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C 2016 Dennis Zink All rights reserved This copyrighted material may not be re published without permission from Dennis Zink centreofinfluence gmail com The Business SCORE Card column appears in the Business Weekly Monday section of the Sarasota Herald Tribune Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition Links are encouraged Table of Contents Click on a chapter title to go directly to a chapter then click on the right margin to return to the top of the Table of Contents Business SCORE Card By Dennis Zink eBook 2015 2017 Herald Tribune Media Group Chapter 1 Meet Dennis Zink the New Jerry Chapter 2 Jerry Chautin passes small business baton
      C  2016 Dennis Zink. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission from ...
Chapter 3 CEO without a board Consider a roundtable Chapter 4 Tips and lots of them for small businesses Chapter 5 Success means being a good plate spinner Chapter 6 You should have to do and to don t lists Chapter 7 Your business will die When is the big issue Chapter 8 Mastering networking and the hand off Chapter 9 Why business plans come in two flavors Chapter 10 A winning mindset for athletes and you Chapter 11 On minimum wages and maximum results Chapter 12 Hell is being a slave to a losing business Chapter 13 Control your days Know urgent vs important Chapter 14 Make your meetings amount to something Chapter 15 Creating quality is hard but worth it Chapter 16 Intellectual property and the small business Chapter 17 So you think you want a partner Ask this first Chapter 18 When should you scale your company Chapter 19 Sizing up competition and share of market Chapter 20 A few ways to find out what you don t know Chapter 21 Finding manager yang for your start up yin Chapter 22 Six strategies to use to exit your business
Chapter 3 - CEO without a board  Consider a roundtable Chapter 4 - Tips, and lots of them, for small businesses Chapter 5 ...
Chapter 23 Selling the company for maximum value Chapter 24 How to know what to charge for a bologna sandwich Chapter 25 Business negotiations goal should be win win Chapter 26 My tips for networking with LinkedIn service Chapter 27 Cash flow and ways to avoid selling your car Chapter 28 Why Don t reinvent the wheel is bad advice Chapter 29 Figuring out when it s time to fire customers Chapter 30 Small business owners must know branding Chapter 31 With eyes on your future start by writing your obituary Chapter 32 Culture it s not in ledger but it affects the bottom line Chapter 33 Achieving world class customer service Chapter 34 It s time to give your business a tune up Chapter 35 Why can t employees think more like a boss Chapter 36 Lights camera action Promote your business Chapter 37 Know your destination and people will follow Chapter 38 How to work with an accountant Part One Chapter 39 How your accountant can help you succeed Chapter 40 Reverse engineering your marketing plan Chapter 41 Monitor warning signs and be ready to act fast
Chapter 23 - Selling the company for maximum value Chapter 24 - How to know what to charge for a bologna sandwich Chapter ...
Chapter 42 To succeed you must see your way to goals Chapter 43 Hiring choices can determine your fate Chapter 44 So you say you have an idea for a business Chapter 45 What to do when it s time to be productive Chapter 46 Ins and outs of leasing your commercial space Chapter 47 Why when and how to take the big risks Chapter 48 Florida needs strategy to encourage exports Chapter 49 What board members do for their companies Chapter 50 Making search engines find your business website is spelled SEO Chapter 51 When and how to say You re fired Chapter 52 Business success is a question of balance Chapter 53 In this game of cards no shortage of aces Chapter 54 Shark Tank lessons for all you minnows Chapter 55 Cost versus control and how to outsource Chapter 56 Why content is king of website marketing Chapter 57 Dealing with 5 working generations at one time Chapter 58 Generational differences in the workplace Part 2 Chapter 59 How can I know if my website is doing its job Chapter 60 There s help to reach a world of customers
Chapter 42 - To succeed, you must see your way to goals Chapter 43 - Hiring choices can determine your fate Chapter 44 - S...
Chapter 61 Business pilots know a checklist can prevent a crash Chapter 62 There s planning and then there s strategic planning Chapter 63 Decisions making and influencing them Chapter 64 Public speaking tips Transform your fear into energy Chapter 65 As many solutions as there are conflicts Chapter 66 Employee engagement and reducing turnover Chapter 67 Be a master of your business numbers Chapter 68 What to know about OSHA and safety at your business Chapter 69 Is your timing right Tips from SCORE mentors Chapter 70 What is a non profit and do you want one Chapter 71 How to succeed at leading change to a small business Chapter 72 Project management On time below budget Chapter 73 Partnerships are not just for business partners Chapter 74 The latest in small office equipment latest upgrades Chapter 75 Business owners tax saving strategies Chapter 76 In crisis how do you handle media Chapter 77 Zink Getting access to money for your great idea Chapter 78 When business and home mix Chapter 79 Networking tips for conventions Chapter 80 Wellness programs good for everyone
Chapter 61     Business pilots know a checklist can prevent a crash Chapter 62     There s planning, and then there s stra...
Chapter 81 Show your best at trade shows Chapter 82 You can take your Elevator Speech to the top floor Chapter 83 Limiting consequences the unintended kind Chapter 84 Millennials and their growing influence Chapter 85 Zink reveals secrets of his good PR Chapter 86 Fido and the American Disabilities Act Chapter 87 Market research done with polling Chapter 88 How to handle business overload Chapter 89 Communicating well in workplaces Part 1 Chapter 90 Communicating effectively in the workplace Part 2 Chapter 91 Should you pay yourself first Chapter 92 The mistakes small business owners make Chapter 93 60 profitability tips for small businesses Chapter 94 Is an LLC right for my business Chapter 95 Let s talk about how to innovate Chapter 96 How to use your 24 7 best Chapter 97 The death of brick and mortar Chapter 98 Is filing a patent worthwhile Chapter 99 Are you pricing your products for profit Chapter 100 5 dirty little secrets of Obamacare
Chapter 81     Show your best at trade shows Chapter 82     You can take your    Elevator Speech    to the top floor Chapt...
Chapter 101 Your most pressing business concern Chapter 102 Where will your growth come from Chapter 103 16 unique employee benefits Chapter 104 A one page business plan for your company Chapter 105 The new New Economy and what it means Chapter 106 It takes all types to operate a company Chapter 107 Borrowing lessons from branding giants Chapter 108 Why employees quit Chapter 109 Entrepreneurs older more diverse less female Chapter 110 How to value a new business Chapter 111 The four way test and Rotary International Chapter 112 Connecting dots to improve products and services Chapter 113 Password managers can make life easier Chapter 114 An education in lean startup Chapter 115 Toyland for entrepreneurs Chapter 116 Information overload and Rolling Wave Planning Chapter 117 Eight sales strategies for success Chapter 118 A product is not a business Chapter 119 Rethink Red Tape a reform movement Chapter 120 Is it better to be 1st or 2nd to market
Chapter 101     Your most pressing business concern Chapter 102     Where will your growth come from  Chapter 103     16 u...
Chapter 121 Let s chat about exit strategies for your business Chapter 122 Is it possible to bring the jobs back Chapter 123 Don t let fear make you fail for not trying Chapter 124 Market momentum Has it got you down Chapter 125 What to centralize and decentralize when scaling Chapter 126 Cash is king keep it flowing Chapter 127 Transferring business risks with insurance Chapter 128 What beats innovation Execution Chapter 129 31 business mistakes and their remedies Chapter 130 Winning the great game of business Chapter 131 Business insurance you need to understand Chapter 132 The business of buying and selling businesses Chapter 133 County contracts worth half a billion Chapter 134 The beauty of revenue streams that keep flowing Chapter 135 Problems and the ostrich syndrome Chapter 136 What to do when profit margins decay Chapter 137 Good money what does that mean to you Chapter 138 In marketing know your target Chapter 139 The I word and cash flow Chapter 140 Social media panel tips trends impact
Chapter 121     Let s chat about exit strategies for your business Chapter 122     Is it possible to bring the jobs back  ...
Chapter 141 Insulate business avoid risk exposure Chapter 142 Making Facebook engaging is key Chapter 143 Dipping a toe into the Shark Tank Chapter 144 Success formulas for your business Chapter 145 Use small business credit to fuel your growth Chapter 146 Being a leader requires good EQ Chapter 147 Knowing customers needs even if they don t Chapter 148 Where is business in its life cycle Chapter 149 Ten resolutions for your business Chapter 150 Sickly competitive That s what it takes Chapter 151 Are you prepared to negotiate a deal Chapter 152 Pruning your hedges and business expenses Chapter 153 Ten things that require zero talent Chapter 154 Reputation Management and how to clean up online dirt Chapter 155 What s a value proposition Is yours good enough Chapter 156 The Business Canvas Model and customer relationships Chapter 157 Employee engagement crisis calls for leadership changes Chapter 158 Some top apps for your business Chapter 159 How your small company can compete with big ones Chapter 160 China will help US companies sell there
Chapter 141     Insulate business, avoid risk exposure Chapter 142     Making Facebook engaging is key Chapter 143     Dip...
Chapter 161 Do you have what it takes to be a successful leader Chapter 162 The secrets to using LinkedIn successfully KDSWHU WUHQGV WKDW PD GLVUXSW EXVLQHVVHV KDSWHU RQ W OHW SXW WKH KHDW RQ RX KDSWHU 0D LPL LQJ RXU 52 RQ DFHERRN DGYHUWLVLQJ KDSWHU KDW GR HQWUHSUHQHXULDO OHDGHUV H FHO DW GRLQJ KDSWHU 6PDOO EXVLQHVV RZQHUV EHFRPH PRUH RSWLPLVWLF KDSWHU 7KH LQV DQG RXWV RI LQGHSHQGHQW FRQWUDFWRUV
Chapter 161     Do you have what it takes to be a successful leader  Chapter 162     The secrets to using LinkedIn success...
Chapter 1 Meet Dennis Zink the New Jerry Staff Report Published Monday March 10 2014 at 1 00 a m When Jerry Chautin told us he would be spending less time in Sarasota and would have to stop writing his weekly small business column after 10 years we turned to SCORE the volunteer mentoring organization he belongs to Susan Hicks of PRecise Communications who works with SCORE said she had just the person for the job CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Dennis Zink introduces himself in today s column but here s some additional information about him Originally from Flushing N Y he moved to Tampa in 1980 then to Bradenton last June He lives in University Place in southern Manatee County He s a product of Long Island and Fordham universities who describes himself in LinkedIn as a change agent and business alchemist among other things We describe him as a go getter and a font of information he is happy to share both as a mentor and a Business Weekly columnist He has a list of subjects he will address but welcomes suggestions and comments CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Meet Dennis Zink, the  New Jerry  Staff Report Published  Monday, March 10, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  When Jerry Chauti...
Chapter 2 Jerry Chautin passes small business baton CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Dennis Zink SCORE mentor and Chapter Chair and Herald Tribune small business columnist Herald Tribune staff photo Published Monday March 10 2014 at 1 00 a m Ten years of writing a newspaper column is a long stretch and Jerry Chautin did an outstanding job with his Let s Talk Business column in Business Weekly On Nov 12 2012 I was reading Jerry s column and noticed he was a SCORE mentor in Atlanta and Sarasota I emailed Jerry to let him know I enjoyed his column and was new to the Sarasota area We exchanged several emails and Jerry suggested I become involved with Manasota SCORE He knew it would be a good way for me to meet people and get involved in the business community Jerry directed me to the local membership mentor and the group s chair I attended the next monthly meeting introduced myself gave my 30 second OK maybe a little longer elevator speech and chatted with many of the chapter s mentors Weeks later I decided to join the local SCORE chapter that is if they thought I d be a good fit CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 2 Jerry Chautin passes small-business baton  CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents  Dennis Zink, SCORE mentor ...
I met with Charlie Sax and Dick Radt the group s intellectual security gatekeepers I call them the twin SCORE keepers sort of lions at the gate They interviewed me offering me 1 if I knew where the term mentor originated I did not so they proceeded to tell me about Greek mythology and the derivation of the word which means someone who imparts wisdom to and shares knowledge with a less experienced colleague I filled out the required forms read the online training was assigned a sponsor and became a SCORE certified mentor To complete my training I had to undergo more than a dozen hours of classes I first attended the Simple Steps workshop series a set of five three hour sessions recommended for start up business clients Another requirement was to co counsel clients with three certified mentors to see what they do and how they do it This was right up my alley with my background in varied industries CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Toward the end of this process I finally met Jerry Chautin He and I immediately hit it off We were both from The Bronx New York and we shared commercial real estate backgrounds Fast forward one year My name was suggested for vice chair of the SCORE chapter Though my initial reaction was not interested I eventually agreed Shortly after I made that decision the chair elect resigned and I was asked to move up to assume the role of chair elect and take over as chair a year earlier than planned My goal was and is to improve and modernize the chapter I began a podcast series called Been There Done That with Dennis Zink interviewing mentors and business leaders on business topics in a series of audio recordings that are available on iTunes and Stitcher In November 2013 we began a MeetUp group see MeetUp com called Success Strategies For Business Owners which meets monthly at the Manatee Chamber of Commerce in Lakewood Ranch These MeetUps are free educational workshops geared toward existing companies They are open to anyone interested Working with Neil Spirtas vice president of public policy and small business at the Manatee Chamber I helped develop a CEO Roundtable for chamber members I am a facilitator for one of the two groups which meet monthly and function as an informal board of directors for participating CEOs Three weeks ago Jerry Chautin told the SCORE executive committee about his decision to spend less time in Sarasota With the Herald Tribune s blessing I was asked and agreed to write the weekly small business column Jerry passed the baton to me Jerry we surely will miss ya My goal in writing this column is to educate entertain and help people improve their businesses CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
I met with Charlie Sax and Dick Radt, the group s intellectual security gatekeepers. I call them the twin SCORE keepers --...
I hope you benefit from and enjoy what I have to say I look forward to your feedback questions and suggestions Next week CEO Roundtables CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
I hope you benefit from and enjoy what I have to say. I look forward to your feedback, questions and suggestions. Next wee...
Chapter 3 CEO without a board Consider a roundtable Published Monday March 17 2014 at 1 00 a m Twenty six years ago I entered a conference room with a dozen CEOs for the formative meeting of what was to become our CEO peer group roundtable This was a new group of TEC The Executive Committee This group had nothing to do with high tech It was a franchise based in California with a franchisee in Jacksonville for the state of Florida CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Our group met 9 a m to 4 p m monthly rotating venues among the participants businesses In the first year each meeting began with the host conducting a walk through tour of their business operations A Q A followed This was a great way to learn about the other members and their businesses A guest speaker presented in the morning the host provided lunch and the afternoon was about issues and opportunities from the members An agenda kept the meetings orderly and on track A full time chairman led the group Paid from the members dues the chairman provided facilitation of the meeting arranged for speakers and scheduled follow up appointments for oneon one sessions with members In these follow up sessions goals issues and opportunities were discussed Of utmost importance the chairman held the CEOs accountable for verbal commitments made With little turnover our group bonded over time as the desire to be there for each other grew The group functioned as an informal board of directors for each other Dues were about 1 000 per month back in 1987 and virtually every member would say it was the best money they ever spent I was in this group for seven years and I remain in touch with many of my former TEC members The Vistage franchise TEC established in 1952 is the oldest CEO peer group in the world and today boasts 15 000 members internationally Art McNeil a 10 year Vistage chairman leads the local chapter Monthly dues are about 800 per month and membership is by invitation Another local group is the Gulfcoast CEO Forum composed of CEOs from entities with a minimum of 10 employees and annual revenue exceeding 1 5 million Annual dues are 1 750 CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 3 CEO without a board  Consider a roundtable Published  Monday, March 17, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  Twenty-six years ago,...
Why belong to a CEO group Because it s lonely at the top Most CEOs from small to mid size companies do not have a formal board and they may have no one to run things by Over time many of the participants tend to become good friends as they openly share the good the bad and the sometimes ugly aspects of running their businesses Confidentiality is strictly enforced but this was never an issue with my group Fast forward to today Last April I was asked to help the Manatee Chamber of Commerce develop a CEO roundtable program This had been the No 1 to do item coming out of the chamber s retreat Ron Forney Doug Van Dyke Richard Randolph and I met with the chamber s Neil Spirtas to discuss and develop CEO roundtable formats CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Florida s chief financial officer Jeff Atwater announced the launch of two Manatee Chamber CEO Roundtable groups in May 2013 The groups meet monthly for two hours and we now have two openings in each group To be considered members must be profitable have at least one other employee and be open to learning and sharing with the group Signed confidentiality agreements are required The fee is 350 per year for chamber members What does a CEO roundtable do These groups help CEOs improve business performance by sharing their knowledge and experience with their peers as most business issues are similar even among different industries This facilitates open timely discussion of issues or opportunities affecting the participants businesses In addition relevant education on topics of interest suggested by the group is presented by top notch experts What do participants say about these programs The CEO roundtable forum allows a wonderful opportunity to gather and share business experiences and challenges with some of our community s most influential leaders said Angela Massaro Fain president of Grapevine Communications The CEO roundtable meetings have been both thought provoking and useful Truly beneficial time spent and I am having fun said Trudy Moon president of Air Energy well organized and has focused on using our time productively and providing us with useful content said Bob Rosinsky president and CEO Goodwill Industries of Manasota for executives and organizations interested in optimizing both their short and long term results said Johnette Isham executive director of Realize Bradenton Inc CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Why belong to a CEO group  Because it s lonely at the top. Most CEOs from small to mid-size companies do not have a formal...
According to Spirtas vice president of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce The goal is to connect local leaders in a manner that will encourage them to share ideas and access tools that accelerate their professional development and help their business soar Our tables are generally not round but our participants are well rounded CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
According to Spirtas, vice president of the Manatee Chamber of Commerce,  The goal is to connect local leaders in a manner...
Chapter 4 Tips and lots of them for small businesses Published Monday March 24 2014 at 1 00 a m I am often asked about how to run a successful small business What are the keys that will ensure success There is no magic formula but over the years I have put together a list of tips and today I would like to share 23 of these with you While most of these tips are original constructs others have been adapted modified altered or garnered from fellow business executives employees friends seminars and books They are numbered for your convenience CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents 1 Cash is king thou shall not run out of cash Cash is the lifeblood of every business When you run out your business is dead 2 Don t reinvent the wheel just change the spokes This is my best adaptation of any tip Just a small change to a proven strategy may make all the difference in the world 3 Just Say No Nancy Reagan said this referring to drugs In business there are so many decisions to be made and many are bad ones This is especially true for start ups with limited dollars and limited time You cannot afford to make big and usually expensive mistakes Learn to Just say no 4 Prioritize by doing first things first and second things never Always do the most important thing for your business first and when that s done the second one will become the first 5 Count everything that s countable and then determine the most important metrics for your business AKA key performance indicators or KPI Every business should develop its most important numbers Measure them consistently 6 Don t dig a deep hole Do what you can yourself Keep your business lean and mean 7 Hire only when you must Wait until you need 1 1 2 persons to do a job before you hire to fill that job 8 Hire slow fire fast Admit the mistake face up to it and terminate immediately it will be better for all concerned Most people do the opposite of this they hire fast and fire slow 9 Don t fall in love with your business You can be passionate about what you are doing and that s great But it s still a business Save your love for family and friends CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 4 Tips, and lots of them, for small businesses Published  Monday, March 24, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  I am often asked ab...
10 Do the research yourself because you must internalize it Don t hire someone else to do your key research You need to do it yourself so you can understand all aspects better Create your own business plan too 11 Inspect what you expect from others If you ask someone to do something make sure they do what you wanted and that it is done properly 12 The boss should be the top sales person Stay in touch with your clients Go on sales calls stay tuned into the market 13 About right now is better than exactly wrong later Act now Don t procrastinate because you re waiting for information 14 Hire smart rather than manage tough You can t change people and shouldn t try Hire for attitude and train for skills CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents 15 Do the right things rather than do things right Be effective first efficient second and solve the right problems 16 Pull the plug if you know it s not working Many lose their life s savings because they are stubborn Be honest with yourself Take the loss and move on The sooner the better 17 To solve a problem you have to be aware of the problem Learn how to know what you don t know Easier done than said and this how to will appear in a future column 18 Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care about them Take the time to learn what your customers and employees really want 19 Create written goals The what must have a when Write specific achievable worthy goals the what with realistic dates for accomplishment the when 20 Think both outside the box and inside the box Use divergent thinking to explore possibilities and convergent thinking to drill down 21 Try to improve just a little maybe just one thing every day Over time the result will be enormous 22 Bet on the person with past successes in the industry People who have been successful will tend to be successful again and again 23 Network constantly Be particular where you go and network with a purpose You don t need to meet everyone Before you go to a networking event try to learn who will be there and decide whom you would like to meet Think quality over quantity If you like these please let me know and I ll give you more tips in a future column CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
10. Do the research yourself, because you must internalize it. Don t hire someone else to do your key research. You need t...
Chapter 5 Success means being a good plate spinner Published Monday March 31 2014 at 1 00 a m WHEN I WAS A CHILD my family regularly watched the Ed Sullivan show In addition to having guests such as the Beatles the Byrds Buddy Holly and Bo Didley Sullivan had other noteworthy acts such as puppet Topo Gigio and Eric Grant Eric Grant was a plate spinner It amazed me how he could spin one plate then two then three and before long he could spin five plates on top of 4 foot long sticks and eight more on a table below while performing other feats CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents The plates continuously faltered and Grant would spin them back up one by one until all were revolving nicely again He ran to the right and then the left side of the table As the last plate was topped up with his index finger he had to run back and re spin the first plate then the second you get the picture What does this all mean for a small business Well running a small business perhaps as a sole proprietor is the same as this plate spinning scenario Until of course you realize there are only so many plates you can spin before you have to hire someone else to spin a plate or two for you Just substitute the words plate spinning with business tasks functions Nothing happens until someone sells something I am sure you ve heard this one before There is nothing to do other than sell something or prepare to sell something the start up phase Okay you sold something Now what You might need to acquire or manufacture a product then deliver distribute or provide a product or service to a customer You might need to provide follow up customer service You will need to bill or collect money for whatever you just sold The more you sell the more time you need to perform these other functions of your business and the less time you have to sell because you are busy doing these other things Catch 22 Back to the plate spinning You need to show the new employee how you want plates spun how many to spin and how fast Then you must let go and delegate it to your new hire You will need to inspect for what you expect but you must delegate the task or function nevertheless Your employee probably will spin the plates differently but that is OK You have to decide how good they have to be considering that they are not you will never be you and they will do it a little differently CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 5 Success means being a good plate spinner Published  Monday, March 31, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  WHEN I WAS A CHILD, my ...
My contention is that if you are the owner CEO or top person in your company you should work your way out of every task job that you are able to delegate Your goal should be to get an acceptable replacement who will get the task done even if it will be different than the way you would get er done Hire those plate spinners Pay market rates to ensure that you will have adequate talent for the tasks at hand Do only those jobs that you must do because they are too important to delegate at that time As you grow you should be working more on your business than in your business One caveat however If you really enjoy doing something and it is part of your raison d etre reason for being then just do it This plate spinning strategy if done properly should result in putting you fully in charge of your business and give you the time to work on your business and the time to do what you want to do outside the business CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Happy plate spinning CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
My contention is that if you are the owner, CEO, or top person in your company, you should work your way out of every task...
Chapter 6 You should have to do and to don t lists Published Monday April 7 2014 at 1 00 a m How can you possibly remember everything that you need to do on a monthly weekly or more frequent basis That s why the To Do list was invented You may also have a Honey Do list the list your spouse gives you to change light bulbs mow the lawn and do other chores that are generally not much fun but are necessary and keep the peace As a successful business person you probably already have a To Do list for your small business Maybe you have several lists You may find yourself copying old items onto new lists Sure you do CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Often these lists reside on a pad with lots of lines and cross outs perhaps on a spreadsheet Or maybe your smart phone or tablet holds this valuable information and keys to your sanity Hopefully each item s due date is included on your list This list seems never to stop growing or to end Undoubtedly the list helps you run your life and your business in an organized way But have you ever thought of creating a To Don t List That s right a To Don t list a list that has all of those things you shouldn t do This type of list will not go over great with your spouse trust me on this Honey I can t pick up Johnny from soccer today or I can t mow the lawn it s on my To Don t list Not a good idea However a To Don t List for your business could work wonders for you Here s how As the top dog in your business what should you be doing and what shouldn t you be doing Have you thought about this Recently on a beautiful Sunday I was having breakfast at John Dough s great name for a bakery restaurant in the University Park area A woman was outside spraying down the tables and cleaning them I asked her if she was the owner She answered affirmatively She told me her name was Jan and that she also owns Kilwins on St Armands Circle I asked her why as the owner was she cleaning tables She told me she d rather do that than stand behind the cash register This way she could talk to customers like me At first I thought Hmmm market research Sure why not As the owner of your business where should you spend your time and effort Conversely what shouldn t you do and where shouldn t you spend your time and effort CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 6 You should have to do     and to don t     lists Published  Monday, April 7, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  How can you poss...
Most of the things on your To Do list are probably things you should not be doing Just because you can doesn t mean you should My answer is simple You should spend your time doing whatever advances your business Do those things that only you can should and must do as the top dog those things that need to be done that no one else can do for you because you have not hired someone to do these things You are in a sense stuck doing these To Do s and hopefully you re good at doing these tasks efficiently Second do those things that you love to do that may represent the reason you got into this business If you really enjoy it to quote Nike Just do it Everything else should be on your To Don t list I repeat Everything CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents If you have the staff delegate delegate delegate these items If it is something that someone else can do have them do it Now we get to you working on your business compared to working in your business You only have so much time so make it as effective and pleasurable as possible There are times however that as an owner it helps to slip into a role that someone else now handles to keep in touch with operations and get a broader view of the business Like Jan wiping the tables I sometimes opened the mail to see for myself everything that was coming in to my business To recap Your To Do List has items you like to and should do as the owner Your To Don t List has everything else things you will now delegate to others or outsource where possible This should help eliminate some anxiety and create more time for you to focus on your To do list Overall this will be more profitable for your business and more enjoyable for you Who knows you may even have more time for changing those light bulbs CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Most of the things on your To Do list are probably things you should not be doing. Just because you can, doesn t mean you ...
Chapter 7 Your business will die When is the big issue Published Monday April 14 2014 at 1 00 a m When new retail developments crop up I often drive around parking lots trying to guess which yet to be opened establishments will not be there in a year How can a store that sells 4 cupcakes for example sell enough units to pay the rent What about other expenses such as electricity product costs equipment maintenance payroll and perhaps franchise fees How many cupcakes will this business have to sell in a month given that the cupcakes are the absolute best ever look terrific and taste great CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Have they thought all of this through Do they have a business plan driven by real world assumptions What if their assumptions are wrong How much money are they prepared to lose Will they know when to pull the plug or will they hang in there hoping things will improve for unknown reasons Watching the ever popular Shark Tank on ABC Shark Kevin O Leary aka Mr Wonderful often suggests that he will get his money back by receiving a payout per unit sold in perpetuity This is often in lieu of taking equity in the form of stock How long is perpetuity and what are Kevin s expectations When a prospective business owner considers the various ways to structure their business such as C corp S corp LLC etc inevitably he learns that beyond the sole proprietorship various types of company formation have perpetual existence that is survival as its own entity beyond the life of the founder I hate to break this perpetuity business bubble but generally speaking most businesses will fail become obsolete be mismanaged or just plain go out of business for myriad reasons In a relatively short time their business will die Even gigantic companies with household names sometimes cease to exist Lehman Brothers Washington Mutual WorldCom and Enron are just a few examples What about franchises There are good and bad franchises Some of the worst according to SBA failure rates are Wings N Things 94 12 percent Noble Roman Pizza 86 36 percent and Blockbuster Video 78 57 percent Some of the best have a 0 percent SBA failure rate including Wendy s Merry Maids Harley Davidson Five Guys and State Farm Insurance What does this mean for your business If you haven t yet begun one choose your niche with care What type of business will you decide to operate in what location and with how many CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 7 Your business will die.  When  is the big issue. Published  Monday, April 14, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  When new retail...
employees You ll want to keep your break even number as low as possible and make your mistakes as inexpensively as you can With limited funds you can t afford to make costly mistakes If you re already in a business what is the stage of your business life cycle When might your business become obsolete be out competed or run out of money Maybe pivoting or reinventing your business to stay viable as an entity is the right call How will you know I encourage you to assess where your business stands Ichak Adizes founder of the Adizes Institute consultancy created a simple 10 stage corporate lifecycle model This model shows how a business proceeds from one stage through the next from inception to cessation It provides a fundamental basis for understanding organizational change The model can help in understanding principles such as reinvention domination and acquisition CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Adizes Corporate Lifecycles How Organizations Grow and Die and What to Do About It 1988 is regarded as a classic in management theory According to Adizes there are 10 stages in the corporate lifecycle 1 Courtship 2 Infancy 3 Go go 4 Adolescence 5 Prime 6 Stability 7 Aristocracy 8 Recrimination 9 Bureaucracy and 10 Death You can read more about what these terms mean at businessballs com adizeslifecycle At www adizes com in 10 minutes you could learn where your company is in its lifecycle and learn more about what you can do at this stage to improve its longevity Although the Adizes Institute says the model may not apply to all business types In addition to the business lifecycle stages Adizes offers 11 methodologies to help make businesses survive grow change and be successful These include 1 Organizational diagnosis 2 Team building 3 Change management 4 Vision mission values 5 Structural alignment 6 Management information systems 7 Technology transfer 8 Peak performance stretching 9 Strategic resource allocation 10 Systemic cybernetic structure and 11 Synergistic rewards systems How can you master change The first step Know where your company is in its business lifecycle The second step Know how to get to prime the top of your game and stay there as long as possible Although this is obviously beyond the scope of this column I want to point you in a direction that can help you take the steps necessary to better understand and improve your business Remember If this was a cake walk everyone would do it I think I ll have one of those 4 cupcakes now CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
employees  You ll want to keep your break-even number as low as possible and make your mistakes as inexpensively as you ca...
Chapter 8 Mastering networking and the hand off Published Monday April 21 2014 at 1 00 a m While networking at a MeetUp com group called BarCamp no it is not a drinking group I met Sara Hand co founder of BarCamp and Spark Growth Sara seems to know just about everyone in the area or at least way more people than I know When I asked to interview Sara about networking for my podcast series Been There Done That with Dennis Zink she enthusiastically accepted What follows are excerpts from that interview on a topic that should be of interest to all small businesses CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Q Why should someone network A Networking is about increasing resources about connecting to sources of energy sources of information Q How effective can networking really be A For a lot of people networking is not effective at all My goal is to build relationships with other people who have similarly aligned interests that want to make a difference in their community that want to grow their business I m looking for people that have purpose For me networking has been one of the most important things that I do Q What would you consider networking with a purpose A It s really understanding what your goals are If you know what your unique value proposition is as a business and you know who you best serve then I m looking for prospects I know that everybody is not my prospect and that s OK I m looking for people who could be referral partners or strategic partners I m looking for centers of influence people who understand the value of networking I m looking for several different things When I go to an event if I make three to five really great connections that s it Anything above that is extra I m not trying to meet everybody Q How many people do I need to know as a networker A I guess it really depends on how well you know people and how well you stay connected I think when you go to a networking event if you aimed for any more than three to five you ll simply come away with business cards CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 8 Mastering networking ... and the hand-off Published  Monday, April 21, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  While networking at a ...
If you don t know who the person is and what makes them uniquely valuable and how that s the same or different from you if you don t have a story about who they are then you re wasting your time Q What do you think of a business leads exchange group where they exchange business cards Do you see a value in that A A leads group where people are just handing leads and they re all about the number of leads that they can give and they re not trying to qualify those at all time is short Just because I can doesn t mean I should I m not looking for another hundred leads I m looking for things that are referrals or endorsements I think that s key in networking because we have lots and lots of information but there s a difference between information and insight and how we approach problems and I believe there s a difference between leads and referrals or endorsements in where I m going to spend my time CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Q Where are good places to go to meet people A There s a lot of community initiatives that I think people miss A lot of times people are so focused on their leads groups BNIs chamber events those types of events and they miss the community initiatives like the one that we ve run with BarCamp Sarasota Bradenton SCORE puts on some great events that are not necessarily networking events per se but there s great networking there because depending on what the topic is you have people in a room that have similar interests You want to look for places where the types of people who you want hangout people who have similar interests or people who have the same interest or the same characteristics that your prospect has You may look at groups that are focused more around business Q What do you do in the circumstance where you get in front of somebody and they just are talking your ear off and you just can t get away from them A There s a technical term called a hand off You graciously introduce them to somebody else and if you have to excuse yourself to go to the restroom that s kind of the last resort Q Are there one or two thoughts as a take away A I would say be focused Know what it is that you want to do Know what it is that you want to accomplish and be real Take the time to find out what makes somebody special You don t have to go to coffee with everybody You do have to listen CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
If you don t know who the person is and what makes them uniquely valuable and how that s the same or different from you, i...
Focus on what somebody is saying and not what you re going to say next CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Focus on what somebody is saying and not what you re going to say next.  CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents  CLICK ...
Chapter 9 Why business plans come in two flavors Published Monday April 28 2014 at 1 00 a m Will a business plan ensure the success of my small business If I don t need financing why do I need a business plan Isn t it true that most of these plans reside in a desk drawer or file cabinet never to see the light of day I posed these and other questions to Richard Randolph president of Florida Creativity Centers Home of Practical Creativity in Bradenton Richard is an expert on traditional business plans and the Business Model Canvas CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Business plans have two purposes thus two different versions The traditional lengthy one with all the details is used when you need to present to a potential lender or investor This should include everything including your marketing plans operating plans and financial details The other plan is for internal purposes It is a shorter document to keep you and your team aligned on purpose and priorities Creating a business plan greatly increases your chances of succeeding in your business Doing this homework for your company forces you to think things through For example do your assumptions make sense A comprehensive business plan will help you answer many important questions You ll have to do a lot of research there s no way around that But the more variables you consider the greater your chance for success So why doesn t everyone do this There are several reasons the most obvious is that creating a business plan requires lots of tedious and time consuming work Maybe you don t know where to begin or you just don t understand why a plan is needed in the first place Some people may be lazy or complacent but not you Perhaps you should consider the alternative approach the Business Model Canvas Initially proposed by Alexander Osterwalder in 2008 the BMC is a strategic management template for developing new or documenting existing business models It is a visual chart with CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 9 Why business plans come in two flavors Published  Monday, April 28, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  Will a business plan ensu...
elements describing a firm s value proposition infrastructure customers and finances It assists firms in aligning their activities by illustrating potential trade offs according to its Wikipedia entry According to Randolph a BMC offers several advantages for a new venture It allows you to see the big picture it s like the picture on the outside of the 1 000 piece puzzle It helps you determine how the pieces fit together It allows you to be creative in how you approach the marketplace Do you want to be like everyone else in your industry or is there an innovative opportunity to be different You can test various approaches before you commit your resources It helps you identify your hypotheses those guesses and assumptions you re basing the business on so you can test them quickly and inexpensively You can find out what really works in the marketplace and what you thought might work but doesn t resonate with customers It helps you explore ways you can pivot your business to achieve greater success CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents If a typical business plan is 40 or more pages why is the BMC only one page They are two different approaches Think of BMC as a photograph and a business plan as a written description of the same thing A picture is worth a thousand words What is the structure of this single page plan The BMC s one page diagram has nine cells Customer Segments Value Proposition Channels Relationships and Revenue Model comprise the left side of the canvas the customer facing side of the business while the right side includes Key Resources Key Activities Key Partners and Cost Structure the behind the scenes part of the operation What is pivoting If you ask any successful entrepreneur how their business evolved they will almost always tell you that the business started off in one direction that didn t work out so well but something different often even unexpected did work and that s how they became successful You do what works The switch from what you started doing to doing the new somewhat different thing is called a pivot taken from basketball You keep one foot planted in your vision or core idea about who you are and move the other foot do something different or do something in a different way It s a process of learning and growing and changing to discover and deliver what customers want A quick way to learn about the BMC and how to build your own is to watch a YouTube video entitled Business Model Canvas Explained at http bit ly htbmc If you d like to explore further email me at centreofinfluence gmail com and I will send you more links CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
elements describing a firm s value proposition, infrastructure, customers and finances. It assists firms in aligning their...
Chapter 10 A winning mindset for athletes and you Published Monday May 5 2014 at 1 00 a m I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY to hear Justin Su a speak at a recent Breakfast of Champions meeting sponsored by the Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance According to Justin head of mental conditioning at IMG Academy in Bradenton Where the mind leads the body follows He provided three strategies to develop and sustain the highperformance mindset of world class athletes Olympians military personnel and successful business professionals To develop confidence do the following CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Master your self talk Stop listening to yourself and start talking to yourself Don t believe negative thoughts that may permeate your thinking Talk positive to yourself Develop a bounce back plan Use adversity as a chance to improve The important thing to remember is that no matter how hard you get hit you need to keep moving forward Flex your optimistic muscles It s easy to be negative instead focus on what you did well today How do you develop this mindset of success Some of the best advice I received on this topic was from Earl Nightingale through a Nightingale Conant motivational series called Lead the Field The key message for me was the need to develop the habit of doing those things that unsuccessful people don t do An exaggerated humorous example of this was portrayed by the Seinfeld sitcom character George Costanza who admits to being a loser and decides to do the exact opposite of every instinct he has which of course helps him to succeed Suddenly opposite George finds himself getting incredible dates with beautiful women and succeeding at everything he does Most people are not willing to pay the price of success It generally takes a level of commitment very few will make To better understand the business mindset of success I posed the following questions to Justin Q It seems that most business people do not have a coach what might they learn from a coaching relationship CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 10 A winning mindset for athletes, and you Published  Monday, May 5, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  I HAD THE OPPORTUNITY to h...
A At IMG we study the habits of high performers and one thing we find as a common thread is that they do have mentors and coaches that do take them from where they are to the next level They have the growth mindset Performance is a journey and they want continuous growth According to Carol Dweck Stanford University the fixed mindset is represented by people who fear failure don t like to do the hard things and don t like to review feedback The professional athlete is always looking for coaches to guide them in the different facets of their lives This can apply to business as well as athletics Q What lessons can business people learn from athletes A Separation is in the preparation constant and effective preparation is necessary CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Attention to detail The elite athletes are very focused on the details They do the mundane boring things that most people say I don t want to do that Ability to focus on what they can control As Bubba Watson said when interviewed after the Masters he had to tell himself One shot at a time These principles are the same across different fields Q What about team spirit team sports and business teams A Great athletes understand that it doesn t matter where you play the important thing is how you play Clarity of roles is important Great athletes know their roles they know their team mission and they know what their job is The culture conducive to key performance of the team is shaped by four stages forming storming norming and performing Forming where you hire make trades assemble the team Storming getting used to each other Norming accepting each other and your role on the team Performing developing trust you go out and do your job and you have each other s back Q How do you pick yourself up when you suffer a big defeat A We all tend to do catastrophizing making a mountain out of a molehill I recommend three things for someone who has hit rock bottom CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
A  At IMG we study the habits of high performers, and one thing we find as a common thread is that they do have mentors an...
Train to change the way you look at things Easier said than done but look at things through a different lens How can the situation make me stronger and what can I learn from the situation Focus on what you are going to do about it now Don t focus on what has happened Quickly revisit your motivation After finishing this column I went out played tennis took a bad fall and broke my right leg The X ray now looks like an erector set with eight screws My new mindset and focus will be on writing more and asking friends to drive me to important meetings I hope you enjoy your week more than I will By the way I did make a winning shot CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Justin would approve CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Train to change the way you look at things. Easier said than done, but look at things through a different lens. How can th...
Chapter 11 On minimum wages and maximum results Published Monday May 12 2014 at 1 00 a m As an employer I have compensated employees or independent contractors with salaries hourly pay commissions bonuses time off extra vacation time work per piece a set amount for x profit sharing and stock I have mixed and matched salary plus commission more of one less of the other in a see saw attempt to provide the right incentive for accomplishing what I needed done If an employee was willing to bet on themselves in sales willing to take a smaller salary then I was willing to pay a larger commission for results Sometimes I paid on activities performed Calls made phone numbers dialed people seen face to face My hopes were that if specific activities were performed the desired results would be achieved CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents I came to the conclusion that every job was only worth so much The true measure of pay should be based on the replacement theory Simply stated If the employee got hit by a truck quit in the middle of the day went to lunch and never came back fled to Mexico or whatever how much would it cost to replace this person All else being as equal as possible finding and hiring someone with similar experience education ability background work ethic the variables are endless but it comes down to having a job that needs to be filled by someone who is capable and willing to do it End of story Case closed Period The dichotomy is this The employer wants to get the job done the best it can be done in a reasonable time for the lowest amount of money the employee wants to do a good job and be paid the highest possible amount for his combined level of experience and education His favorite FM station is WIIFM What s In It For Me It is only through negotiation in the absence of a gun to one s head and compromise that a mutually agreeable deal is reached An obvious problem and political football is the current hoopla over paying a living wage or a minimum wage that might or might not be a living wage If an employer can hire someone for a specific job and get someone for the minimum wage chances are this person is either very young just entering the work force very old re entering the work force uneducated or with little to no experience If this low level job can be filled for 8 00 per hour meaning there are takers then that is what the job is worth No more no less give or take a wee bit of negotiation At this pay grade this employee is no doubt going to struggle just to get by Paying for the basics such as food clothing and shelter will be a challenge let alone covering transportation CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 11 On minimum wages and maximum results Published  Monday, May 12, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  As an employer, I have compe...
and health care What if this person has a spouse children and or parents to care for They are up a creek without a paddle Whose fault is this Society s Yours Theirs because they did not get a good education for whatever reason Should the employer pay more because it is the right thing to do What about the stockholders the owners of the business Right for them may be wrong for the employee and vice versa If everyone is paid more will prices have to increase to the customers Will the company s profits be eroded Will inflation be increased This is a financial tug of war Are we really talking about income redistribution Now let s look at the higher end of the pay scale where more variables must be considered Will I tend to get a better employee if I pay more If you do your HR homework you will see that there is a strong likelihood that the answer might be yes CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Now for the 64 000 question Should there be a maximum for CEO pay What kind of disincentive might this have on business At the same time for those people who make millions is it just a way to keep score How many homes do they need A business savvy friend once told me Hire the best you can they will always find a way to make you money Yet I can recall plenty of times that I overpaid for people who were a bust Perhaps the key is to hire slow fire fast though most of us do the exact opposite Using hiring tools or head hunters might improve your results but there are no guarantees Will you get better employees if you pay more money Sometimes yes sometimes no Please let me know your experiences with hiring for possible inclusion in a future column CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
and health care. What if this person has a spouse, children and or parents to care for  They are up a creek without a padd...
Chapter 12 Hell is being a slave to a losing business Published Monday May 19 2014 at 1 00 a m AS A SMALL BUSINESS owner it is extremely important for your business to be profitable In fact the money made in a business after all costs and expenses are paid should be the single most important focus for your business success This might seem obvious but here are some specific reasons why this is true Rule No 1 Without profit your business doesn t continue to be in business Sure if you have a start up it may take a while before you are profitable But ultimately you must be profitable to continue to operate CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Rule No 2 Cash flow is not the same thing as profits Cash flow is the life blood of your business When you are out of cash blood your business is dead You can usually stretch paying some bills to achieve positive cash flow but if this gets out of hand it may be a forewarning of impending demise Rule No 3 There is no talent needed to lose money Anyone yes absolutely anyone can start and run a losing business Some people are really fantastic at losing lots of money These people also may be experts in hope see Rule No 4 Rule No 4 Hoping will not affect your profits Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result hoping is how Einstein defined insanity Rule No 5 Sooner is better than later but later is better than never The sooner you can put your business on a trajectory toward profitability the better It s easier to dig out of a shallow hole than a deep one Rule No 6 A manageable amount of debt can be your best friend Generally no debt is better than some debt but sometimes you absolutely need a manageable amount of debt to grow your business The penalty for lack of capital may be slow growth and missed opportunities Rule No 7 A business without profits will eventually fail when the cash runs out Profits are the raison d tre reason for being Why be in business without a goal of being profitable While it is true that Amazon has never been profitable this is a totally different scenario than for a small business Rule No 8 A business without profits has little value See Rule No 3 Since anyone can start a losing business and there is no talent needed to do so why would anyone in their right mind pay CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 12 Hell is being a slave to a losing business Published  Monday, May 19, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  AS A SMALL-BUSINESS ow...
more than a token amount for your good will should you want to sell your unprofitable business Stale inventory is also going to be worth less than you paid for it Any potential buyer will realize that it may be a lot easier to start fresh and build a good reputation rather than buy a failed business and attempt to turn it around Rule No 9 Profits ideally should increase consistently and annually There are some exceptions but generally this holds true Financial dips encountered in pursuit of new product introductions could be an exception Rule No 10 Increased equity should be your focus You can make money two ways Cash flow paid in your salary and owner benefits or realized equity paid upon a sale of some or all of your business assets If you are in a cash rich business a wonderful scenario you should leave enough money in your business for working capital to pay expenses and to manage debt payments such as leases and either take most of the excess in distributions or use it to initiate a strategic growth plan This might include paying the troops incentive pay for achieving the goals that got you to the promised land CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Rule No 11 When it comes time to sell a buyer ideally wants a company with stair step annual growth whose profits have been aligned and managed well The selling price will be an agreed upon multiple of your most recent year s profits A buyer buys the future potential but wants to pay for it at last year s prices A seller wants to sell the past financials provided and receive equity for the future profits and prospects of the business Rule No 12 A deal gets consummated only when both parties agree usually somewhere between the buyer s and seller s prices often at a multiple that is common to that industry Some final thoughts If you are thinking about selling to your competitor there are pros and cons to doing this which will be covered on another day If you are considering selling or passing the business to your children this should be carefully thought through Do your children really want to be in this business Owning and eventually realizing equity from selling a small business is truly one of the great wealth builders in this country Operating a small business you enjoy can bring tremendous personal satisfaction to you and your family But being a slave to a losing business is hell CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
more than a token amount for your good will, should you want to sell your unprofitable business  Stale inventory is also g...
Chapter 13 Control your days Know urgent vs important Published Monday May 26 2014 at 1 00 a m Do you know the difference between urgent and important When the phone rings is it urgent that you answer It could be your son Robby who needs you to pick him up after his tennis match Perhaps it s a solicitor trying to sell you something you don t want CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents The call may or may not be important There is no way to know unless you answer Let s look at the definitions of these words Urgent is defined as needing immediate attention Important is defined as having serious meaning or worth deserving or requiring considerable attention Urgent represents an immediate need whereas important things deserve significant attention but maybe not right away That phone ringing may have seemed urgent because you didn t know who it was or what they wanted It may or may not be an important call Okay now that you know the difference what does this mean to you Every event that happens on any given day may be either or both urgent and important You have a list of items to accomplish Should you do those things first that are important but not urgent or should you do those things that are urgent but not important If you are to truly be in control of your day of your accomplishments and of getting things done that need to be completed then do the following Make a list Next to each item indicate U Urgent or I Important or UI both Urgent and Important First do those U items that will be viewed as important if you don t complete them the UI items For example Picking up Robby from tennis is something you better make sure gets done in a timely manner whether you do it or delegate it to someone else Next prioritize the I items and work on these in order of priority CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 13 Control your days  Know urgent vs. important Published  Monday, May 26, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  Do you know the diff...
Let your phone ring Check it later in the day once or twice a day should suffice for most businesses and return only those calls that need more immediate attention they are urgent Most things can wait 24 hours After all what if you were sick or at a funeral Do not be a slave to urgent If people are constantly at your door asking you to sign things or interrupting you then you are not going to be in control of your day You will bounce around throughout the day doing what others want you to do to make their day run smoothly Don t do it Your employees need to schedule a specific time of the day to meet with you to handle the tasks that are urgent for them but may not be urgent for you Do not let their emergency become your emergency With proper planning and respect for each other this type of chaos could and should be eliminated CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents You only have 24 7 like everyone else It s what you do with these hours that separates those who get tons of things done versus those who wonder Where did my day go Here s how to prioritize Use a forced choice prioritization method by forcing a choice between two items This is the same method used when you have an eye exam and your eye doctor asks Which is better this one or that one A or B If you have three or more tasks to prioritize and do not know how to make up your mind do this Compare choice A to choice B B wins out Next compare A to C C wins out Last compare B to C C wins out Now you know that C is the most important item to complete first because it won out over choices A and B The second most important item is B because B won out over A So in this instance your prioritized order is C B A Do the first item then the next most important one and the next You are now in control of your day Doesn t that feel great Afterward you will look back and see how much you got done If you plan your work and work your plan on a daily weekly monthly quarterly and annual basis keeping deadlines in mind you shouldn t have to deal with putting out fires all day Your anxiety level should diminish Your employees need to learn from you how to do this they will be happier and less frustrated and they will accomplish a lot more in less time At the end of your day you can sit back relax and have a glass of wine Red or white Your choice If you need help with this please write me My choice would be red CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Let your phone ring. Check it later in the day  once or twice a day should suffice for most businesses  and return only th...
Chapter 14 Make your meetings amount to something Published Monday June 2 2014 at 1 00 a m Do you find yourself attending more and more company meetings Do you feel that most of these meetings are A generally productive B a complete waste of time or C perhaps a little of both Most of us have attended great meetings and horrible ones How can we do a better job in deciding which meetings to attend whether to send a subordinate or if it can be skipped entirely Sometimes you have no choice and your presence is mandatory CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents I run a monthly CEO meeting at which the people who attend say they enjoy themselves learn a lot and find it a valuable use of their time So what am I doing right On the other hand I have been to meetings where two hours pass slowly and with absolutely nothing accomplished Here are some suggestions for having better meetings Have a stated purpose The meeting must have a worthwhile stated purpose Set realistic goals Reviewing sales costs human resource issues strategies new product development major issues weekly update opportunities or any other worthy purpose for gathering people together Everyone there should know what that purpose is Only Invite the right people Who really needs to be at this meeting and who doesn t need to be present Who is in the loop and needs to know and who can add to the meeting s purpose with background input suggestions options and or solutions Have an agenda Having a meeting without an agenda is generally just a BS session Have a specific time set for the meeting to start and end and stick to it Have specific times set for each agenda item Start on time You will get the behavior you tolerate so if you traditionally start late expect to start later and later A good way to eliminate this tardiness is to lock the door and whoever is not there at the stated start time misses the meeting Calculate the true cost of the meeting Do you know how much it will cost to gather your entire staff or a department for a 45 minute meeting You have to pay all who attend and they aren t doing what they would normally be doing In no way am I suggesting you shouldn t have CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 14 Make your meetings amount to something Published  Monday, June 2, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  Do you find yourself atten...
purposeful meetings These meetings should be well thought out and purposeful have the right people and keep costs in check Know in advance what you expect to get out of the meeting Determine what has to happen to make it a success and push for that result Be in control of your meeting You or someone should moderate facilitate the flow of the meeting It is critical that everyone yes everyone be on time No one should leave early unless a true emergency arises Everyone should be allowed to participate equally to speak freely with no repercussions No one should be allowed to ramble or go on off topic tangents The key is to focus on the purpose and the problem the solutions will come Turn off all distractions including cell phones Allow five minute bathroom breaks for long meetings CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Recap At the end of the meeting summarize what was accomplished and who will do what by when as follow up action steps Set the date and time for follow up meetings Keep the number of meetings to a minimum What about traveling for meetings and the time and expenses involved for transportation including airfare hotels meals and other expenses Is it really necessary to gather in person for this meeting or can it be an Internet based meeting More and more businesses are using Citrix Go to Meeting Skype Google and other technology to meet virtually Networking MeetUps are meetings too The ever popular MeetUp com has grown in popularity and has meetings on just about anything you can think of Some present good opportunities to network and learn others not so much How do you decide where to spend your time Starting a MeetUp group costs about 144 year and its success may be killing the concept There are too many overlapping business MeetUp groups and attendance cannibalization is taking place Too many choices offered may lead to people might conclude that they just won t go to any of them I know one person who is always in meetings It makes me wonder what he can accomplish in his business When he isn t traveling to meetings he s in meetings in town Beginning this month I will be running our SCORE member and executive committee meetings as chapter chairman Wish me success If you email me I promise to get back to you between meetings CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
purposeful meetings. These meetings should be well thought out and purposeful, have the right people and keep costs in che...
Chapter 15 Creating quality is hard but worth it Published Monday June 9 2014 at 1 00 a m If you are over 40 you probably remember the story of the ill fated Sony Betamax recording technology Sony was the undisputed king of the electronics hill decades ago with its Trinitron televisions and Walkman portable music players forerunner to the iPod and other MP3 players Sony created a concept it called time shifting Its Betamax equipment for the first time gave people the ability to record a TV program and watch it later Betamax boasted two hours of recording on a tape cartridge This was all well and good until Panasonic upped the game with six hours of recording using its VHS tapes CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents It was widely agreed that Betamax was a superior recording technology compared with VHS To remain competitive Betamax sold a contraption called a stacker The stacker held four cartridges giving it an eight hour recording capability There was only one problem The stacker didn t work very well it jammed often and didn t always eject Customer complaints rolled in According to Sony s product manager at the time Bob Theis We were arrogant in how we dealt with those customer complaints And we all know how that turned out Theis a local SCORE mentor who lives in the Sarasota area said he learned an important lesson one he applied after he bought a 100 year old company in Syracuse New York called JR Clancy This company supplied everything used backstage in theaters and auditoriums such as customized rigging and lighting It had significant problems shipping orders that were correct complete and fast We were missing on five out of six cylinders and it was costing us a huge amount of money Theis said Customers would call and complain it was frustrating He decided to use a quality standard known as ISO the French acronym for International Organization for Standardization to improve the company s performance The particular standard Clancy used ISO 9000 took the company 18 months to implement at a cost of approximately 250 000 Theis feels it was well worth it CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 15 Creating quality is hard ... but worth it Published  Monday, June 9, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  If you are over 40, you...
We had quality problems we needed a framework he said We needed discipline and it gives you that as well Clancy began by identifying and writing down all company procedures and processes Then it studied them to determine which worked well what needed to be improved and if there were some things that were unnecessary and could be weeded out Theis spent two months in the field visiting customer s job sites dealers and installers asking What do you guys really need The answer that came back was You guys have to be on time you have to be complete with your order and the order has to be correct Clancy decided to treat its dealers installers its own employees and even its employees families as partners The company took as its goal and motto Make Our Partners Successful or MOPS CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Clancy measured its performance on time completeness correctness We became obsessive about tracking those metrics Theis said Another important metric was partner satisfaction Clancy measured this with feedback from field visits and questionnaires and the company did everything it could to make its partners successful We turned over every process in our company and we went deep dive into it Theis said We looked at everything from how we address people when they call in to how we ship the box and what the box is going to look like when we ship it out Every detail of our operations was defined Could you get by with something less Sure you could but we wanted to have absolutely everybody every function included in this And to do that you need the top management to be the real driving force Theis developed a program he called The Extraordinary Guarantee which essentially said We are 100 percent committed to the on time complete and correct shipment of your equipment If you feel we have not met this commitment in any way and that has caused you to spend additional time or money then please attach a note with a brief explanation and deduct your cost from this invoice when you send in your payment That guarantee was printed at the bottom of each invoice on price sheets and in emails that were sent out to all of Clancy s dealer partners We had a logo made and we marketed based on it Theis said Of course someone would immediately contact the customer to resolve the situation if a problem did occur CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
 We had quality problems, we needed a framework,  he said.  We needed discipline, and it gives you that as well.  Clancy b...
Our sales our profits our backlog exploded We were on Inc magazine s List of Fastest Growing Companies two years in a row and I m certain that the sale of my company in 2011 was helped because we were now a quality company CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
 Our sales, our profits, our backlog exploded. We were on  Inc.  magazine s List of Fastest Growing Companies two years in...
Chapter 16 Intellectual property and the small business Published Monday June 16 2014 at 1 00 a m Are you aware that your small business may be able to protect its business trade name from misuse by others Can you and should you use TM for trademark for your product or service When can you use the R in the circle In our small business podcast series Been There Done That I interviewed local patent attorney and licensed engineer Joseph Long in his area of expertise Here are some excerpts CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Q What are the different types of intellectual property A There are four basic types copyright trademark patents and trade secrets Copyrights are rights and original works and creative expressions held by their creator Ideas and discoveries aren t generally protected by copyrights but the way in which they are expressed may be Trademarks are names or designs that identify a product or a service as being from a particular provider examples might be McDonald s or Ford Mustang Patents protect ideas or inventions The rights are held by the inventor and the rights are to prevent others from making using selling or importing the invention Trade secrets are generally confidential information controlled by the owner for their benefit A popular example is the formula for Coca Cola Q How should a business protect its copyright interests A A work is protected under copyright the moment that it s created and fixed in a tangible form Examples of tangible work may be drawings physical models graphic designs written text photographs videos or computer code In general registration of copyrights is completely voluntary however you have to register your copyright with the government if you wish to bring a lawsuit for copyright infringement Generally only the author or creator of a work has a rightful claim to its copyright An important exception to this is a notion of works made for hire When a work is made for hire an employer is considered the author even if an employee actually created the work CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 16 Intellectual property and the small business Published  Monday, June 16, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  Are you aware that ...
Employment contractor agreements or contracts generally including explicit agreement that works created as part of a work for hire are the rights of the employer A business should seek to retain the copyrights to all materials generated in relation to its products or services through such agreements Q How should a business protect its trademarks A Rights in a mark can be established simply based on using the mark in commerce without having to register it However like copyrights federal trademark registration can provide numerous legal advantages When you merely claim the rights to a mark you can mark it with a symbol TM often applied as a superscript This is a designation to put the public on notice or to alert the public that one is claiming ownership of the mark CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Regardless of whether you d ever file an application you can use this TM designation You can only use the federal register trademark symbol which is a capital R in a circle after the United States Patent and Trademark Office has actually registered the mark Registration is achieved by filing an application and going through a small procedure The purpose of a trademark is to prevent an unapproved source from providing a good or service in a way that might confuse the consumers as to who the actual source is Accordingly a business that s operating with a trademark should always seek to protect the inappropriate use of the mark by others to retain its value Q What types of things can be patented A Generally anything that anyone conceives can be patented It can be any useful process machine manufacture or composition of matter A process can be any act or method a machine is fairly obvious a manufacture refers to any articles that are made and a composition of matter generally relates to chemical compositions or mixtures These categories taken together include pretty much everything that can be made by man or any processes for making any products A process or method can include a method implemented on a machine Such a machine may include a computer and this is generally the basis for claiming inventions that may be implemented using computer software or instructions executing on a computing machine Abstract ideas and laws of nature are generally not afforded patent protection Q Could you explain the difference between a design patent and a utility patent A A design patent generally covers the physical appearance or the form of a product while a utility patent covers what the product actually does These are two different types of patents CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Employment, contractor agreements, or contracts, generally including explicit agreement that works created as part of a wo...
Design patents can be very limited in their value at times simply because competitors can get around infringing A competitor might get away with infringing a design patent by simply making something look a little different whereas a well drafted utility patent or claim will spell out exactly what it is that a thing does Then anything no matter what it looks like or how it s made falling within that definition of what is being usefully done will infringe the patent This generally provides stronger and more valuable protection You may hear this podcast in its entirety No 13 on intellectual property at at centreofinfluence org CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Design patents can be very limited in their value at times, simply because competitors can get around infringing. A compet...
Chapter 17 So you think you want a partner Ask this first Published Monday June 23 2014 at 1 00 a m Should you consider having a partner in a new or existing business Facts Choose a partner with the same diligence you should use in choosing a spouse mutual admiration trust and compatibility with the big emphasis on trust Bob Bertelsbeck SCORE mentor CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Everything is lovely in the beginning but when there are disagreements life can get very ugly Anonymous Sarasota business owner Collaborating with a partner is a very healthy practice in navigating the number of issues a small business needs to constantly address Dennis Heinrich Suncoast CFO Solutions I have seen effective partnerships create very successful organizations because nothing falls through the cracks if the division of labor is well defined Bob Melberth Business Ownership Coach The Entrepreneurs Source The wrong partner may have grandiose ideas that are not feasible to implement and would interrupt necessary cash flow and cash reserves Kathryn de Young SCORE mentor You must have an attorney draft an operation agreement a buy sell agreement It s like a prenuptial agreement Jim Repp CPA SCORE mentor Articulating a valuation methodology or buyout action clause is key Bob Melberth Will that partner have strengths that you lack Is the prospective partner a friend or relative Have they been in the same or a similar business industry Perhaps a competitor wants to merge with or acquire your company or idea Is this a good idea Have you had a partner before Are you still married These are some of the questions you should ask if you are considering taking on a partner What percentage of partnerships break up The numbers are worse than the marriage success rate CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 17 So you think you want a partner  Ask this first Published  Monday, June 23, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  Should you consi...
I ve had four partners over a 30 year period and fortunately all four of these businesses were successful although three partnerships ended in various degrees of disharmony The success ratio from real world statistics is an estimated 40 percent If you take a close look you probably do not need a partner You may need to hire the knowledge base you lack employees consultants mentors or counselors etc The pros Let s look at a few of the reasons to have a partner A partner can act as a sounding board for decision making A partner may share in capitalizing the business A partner may share the workload A partner may have strengths you don t have A partner can be there to celebrate victories or commiserate over defeats A partner may have important relationships and contacts for your business CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents The cons Now some reasons NOT to have a partner A partner may not work as hard as you do A partner may not agree with you A partner may not have the strengths you thought he or she had A partner may not be there for the long haul A partner may decide to leave and may take your employees and compete with you Separation from a partner can be costly Review with your attorney the options for what structure your company should take Regardless of the form of organization C or S Corp LLC or other what percentage of the business should you own What about 50 50 or 51 49 You want the 51 percent right Fifty fifty can lead to a stalemate Control is the operative decision When push comes to shove who will have the final say Who will be in charge of day to day decisions What happens when you don t agree What happens when either you or your partner wants out What happens when your partner leaves with your customers and tries to compete with you Do you have an agreement called a covenant not to compete Will you spend untold dollars and court time enforcing a violation My advice My personal advice is this Avoid a partner if at all possible The odds of success are not in your favor If you already have a partner make sure you have clear understandable agreements and consider having a buy sell agreement using insurance proceeds to fund a death benefit and transfer shares or units Communicate communicate communicate with your partner accurately and often CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
I ve had four partners over a 30-year period, and fortunately all four of these businesses were successful, although three...
Talk through problems be flexible be empathetic agree to disagree and set procedures on how to resolve problems Be honest with each other discuss personal goals and objectives up front and update changes as often as needed The most important takeaways for you are these Know who you are partnering with have a written agreement know how you will end the partnership before you begin have a buy sell agreement communicate accurately and often and agree to binding arbitration if it becomes necessary And remember the first half of the word partner is part so don t be surprised if this happens CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Talk through problems, be flexible, be empathetic, agree to disagree, and set procedures on how to resolve problems. Be ho...
Chapter 18 When should you scale your company Published Monday June 30 2014 at 1 00 a m With the stock market setting records and the economy sending some positive signals finally an entrepreneur s thoughts can easily turn to ideas of growing their business It s a reasonable consideration in today s business climate but is it really a good idea for you We all know the rule Just because you can do something does not mean you should Is your company scalable How can you know And is now the right time CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents The word scale in discussing the scalability of a company means that the underlying business model offers the potential for economic growth We ll refer to scaling in this context as growing a business beyond the initial unit There are many factors to consider when assessing scalability of your company Here are some thoughts and questions on when and how to approach scaling your business Age of the company Business age is certainly a factor A relatively young immature company may or may not be scalable and the cost to discover which it is might be high Unless you have previously scaled another business successfully it may not be a good to consider scaling at this stage Management talent Do you have a solid reliable management team in place with excess human capital Many small businesses do not Is it only you Scaling a business might require you to take your eye off one ball and focus on another one Can you do this without losing your momentum Organizational skills Are you well organized with everything running smoothly in your business You don t want to scale during turmoil If you left for a month s vacation would everything run like clockwork or would your business become a shambles Mindset to grow Why do you want to expand Are you of a right mindset to scale Assuming you are doing well financially and everything in your business is running great know your why Why are you going to do this Life can be a lot easier managing one business than many Scaling a business is typically akin to starting a new business The big difference is that you already have a playbook for success franchise like Hopefully you do have this all written down in your policy and procedures manual CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 18 When should you scale your company  Published  Monday, June 30, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  With the stock market settin...
Finances If your company has successfully navigated the growing pains stage is profitable and has the management talent and you have the organizational skills and the right mindset to grow do you also have the money to scale Do not bet the farm on a new location What if you are wrong about the new location and you have to start feeding the new venue from the profits of your stable business Now you have two problems Get a map Have you done market research on your competition and their locations Get a map and place markers where you are located where your competition is located and where you want to locate Are the demographics and psychographics different from your primary business Will you charge differently at this new location Why will this be a good location for you CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Do you expect to attract new customers from this geography How many customers will you need and how soon will you need them to break even Is the new location nearby across town or in another city state or country Near is generally better than far from a management perspective of command and control If you have to travel to visit the new location how long will it take you to get there Do you have to fly and if so did you budget for travel airfare and hotels Overhead Will you be amortizing spreading out your overhead across the new unit s This can make your prime location more profitable Will you allocate your salary and management teams and what basis will you use to compute these Will it be 50 percent based on time based on sales volume or some other metric It s time to call in your accountant if you haven t already discussed your expansion plans Do you want to place this new location under a different entity such as an LLC If so it s time to call your attorney Cannibalization Will you be attracting new customers or just providing another convenient location for your current customers Will you be cannibalizing sales from your primary location to your new location Will it be worth it I have successfully scaled many businesses and thought it to be the most fun and the most financially rewarding aspect to owning a small business There have been other times when I resisted the temptation to scale and did just fine with one location where I could concentrate and devote all of my time and effort without worrying about travel issues CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Finances  If your company has successfully navigated the growing-pains stage, is profitable and has the management talent,...
Many business owners succeed in building an empire Many more fail miserably at scaling and jeopardize their initial business in the process Here s a useful tip from our local carpenter Measure twice cut once CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Many business owners succeed in building an empire. Many more fail miserably at scaling and jeopardize their initial busin...
Chapter 19 Sizing up competition and share of market Published Monday July 7 2014 at 1 00 a m My clients hate to do two things do competitive research and develop business plans says Bill Elias one of our experienced SCORE mentors Clients underestimate the importance of truly understanding the marketplace in which they compete It is very difficult for a company to position itself and establish a unique or differentiating advantage unless one is aware of the competition and the nature of the market CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Before explaining competitive market analysis we need to define competition Anyone who is trying to get a dollar that could be spent with you is a competitor Online or offline brick and mortar or virtual store it doesn t matter Let s face it almost everyone has competition Whether you have a new business or an ongoing concern someone is competing with your business for customers and their money This is not very different from playing a competitive sport or a game that you are trying to win There can be more than one winner but you don t want to be a loser in this game A loser is a company that cannot sustain its profitability and hence probably will not and should not continue to exist Back to the market analysis Let s use an example that is relatively transparent Assume you publish a monthly magazine Here is how to do a competitive market analysis Step 1 Gather competitive data collect every competing publication you can find Step 2 Count add up the advertising pages in each publication Step 3 Rates find out what they charge In this example obtain competitors rate cards and other information on their products perhaps an editorial calendar Step 4 Total multiply the rates charged times the number of advertising pages to see what their approximate revenue is for that issue As periodical advertising varies issue to issue do this with at least three issues Then multiply the three month total by four to get an annualized amount of estimated revenue CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 19 Sizing up competition and share of market Published  Monday, July 7, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.   My clients hate to do ...
Step 5 Segment separate each publication s advertising into categories such as real estate and restaurants Compare each advertising segment with your publication and see how you fare against each competitor in these categories Step 6 Grand totals add the totals in each category of all competitors and also get a grand total of all competitive advertising Step 7 Market share compute the total advertising you have compared to all dollars spent in all of the competing publications This represents your overall market share expressed as a percentage Now do the same for each market segment Step 8 Distribution how and where is each publication distributed What are the demographics and psychographics of their audience and customers How does your magazine align with these figures CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents The rest are more generic steps that apply to any business Step 9 Market trends is your overall market expanding or contracting Are there specific categories product lines that are growing faster than others Are there unmet needs that you might be able to fulfill Step 10 Internet and social media companies are increasingly using social media such as Facebook Linked In and Twitter and their own company websites blogs and newsletters There is much you can learn from these sources Step 11 Review sites look at review sites if applicable and catch the buzz news and announcements portrayed Analysis Analyze what you have found Ask yourself what you need to do to attract some of these dollars from the market Develop a strategy to increase market share in various segments Select a few of the larger target accounts and do everything possible to gain their business Are your competitors solvent In this transparent industry we selected it is not that difficult to do an estimated P L profit and loss for your competition For example a magazine issue is 100 pages with 45 advertising pages and 55 editorial pages and is distributed to 12 000 locations or subscriptions generating an estimated X revenue It is relatively easy to learn what it costs to print this issue using this quality paper and amount of color The magazine staff is generally found in the first few pages so you can see how large a staff they have and estimate payroll and freelance fees Since they are in the same business you are in use your own data to compute their data This may sound very involved and difficult it isn t CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Step 5  Segment -- separate each publication s advertising into categories, such as real estate and restaurants. Compare e...
But it is critical that you know where you stand in relationship to your competition Know what your market share is and devise strategic plans to increase it These basics can be applied to most businesses although some businesses are more transparent than others Happy research CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
But it is critical that you know where you stand in relationship to your competition. Know what your market share is and d...
Chapter 20 A few ways to find out what you don t know Published Monday July 14 2014 at 11 28 a m The Socratic Paradox states I know that I know nothing or I know one thing that I know nothing In collaboration with Bonnie Seitzinger a Manasota SCORE mentor CPA and author of the Lean Into Success program I set out to understand this paradox Bonnie and I developed a methodology and presentation based on learning How to know what you don t know CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents All organizations have problems that often lay beneath the surface and are hidden from view It is important to ensure that these problems do not remain undisclosed Andrew Grove former Intel chairman and CEO said Only the paranoid survive So what can you do and where should you start Prevent Problems One strategy in growing a business is to prevent problems before they happen We need to learn as much as we can about what it is we do not know so we can prevent problems We can t know everything with absolute certainty but we can feel confident about specific things In some situations businesses fail because owners think they know more than they do They may not be open to learning what they do not know There s a learning model developed in the 1970s that describes the stages of learning going from incompetence to competence The first stage unconscious competence is not knowing what you don t know The next stage is conscious competence which is knowing you have a deficit and knowing the value of developing skills to address that deficit We want to focus on the not knowing as well as developing the skills to be in the know Both are invaluable skills Seek out internal and external feedback to learn what you don t know The well known entrepreneur Steve Jobs talked about the best ideas coming to him when he allowed his mind to become quiet for periods of time each day Try asking yourself two simple questions for a week and see what insight it provides to you The Morning Question What Good shall I do today The Evening Question What Good have I done today CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 20 A few ways to find out what you don t know Published  Monday, July 14, 2014 at 11 28 a.m.  The Socratic Paradox...
Take a contemplative minute by closing the door after each meeting or each lengthy phone call to give yourself a creative pause Over time daily contemplation practice can change the way you think The results will come to you in the form of knowing what you don t know Developing and nurturing your own internal feedback system creates awareness and awareness brings answers These answers lead to new choices One of the best success principles which sounds so simple is to ask ask ask This can be done in several ways A healthy dialogue several times a year one on one with employees can be extremely revealing You must have the ability to express your questions to employees and then to fully listen to their responses Some entrepreneurs have an open door policy and a culture of feedback and suggestion sessions It s important to avoid complaint sessions The goal is to have a positive culture of continuous improvement Have strategic planning sessions using a SWOT analysis to assess your business strengths weaknesses opportunities and threats Great ideas and learning what you don t know come forth with SWOT analysis CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Some businesses conduct focus groups with an outside facilitator to generate ideas and get their creative juices flowing Include both inside and outside sources employees and customers It s important to take time for long term planning which leads to learning about what you don t know It also improves short term decision making Gather actionable information from your customers The restaurant industry does this very well with brief customer surveys Join a CEO Roundtable group Goals are discussed and the group has a sense of accountability to each other These roundtables help you think outside the box and explore possibilities with a divergent focus Another source of information about what you don t know might be trade associations and trade publications These will help you think inside the box and explore possibilities with a convergent focus Develop a dream team of experts Include your attorney CPA banker insurance agent and perhaps a trusted supplier Prepare in advance and ask ask ask those questions Minor problems can become disasters unless they are discovered and solved as quickly as possible Stay curious It s what keeps business owners on top of their game Recognize your deficits Be open to the value of the new skill of learning what you don t know I bet you didn t know all of this CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Take a contemplative minute by closing the door after each meeting or each lengthy phone call to give yourself a creative ...
Chapter 21 Finding manager yang for your start up yin Published Monday July 21 2014 at 1 00 a m IN CHINESE PHILOSOPHY yin and yang are concepts used to describe how apparently opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary interconnected and interdependent in the world Yin and yang also illustrate how these apparent opposites give rise to each other as they relate to one another CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Many tangible dualities are thought of as physical manifestations of the duality of yin and yang such as light and dark high and low hot and cold fire and water male and female and life and death In business every yin should have its yang just as McCartney had Lennon Wait What did he just say Generally an entrepreneur will have certain strengths and weaknesses The entrepreneur will most likely be gung ho full of enthusiasm in launching his passion But he probably will lack professional management experience For illustrative purposes let s call the strengths of the entrepreneur the yin and the potential of professional management the yang Balance is essential Just as balance is central to yoga and life it is a critical factor in the success of a business An entrepreneur might have attributes and talents such as determination and passion enthusiasm and creativity discipline and dedication and single minded focus to succeed at all costs The entrepreneur is willing to take a calculated risk with his money and bet on his ability to take an idea to fruition as a successful product or service The odds greatly improve with more research and homework Successful deployment of experienced mentors consultants professionals trusted advisers and knowledgeable friends will further enhance the success rate Having expertise in the same industry also will greatly improve those odds But entrepreneurs often want to be successful in spite of themselves The execution of their business plans perhaps the most important component is often overlooked Chances are they don t have a well thought out business plan You will often hear them say It s in my head I haven t written it down yet CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 21 Finding manager yang for your start-up yin Published  Monday, July 21, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  IN CHINESE PHILOSOPHY...
If I had 1 for every great idea my wealth would rival Bill Gates Having a great idea is indeed a starting point but that s all it really is The ability to convince the right people to come on board and help execute the idea is where leadership begins In the early days when entrepreneurs are getting their businesses off the ground the have to be totally committed to the success of their projects They must wear at least a dozen hats direct the marketing make the sales manage the employees and handle all operations As the businesses take hold intuitive entrepreneurs will eventually realize they are providing the yin and they need someone to provide the yang to succeed over the long haul A professional manager is the order of the day Someone who is organized and can systematize the business is needed a traffic cop who can make sure all the lanes are moving at top speed and potholes in the road are promptly fixed CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents This personality type is rarely the same as the founder s It is this introspective realization that will help the business rise to the next sustainable level A professional manager should direct and coordinate the operations and the human and financial capital necessary to stabilize and safely grow the business The entrepreneur will want to grow grow grow and the professional manager will want to know know know The better the balance of this yin yang relationship the better chance this business will have to succeed There may be a tendency to venture into new markets and new products or services Caution will be the word of the day Make sure that you have that strategic plan in place pivot as needed and don t outstrip your cash flow As a business consultant one of the most critical and rewarding services is to help balance this yin yang within a business to develop a team that can achieve optimum growth A careful detailed in depth analysis is necessary to reach this balance Business owners must be open to all possibilities and see that they can improve their company s balance and their balance sheets simultaneously This will have a direct correlation to long term profits Balance brings efficiency and results in a more effectively run business A good example is the NBA s San Antonio Spurs who demonstrated this balance to upset the defending world champion Miami Heat last month LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are better individual players than any two teammates from the Spurs But the Spurs Tim Duncan Tony Parker and Emanuel Manu Gin bili proved to be the better balanced team CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
If I had  1 for every great idea, my wealth would rival Bill Gates. Having a great idea is indeed a starting point, but th...
Ask yourself if your business is optimizing efficiencies and its bottom line Does your business have a solid yin yang balance CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Ask yourself if your business is optimizing efficiencies and its bottom line. Does your business have a solid yin-yang bal...
Chapter 22 Six strategies to use to exit your business Published Monday July 28 2014 at 1 00 a m WHEN YOU COME TO the realization that you want to get out of your business the how and when include several options and variables to consider Here are six strategies to consider for your exit Strategy No 1 We gotta get out of this place You hate the business you are in and want out yesterday Putting a good deal together usually takes a great deal of planning and time perhaps a year or more If you just want out your business is losing money or your health has deteriorated and you don t care about potential equity you have built up you can shutter the business immediately lock the door take the cash collect receivables pay payables pay off leases offer severance sell assets and put an end to your misery ASAP CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents This might be the quickest way out but it s certainly not the most lucrative In most cases it is the worst way to exit Strategy No 2 Sell to a third party This strategy may take the longest time to implement but it may provide the best return for the owner of a profitable business You must gather current and historical financial information and statements Profit Loss Balance Sheet Statements of Cash Flow Aged Receivables Accounts Payable and other schedules will need to be in order You and your accountant or a business intermediary will need to recast the financial information to help determine the true value of the business including owner benefits Be sure to list any personal items that will not be included in the sale You ll need to look at industry multiples and come up with a reasonable asking price Hopefully your broker will produce an interested party Assuming you strike a deal and agree on price and terms you will go through a due diligence process confirming the information represented to the buyer Ideally you will sell for the millions you think your business is worth and buy a condo on the beach Strategy No 3 Sell to your business partner s The good news is that your partner should already be familiar with the business The bad news may be that your partner is familiar with the business Depending on why you want to get out you may be able to work out a fair deal for you and your partner If the cash flow of the business is thin you may get a smaller amount down and finance a good portion of the balance Your comfort level will vary based on your relationship with your partner and how viable the business is and is likely to remain for the term of your payout Strategy No 4 Sell to a competitor Do you really want to sell to your competitor A plus is that the buyer should be CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 22 Six strategies to use to exit your business Published  Monday, July 28, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  WHEN YOU COME TO the...
very familiar with your business and certainly your industry A big minus is if the deal doesn t go through you just opened your kimono to your competition A big plus for the buyer depending on the type of business may be the realization of economies of scale making his existing business more profitable 1 1 3 In this instance and if you are a good negotiator you may get a very good deal Be wary of the buyer who wants to purchase your company with your own money receivables If buyers are scarce this tactic could provide good incentive adding to deal appeal Strategy No 5 Sell to employees This may make sense if there is a strong first or second person in charge or if a management team is operating the business successfully An ESOP Employee Stock Option Plan may already be in place to financially execute this plan This strategy can be fraught with many issues including a lack of financial capability of your employees to consummate a deal Strategy No 6 Sell to a family member s Does your son really want to take over the business Has your family member been working in the business If more than one person is involved do they get along with each other Do you need to receive money from selling to a family member Are you planning to stay on in a reduced role or consulting capacity CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Think twice about this strategy and make sure the family member really wants to be in this business Other factors Regardless of the strategy you choose you will have to enter into a covenant not to compete for a period of time in a limited geographical area unless you choose option No 1 You will need to carefully consider price and terms vet the buyer and bet the farm that you will be paid for the sale of your baby And in the end if you re not retiring and are a true entrepreneur you may want to do this all over again Exit stage left and re enter stage right CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
very familiar with your business and certainly your industry. A big minus is if the deal doesn t go through, you just open...
Chapter 23 Selling the company for maximum value Published Monday August 4 2014 at 1 26 a m OKAY YOU MADE THE decision to sell your business and no one has put a gun to your head You want to maximize your equity upon sale What should you do And just as important what shouldn t you do Norman Silverstein s primary expertise has been assisting buyers and sellers of small to midsized businesses Norm has owned his own business brokerage company for over 10 years merging it with another company in 2006 Having completed hundreds of business sales transactions Norm is experienced in mergers and acquisitions business valuations performing due diligence determining the real cash flow of a business and everything that it takes to bring buyers and sellers to the closing table Norm has been a SCORE certified mentor since 2012 CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents From last week s column Six strategies you can use to EXIT your business we will use strategy 2 Sell to a 3rd party to maximize your equity Here is some advice from Norm on doing that Prepare your business for sale Do come up with a purchase price Placing a market value on a business will be the most important and perhaps the most difficult part of the selling process Don t overprice your business Business owners often have misconceptions concerning the value of their business believing that it is worth more than the market value Owners tend to be too emotionally involved in their business having spent a great deal of time developing it Do prepare a business presentation package Prospective buyers will make the decision to purchase a business based on the potential future upside They will establish a price based on past and current performance Regardless of formulas and multiples to arrive at a price one important fact remains true A business is worth what a seller is willing to accept from a buyer Do have accurate current and historical financial information available at least three years This financial information should be recast to show the true profitability of the business including owner benefits Do account for any cash in your business Unless you can prove your receipts don t expect to get paid for them If the selling multiple is three that means every 1 you cannot prove receipt of will cost you 3 in equitable value CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 23 Selling the company for maximum value Published  Monday, August 4, 2014 at 1 26 a.m.  OKAY, YOU MADE THE decisi...
Market your business Consider hiring an intermediary business broker rather than selling your business yourself Use a business intermediary that already has contacts within your industry Don t advertise on websites that specialize in businesses for sale Maintain confidentiality Don t tell your employees suppliers creditors landlord or customers until you have a signed contract and need to tell them Show the business Show the business after hours and make sure all employees are out of the facility Do not introduce the potential buyer to your employees You need to make a good first impression Make sure the office or workspace is clean and well organized and that the facility has good curb appeal If necessary paint walls replace carpet and furniture Make sure the parking lot is clean your business signs look new and your warehouse or storage room shelves are numbered neatly laid out and well organized Make sure all desks are neat and orderly and list personal effects that will be retained by the seller CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Evaluate the offer s Vet the buyer Obtain a credit report and personal financial statement especially if financing is included Get an appraisal if requested by the buyer for furniture fixtures and equipment Be able to defend your asking price and know how it was derived You may decide to sell at a later date If so the following will help increase the value of your business Make any improvements needed to make a good first impression when you show the business Increase your sales annually Develop a strong sales force if applicable and diversify your customer base by size quantity and geography Avoid an erosion clause that would lower your price if an important key customer leaves Replace family members and let go of unproductive employees Develop an organizational chart a strong management team and learn to delegate Don t become too dependent on any one employee Have written procedures for operations employee manuals Report all cash received by the business Sell off unnecessary assets and reduce unnecessary large purchases CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Market your business Consider hiring an intermediary  business broker , rather than selling your business yourself. Use a ...
Keep your account receivables higher shoot for 2x or more if possible than your account payables and don t have account receivables higher than 30 60 days Remove yourself from the business and reduce the amount of owner perks Develop and or improve the company s website keeping your technology up to date CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Keep your account receivables higher  shoot for 2x or more if possible  than your account payables, and don t have account...
Chapter 24 How to know what to charge for a bologna sandwich Published Monday August 11 2014 at 1 00 a m WHETHER YOU SELL products or services you undoubtedly have confronted the question of how to price your wares Pricing methodology is both an art and a science with a little bit of good judgment thrown in Establishing good pricing in the beginning is important because it is easier to lower prices than to raise them Some but not all of the variables to consider are costs customers competition quality and profits CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Costs For starters you must know your costs both directly related to producing and selling the product or service and the indirect costs which are everything else overhead Selling a product or service below cost results in a loss Duh But how do you know your true costs With some products it s easy with others not so much If you have a restaurant how much does it cost you to make and sell a bologna sandwich To have an accurate handle on your costs create a spreadsheet and include everything Start with direct costs the costs of raw materials that make up the product For that bologna sandwich you need to know what the two pieces of bread cost based on what you paid for the loaf of bread Do the same for all the ingredients What are the labor costs involved Keep track of every task completed for a period of time a week perhaps to figure out exactly what it costs to make X number of sandwiches Remember to include payroll taxes This will give you your gross profit or loss based on your selling price Now factor in your overhead all of it including debt service Allocate your overhead to the lowest common denominator in this case making a sandwich For example if your overhead is 4 000 per month and you make 4 000 sandwiches a month assuming this is your only product then 1 of overhead should be considered an indirect cost for each sandwich produced Adding up your direct and indirect costs will let you know your true costs fully loaded Customers Customers are price conscious Are you going to have the lowest prices the highest quality and convenience and what about service Are customers willing to pay your asking price for your products services Will they pay more Is there a line at your door CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 24 How to know what to charge for a bologna sandwich Published  Monday, August 11, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  WHETHER YOU ...
Competition What are your competitors charging for the same or similar products services How do you react when a competitor discounts prices Under pricing may be devastating to your bottom line over pricing may be even worse Shop your competition because you need to know what they charge Quality If you charge more is it because your bologna is really better Do you want to be known for having superior products Decide whether quality is your niche or if you are the lowcost provider Profits Remember you are in business to make a profit But how much profit How much should your sandwich sell for How much is your sandwich selling for now Are these prices comparable and are you making a profit If not adjust accordingly Consider what margins are common to your industry Are you selling a commodity something that can be had everywhere If yes then you need to price competitively If your product is unique or hard to come by and you have few competitors you can generally charge more You can generally raise prices to cover additional costs or in response to increased market demand CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Get customer feedback Find out where you fit in the positioning continuum Are you thought of first last or somewhere in the middle when a customer thinks of your product Test price to see what works best If you reduce your price 1 how much more will you sell and is it worth it See if it brings you increased market share If you raise your price 1 how much less will you sell Is this decrease acceptable Avoid price wars Unless your strategy is to try to knock out a competitor this is a zero sum game Pricing wars benefit the consumer not you Coupons and Groupons A coupon with a good offer will bring in traffic But consider whether you are bringing in existing customers who would frequent your establishment anyway only now at a lower profit Again you must know your costs so you will know how much you gave away A Groupon or equivalent will pre sell a fixed number of special discount deals and the Groupon company will keep half of the money Some people will buy a Groupon and never use it pure profit for you Groupons may be a good way to attract new customers and will generate immediate cash flow as you are paid up front Remember that if you are selling a product for 20 it will now cost the customer 10 with the Groupon and you will get half of that or 5 This is a 75 discount less the Groupons bought and not redeemed However other items may be purchased from you at regular rates by the Groupon customer How much is that bologna sandwich I ll take two with mustard please CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Competition  What are your competitors charging for the same or similar products services  How do you react when a competi...
Chapter 25 Business negotiations goal should be win win Published Monday August 18 2014 at 1 00 a m If I negotiate a deal that I consider to be favorable for me does that mean the other party didn t do so well Not necessarily How do I know if I got the best deal possible What is the secret to good negotiating Should I try to get the best deal that I can and the heck with the other party If our interests are opposed and there is give and take should I take as much as possible If not why not CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Example I want to print brochures for my company so I obtain three quotes Prices are all over the place I select the lowest price The job is printed on low grade paper resulting in poor quality Consequently I am unhappy I don t think I got what I paid for Maybe I forgot to specify the paper for the job perhaps I didn t know what to ask for The printer never asked Some things to consider Send out an RFP Request for Proposal and make sure you are getting an apples to apples exact quote The devil is in the details so you need to include the exact parameters for a bid The lowest price isn t necessarily the best price Penny wise pound foolish There are some areas where you don t want to compromise especially when safety is concerned If you don t believe me just ask Mary Barra CEO of GM about its massive recall costing more than 3 billion caused by using inexpensive but faulty ignition switches All small businesses have limited funds some more limited than others but limited nonetheless How you allocate those funds can make the difference between success and failure Without deep pockets a critical mistake can be your last Compare with other businesses similar to yours One of the best ways to determine if your spending is in line with other similarly sized companies in your industry is to look at a breakdown of your expenses as a ratio CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 25 Business negotiations  goal should be win-win Published  Monday, August 18, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  If I negotiate a...
Using data from Risk Management Associates formerly known as Robert Morris Associates you can look up your industry and compare your ratios to the sample data ranges To do this you need to know your industry s NAICS North American Industry Classification System code All banks have access to this information as does our local SCORE chapter This comparison will enable you to see how you stack up in relation to other similarly sized businesses in your field Trade association data might also be available to provide comparative metrics If your numbers are out of whack for businesses similar to yours the strategy is to make meaningful adjustments that bring your company back in line within the average range Win win It makes sense to pay a fair price and have both parties involved in the transaction satisfied that they got a good deal Often known as win win this mature thinking promotes complementary sustainable relationships where each side gains value Win lose This is often short term and not sustainable Yes you might get a great deal once or twice but if your vendor goes out of business is that really going to help you It certainly did not help them If this happens you ll have to find replacement vendors and you may pay more in the long run for that privilege And this doesn t even begin to consider any qualitative factors CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Lose lose Time to walk away My price your terms or your price my terms The relationship of price and terms can be an effective tool for negotiating and developing a win win relationship If the most important variable for your business is cash flow perhaps you are willing to pay a little more for better payment terms Give and take is the key This is often true in a lease contract in which you are looking for a fixed payment amount and might be less interested in the length of the agreement Ask the right questions and you ll get the right answers If you ask good questions to better understand the other party you will be in a better position to create options that are specific to the other party s needs These options will enhance deal appeal Anchoring This is what happens when the other party says you will pay 12 to 15 for that widget and you focused on the 12 and never heard the 15 mentioned The best place for anchoring is overboard Be open minded and flexible Perhaps the 15 will get you a better product with the bells and whistles that will work best for your business Favorable outcome In the end it is the favorable outcome you are seeking There is nothing wrong with this outcome being favorable for both sides Be willing to compromise and make strategic trade offs Don t be afraid to walk away from a bad deal Always know what your alternatives are Happy negotiating CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Using data from Risk Management Associates, formerly known as Robert Morris Associates, you can look up your industry and ...
Chapter 26 My tips for networking with LinkedIn service Published Monday August 25 2014 at 1 00 a m WHILE HAVING LUNCH a friend suggested that I write about using Linked In as a business tool Though I m not an expert on LinkedIn I have increased my usage and my connections have grown from about 57 to more than 500 in a little over a year LinkedIn is the largest professional social network in the world with more than 300 million connections and it is great for building relationships and marketing a business CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents There are many books on using LinkedIn but I will cover tips I have learned through personal experience things that most people probably don t know that can be helpful to you for your business My comments are applicable to the free version only Professional recruiters may pay thousands annually for various upgrades These comments focus first on what you should do then on how to search on LinkedIn In online searches for your name your LinkedIn profile will usually rank at the top of search results Create and maintain a LinkedIn Profile Showcase your skills and experience think in terms of branding yourself Use a professional photo for your profile Use strategic keywords in your headline Complete your profile to build a strong professional identity Keep your profile current and update it as changes occur Change your LinkedIn Web address to LinkedIn com in YOURNAME by going to your Profile page choosing to Edit the page and then Edit the Web page name below your image Include your email address under Contact Info Add connections liberally by extending and accepting invitations to connect You will benefit by connecting to your connections contacts Endorse and recommend others CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 26 My tips for networking with LinkedIn service Published  Monday, August 25, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  WHILE HAVING LUNC...
Ask people you have worked with for recommendations Add links to relevant articles and blogs you have written Join user groups up to 50 Join your customers user groups Start your own group in which you control the discussion Participate in discussion threads in areas that interest you LinkedIn is not a r sum Treat your profile like an ad Highlight your work Have five or more endorsements for your skill sets CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Create a business page and own the domain name Do not sell do not promote How to search on LinkedIn By clicking on the dropdown box with 3 horizontal bars to the left of the main search box at the top of the page you can focus a search on people jobs companies groups universities posts or your inbox If you search universities for example without putting in a specific name your results will yield 25 162 universities If you refine by selecting Harvard Business School you can explore the careers of 69 728 alumni You can see where they work what they do and where they live You can select More to expand the details and view photos Pretty neat Another way to search is by selecting the Advanced tab to the right of the main search box For example if I want to find CEOs to invite to my CEO Roundtable I can de select first connections and search on my second and group connections On the left side of the page I click on the Title input box and type in CEO and then I select Current from the box that shows up below the Title box I can scroll down to Postal Code and input my zip A new input box labeled Within pops up and I can select within 10 miles Now I click on Search This search resulted in identifying 648 CEOs within 10 miles of my zip code If I want second connections only the return is 595 CEOs First connections only reveals 26 results I can send a message to my first connections and I can contact second connections and seek to establish them as first connections I can then email or call them to invite them to the CEO Roundtable Using referrals CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Ask people you have worked with for recommendations. Add links to relevant articles and blogs you have written. Join user ...
From my search results I may decide to consider Mary X I ve never met Mary but LinkedIn indicates we share 13 connections Before I communicate with Mary I will look at her LinkedIn profile and decide whether I want to contact her as a prospect to join my CEO group I select the highlighted 13 shared connections link to see who we both know among my first connections If I decide that I do want to contact Mary when I talk to her I will mention that she may know Sara H and Andy F my first level contacts She may or may not The reason for this is that Mary might have received a business card at a meeting a year ago and can t recall Andy but she does remember Sara LinkedIn is a powerful business tool that has caught on for good reasons Take the time to create your comprehensive profile and then experiment with the search capabilities You ll be glad you LinkedIn CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
From my search results, I may decide to consider Mary X. I ve never met Mary, but LinkedIn indicates we share 13 connectio...
Chapter 27 Cash flow and ways to avoid selling your car Published Monday September 1 2014 at 1 00 a m I will gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today Wimpy from the Popeye comic Wimpy was using credit before credit cards were around Cash flow represents the movement of money into and out of your business The sources can be from operations investments and financing This is often considered the most important metric because a business without cash is simply out of business CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents There are only two ways to improve cash flow more inflow and less outflow Cash flow analysis projections can be used to determine the amount of start up capital needed for a new business Compute monthly at a minimum until positive cash flow is achieved There is often confusion about cash flow projections and budgeting they are not the same thing A budget emphasizes what you expect to spend over a specific period of time usually one year Cash flow emphasizes when you expect to spend the money and is a real world number A budget can be compared to a traffic light with clear signals such as stop caution and go A budget doesn t represent real world numbers only estimates of what is expected to happen Cash flow however is like a stop sign You have to decide when to go based on traffic and the traffic is always changing Run the stop sign and the results can be catastrophic Let s examine cash flow in more detail Cash in Any money that comes into the business checking account whether derived from cash received accounts receivable collected advances from a credit line borrowed money a loan equity or owner invested funds into the business Cash out All business expenses paid out including payroll draws by owner etc Change in cash position Essentially your checking account at month s end adding inflows and subtracting outflows to get an ending balance This amount becomes your beginning balance for the following month CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 27 Cash flow, and ways to avoid selling your car Published  Monday, September 1, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.   I will gladly...
It may be helpful to classify entries with labels such as cash from operations either from sales or accounts receivable and cash from equity bank or other loans or owner investments This enables you to more easily track changes in different categories and make adjustments If you are fortunate enough to have a cash rich business as few do then you have several options You could pay down debt if any you could invest a portion of the excess cash and earn interest on these funds you could pre pay invoices requesting greater discounts from vendors you could give employees raises or maybe you could take more for yourself How about a 401K plan If cash is tight in your business and you are experiencing a cash crunch you may want to do a cash flow analysis more frequently perhaps weekly Improving cash flow CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents So how can you improve your cash flow Here are 22 ways 1 Sell more products or services One of my favorite sayings is Sales cure all problems This assumes that your margins are sufficient 2 Be cautious when extending credit 3 Accelerate accounts receivable collections Get on the phone if necessary 4 Charge interest for late payments 5 Seek up front payments or deposits if possible 6 Accept credit cards to get paid sooner 7 Take vendor discounts if your cash flow is strong 8 Delay payments to creditors or align payments with receipts 9 Negotiate favorable payment terms such as 60 or 90 days or more 10 Use alternate financing such as factoring receivables 11 Lease equipment instead of purchasing 12 Establish and use credit lines from financial institutions 13 Finance purchases 14 Arrange private loans CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
It may be helpful to classify entries with labels such as cash from operations  either from sales or accounts receivable  ...
15 Sell an equitable interest in your business 16 Optimize inventory levels Use JIT just in time where possible 17 Operate more efficiently 18 Acquire goods less expensively 19 Sell assets 20 Cut workers hours 21 Outsource select business activities requiring less cash 22 Get your billings out promptly CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Many years ago I remember having to sell my Mercedes Benz to make payroll Fortunately I owned the car and was able to get 17 000 I then leased a new car Can you guess what happened My employees saw that I had a new car and all wanted raises Of course they had no clue what happened It is critical to know your cash position now as well as projections into the future Develop a strategy to meet your short term and long term cash needs For example what will you do when business slows down If you have a seasonal business have you prepared for the lean months Timing is critical to cash flow Whatever you do do not run out of cash Cash may be king but cash flow is the queen If you play chess and you lose your queen it is usually game over Checkmate CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
15. Sell an equitable interest in your business. 16. Optimize inventory levels. Use JIT  just in time  where possible. 17....
Chapter 28 Why Don t reinvent the wheel is bad advice Published Monday September 8 2014 at 1 00 a m The wheel has been around for 9 000 years give or take a millennium According to Wikipedia wheels are used in conjunction with axles either the wheel turns on the axle or the axle turns in the object body The mechanics are the same in either case To reinvent the wheel is to duplicate a basic method that has already been created or optimized by others An attempt to reinvent it would be pointless and add no value to the object and would be a waste of time right I disagree CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Whether used for moving giant stones to build pyramids or using the trackwheel to make music louder on an iPod wheels serve many functions and have no doubt improved countless lives over the years The famous saying don t reinvent the wheel conjures up the very basics of the simplest of products the wheel that cannot be improved and should not be reinvented While the very basics of a wheel depict its structure and its strength a reinvented wheel can be a good thing Due to the many uses a wheel can have improvement is something that can and should take place for a wheel with a specific purpose in mind Consider the oval shaped cams on an engine s cam shaft an adaptation of a wheel Now think about trying to harness the power of pistons with round cams on the shaft So reinventing the wheel can and should be done continuously with varying degrees of modification As I like to say just change the spokes to improve a product or method Can you imagine a life devoid of watches whirring computer drives Hula hoops gyroscopes bicycles and cars Countless improvements stem from reinventing the wheel Such reinvention relates directly to your business to your products and to your success Can you genuinely improve any aspects of your business by reinvention change addition or deletion Apple s reinvention of the cell phone made its own signature product the iPod obsolete In 2005 the iPod accounted for 45 percent of Apple s revenue The decision to combine the iPod and a digital camera into a cell phone made the iPhone one of the most successful products of all time With innovation after innovation Apple figured out ways to simplify what others made complicated CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 28 Why  Don t reinvent the wheel  is bad advice Published  Monday, September 8, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  The wheel has b...
Another good example of this reinvention is evident with automobile tires Tire evolution has produced tall tires fat tires tubeless tires wide oval tires radial tires low profile tires safe tires rain effusing tires long wear tires high performance tires racing tires slick tires and lowrolling resistance tires to name a few Each change sought to improve upon the basic design to achieve greater speed better cornering blowout resistance better looks and longer life How about sustainable recyclable tires Perhaps tire disposal fees will be eliminated in the future Now doesn t this wheel reinvention thing create a need for better brakes How about rims made out of aluminum steel or titanium or fancy reverse spinners Do you remember mirrored halfmoons Donut spare tires for short distances run flats and cigarette lighter air pumps to temporarily reinflate flat tires often replace regular spare tires CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Apply this reinvention thinking to your business processes products everything you do Will product changes create new business opportunities spinoffs or will they disrupt or kill existing categories Can you connect dots of existing technologies perhaps with a twist Think creatively think strategically Consult a patent attorney if you think you have something unique If you don t reinvent your competition will surely surpass you Experiment make mistakes test test test But R D should be done as inexpensively as affordable Think of reinvention as improving though sometimes you may take a step backward The important thing is to recognize your direction forward backward or sideways Are you improving your product method or services or are you taking a step backward or sideways Ask what else your product can be Will your reinvention create a new paradigm kill a category or is it simply an iterative improvement Everyone knows Post it Notes but not necessarily the story behind its success Initially this product was a failure by 3M to develop a stronger adhesive The product adhesive stuck but could easily be removed without damage to pages or to the note Today Post It Notes are one of the most successful office products of all time Do reinvent the wheel Change the spokes CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Another good example of this reinvention is evident with automobile tires. Tire evolution has produced tall tires, fat tir...
Chapter 29 Figuring out when it s time to fire customers Published Monday September 15 2014 at 1 00 a m Have you ever done business with someone who was more of a problem than they were worth Wouldn t you like to tell some customers to shop with your competition Some customers are never happy no matter what you do for them Fortunately this is usually a rare occurrence and you probably love most of your customers as I do My dentist a life long friend since we were 5 years old told me that he tells patients who repeatedly ignore his dental advice to consider going elsewhere because he can no longer help them Is this too harsh You be the judge CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents I have turned down business that I perceived would not be worthwhile I refer to these as the best customer I never had Unfortunately I have also accepted business that turned out to be a big loser Some customers take up too much time are never happy and are always complaining about something When you consider all the variables you can definitely lose time and money doing bad business When time is lost you can never get it back and you are left thinking If only I had realized this was not going to be a beneficial relationship I could have nipped it in the bud Live and learn that s the key Learn from your experiences and in this case your mistakes Taking this newfound knowledge to the next step can have some promising outcomes Here are some thoughts and strategies for you to consider for your business Do you know which business is profitable and which is not by customer Here s how to find out and what you can do about it Rank your customers from most profitable to least profitable quarterly or annually This should prove to be an eye opening exercise It may be best to use percentages instead of dollars To do this you have to know your costs If you regularly read my column then you already know how to do this Perhaps you should draw a line in the sand or on your ledger or Excel spreadsheet Where black ink turns to red ink consider doing the following CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 29 Figuring out when it s time to fire customers Published  Monday, September 15, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  Have you ever...
Examine why certain customers are not profitable and try to come up with a solution Perhaps you need to raise rates or sell additional products or services If returns and restocking are creating a problem consider charging a restocking fee Is the client paying its bill on time within their agreed upon terms Perhaps you should ask for payment terms more favorable for you maybe 15 days or COD Talk to your customers and be honest Tell unprofitable or low profit customers that you are not making money with their account and you cannot continue to lose money Take emotion out of the equation If the relationship is valued and depending upon how badly your customer needs you they may agree This is especially true if your customer will not be able to get a better deal elsewhere Often it is not about the money The customer may just be a pain and you may be overservicing them CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Attempt to salvage the business if possible but be prepared to lose a loser In a professional way of course advise the customer that you no longer want to do business with them because they are costing you money or that the aggravation is affecting your health Shed this business At first this may sound strange Certainly it will be uncomfortable But shedding your worst customer or two may let you add several new and profitable ones Consider what you could do with the extra time if you don t have to waste it on problem clients Could you sell to new profitable accounts instead Perhaps you just need to take some time off to relieve some stress If you have product lines or services that are weak examine these as well Unless carrying the product or service is critical to other key business transactions consider dumping them and adding something that will strengthen your company Now is the time just do it The bottom line Ask yourself if this should have been the best customer you never had Go with your gut Don t be afraid to say no Don t cut price to the point where it just doesn t pay Look at ways to replace unprofitable or troublesome customers and marginal products and services Your business should always be improving No loss leaders here The only exception would be to influencer type accounts or products and services that will help you get other more profitable business CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Examine why certain customers are not profitable and try to come up with a solution. Perhaps you need to raise rates or se...
Chapter 30 Small business owners must know branding Published Monday September 22 2014 at 1 00 a m Brand and branding strategy are complicated topics Here are some tips you should know as a small business The American Marketing Association defines a brand as a name term sign symbol or design or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers Simple enough right CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Your brand resides within the minds of consumers customers and prospects in a hierarchy you are positioned first second etc when your company product is thought of Your brand is composed of exposure to perceptions of and personal experiences with your company product or service You can influence the public s attitude and behavior toward your brand through advertising word of mouth and other means Having a strong recognizable brand is invaluable and should be the cornerstone of your marketing communications Brand messages should be clear credible confirming and connecting while motivating buyer loyalty Your branding strategy is present at every point of public contact Some of your considerations and components should be Name development It should be memorable evocative and differentiating Beware of cultural differences if exporting Logo development Logos should be used consistently Develop a style guide to help define how to use where to use colors to use size proportion and placement Trademark or Register your mark please refer to my Herald Tribune column on intellectual property and the small business dated June 16 2014 Taglines Please don t squeeze the Charmin Just do it The quicker picker upper Google it It Works Use memorable product attributes and benefits Corporate identity Everything you do helps build or detract from your identity Use social channels to help in brand building Packaging Your packaging says a lot about your company Think of Amazon and its smiling logo on its boxes or how Apple products are packaged Everything matters with your branding strategy CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 30 Small-business owners must know branding Published  Monday, September 22, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  Brand and branding...
Website design Do the most you can with the budget you have Look at websites you like and copy their use of design elements with your message You can use free templates offered by WordPress Your branding strategy should seek to increase awareness build trust position your product first in the mind of the consumer continually build your brand and drive conversions sales In a well defined approach market research budget allowing should focus on perceived value of your brand surveys of customer awareness attitudes intentions to purchase and actual buying behavior Keep in mind what the competition is doing as you will be measured against other similar choices Your goal is to carve out a messaging niche that resonates with your target audience My personal experiences with branding CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Name development I love creating names out of thin air In Orlando I started a magazine called Orbus The name was a combination of Orlando and Business My tagline was Bringing Orlando and Business together Orbus was a great success and was sold for seven figures within two years Not too shabby But at first it sounded funny What s an Orbus After a short while however the business community would say have you seen that article in Orbus about such and such It really caught on it was unique and easily identifiable There was no doubt that Orbus was positioned as the business magazine in Orlando Brand architecture and extension In the 80s I published a group of magazines called Office Guides These publications were real estate directories listing available commercial office space The publications were supported by commercial developers office and industrial and productand service related advertising The first magazine was Office Guide To Tampa In scaling this brand the series was rolled out to Orlando Miami and Broward and Palm Beach counties the state of Florida Denver Colorado and Phoenix Arizona The branding was kept consistent for the logo and the layout The publication was given a 10 cover price because nobody throws out a 10 magazine The circulation was primarily controlled and targeted to company presidents and relocation professionals The Manasota SCORE podcast series Been There Done That with Dennis Zink is available on iTunes Stitcher Radio at Manasota SCORE org and now at SCORE org our national website which receives over 250 000 unique monthly visitors great exposure The name Been There Done That effectively positions our podcast series by conducting feature interviews with business executives and thought leaders discussing their experience and CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Website design -- Do the most you can with the budget you have. Look at websites you like and copy their use of design ele...
knowledge on a particular business topic These podcasts are also available at centreofinfluence org Finally where should you place your message for branding Depending on your business product or service you should consider using print TV radio outdoor direct response digital mobile social media email podcasts YouTube and other methods to get your message out to the public Target your message to customers who will buy and then influence others to also buy your brand CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
knowledge on a particular business topic. These podcasts are also available at centreofinfluence.org. Finally, where shoul...
Chapter 31 With eyes on your future start by writing your obituary Published Monday September 29 2014 at 1 00 a m Many years ago I was asked to write my own obituary My initial reaction was I feel healthy I hope that I have more time left and why should I do this anyway It turned out to be one of the better exercises I have ever done This exercise forces you to think about the big picture of your life How do you want to be remembered What have you accomplished and more importantly what do you want to do with your remaining time Go ahead and try it CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Here is a template you can follow Your name ____________ age __ died today from ______ He She was a member of ____ He She is survived by ______ At the time of his her death he she was working on becoming ___________ He She will be remembered for ________ He She will be mourned by __________ because ________ The world will suffer the loss of his her contributions in the areas of _________ __________ and ________ He She always wanted but never got___________ The body will be __________ Flowers may be sent to ____________ In lieu of flowers send ___________ Some more help for thinking this through Historical Make a list of what you have done accomplished that you are proud of What have you enjoyed most that are your best remembered occasions Reflect on your successes and celebrate them as near as possible to the accomplishment Future What is on your bucket list The term bucket list was coined by screenwriter Justin Zackham who wrote the screenplay for the 2007 film The Bucket List about two terminally ill men who went on a road trip to accomplish a wish list of things they wanted to do before they kicked the bucket List those things that you still want to do during your life If your bucket list is not in writing perhaps it is time to write it down Put accomplish by dates for each item Desirable but not existing List the things that are desirable but do not now exist in your life These are the basis for your goals CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 31 With eyes on your future, start by writing your obituary Published  Monday, September 29, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  Ma...
Non desirable and existing List those things that exist in your life that you don t desire These are your obstacles Write them down and start thinking about how to remove them Work towards making these changes Start today Complications List the complications that would arise if you died suddenly Determine what you would need to do to avoid those complications and then develop a plan to eliminate them For example What if you have a business with partners and there is a sudden death Hopefully there is a buy sell agreement that is funded with the insurance proceeds of the decedent A buy sell properly structured will require the surviving owner to buy and the heirs to sell the shares thus preventing a surviving owner from ending up in business with a partner s spouse or children Goal setting This is where your bucket list lives A goal is a dream with a deadline Goals should align with your life Think of your goals as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow Goals must be specific measurable and attainable with a time horizon Express your goals in a positive and personal way CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents How to set your goals Goals need three dates the date you set your goal your target date to achieve your goal and the date your goal is achieved Write down how you will benefit from achieving your goals List possible obstacles and your strategy for overcoming these obstacles What specific tasks or action items are necessary for your goal attainment For each task you will list a projected start and target date for completion and indicate when you have completed each item Use affirmations as to why this is a worthy goal and the value of accomplishing it The mind is very powerful The more you think about and visualize positive results the more likely it is that you will achieve these goals If you have been realistic with your timelines then you should succeed close to these dates Track your progress You must know when you have reached your goals Decades ago I came across a terrific goal setting form which I still use for the goal setting process It is one page two sides and I will gladly email it to you upon request Write to me at centreofinfluence gmail com and ask for the goal setting form At link to it is with this story online at http bit ly bizwkly I sincerely hope that you achieve all of your goals including all those on your bucket list before you kick the bucket CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Non-desirable and existing  List those things that exist in your life that you don t desire. These are your obstacles. Wri...
Chapter 32 Culture it s not in ledger but it affects the bottom line Published Monday October 6 2014 at 1 00 a m Culture is an invisible force running through your organization It s an unwritten set of rules for working together Good organizational culture can breed harmony poor culture can be disastrous Culture can change but usually that change is slow evolving over time Culture affects all stakeholders including owners investors employees customers and vendors CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents In the beginning a company s founder establishes its culture as an extension of personal style beliefs and values Early hires likely have an effect in the formative stages and help set the cultural tone Every employee has the potential to change the culture for better or worse Culture is a significant factor in the success of a business It is important that the culture and the behavior it engenders are aligned with the company s values mission and goals But it also must be able to adapt A good example is CVS Health Corp CVS recently re aligned its mission values and product mix by deciding to no longer carry tobacco products After all CVS is a pharmacy providing drugs to heal the ills and make people well Selling tobacco products was inconsistent with the company s mission I suspect the hit they took in sales was more than compensated for by their positive public relations exposure Do you know what your company s culture is What would you like it to be How can you move it from what it is to what you d like it to be Perhaps you should ask these questions and try this exercise 1 What do you think your culture should be 2 What is your company known for 3 How do your employees behave 4 What is your company s persona CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 32 Culture  it s not in ledger, but it affects the bottom line Published  Monday, October 6, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  Cu...
5 Circle as many of the following that apply to your business and feel free to add your own attributes effective leadership integrity trust empowerment commitment caring open communications teamwork accountability adaptability effective processes customer focused skills development effective recruiting effective retention supportive of innovation loyalty non discrimination performance based pay fair 6 Now give this list to your employees and ask them to anonymously circle the attributes the company has and to add any words that describe the culture as they see it Are there differences in your perception and theirs I bet there are and you need to learn why When employees talk to each other are they generally happy or complaining talking about the company in a good light or negatively Are they enthusiastic Do you truly listen to your employees and consider their input Is your culture traditional like McDonalds or non traditional like Zappos CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Are company communications collaborative or dictatorial as in my way or the highway Is agreement the order of the day or is it permitted to challenge assumptions and offer solutions Consider variables such as your company policy for overtime lunch time vacation time promotions health insurance profit sharing 401 k matching contributions car allowance and other perquisites Walk around your office and observe what is important to your employees Their desks and walls are telling Do they have photos of their family vacation pictures sports memorabilia framed letters trophies or plaques This may reveal information about employee values Even the Wizard of Oz needs to look behind the curtain from time to time to see what s really there Is your culture inclusive or exclusive Employee cliques are both inclusive for those in the clique and exclusive for those not in the group How is your company structured Is there harmony among departments or are competing interests causing World War III Sub cultures small groups that surface within larger groups may have their own cultural attributes Different departments often develop their own sub cultures with conflicting goals within them How about your customers expectations How well do you service them Think of businesses that service you impressively and those that don t And then there s cultural collision what happens when companies merge and cultures collide One of the more difficult aspects of a merger happens when everyone is physically together in the same building The result is a cultural collision CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
5. Circle as many of the following that apply to your business and feel free to add your own attributes  effective leaders...
You now have two distinct groups trying to behave as one Culture is a stubborn thing and resistant to change Will one culture become dominant Will a blend of cultures lead to inconsistencies in values for one group or the other Will everyone get along and play nice in the new sand box This culture stuff is very tricky and critical to a successful merger Seek help from businessculture experts when attempting a merger Job satisfaction often has a lot to do with the type of company employees work for How are employees and their contributions valued Pay is one thing but benefits such as sick leave group insurance retirement benefits vacations and profit sharing go a long way Employees will often work for a company for less pay if the culture is meaningful and relates to their values behavior and beliefs Culture may not show up as a line item on your balance sheet but it certainly affects your bottom line CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
You now have two distinct groups trying to behave as one. Culture is a stubborn thing and resistant to change. Will one cu...
Chapter 33 Achieving world class customer service Published Monday October 13 2014 at 1 00 a m Because last week was National Customer Service Week here are a few tips on how to improve yours Your ability to satisfy your customers is crucial for many reasons chief among them that without customers you are not in business A satisfied customer is your greatest ally and will most likely continue to do business with you They can be proponents of your business and provide referrals CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents A dissatisfied customer on the other hand may be a detractor and is likely to switch service and tell others about their poor experience with your company What can you do to improve your customer service 1 Listen to your customers They will tell you what they want Identify customer needs by asking the right questions 2 Provide solutions Customers buy solutions to their problems not products and services Often needs are emotional 3 Care about them Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care about them 4 Use the customer s name Offer sincere praise or compliments thank them for their business and mean it 5 Yes should be your favorite answer If you can help a customer within reason just do it 6 UPOD Under Promise and Over Deliver Do more than is expected 7 Always respect their time Be on time to appointments Call if you are running late Reasonable people understand that things can come up as life happens 8 Request feedback Ask what you can do to improve 9 Properly train your employees Employees are often your direct link to your customer and your first line of service Train them well and treat them well Customer service starts at the top CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 33 Achieving world-class customer service Published  Monday, October 13, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  Because last week was ...
10 Knowledge base Does your staff know your products and the services you offer Teach them to answer the customer s questions and not show off or confuse the customer Tell the customer what they need and want to know Show the customer the next step as applicable 11 Solve their problem Make it easy for the customer to buy 12 Develop a dependable supply chain and delivery process 13 Answer your phone Ask if you may place the customer on hold Do not place the customer on hold for long periods Take their phone number and call them back promptly after you have the answers to their questions 14 Deal with complaints Handle complaints promptly and courteously Don t say no problem Giving the customer with something of value that is unexpected goes a long way toward building continued loyalty CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents 15 Go the extra mile As Home Depot often does walk customers to the product that solves their problem Rating your business Where does your business fall on the customer service continuum Most people have no clue as to what constitutes excellent customer service The customerservice experts at the DiJulius Group broke companies down by the following levels of customer service Level I Unacceptable12 Level II Below average29 Level III Average38 Level IV Above average18 Level V World class3 The customer service 10 commandments What does world class customer service look like According to DiJulius You have to be excellent for five consecutive years Everything counts Is your messaging positive or negative CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
10. Knowledge base. Does your staff know your products and the services you offer  Teach them to answer the customer s que...
This level of customer service embodies the 10 Commandments of world class service I Have an incredibly strong inspirational service vision a service brand promise that instills the service passion in all your employees II Service culture find attract and only hire people who have the service DNA III The company is world class in team guest community home walk the talk in all areas of one s life IV Master the norm factor profiling guest customer and sharing that information so all employees can make them feel like VIPs distinguishing new from returning customers V Are zero risk to deal with no hassle problem solving CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents VI Non negotiable service systems minimum service standards everyone must follow VII Anticipate service defects and above and beyond opportunities company wide awareness of what to avoid and how to be a hero VIII Daily pre shift huddles mandatory five minute daily communication meetings to ensure common and clear vision and goals IX Train train train current staff and the next generation standardized training for new and existing employees X Have an above and beyond legacy constant awareness by recognizing and celebrating your stories According to the DiJulius Group Most organizations are in the dark about the quality of their customer service Out of 300 organizations 80 percent thought they had superior customer service but only 8 percent of 3 000 customers thought they had superior customer service Customer service done right results in higher sales growth more profits brand loyalty more referrals less price sensitivity higher employee morale and less turnover The better the customer experience the less price is an issue Please write me about your best or worst customer service experience for a possible follow up column in the future It is always rewarding to hear from you CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
This level of customer service embodies the 10 Commandments of world-class service  I. Have an incredibly strong, inspirat...
Chapter 34 It s time to give your business a tune up Published Monday October 20 2014 at 1 00 a m Just like a car a business needs regular maintenance Unfortunately unlike a car you can t plug your business into a computer that can spit out a maintenance BizFAX report advising what s wrong and what to fix tweak or replace Wouldn t that be nice Well tools computer programs and consultants can provide some useful information about the health of your business CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents But a word of caution Remember that garbage in equals garbage out To take a reading of the health of your business I suggest a periodic business tune up that tries to accomplish three things 1 Give you an understanding of the current health of your business 2 Look at options to improve your business 3 Make repairs or changes as needed Understand the current health of your business Start with a SWOT analysis that looks at strengths weaknesses opportunities and threats Compare your business to others in your industry Look at trade association best practices and metrics if available How is your competition doing At SCORE we recommend using Risk Management Association data Banks and other financial institutions pay handsomely to access this data which they use to determine the financial capability of a business to decide whether to make loans or extend credit to it RMA ratio data helps to identify assess and manage the effects of credit risk operational risk and market risk on businesses It enables comparison of your company with other same sized companies in your space How are you positioned financially compared to your competition Pay attention to the comparative balance sheet ratios regarding assets and liabilities such as cash A R inventory fixed assets liabilities trade payables debt taxes and net worth Then look at income data such as gross profit operating expenses operating profit and profit before taxes CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 34 It s time to give your business a tune-up Published  Monday, October 20, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  Just like a car, a ...
Next consider cash flow measures cash from sales cash after operations debt service interest coverage etc Circle or highlight major exceptions plus or minus Also consider intangibles My column two weeks ago addressed the effect culture can have on your profits See Culture It s not in ledger but it affects the bottom line A word about Dunn Bradstreet and the Better Business Bureau It has been my experience that Dunn Bradstreet has terribly inaccurate information Most business people whom I have polled over the years do not pay attention to or respond to D B requests They are not a government entity nor are they an official group of any sort And the local Better Business Bureau has a paid for membership that has little value other than that some people seem to think they are a quasi official entity They are not My experience with them is about the same as D B Once you know where you stand you can move to step No 2 CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Look at options to improve your business Seek continuous improvement in all areas of your business by optimizing and simplifying all processes Use meaningful metrics as a road map formula If unsure ask your accountant to help develop your list of key performance indicators Measure these metrics constantly Determine what the next desirable level would be Put your goals in writing with expected completion dates that will guide you to achieve your desired results Have solutions for today and tomorrow Innovation should be your motivation If you re not fixing it it s probably broken Re align core competencies Use possibility thinking to explore what else your business could be doing Be creative and talk to trusted friends associates vendors mentors and consultants Ask them what they would do if they were you Make needed repairs and changes Fill in employment gaps and create a stronger team where necessary Include active change management Assess your product mix and revise as needed Review major vendor pricing and your pricing Adjust to changing market trends adapt and grow Improve your sales cash flow and profits Review your service component to achieve excellence See my column last week on How to achieve world class customer service Update your message and Internet presence Use time management to get more done by delegation of tasks you don t have to do yourself Improve your skills and knowledge and obtain the necessary resources to succeed CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Next, consider cash flow measures  cash from sales, cash after operations, debt service, interest coverage, etc. Circle or...
After you have made all of these positive changes it s time to reward yourself for a job well done A first step This exercise is the beginning of the process of reviewing your business determining possible areas of improvement and making meaningful changes Put this exercise on your calendar again for next year and repeat CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
After you have made all of these positive changes, it s time to reward yourself for a job well done. A first step This exe...
Chapter 35 Why can t employees think more like a boss Published Monday October 27 2014 at 1 00 a m Have you ever wondered why your employees see things so differently from you Sometimes you might think they just don t get it The reason is simple You have an employer perspective and they have an employee perspective and often these views are polar opposites Let s look at a few examples starting with the most common issue CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Pay Employer perspective Your employee does a great job for you but you can only pay so much for the contribution You feel that you are already paying fair market value and perhaps more Employee perspective Your employee feels he is underpaid and that he does a lot of work for you and needs a raise Solution Pay your employees in other ways It may not cost you any more money and although it may not be cash spendable as pay it will have value to them Consider it psychic pay Learn what motivates your employee to work for you Perhaps the employee just wants to feel valued Maybe he has been with you a long time and wants to be respected for his loyalty and seniority Consider a title change promotion with new business cards Reward his seniority with extra vacation or personal days When deserved make him employee of the month with a special reserved parking space Add a printed certificate either framed or ready for framing to hang in his office Maybe a different office with new or newer furniture or a window office if available There are many ways to recognize an employee for their contributions to your company without having to increase financial remuneration Even public praise goes a long way Performance appraisal Let s assume you have a formal performance appraisal interview process on an annual or other frequency basis CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 35 Why can t employees think more like a boss  Published  Monday, October 27, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  Have you ever won...
Employer perspective A review doesn t mean you automatically get a raise or pay increase Employee perspective I am being reviewed I wonder how much of a raise I am going to get Solution Separate the review process from raises Who says an employee review has to be tied to a raise in pay Have reviews mid year and pay adjustments at year end Your employees need to understand that these are two separate events Responsibility Employer perspective I gave you more responsibility because I know you are capable of doing the job very well and I trust that you will Employee perspective If I am assuming more responsibility then I should be paid more CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents Solution When you give someone additional responsibility consider restructuring duties and delegating some of the easier tasks to another employee Pay inequity Bill makes more money than Sally so Sally wants more money Employer perspective You shouldn t discuss how much you get paid with other employees Employee perspective Employees often discuss pay rates with other employees Solution It should be taboo even a firing offense to discuss pay rates with other employees Everyone has different backgrounds education and experience and pay is determined based on many variables This can put the employer in a bad situation so it must be treated as confidential information that is never shared Bridging the differences There are ways to teach your key employees to think like an employer Explain to key employees why they need to have an employer mentality They need to be in sync with the owners and with the company s strategic plan They need to act as if they were an owner They should think about what they would do if they owned the company and then act accordingly Tell them this is a way for employees to become recognized for their contributions to the success of the company and to differentiate themselves from the crowd By thinking this way they will become more valuable to the employer be treated with more respect and may receive more substantial raises when it s time CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Employer perspective  A review doesn t mean you automatically get a raise or pay increase. Employee perspective  I am bein...
One of the best ways to get employee buy in to an employer s perspective is to have some form of profit sharing This will make employees quasi owners of the business I am not suggesting you necessarily part with stock or member units or another form of equity The structure can be in the form of bonuses on a special project s results or in specific product or service areas It must be measurable and verifiable so employees see what they will get at various levels of success Set goals and stretch goals and watch your employees succeed One way to structure profit sharing Use year end sales or profit goals which can be expressed as percentages First pick a profit sharing contribution perhaps 20 percent of the company profits Then determine what percentage of the total payroll each employee receives For example if Fred receives 5 percent of the payroll pie he would get 5 percent of the contribution sharing amount CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents This could be distributed as a year end bonus or through an existing 401 k plan CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
One of the best ways to get employee buy-in to an employer s perspective is to have some form of profit sharing. This will...
Chapter 36 Lights camera action Promote your business Published Monday November 3 2014 at 1 00 a m Last week I attended a local Internet Marketing Mastermind meeting This MeetUp group convenes every Thursday from 11 30 a m to 1 p m in the ITT building on Cooper Creek Road in the University Park area Toni Nelson president of Nelson Visual Productions the guest presenter taught us how to make the best use of video for a business CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents According to Nelson creating a video marketing strategy helps you to be seen and heard locally and globally 24 7 She said that 46 percent of the people who see your video will request additional information and 72 percent are more likely to buy In addition she stressed that a video is evergreen it will last for four years People viewing videos want three things They want to be inspired educated and entertained Just as the Chinese proverb states that a picture is worth a thousand words a video is worth 1 800 000 words according to Nelson Viewers will stay 80 percent longer on your website and there will be 157 percent increase in organic traffic Viewer demographics today tend to be the active 35 to 65 year olds Nelson says you need to do three things to succeed with video Target your customer Reach the appropriate demographic ask questions and find where they hang out online Interact on forums in groups and be where you need to be Know their problems Offer solutions to those problems Use different types of videos as appropriate Use product demonstration videos book trailer videos testimonial videos social proof overview videos of your business and your team promotional videos for events and the most important category the leadership video This video explains who you are According to Nelson It s like having a virtual cup of coffee It helps build relationships and offers free tips The About Us video is the No 1 page visited on websites A year end video created to serve as a thank you video is rarely done but is a good way to thank your readers listeners or people you ve done business with this past year CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Chapter 36 Lights, camera, action  Promote your business Published  Monday, November 3, 2014 at 1 00 a.m.  Last week, I at...
Nelson emphasized that just as you would build a house using a blueprint you should plan four video production steps so you can get positive results Know why you are doing this and what you hope to accomplish Have your blueprint your plan Express your P factor personality Create your script 9 tips from Toni 1 Capture attention You only have two to four seconds to do this The best way is to ask a question CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents 2 Use an intro You have a maximum of five seconds Use music get permission or use royalty free music Also use a visual in your website introduction 3 Have good content Use FAQs frequently asked questions with short answers Use Google alerts to find out what is trending in your business 4 Keep it short Video length should be 1 5 to 3 minutes 5 Use the lower third of the frame for streaming website information such as upcoming events your name or phone number 6 Have a call to action I want you to sign up for X Tell your viewer what you want them to do next 7 Practice before you record Use a mirror Your body language is important Memorize what you are going to say 8 Never wear stripes solids are best The attention should be on you not your clothing no distractions Keep it simple white or grey shirt nice slacks no shorts Women should wear earrings and necklaces that will not jingle during recording 9 Re purpose your script into an article or blog post Extract the audio and re purpose it as a podcast Use multiple platforms Have someone video your speaking engagements and include sections in your videos Post to LinkedIn and Google About your personality The P factor Some people freeze or are uncomfortable in front of a camera You can help yourself by thinking of the camera as a person you are talking to Relax be yourself and have fun producing videos that can help you succeed in your business CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Nelson emphasized that, just as you would build a house using a blueprint, you should plan four video production steps so ...
Get excited about what you are talking about That will make a huge difference Of course if it s not really you it won t work Not everyone should be in front of the camera In case you missed this Last week Google chose Sarasota as Florida s eCity for 2014 Sarasota joins 49 other cities nationwide in being designated as a leading city this year The independent research firm Ipsos analyzed the online strength of small businesses across all 50 states weighing the use of blogs and websites online sales and mobile friendly portals I ll bet YouTube videos helped put Sarasota on the map and make this prestigious list Lights cameras call to action CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents CLICK HERE to return to Table of Contents
Get excited about what you are talking about. That will make a huge difference. Of course, if it s not really you, it won ...