Career Advice

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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The Do's and Don'ts of Cash Management

The Do's and Don'ts of Cash Management

By: Bronwen Roberts

Working capital is a highly effective barometer of a company's operational and financial efficiency and effectiveness. The better its condition, the better placed the company is to focus on developing its core business.

The early, primitive attempts at maximizing cash management can be traced back to the late 1970s. Unbelievably, there are still some companies who haven't yet understood that putting cash trapped in the balance sheet to better use can give them a competitive edge over their rivals.

A most recent report shows a further reduction of working capital in companies in the US and Europe compared with the previous year, of between 3 per cent and 5 per cent. This demonstrates the continuing increase in the importance of working capital management to help companies achieve their strategic objectives.

How to do It
There is more to working capital management than simply telling a company to collect its debtors as quickly as possible, to delay paying its suppliers as long as possible, and to keep stock levels as low as possible. A properly conceived and executed improvement program will certainly focus on optimizing each of these components, but will deliver additional benefits that extend far beyond the merely operational. It will demonstrate the need for ambitious corporates to integrate working capital management into their strategic and tactical thinking, rather than view it as an optional bolt-on extra.


There are a number of dos and don'ts to help guide corporate thinking. Firstly, do think of working capital management as a strategic objective that can enable your corporation's goals. We cannot over-emphasize this opening point. The same factors that drive a company's working capital also drive its operating costs and customer service performance. Therefore, by addressing the drivers of working capital a company will also experience significant improvement in operating costs and customer service.


For example, a company's working capital is deteriorating due to an increase in past due accounts receivable (AR). A review of the overdue AR illustrates a high level of customer disputes. The disputes are taking on average 30 days to resolve and consuming significant amounts of sales, order entry, and cash collectors' time. By tackling the root cause of the disputes, in this case poor adherence to pricing policies, the company can eliminate the disputes, thereby improving customer service.


This will free up the time of staff in sales, order entry and cash collections, enabling them to be more effective at their designated roles. This in turn increases productivity, reduces operating costs, and potentially increases sales. Working capital will improve, as customers will have fewer reasons to hold payment. This example illustrates how working capital is one of the best indicators of underlying inefficiency within an organization.


Consider Another Perspective
Don't think of things only from your own company's perspective. If you can help your own customers plan their inventory requirements more efficiently, for instance, you can match your production to their consumption, efficiently and cost-effectively, and do the same with your own suppliers. The potential implications for inventory levels are huge. By aligning ordering production and distribution processes, you increase inherent efficiency and achieve direct cost savings almost instantly, as a by-product. And then you discuss the best way to bill or to pay.


Do educate your organization to consider the trade-offs between different working capital assets when negotiating with customers and suppliers. Depending on the usage pattern of a raw material, there may be more to gain from negotiating consignment stock with a supplier versus pushing for extended terms. This could apply particularly in cases of long lead-time items, or those that require high minimum order quantities.


Agree Formal Terms
Do agree formal terms with suppliers and customers and document those terms carefully. Keep them up to date, and communicate those payment terms to employees throughout your business, particularly those involved in the customer to cash and purchase to pay processes, including your sales organization.


Don't allow prolific new product introduction without a clear product range management strategy. Poor product range management creates inefficiency in the supply chain, as companies are required to support old products with inventory and manufacturing capability. This increases operating costs and exposes the company to an obsolete inventory that may have to be disposed of.


Collect your Cash
Don't forget to collect your cash. Many businesses fail to implement effective ongoing collection procedures to prevent excess overdue funds or build-up of old debtors. Ask customers if invoices have been received and are clear to pay. If not, identify the problems that are preventing timely payment.


Confirm and reconfirm the credit terms agreed upon with the customer. Often, credit terms get lost in the translation of general payment terms and what's on the payables ledger in front of the payables clerk. Do devote the requisite amount of time and attention to the critical issue of dispute management.


Don't set top-down targets uniformly across the business. For instance, too many companies impose a 10 per cent reduction in working capital for each division. This fails to take into account the potential opportunity within a division and can result in setting an impossible target that acts to de-motivate. Instead, balance top-down with bottom-up intelligence when setting targets.


Targets Drive Behaviour
Do set targets that drive the desired behaviour. Many companies will incentivise collections staff to minimize the aged AR over 60 days. Does this mean that customers who pay one to 60 days late are good payers? No, aged AR over 60 days will result in increased costs and time it takes to collect the debt. By incentivising staff to lower the amount over 60 days, you keep your costs down. Do educate staff, customers and suppliers that cash and cash management are important, and are an integral part of a successful business relationship.


Look Within Yourself
Don't assume that all the answers are to be found externally. Before approaching existing customers and suppliers to discuss cash management goals, fully understand your own process gaps so you can credibly discuss poor payment processes.


Do treat suppliers as you would like your customers to treat you. Far greater cash flow benefits can be realized by strategically leveraging the relationship you have with suppliers and customers. In addition, a supplier is more likely to support you in an emergency if you have treated them fairly.


Don't however, treat everyone the same. Use segmentation tactics to split your customer supplier into similar groups. This may be based on a basket of criteria including profitability, sales, AR size, past due debt, average order size and frequency. Define strategies for each segment based around the criteria and your strategic goals.

Do celebrate success in hitting targets. Emphasise the actions that helped you get there.

Conclusion
To summarise briefly, following the dos and don'ts will enable you to optimize cash and to highlight inefficiencies in your processes that must be remedied to better serve customers. It will enable you to build stronger partnerships with your suppliers across the total working capital value chain. This translates ultimately into improvement in bottom-line results, often a good deal quicker than you might expect, and helps clarify the senior management focus on strategic imperatives.

 

Author Bio
REL Consultancy Group www.relconsult.com are global specialists in generating cash improvements, cost reductions and service enhancements by optimizing working capital. They are the only international corporate financial consulting firm that focuses exclusively on increasing operational efficiency from working capital and operations. They work with people to transform your organization, your customer's and your suppliers in more than 60 countries around the world.

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Convert Visitors Into Repeat Buyers

Convert Visitors Into Repeat Buyers

I'm going to start this off with the most essential mindset; I believe this to be the number one business-saving, money-generating rule. I call this the SGT method.

SGT Method

Sgt. Common Sense wants YOU ... to Stop your Greedy Tactics! With your own personal gain in mind for business decisions you'll get nowhere but a deceiving sense of success. Here's a small example for you to consider ...

A business owner starts an online website hosting company. He spends $1000 USD/month in advertising to the general public through Google AdWords. His first month he gains 200 paid clients at $24.95 USD/month revenue. With these new clients, he's gaining $4990 a month in revenue, $3990 in pure profit! Amazing!

He continues with his business plan, but decides to upgrade a few of his services. His advisor tells him that he needs to put funding into support services for his clients; this will cost $500 a month and should support 1000 clients. Ignoring his advisor, he throws another $2000 into monthly advertising with Google.

Now here comes the part where you should pay attention ... The business owner is looking at short term when he should be looking long term.

Month Two:
Advertising Costs : $3000 USD
Tech Support Costs : $0 USD (NO SUPPORT)
Clients (end of month) : 750 (200 + 550 for new month)

Business Owner: "We're doing GREAT! LOOK at the GROWTH!"

What's he forgetting? COMMON SENSE! If you don't take care of your current clients, how could you possibly take care of future one's?


Month Three:
Advertising Costs : $6000 USD
Tech Support Costs : $0 USD (NO SUPPORT)
Clients (end of month) : 1000 (750 + 250 for new month)

Incoming clients are now down 300. Why? Because 300 of his current clients left due to lack of support. This does not account for his clients that signed up, couldn't transfer over and demanded refunds. This could also put a freeze on the business owner's merchant account, costing him even more money.

Lesson? Take care of the clients you DO have.

Here's why, and this may come as a shock to you but you may not have to pay another cent in advertising, ever again.

"Josh, what the heck are you talking about?" - Confused Reader

It's simple, word of mouth. Word of mouth is the most powerful, and most cost effective method of advertising that is on the planet Earth. What is a better way to advertise, you tell me:

1) You pay $1000 in Google AdWords and gain 200 clients.
2) You pay $0 and gain 100 clients

Good question, is it not? Hint: I would say 100 clients for $0 would take the cake out of those choices. 100 clients for free?!? Sign me up!

Now here's another question. What sounds better out of these two?

A web surfer looking for a website to visit that will assist him with home gardening goes to Google, and types in "home gardening". He looks at the links and has his attention caught by ... what ends up being hundreds of possible assisting sites. But have no fear! After all, we're sponsoring the keywords with Google AdWords, right?

Guess what ... the buyer most likely won't buy from a website that he/she has never heard of before. So he/she calls his friends asking if they have heard of your website with a do-it-yourself guide. He call's his friend John, who replies with,

"No, I haven't heard of that one ... but I know of a good guide that we used for our garden, it worked wonders. Jill said she would have bought two times over, and subscribed to their mailing list for future ideas and tips. Now they send us a new tip every week, it's great! The website address is www dot ... "

What just happened here happens daily to EDUCATED shoppers. These shoppers are the kinds of people you want to purchase from you / sign up for your information. They realize that if they get one good nugget of information from you or a great product, they can get more. This goes back to the term in the introduction, they become a repeat customer.

Here's the best part:

You don't pay more to get them back. Your advertising money went even FURTHER than one sale with this one!
Your .20 per click just generated $50, $100, $150 or even THOUSANDS in sales! This also doesn't count everyone that this one person talks to about your products.

Of course, there are a few drawbacks. You won't become an overnight millionaire with this method. It takes time for word of mouth to properly work. But when it does, boy is it a beauty!

Bottom line to create a FREE advertising empire ...

Treat your clients the best that you can. It's a NECESSITY!


Personally, I believe that two years worth of work that will create thousands a month in revenue is worth the time. Of course, if you're impatient, thousands in advertising costs work too...

The bottom line of the SGT method is that if you treat your clients well, it's the best advertising method you can get!

SGT Recap

When Used Properly, you have an advertising team that ...

+ Is Extremely Effective
+ Pays YOU to advertise YOUR products!
+ Will WANT to advertise YOUR products!
+ Spreads with VIRAL EFFECT when done right.
+ Does the work for you ... and you get paid for it.

Does that sound like something you want? A free advertising empire that wants to advertise for you, and pays you to do so. It certainly sounds like something I want for my products.


Now let's go over the methods to turn visitors into repeat clients. The first one I'm going to present to you is the ...

The Triple R Method

Ah, the Triple R Method. These can be the most effective method when utilized correctly. This helps turn your website from a information site into a money-generating machine.

Let's get to this Triple R method:

Readability
Reliability
Reusability

Common sense but most businesses do not employ this method to better their futures in the online market. If a business owner keeps these in mind when they create a business and the business's website/content, they will have a 75% better chance they're next business will be as successful or more successful at converting sales and keeping clients.

I'm going to put the Triple R method into plain English and explain each point. Hopefully you'll see the power in making you're contact points with these in mind.

Readability
Your website, cover letter, or point of contact needs to be easy to read. It needs to contain simple English as well as easy to understand sentences. In general, it needs to have a good, basic, understandable format. If a user that knows nothing about your service or product reads your advertisement (or 'pitch') page and has no clue what you're talking about, how will you get the sale?

All of the content that you present to your potential clients or subscribers needs to be put in the simplest English possible. Let me put it this way: have someone that knows NOTHING about the subject check it for readability, understandability and coherence. If someone that has no clue what you're selling can have a general understanding of the product by the time they reach the order page, you have succeeded.

Reliability
Reliability is key. Your information that you sell must be consistent. The methods you give must be logical and easy to follow over and over. If you're a service-based company, the services you offer must be able to compete with the industry standard. For example, I'll use website hosting.

If you're a website host and you offer hosting, one of the main selling points that usually seals the deal is the uptime guarantee. The industry standard is around 99.5% or 99.9% uptime guarantee. If you can offer this, you'll gain a lot more sales from mission-critical clients. Mission-critical means one main thing, more money that consistently flows from the source month after month into your pocket.

If you have the choice between starting with a reseller from your 12 year old neighbor that's in school every day (and handles support himself) and another host that does the job full time, choose the full time. Will it be more expensive? Most likely. Will it handle more of the hassle itself? Yes. Remember, if you put a little more money in return for better quality it will give you less hassle. The company could practically run itself, with the exception of support, of course.

Reliability can either make or break a company. Great reliability will put the word of mouth method into full swing, and will gain you a lot more clients than you're paying in advertising costs. You wouldn't complain about getting clients for free, would you? I didn't think so.

Reusability
Reusability is the number one key to any project that you do. Unless it's a membership site, and possibly even if it is, it needs to be able to be re-used. Think about it in the following example regarding niche markets:

You have identified a niche market you want to start a business in. You launch your eBook site and subscription service around the niche, and impact the market hard. Now it's come to keep adding content and maintain the site. But now you stumble across yet another niche, which looks even more untapped and amazingly profitable. What will you do?

a) Design another website for it, code a site, etc...
b) Jump right in, your first niche site is a template and reusable!
c) Be sorry about not templating, and spend hours doing option A, once again.

Think about it! You spend an extra hour or two on the first site making it reusable and able to be duplicated, in return for hours saved on each and every website you launch after it. Imagine that you launch hundreds or thousands of websites ... that's how many hours unless it's templated? See the point?

Reusability will not only save you time, but if you do it right from the start it will also guarantee your success. If you spend hours looking into Search Engine Optimization and making the site comply with the backbone rules of success, you only have to do it once! There's software out there right now called SEOElite.com that's helped thousands of people achieve success over the titans throughout Google. Here's an example of what SEOElite.com can do.

Think of everyone out there that searches for the term "work from home" in Google. How many sites do you believe there are containing or even focusing in on that term? According to the testimonial from a loyal customer of SEOElite.com there were 468,000,000 at the time of his using the software. He obtained the #1 spot in Google for "work from home". Think of how much Return for his Investment he got from that software. One time payment of $176 USD, to return a flood of FREE DAILY TRAFFIC to his site to earn him more money. Wouldn't you say that's worth the investment?

HVP - High Value Products

Your products MUST have a perceived value. If it doesn't FEEL like it's worth anything, it won't be purchased. Think about it. If you sell a guide to making thousands of dollars for $5, why would people buy it? "It's a quick buck Josh, come on!" NO. If it were a proven method he would want a heck of a lot more than $5 for the guide.

If I gave you the choice right now between a $5 ticket to your local high school football game and a $75 dollar sixth-row ticket to your local NFL team's game, which would you choose? The key behind this is perceived value.

Have you ever heard the classic talk between a husband and wife on TV where the wife buys something and her reasoning is "for $xxx.xx it has to be good!". It's like open source software. Most companies won't use open source software because they think it has a problem. "If they're not charging for it, there has to be a problem with it." See the reasoning behind perceived value?

Ok, here's the kicker. If you're sitting there right now going: "Josh, you gave me this guide for free. What's that say about it?" send me an e-mail and I'll explain why it's free. E-mail me at Josh-_-__at_-_-_HowToMakeMoneyWithA)dot(com and I'll gladly answer you as soon as I receive your e-mail.

Until next time,
Josh Allen

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Author Bio
A young entrepreneur from Maryland, Josh from HowToMakeMoneyWithA.com has been studying psychology and business since his early teens. Armed with technology and a willingness to succeed, he is willing to share his techniques with the masses.

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A Concise Guide to MICR and Associated Technologies

A Concise Guide to MICR and Associated Technologies

By: Charles Katz

The Sort-A-Matic system included 100 metal or leather dividers numbered 00 through 99. Each check was placed in the corresponding divider by the first two numbers of the account. The sorting process was then repeated for the next two digits of the account number, and so on. When the process was complete, the checks were grouped by account number.

Under the Top Tab Key Sort system, small holes punched at the top of the checks indicated the digits. For instance, the first hole indicated the value of the first digits (0, 1, 2, 3...) A metal "key" was inserted through the holes to separate all of the checks with the same value in the first digit, and this step was repeated for each digit until all the checks were sorted.

Both of these systems worked, but they were time-consuming. With the advent of the computer and its movement from the laboratory into the business world, a sorting and matching task seemed ideal. Stanford University and Bank of America were the first to successfully use computers to sort and match checks. They developed what is now known as MICR.

The Development of the MICR Font
The MICR font was developed by Stanford University in conjunction with Bank of America and approved by the American Banking Association. The font is known as the E-13B font. E-13B has a total of 14 characters: ten specially designed numbers (0 through 9) and four special symbols (Transit, Amount, On-Us, and Dash).

The letter E indicates the fifth version considered. The letter B indicates the second revision of that version. The number 13 is derived from the 0.013-inch module construction used for stroke and character width. This means that all character widths, both horizontal and vertical, are in multiples of 0.013 inches ranging from 0.052 to 0.091. The significance of this will be explained more thoroughly later in this article.

MICR Readers
Three types of machines are used to read MICR characters. The two that read the characters magnetically are referred to as MICR readers. The third machine is an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) reader.

E-13B characters are printed with toner containing iron oxide, which is capable of being magnetized. MICR readers transport the checks containing the E-13B magnetic characters past a magnet, thereby magnetizing the iron oxide particles. The magnetized characters then pass under a magnetic read head. The magnetic field (flux pattern) caused by the magnetized characters generates a current in the read head. The strength and timing of this current allows the reader to decipher the characters.

Magnetic readers come in two types: single track (single gap or split scan) and multiple track (matrix or pattern) readers.

Single-Track Reader Characteristics
Single track uses a read head with one gap to detect the magnetic flux pattern generated by the MICR character. When a magnetized E-13B printed character moves across the narrow gap of the read head, the electric voltage caused by the magnetic flux from the character generates a waveform unique to each character.

Multi-Track Reader Characteristics
The multiple track reader employs a matrix of tiny, vertically aligned read heads to detect the presence of the magnetic flux pattern. The small individual read heads slice across the character to detect the presence of magnetic flux. This sensing of magnetic flux over time produces a unique matrix pattern for each character.

An OCR reader does not use magnetic properties to detect the E-13B characters. Instead, it uses a scanner to detect the amount of light reflected from the character and the amount of light reflected from the background. A photocell column detects the presence of the dark area of a character.

Waveform Theory
The readers move and read documents from right to left. The right-hand edge of the character, as a result, is the first to cross the read head. Analysis of the signal level created by reading the character 0 will help explain this in greater detail.

As the character moves from right to left under the read head, the gap detects the magnetism of the first right-hand edge (edge 1). This results in the increase in magnetism and a positive peak is created (peak 1). As soon as the right-hand edge moves beyond the read head gap, no new magnetism is found, and thus the wave form returns to the zero signal level.

At the second edge, the vertical read head detects a drop in magnetism, which results in a -110 signal level at peak 2. Again the waveform returns to zero until the next portion of the inner ring of the character is detected. At this point (peak 3), an increase in magnetism (+110) is indicated. Finally, the outer portion of the character is read, resulting in a negative peak (peak 4) of -130.

The placement of the vertical edges must occur in increments of 0.013 inches from the first right-hand edge. There are five characters that have two positive and two negative peaks similar to the character 0 and also appear in a positive-negative-positive-negative format. They are 0, 2, 4, 5, and the transit character, which are differentiated from one another by the horizontal location of the peaks in the waveforms. The peaks do require different amplitudes, but ANSI standards allow them to vary from 50% to 200% of the nominal amplitudes (Canadian standards allow them to vary from 80% to 200% of the nominal amplitudes). This is why the placement of the waveform is so important and why the characters are shaped unusually.

What Affects the Signal Level?
Signal level can vary based on a number of factors. The amount of iron oxide (concentration) that is present in the character will affect the signal level. This is a function not only of the toner itself, but also of how it is laid on the paper and the pile height, which can be controlled by numerous other cartridge components (i.e., "hot" OPCs).

The taller the vertical edge of the character, the taller the peak (either positive or negative). A vertical edge that is not regular and/or not vertical will result in a reduction in the amplitude of the peak and will flatten the peak out.

Keys to proper waveform detection are:

  • All peaks in a character's waveform must be detected. The reader sorter must know that the peak is there.
  • The peak must be located at or near its anticipated location.
  • No significant "extra" peaks can be present.
  • There cannot be wide variations in the signal levels of peaks within a character.

What to Look for in MICR Printers and Consumables
Printers that are used for MICR printing must have a unique MICR font that is modified to suit the unique printer engine, and it must be modified to the pixel level to match the magnetic toner provided for that printer. This is essential to ensure the correct waveform, dimension, and signal strength when a check is printed with the correct MICR characters. In addition, the MICR font must meet ABA-X9 standards to ensure acceptance of your checks by banking institutions.

The magnetic MICR toner that you choose must be specifically designed for the particular print engine in the printer. Ensure the toner has been thoroughly tested for consistent signal readings, image permanence and uniformity, and excellent edge acuity. Toner coverage must be solid with no extraneous toner lay down.

OEM cartridges are always a safe (but more expensive) bet. If you buy a "compatible" brand, ensure it has a new OPC drum, new primary charge rollers (PCRs), a new black velvet magnetic sleeve, and new image wiper blades. The hopper system must be filled with high-quality, low-abrasion MICR toner.

The vendor you choose should use the latest and most advance MICR test equipment, such as a Verifier and Golden Qualifier to conform to ANSI X9 Standards. It is also recommended that the systems exceed U.S. and Canadian check printing standards.

 

Author Bio
Charles Katz is CEO and founder of Printerm Datascribe Inc., a distributor of band, shuttle matrix, dot matrix, and ion deposition printers for various manufacturers. In 1992, Printerm started its R&D department to develop innovative MICR secure laser check printers, MICR fonts, MICR toner, MICR check software, removable security flash cards, and secure digitizing. Reproductions of this article are encouraged but must provide an html link pointing to www.printerm.com

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Logo Design and Branding - Points to Remember

Logo Design and Branding - Points to Remember

By: Ray Smith

A good logo design is highly instrumental in establishing a business brand and creating a long lasting impression among its customers. It should be able to create a powerful impact on the viewers and successfully exude the nature and attitude of a business. Ideally, a company logo design should be able to communicate your company ethos, principles, mission and the nature of product/service offered, to the viewers.

A professional logo design would establish a professional image of your company and strengthen your brand. Actually, in most cases the consumer gets the first impression about the company through your logo. Your business logo should build a brand that is strong enough to give your consumer a visual imagery of your company. People should be able to identify your company on sight of your logo.

Trend shows, most of the good logos are simple and often text based. Think of the IBM, SONY or Microsoft logo, even if you view a part of it you will be able to recognize the company. It is extremely essential for a logo to be easy for people to remember.

This principle of simplicity applies n most cases, however, we often see exceptions in Government Organizations, Hotels and Luxury resorts etc because they want to put up a classical exclusive image. This again brings us to a very important point that should be considered for a good logo design - the nature of business.

While simplicity can be the basic principle for any logo design, the designs might vary widely depending on the nature of business. For example, a financial institution might like to use a bold face font to express solidarity and stableness where as a courier service or transport company might prefer italicized fonts to express the speed and movement involved in their business.

In addition, while specifying the design requirements for your logo you should consider the fact that you will probably have to use your logo on your fax cover and other places where it will be in black and white. You should ensure that your logo looks equally good and attractive in black and white.

I would also suggest avoiding a very trendy look for your logo if you are planning for a long-term business because what we concern "modern" today might be backdated tomorrow. It is very important that your logo designer knows how to maintain this balance.

While any professional logo designer should be able to create a custom logo design once you have provided them with your specifications, you should be careful to select an experienced designing company and not land up with some single designer start up venture.

Last but not the least important factor is price. You are paying for your logo - something that is going to be used to establish your brand and represent your business for years, so you should be ready to pay a decent amount while it is also not necessary to pay some big amount like $350 for a logo. With the online logo design firms coming into business, now you have a wide choice of price for your logos and it should not be difficult to find a logo designer that fits your budget. Some logo design sites would even allow you to quote your own price for your logo.

If you have still not got a logo for your business or are not happy with your existing logo, it's time you get your new logo. Wish you lucked with your logo hunt.

Author Bio
Ray Smith is a marketing Expert with years of experience in different industries and specialized knowledge on branding and Internet marketing.
Custom Logo Design

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Corporate Branding - Will they remember you?

Corporate Branding - Will they remember you?

By: Tyson Fenech

In today's market selling quantity seems to be the rule of the day. Slap together something quick and don't worry about what flies out the door, it doesn't even matter who the purchasers are.

Companies who focus on branding will stand out amongst the crowd. Why? They have recognized that most buyers' especially online buyers need confidence in doing business with an established entity. Nothing shows your commitment to your business like a well developed branding strategy. Having a great logo is the first major step towards cultivating this development. Sure there are plenty of "out-of-the-box" logo solutions and the prices are more than appealing to a business that doesn't recognize the value of their corporate image.

The Difference

Why should you spend more than $300 on a logo? Would you buy a car for $1000? Chances are if you do you'll be paying a lot more for maintenance and the headaches it will bring. You always get what you pay for. This can't be stressed enough. If you are willing to sabotage your business from the very beginning by neglecting the image you portray to your potential clients, that logo will be costing you a lot more than you're willing to invest. A professional Graphic Designer will invest a lot of time, researching to produce a logo that is truly unique (vital to branding and making your mark) and introduce you to a solid first step in Branding your company as a powerful entity. A logo is further enhanced by the elements built around it. With everything related to design, everything should be custom made, now more so than ever because the competition for capital is increasing. You have to be better than your competitors in as many ways possible.

For the young start-up company, budgets may disallow you the option of working with a professional designer. There are plenty of great designers out there that won't gouge your pocket book but be certain that they are capable of creating exactly what you want and that they have the experience to expand upon the logo design provided. You want someone who is business savvy and has demonstrated their applied knowledge. They must be able to foresee the bigger picture. The success of your business rests on this.

Putting it Together

Generally speaking the more experienced the designer the higher the rates charged. With the experience you will usually get a product that has been developed and refined over time. A veteran Graphic Designer will be designing with the big picture in mind taking your investment dollars further. The numbers quoted are relative to what they generate, a client will be happy to invest money when they see return. If the image developed for them attracts customers price becomes secondary. Recognize the value of your image and take your logo very seriously. As human beings we are visual.

For the long haul

Generally a business that has quality services to offer and takes their image seriously will understand the value of investing in professional design. Most successful businesses know how much they must devote to marketing in order to generate the sales they desire. Those marketing dollars will be more effective if your Branding approach was cultivated properly. If you take your business seriously chances are you'll attract the same. How do you want to be viewed?

A Bit about the Logo

For the most part focus was placed on the business mentality rather than the logo itself. There are different types of logos. Many large corporations utilize strictly text or abbreviations. Companies like DELL, IBM, RCA, ABB, etc. Text logos are very popular and are easily integrated across the Branding board. Iconic treatments are also utilized by many businesses. An icon can be very powerful in identifying a company. Take Apple or Nike for example. Using imagery is a very powerful strategy in branding. Symbols guide us in our lives and daily activities. Icons can be very simple and clean to more complex utilizing gradients and simulated 3D. Illustrative (beyond iconic) is less frequently used but can work effectively for companies that usually want to portray a timelessness or "natural" homey feeling typically found on a bottle of tomato sauce or organic potato chips.

Everything outlined above can dictate the price of your logo. The logo is a powerful aspect of your company. It should take time to create and will require much attention if it is to create a powerful Branding strategy. Be sure that the logo designer of choice is willing to provide you with mock ups and multiple revisions and is willing to help take your company to the next level.

 

Author Bio
Tyson Fenech is the Creative Director for Core Creative Concepts. Designing web sites and print materials for the past 7 years helping both small startups and Fortune 500 companies. www.coregraphicdesign.com

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Protecting Your Corporate Name

Protecting Your Corporate Name

By: Jonathan Brown

Imagine this: you want to sell widgets, and you've chosen the perfect name for your brand new widget business. You've made the name original and yet homey, easy to say, hard to forget, and you've checked databases everywhere to make sure that nobody else thought of it first. You've invested vast sums of money in marketing materials and storefront signs that include your wonderful new name. Best of all, you've already impressed some new widget customers with your amazing services and they are spreading the word that your business-yes, the one with your fabulously unique name-is the place to go for all their widget needs, bar none. You love your new name.

Then picture this: shortly after your widget shop opens for business, you learn that a guy two blocks over is using the same name, for a strikingly similar widget business. That's your name hanging in his window, by God! Customers are getting confused. Your business begins to drop off and you suspect the other widget guy is getting the customers who were looking for you.

Is this nightmare scenario possible?

Sadly, yes-but only if you don't know how to protect your corporate name properly.

The first thing a new business owner must do is register the name of the new corporation. The procedure for registration varies by state, but generally involves some very simple paperwork to be submitted to the state's Secretary of State's office, along with a small fee. The Secretary of State's office will not register two businesses with the same name, so this procedure will prevent later businesses from incorporating in the same state under your corporate name. Registration with the Secretary of State's office will also legitimize the corporate identity of your business as a legal entity separate from its founders, and will provide evidence to demonstrate that the name is being used in commerce when you next register the name as a trademark. Be aware, however, that a business can incorporate in any of the fifty states, so registering your business in your own state provides only partial protection of your corporate name. To provide greater protection, it is necessary to register the name as a trademark or service mark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Registering your new business name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will provide nationwide notice of your claim to the name as a trademark, and invokes the jurisdiction of the federal courts in protecting the name. To register a new business name as a trademark, an application may be obtained online at the U.S. Patent and Trademark website, www.uspto.gov. This application may either be filed online or mailed into the Patent and Trademark Office. Be aware that the processing of your application may take more than a year, so this application should be filed as soon as possible to begin the process. Status of your application may be checked online.

You do not need to wait until your trademark is nationally registered to begin protecting your right to it, however. When using your business name on marketing materials or other written matter, you can demonstrate your claim to the name as a trademark by adding a small "TM" at the end of the word. This provides notice to those who see the written materials that you consider the name to be proprietary and should not be "borrowed" by others. After you receive national registration of the business name as a trademark, however, it will receive the greatest possible protection and you may demonstrate this by including an R in a circle, "®," at the end of your business name.

Once you have received trademark registration, you must file periodic Affidavits of Use with the Patent and Trademark Office to prove that the name remains in use. If you cease use of the mark for a period of years, you will lose ownership of the name as a trademark and others may be able to use it.

Next comes the business of "policing" your trademark. This involves online research and investigation within your own industry to determine whether your trademarked business name is being used by others in the same or similar business that might cause customer confusion as to your business identity. In that event, a judicious letter often dissuades the newcomer from using the business name. If a letter is ineffective, the matter may be resolved through litigation.

The founding of a new business is a busy time, but it is necessary to begin as quickly as possible to protect the new business name against infringement. In this way, it is possible to prevent customer confusion and retain all of the customer good will that they have come to associate with your company's name.

 

Author Bio
Jonathan Brown recommends limited liability company for more information about protecting your corporate name.

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Tips To Help You Become A Better Online Business Person

 

Tips To Help You Become A Better Online Business Person
By Kurt A Tasche

Starting and maintaining a home business enterprise is a bold move. Home businesses can be immensely successful if you know how to maintain your businesses affairs in the right way. This article will cover some of the essentials you need to consider, to ensure the growth, success and profitability of your online business.

If you have a home based business, don't miss out on the home office tax credit. You can claim this space even if you don't devote an entire room to your business. If you have an area which is only or primarily used for business purposes, you can claim it based on square footage, and calculate the portion of your home that is taken up by your office space.

Once you've decided on a product to sell, do your homework and check out your competition. Look at their prices and study the quality of the goods that they are selling. Make sure not to price yourself out of the market, and figure out how to deliver the best value to your customers.

Set up a Post Office box for all your business mail. It's best to do this, rather than put your family at risk by using your physical address. This is especially important if you are doing most of your business online. Don't ever post your home address online, for any reason.

To reduce distractions keep your office off limits to children. Have set work hours that enable you to run your business and still have time for your family. Older children should understand not to disturb you while you are working. For your business to succeed your family needs to be supportive and respectful of your work schedule.

Take all of the home-business tax deductions that are legally allowed. For example, you can deduct the cost of a second telephone line or a mobile phone if you use it exclusively for your business, but be sure to keep sufficient records to prove your deductions. Taking all permissible write-offs helps you keep more of what you earn.

Although you may be used to working eight hours a day and then being off, you have to realize that in order for a home business to thrive more of a time commitment may be needed. Once everything is in place you will be able to relax a little.

Maintain a professional attitude as you begin your home based business. Keep your personal life and your professional life separate. Just because you are working from home, does not mean that you should engage in any family responsibilities during the time that you are supposed to be working. You will not be successful if you do not put the time into running your business efficiently.

Don't walk into a home business enterprise blind! There are many online discussion forums designed for small business owners to discuss the unique obstacles in this field. Look locally for other small business and home business organizations that meet in person. Either way you go, networking with other business owners gives you an excellent support system.

Having a business license for your home business often allows you to purchase things wholesale. This is excellent news for people who make their product, since you can search on product search engines for bulk orders of raw materials. This minimizes trips to the store, and frees up your wallet for other expenditures.

In the end, for most, having a online business allows for a level of control and creativity that the mainstream approach lacks. However, after reading this article, you may realize that you cannot necessarily go about maintaining a successful home business in the same way that you would maintain a traditional business. By utilizing these tips and advice, you will set your business up for a lucrative and stable future.

Kurt Tasche is an internet entrepreneur and home business professional who enjoys sharing his ideas through his Home Business Ideas and Opportunities blog. You can read and subscribe to his blog by going to www.kurttasche.ws

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Website Value Appraisal: How to Evaluate Your Website's Value

 

Website Value Appraisal: How to Evaluate Your Website's Value
By Bob Tom

Although there are many tools for calculating a website's worth online, they may not always be accurate. It is for this reason that you ought to understand how to evaluate the value of your website. For example, some of these websites use only income gained from Google AdSense. This is wrong because numerous websites have many other income streams other than Google AdSense. Secondly, income from Google AdSense cannot be considered the standard of measuring ad income since it's actually very low.

Another factor that has been wrongly used to measure the value of a website is Alexa ranking. Although this is a widely used measure, it is mainly based on the amount of traffic to a given website. To be considered, users must have an Alexa toolbar installed. This eliminates the count of many other visitors to a given site. Secondly, a high number of visitors to any given site does not necessarily equate to a high income. Income is mainly based on the business model that any site employs.

Accurate Methods of Determining a Website's Value

Although these methods may appear tedious, they are the best approach in determining how much a website is worth. Another factor to bear in mind is that only a website's owner can accurately calculate its worth. This is because only he or she has custody of the website's data.

1. Amount of Revenue Generated

There are numerous ways to monetize a website. The most common include:

  • Offering ad space - examples include AdSense, Infolinks, and affiliates.
  • Product sales - examples include eBooks, brand caps, and T-shirts.
  • Subscription based payments - examples include online courses and membership based resources.

A website that has these, or any other way of generating income can be valued based on the amount of money it generates daily, monthly, or yearly.

2. The Age of a Website

This offers additional value to a website because search engines, especially Google place more value on it. This is based on a number of parameters including:

  • Brand recognition - the older a site is, the higher the possibility that it has grown into a known brand.
  • Number of backlinks - older websites have more backlinks that newer ones meaning higher traffic.
  • Trust - People will definitely place more trust in an older website than one that has just been created.

Although there may not be a definite monetary value, age places an older website at a higher value.

3. Domain Name

The factor you should consider here is the market potential of the domain name. A domain name can determine a brand's competitiveness, marketability, and SEO. An easily recognizable domain name is easy to find and remember. This automatically translates to higher traffic and therefore higher potential income.

4. SEO Analysis

Websites vary greatly in terms of the way SEO has been applied. A site that has high quality SEO is definitely more visible than one that doesn't. As such, it will be of higher value.

5. Web Content

There are websites that automatically attract numerous visitors, including unique pageviews due to the quality and the value of their content. One such example is a news site that is well written and has new content every day. Others are educational sites. Such sites will bear higher values owing to the value of their content. This is also an indicator of the amount of work that has been put into building the site.

6. A Website's Assets

These are all the additional features that a website has in addition to the basic structure. These can include:

  • An advanced theme
  • An email list
  • Professional type plugins
  • A premium domain name

7. Traffic

A website that attracts a high amount of traffic has a higher potential of business than one that doesn't. The higher the traffic, the higher the market value.

Top 5 Free Website Worth Calculators

The tools listed below are some of the best free tools for checking a website's worth, based on the parameters they use.

1. Website Value

Website Value is free website value calculator that helps rank and estimate the value of your website using Alexa and Google rankings. Plus, it is able to estimate how much daily ad revenue your website brings in.

2. Website Outlook

This site evaluates the worth of a website based on Alexa Ranking, Dmoz listing, revenue from ads, daily page views, and so on. It is popular because it also offers suggestions on how to further improve the value of your site.

3. Your Website Value

The Your Website Value team brings 18 years of experience to help you appraise the worth of your website. It shows your web traffic graphically and also gives you a score based on how fast your page loads so you can troubleshoot potential drops in user traffic based on speed performance.

4. Website Value Calculator

Values not only scores your website but also gives you the name and value of the top websites online so you'd have an idea of how your site compares to more famous names like Google or Twitter.

5. Site Price

This is a free tool that uses an assortment of factors to calculate the worth of a given website. Its key pricing parameters include:

  • Number of daily visitors
  • Backlinks available
  • Visibility within search engines

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