowledge to the participants. Invite speakers who are of caliber and reputation to the event, and who will provide the participants with relevant information to their work, industry or business. Prepare the speakers beforehand and work with them on their Power point presentations as well as pre-inform them of the logistics processes, timing as well as the expected audience size. Check with them on any special requests, such as the requirement for an overhead projector or additional microphones to be used for question and answer sessions.

All events require a good team of people handling tasks on ushering, registration, customer service as well as handling financials. Familiarize the team with any required event protocol to eliminate the possibility of confusion or error. In order to ensure smooth implementation, each person should be familiar with their individual roles. This can be ensured through a preparation of a detailed schedule of events coupled with roles and responsibilities for each person. Ideally, a project manager should control the whole team and ensure that everyone is carrying out their duties efficiently. Apart from that, the project manager also has the delegated authority to deal with all parties such as the venue management as well as the sponsors and event exhibitors.

6. Actual Day - Preparation, Registration, Ushering, Feedback
All seminar planning and preparations, constituting 80% of total work involved, cascade to the actual event which may last only for a few hours or a few days. On the day before the event, visit the venue to ensure that everything is in order according the requirements and specifications. Microphones, projectors, audio and video systems must be all checked to be in excellent working order. Over at the office, have a packing list prepared and get all require items transferred to the actual venue at least a day before the event. Event staff should be dispatched to work on site preparations, including setting up booths, decorations and posters, the day before the event.

On the actual day, staff should be present at the venue at least 1 1/2 hours before commencement. They should report to their duty stations and must be ready to receive participants half an hour before they are scheduled to file in. Registrations must be made at the door to ensure authorized access. Name tags, door gifts and event schedules or booklets will be given out at this point and ushers will show participants to their seats in the event hall.

Staff will also be responsible for providing advice or help to participants during the event. Finally, feedback forms should be distributed and then collected from participants to determine the satisfaction level on all aspects of the event experience. This is in order to receive pointers, ideas and advice for future improvements.

Author Bio
Matt Bacak became "#1 Best Selling Author" in just a few short hours. Recent Entrepreneur Magazine's e-Biz radio show host is turning Authors, Speakers, and Experts into Overnight Success Stories. Discover The Secrets To Unleash The Powerful Promoter In You! Sign up for Matt Bacak's Promoting Tips Ezine ($100 value) just visit his website at www.powerfulpromoter.com or promotingtips.com.

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Become a Business Brain Surgeon

Become a Business Brain Surgeon

By: Greg Chapman

Are you working longer and taking home less than your staff? Are you working all hours of the day and night and still barely managing to keep your customers happy? Are you unable to delegate or outsource work to give you more time to work on your business? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, maybe its time you learnt what Brain Surgeons do.

Most business owners we talk to believe almost everything they do in their business, only they can do. They have learnt from experience if they give work to someone else, they mess it up. And then they spend twice as long fixing things. But this is not what Brain Surgeons do. When they operate on a patient, they are not in charge of the theatre- the theatre nurse is. They don't open up the patient, or close. They leave that to a junior surgeon. Everything is prepared for them, and someone else mops up the blood later. All they do is the brain surgery. And some marketing before hand (client needs), and afterwards (client satisfaction).

How is this possible?
Hospitals have very sophisticated systems, and everyone is highly trained in their use. There are checks and counter-checks. Nothing is left to chance. And the very expensive surgeon, the most highly trained person in the theatre, only does what he or she has been trained to do. They don't waste their time doing jobs others can do. In other words they don't spend dollar time on penny jobs. So the brain surgeon only does the brain surgery, and a bit of marketing.

This is, of course, a rather simplistic description of a brain surgeon's job. And I hasten to add an apology to any brain surgeons reading this if they feel insulted (after all, you never know I might need their services in the future - some might argue my need is immediate!) The point of this for business owners is to understand where the real brain surgery is in their business. The part of their job that is most valuable to the business. The part only they can do.

Examples of brain surgery are: the marketing of your business, the relationships with your key customers, or if you are a consultant, the analysis of the problem you have been asked to solve. Not data entry, or possibly even data collection. And not the bookkeeping. So the challenge for business owners is to identify what part of their role is brain surgery. Theoretically, everything else can and should be delegated or outsourced.

A great theory, but how can you make this happen in the real world?

Business Systems. When you delegate or outsource, you need to document what the person who is doing the work will receive and what they will return to you, complete with standards and the form in which they will provide it to you. Then all involved need training in the system. This takes some work, but for a small investment in your time, the dividends are huge.

The theatre nurse does not know how to do brain surgery, but they know before the operation, what equipment the surgeon will need, and when they will need it. They will also know how the theatre and patient are to be prepared. Detailed procedures will have been developed so everyone in the theatre will know their role, and the brain surgeon will have optimised his or her time doing what they have been specifically trained to do.

When you know where the brain surgery is in your business, you will be able to leverage your time. You will spend more time with your customers, and more time working on your business, rather than in it. Ultimately, you will have a business that runs without you.

Author Bio
Dr Greg Chapman assists small to medium sized businesses with business planning, business systems and marketing strategy. To find out how you can Multiply Your Profits & Make Your Business Run without You, and to find out How Good Your Business Really Is with a Free Online Business Medical, go to Empower Business Solutions website at: www.empowersolutions.com.au

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Numbers Don't Lie; Interpretations Might

Numbers Don't Lie; Interpretations Might

By: Gary Patterson

"A full 17% of respondents admitted that their CEO's had pressured them to misrepresent results at least once" per a 2002 Electronic Business article. How comfortable are you with the financial results used to manage your business?

This article will cover five major areas you might look at or have someone look for you to increase your ability to better know where you really are financially, to be able to sleep better at night. The more of these areas that may be a concern at your company, the more urgent a corporate physical may be.

1. Most companies do not accurately know their top ten customers.

2. Many companies have capitalized some item in the past, whose realizable value will become questionable.

3. Most companies do not know how they will be affected by profitability changes at their top ten customers.

4. Many companies have an asset that strategically they would be better off sel! ling at a loss to pursue some new opportunity.

5. Many companies have painted an overly optimistic picture to a customer, vendor or financing source.

Top ten customer profitability "I am starting to visit our top ten customers. If you find out who they are, please let me know." said the CEO. I have been asked different versions of that question by more than one corporate leader. A little talked about secret is that most companies do not accurately know their top ten customers. If you are willing to define that as the largest customers by revenue, maybe you know this top ten list. If you want to accurately know the ten most profitable customers, good luck. Changes in business, product changes and system incompatibilities often make this difficult to do without getting the right eight people in a room for a day.

A past capitalized item will be questioned. Cisco wrote off two billion dollars of inventory several years ago. Many companies have capitalized some item in the past that will be questioned. Goodwill will be reviewed annually. All of us have read the horror stories of write-offs that in hindsight raise questions that often were not valid or even a factor when those assets originated.

One of my favorites was a company that accidentally set up a sophisticated process that accidentally capitalized part of the write off to that asset in the current year additions to the capitalized asset. If you have reserves, allowances or estimates for loss, why not take a critical look at them at least once a year for downside risk. In more conservative days, the CFO would cover things like this when a year came in better than expected.

Profitability change at the top ten customers Those fortunate companies that accurately know the profitability of their top ten customers normally fail to cross the next hurdle of knowing with conviction how the fortunate company's top customers will be affected by profitability changes to those customers. There is a timeframe when top ten customers drop off the A list.

Having discussed how this affects the best performing companies, guess what that means for the companies who do not accurately know profitability of their top ten customers.

One very interesting exercise I helped on was to estimate the benefit our customer received from our service to see which customers were benefiting or losing money on being our customer. That produced some very interesting and unfortunately accurate estimates of customer retention.

Sell that asset and re deploy the money Has your financial department ever told you that the company has to keep losing money on branch or product because we can not admit to the financial loss the company would have to take if it disposed of the asset? I suggest a lesser version of this situation is failure to look at return on equity related to assets or departments. Many companies have one or more assets they would be better off selling at a loss and re investing in another opportunity. This can be particularly true when the executive bonuses are mainly a function of the dollar level of profitability, with limited influence on return on equity or similar measurements. For those of you who say their company has a mechanism that investment proposals meet threshold rates, how often does someone report back convincingly with what return the investment actually received?

Painting an overly optimistic picture to outsiders Last but not least. How many companies have painted an overly optimistic picture to a customer, vendor, or financing source? If "forty four percent of Americans lie about their work history" per ADP Screening and Selection Services, might they stretch the truth a little while representing your company. The effects of this are really hard to quantify. When does puffery become misrepresentation?

I have told CEO's and groups that Murphy's Law suggests your not knowing your company's real equity and risk areas will be a problem at the worst opportune time. Just take a look at all the items someone like me will ask for using a due diligence checklist, and follow up to see how well your company's rough spots would stay hidden. If you do not have such a list, contact me for an example of a standard list. What will you do next week to understand the soft areas and risk factors that all companies have to some degree?

 

Author Bio
Gary Patterson is the author of "Numbers Don't Lie; Interpretations Might." He has helped numerous high growth companies enhance growth and profitability. Visit his site to see how you can get a free consultation www.FiscalDoctor.com or mail to Gary@FiscalDoctor.com 

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Business Plans are for Wimps!

Business Plans are for Wimps!

By: Dan Nichols

Business Planning is for Wimps!

After 20 years of self employment and the last 4 as a small business consultant and coach helping people to start or grow their businesses, I can say with no shame I used to feel that business plans were only for wimps. That was until I did one.

It is easy to knock something you've never tried. After many years of not only starting businesses but actually succeeding in them it would have been easy to think that business plans aren't necessary. Part of that lies in the fact most entrepreneurs are actually working a job not growing a business. That is certainly where my maturity as a self employed person was until I hit my mid 30's. Sure I had earned an income and eeked out a life in a business of my own but I really didn't see the business of the business. What I saw was that I got what I wanted which was to not have to work for someone else. Woo hoo... I was my own boss. Truth be told it was my lack of planning out the business that hindered my growth and financial prosperity. Thankfully I figured it out and now, my newest business is going places I never dreamt possible when I lacked a plan. Doing a plan, the very act of doing it, almost in its very nature is enough to take you to the next level as an entrepreneur.

You see, put simply, when you plan a business you begin to understand it as a business. When you don't plan a business but still go into business for yourself, you more than likely created a job. For example with lawn maintenance we think of the cutting of the lawn, not the structure of the organization, the future growth and direction of the business, the various marketing strategies etc.. There is a critical difference between having a business and the business of business and that requires another article of its own. So, if you ever want to get out of the grind and truly grow a business you need to plan to grow it. Plan every little bit of it and then re-visit this plan often and make changes as things evolve. We've all heard it before - "when you fail to plan you plan to fail". Only when we sit down to do a business plan do we see it is so much more than that. Not planning a business causes us to fulfill the role we "thought of" when we thought of that business and not see the things planning would have taught us.

Yes, most business planning is boring with a capital B and a really long "O" but that is because most planning mechanisms and information on the topic is intellectually based and they have you planning at a level of logic - business, marketing, operational procedure, organizational structure, customer service, accounting - when we plan these things we are mostly adult minded and leave the excitement, the passion out of it. So when it is done the traditional way, you're left with a stack of paper, a business plan that bores you and leaves you uninspired. That to me is a waste of time. Be sure to put the fun into planning a business. Have it appeal to you on an emotional level because that is what drives results and stop worrying what type of business planning procedures the academic world is trying to push. Fewer than 10% of businesses in the Fortune 500 ever borrowed start-up money from a formal institution. They got it from friends and family. So most likely a banker won't see your plan anyhow. Make the business plan appeal to you first and foremost. Happy planning.

 

Author Bio
Dan Nichols - America's Small Business Advocate is a business coach and consultant headquartered in Royal Oak, MI. He is the author of Lemonade Stand Simple - The only business plan system you'll ever need. He loves to help entrepreneurs - it's his passion. His website is at www.businesssensei.com

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Minding Your Global Manners

Minding Your Global Manners

By: Lydia Ramsey

To say that today's business environment is becoming increasingly more global is to state the obvious. Meetings, phone calls and conferences are held all over the world and attendees can come from any point on the globe. On any given business day you can find yourself dealing face-to-face, over the phone, by e-mail and, on rare occasions, by postal letter with people whose customs and cultures differ your own. You may never have to leave home to interact on an international level.

While the old adage "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" still holds true, business clients and colleagues who are visiting this country should be treated with sensitivity and with an awareness of their unique culture. Not to do your homework and put your best international foot forward can cost you relationships and future business. One small misstep such as using first names inappropriately, not observing the rules of timing or sending the wrong color flower in the welcome bouquet can be costly.

There is no one set of rules that applies to all international visitors so do the research for each country that your clients represent. That may sound like a daunting task, but taken in small steps, it is manageable and the rewards are worth the effort. Keeping in mind that there are as many ways to do business as there are countries to do business with, here are a few tips for minding your global P's and Q's.

Building relationships: Few other people are as eager to get down to business as we Americans. So take time to get to know your international clients and build rapport before you rush to the bottom line. Business relationships are built on trust that is developed over time, especially with people from Asia and Latin America.

Dressing conservatively: Americans like to dress for fashion and comfort, but people from other parts of the world are generally more conservative. Your choice of business attire is a signal of your respect for the other person or organization. Leave your trendy clothes in the closet on the days that you meet with your foreign guests.

Observe the hierarchy: It is not always a simple matter to know who is the highest-ranking member when you are dealing with a group. To avoid embarrassment, err on the side of age and masculine gender, only if you are unable to discover the protocol with research. If you are interacting with the Japanese, it is important to understand that they make decisions by consensus, starting with the younger members of the group. By contrast, Latin people have a clear hierarchy that defers to age.

Understanding the handshake: With a few exceptions, business people around the world use the handshake for meeting and greeting. However, the American style handshake with a firm grip, two quick pumps, eye contact and a smile is not universal. Variations in handshakes are based on cultural differences, not on personality or values. The Japanese give a light handshake. Germans offer a firm shake with one pump, and the French grip is light with a quick pump. Middle Eastern people will continue shaking your hand throughout the greeting. Don't be surprised if you are occasionally met with a kiss, a hug, or a bow somewhere along the way.

Using titles and correct forms of address: We are very informal in the United States and are quick to call people by their first name. Approach first names with caution when dealing with people from other cultures. Use titles and last names until you have been invited to use the person's first name. In some cases, this may never occur. Use of first names is reserved for family and close friends in some cultures.

Titles are given more significance around the world than in the United States and are another important aspect of addressing business people. Earned academic degrees are acknowledged. For example, a German engineer is addressed as "Herr Ingenieur" and a professor as "Herr Professor". Listen carefully when you are introduced to someone and pay attention to business cards when you receive them.

Exchanging business cards: The key to giving out business cards in any culture is to show respect for the other person. Present your card so that the other person does not have to turn it over to read your information. Use both hands to present your card to visitors from Japan, China, Singapore, or Hong Kong. When you receive someone else's business card, always look at it and acknowledge it. When you put it away, place it carefully in your card case or with your business documents. Sticking it haphazardly in your pocket is demeaning to the giver. In most cases, wait until you have been introduced to give someone your card.

Valuing time. Not everyone in the world is as time conscious as Americans. Don't take it personally if someone from a more relaxed culture keeps you waiting or spends more of that commodity than you normally would in meetings or over meals. Stick to the rules of punctuality, but be understanding when your contact from another country seems unconcerned.

Honoring space issues: Americans have a particular value for their own physical space and are uncomfortable when other people get in their realm. If the international visitor seems to want to be close, accept it. Backing away can send the wrong message. So can touching. You shouldn't risk violating someone else's space by touching them in any way other than with a handshake.

Whether the world comes to you or you go out to it, the greatest compliment you can pay your international clients is to learn about their country and their customs. Understand differences in behavior and honor them with your actions. Don't take offense when visitors behave according to their norms. People from other cultures will appreciate your efforts to accommodate them and you will find yourself building your international clientele.

 

Author Bio
Lydia Ramsey is a business etiquette expert, professional speaker, corporate trainer and author of MANNERS THAT SELL - ADDING THE POLISH THAT BUILDS PROFITS. She has been quoted or featured in The New York Times, Investors' Business Daily, Entrepreneur, Inc., Real Simple and Woman's Day. For more information about her programs, products and services, e-mail her at lydia@mannersthatsell.com or visit her web site www.mannersthatsell.com

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To Invest in a Qualified Business Plan is a Fundamental Strategy

To Invest in a Qualified Business Plan is a Fundamental Strategy

By: Elsa Hedenberg

Before you start reading any arguments about why you should have a super professional Business Plan for your new venture, you might as well first take a look at those lean statistics.
Only 400 out of 40.000 new ventures are funded by Venture Capitalists (VCs).
Only about 4.000 ideas reach the pre-business plan stage.
Only 400 entrepreneurs have available some kind of business plan.
Only 40 out of them receive some funding by business angels or any other sources.

Statistics also tell us that there is more money looking for good projects than vice versa. Why then is it so difficult to raise money?

It is all about investing on a qualified Business Plan.
This is a methodical first step that leads to the anticipated Fundings.

Your Business Plan is your "road map" of your enterprise and shows you where you want to go. It is to become your checking list to follow up, the same way an orderly routined pilot does, before taking off his plane.
As Henry Kissinger remarkably said: "If you do not know where you are going, every road will get you nowhere

Why let Professionals Prepare A Business Plan for you?

  • They have the skills to detect the investors' preferences.
  • Have the experience to eliminate mistakes.
  • Define and focus your objectives.
  • Can uncover overlooks and weaknesses in your planning process. This will help you to build up an overview of your business idea. They also prepare you to give a thought to the potential investor's unexpected questions.
  • Guide you to avoid common mistakes.
  • Create a meaningful content which is expected by professional investors who recognize generic phrases, created from business plan software. They compile for you a convincing content that covers from hard to find market research to articulating the value of your message.
  • They free up your valuable time. Instead of collecting material, gathering market research, writing creating drafts and revising, it would be better used working on your business.


Professionals model your business:

  • They teach you how to both create and communicate true value to potential customers, suppliers, employees and even investors.
  • They formulate a start up strategy which will minimize the capital needed to launch your company.
  • You have only one chance with many investors. They help you make it count and stand out.

Who qualifies for Venture Capital today?
Ask yourself the hard question if you have what it takes to turn your vision to reality. Your business idea, as good as it may be, will mean nothing if it is not backed up by your entrepreneurial skills. For Venture Capitalists are like winning horse track gamblers, they bet on the jockey not on the horse.

 

Author Bio
Elsa Hedenberg has an extensive experience in consumer products marketing and has a degree in consumer's psychology. Has published business articles in business magazines, in Swedish and English.

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