bookmark_borderMarketing Communications

The CEO may have had brilliant counsel to share, but I was so distracted by the scatological remarks and gratuitous profanities that peppered his remarks that I can’t even remember the subject of the article, or the name of his company.

Now, I’m not a prude or someone who lives in a sheltered world. I can swear with more vigor and variety than most people I know. I’d also wager that I have mastery of profanities you’ve never heard, including delightful epithets from other languages. Writers tend to gorge themselves on obscure vocabulary.

But I don’t understand why a presumably respected leader of a business found it necessary to publicly spew the kind of language most of us would never utter in polite company while promoting his business. Were the terms he used a critical component of the message he was trying to convey? Sure didn’t seem like it. Instead, he reminded me of a middle-schooler who couldn’t wait to share the dirty words he learned that day. His company may be phenomenal, but I’ll always see it as a club of potty-mouthed youngsters.

Perhaps it’s just another symptom of an era in which crass has become the new normal. We have entertainers who spit out profanity with the enthusiasm of a tent preacher. We have professional athletes who can’t be interviewed without a ready hand on the bleep button. And we even have a president who brushes aside his use of what he dismisses as locker-room talk.

There’s nothing new about crass or profane language. It’s long been an argot used within specific groups. Take comments such as “he swears like a drunken sailor” or the casual profanity long associated with factory workers. What does appear to be new is a willingness to take that language out of the private settings and spew it publicly. I once worked in an ad agency where f-bombs were the lingua franca among the staff, but even the filthiest mouths among us knew to use restraint when clients were visiting.

The simple fact is that profanity and vulgarity are lazy substitutes for real emotion. Writers who use them the way I sprinkle parmesan cheese on pasta are taking the easy way out. Being crass offers no real benefit to the speaker or her audience. It doesn’t improve communication, sharpen meaning, or enhance anyone’s image.

I’m sure some readers are dismissing my concerns as a generational thing, writing me off as some kind of ancient fogey. Yet I firmly believe that there are far more people who find such language offensive than those who accept it. Granted, the offended may have averaged more birthdays, but they probably make up the vast majority of your target audience. Why run the risk of turning them away just so you can flaunt your fluidity with f-bombs?

In my college years, a favorite philosophy professor realized he could catch the attention of sleepy undergrads by swearing the proverbial blue streak. A reply to a question about Plutarch quickly devolved into an f-bomb-laden rant, Lewis Black-style. He kept everyone awake and chuckling, but they remembered him for the coarseness of his words instead of the brilliance of his scholarship. Our post-class conversations revealed a thoughtful scholar that my classmates never got to see, because they couldn’t get past his language. Instead of creating connections, his approach put distance between him and those who might have benefited from his knowledge.

Face it: the world is already full of tastelessness and vulgarity. Why would anyone feel the need to drag us down any deeper? If you want to bandy obscenities and vulgarities around the locker room, the golf course, or the bar, have at it. But please don’t weave them into your conversations or writings about your business. It may be a little more challenging to stay on the high road, but it’s well worth the effort.

bookmark_borderGrow Business With Intelligent Automation

Reducing Human Error

One of the most important benefits that intelligent automation brings to any business is the reduction of human error in the work place. People are naturally affected by their daily lives and outside influences. If a worker, for example, came into work tired or unwell, his or her job performance will likely suffer, the risk of human error becoming greater. Automation software cannot be affected by time of day, mood, lack of sleep, etc., allowing it to be completely consistent in performing the task it was programmed to do.

Additionally, humans need to be taught new tasks and require practice in order to master them, robotic process automation can be updated and perform the tasks instantly.

In terms of business benefits, utilizing intelligent automation tools ensures performance consistency that will ultimately improve the overall quality of work, also allowing human workers to focus on higher priority and more important issues that require critical thinking.

Keeping Jobs Local

Employers have often ventured overseas to hire workers in other countries who can then perform basic tasks at a reduced wage, when compared to local employees. The bottom line can be better for these employers in the short-term, though working with outsourced employees means sending money overseas and trying to manage workers on another continent. Typically, over the long-term businesses that outsource overseas can experience unforeseen issues and costs due to the complications with depending on a foreign workforce.

With outsourced jobs being performed by intelligent automation tools businesses can focus on hiring skilled workers from the local market for the upper levels of the workforce.

Return on Investment

Perhaps the most intimidating factor in implementing intelligent automation within your business is the upfront cost. Putting money into something new is not a leap everyone wants to make. Intelligent automation, however, is not a gamble. Research shows that companies who use are able to automate around half of their tasks, increasing process time by fifty percent. Completing tasks more quickly means companies can take on more tasks without spending additional time on them. Depending on the industry, having jobs done quickly can mean increased revenue.

If performing redundant tasks quickly and accurately will not improve your company’s revenue, just simply utilizing automation tools certainly will. Such tools do not need pay, employee benefits, and can work overtime, the return of investment becomes apparent when considering all the expenses intelligent automation does not require.

bookmark_borderBefore Getting A Franchise

Get The Support of Your Family:

The success of your franchise is also the acceptance of your immediate family in supporting your effort. It is this simple. Take for instance, if you buy a franchise which is part of a book-store chain and your family does not even visit it once. Will you have the determination to see it through? If you need to take a short vacation, will your family member help to run the franchise in your place?

Know Your Strengths & Expertise:

A franchise should not just be a means for you to start your first business. It is preferable that you have a recognized skill or interest in the franchise before parting with the franchise initial capital. Maybe take a personality test to determine if you have the tenacity to follow through with the franchise.

Unique Proposition Of The Franchise:

The franchise should be protected by a patent or intellectual property law. This will create a significant barriers to entry.

Market Research:

A franchise can be a huge success in a particular geographical region but has less acceptance in another country. Thus it is crucial that you inspect the relevance of the market research that has been conducted by the franchise company especially in the area of when the market research was conducted and the demographics of the sample set.

Franchise Competition:

Do not get a franchise that does not seem to have a recognized competitor or an industry that can be classified – unless you are interested in being a master franchiser or have a first-mover advantage. The market may be slow to accept your franchise and you may find it hard to re-coup your initial investment within the agreed contractual period.

Legal Assistance:

It definitely pays to get a legal expert to read the franchise contract fine-print. You do not want to be accused of violating some of the franchise terms of agreement and pay an unnecessary penalty.

Get New Contacts:

Do not just depend on the contact database that may be provided by the franchise owner. You should also try to generate new contacts as the franchise contact database may also be used by new franchisees.

bookmark_borderBuying First Franchise

Budget Everything

First and foremost, you need to have a budget. Having a set budget will enable you to think of how much money you can actually spend on your franchise. It is best to be in touch with reality here since buying a franchise, as compared to just starting a small business from scratch, is not only risky but comparatively costly as well. So you need to be fully aware of what you are putting your money into and if it is truly worth all that trouble.

Choose Wisely

This brings us to the next highly important thing that you need to consider when buying a franchise: the countless franchise opportunities out there. Keep in mind that the success rate of buying a franchise is lot higher than just a starting small business. Look for franchise opportunities that are considered hot.

Still you have to think twice (or maybe a million times) before buying a franchise. Not only the ones that are deemed as hot but for any franchise. One day their products might be selling like hotcakes and are considered as a hot commodity but what about after the season or at the end of the year? Are they still hot? Are they still selling? Some franchise opportunities unfortunately fall flat on their faces after they have over saturated the market with their products.

Understand The Business

When it comes to finally committing to buying a franchise, the franchisee must fully know and understand the policies of the franchise opportunity that he or she is actually buying. The contract for example, should always be understood well by the franchisee before signing it. Mere coaxing from the company and just mere verbal word play are something that companies use on new entrepreneurs just to make them see it their way which is why when it comes to buying a franchise, entrepreneurs must always proceed with caution.

A good franchise opportunity should be able to provide the franchisee with various benefits and services that the franchisee is entitled to from the moment that he or she signs on to buying a franchise. Such benefits include the franchisor providing the training, marketing, and support needs of the franchisee. Franchisors that do not comply with such benefits should be seen as dubious since they are just merely trying to make some extra profits from the franchisee and are not exactly interested in helping him or herself out in this small business venture.

Before signing the bottom line, consider the following:

  • Proper Training. Most franchisors will actually offer to help your small business to get some added leverage by helping you first establish, run and as well as expand you small business. Buying a franchise clearly has its perks since newly started entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to learn the ropes from established businesses.
  • Financing. Contrary to popular belief that you must have a lot of money for you to be able o acquire the franchise of your dreams, a lot of franchisors actually provide their franchisees with some highly flexible financing options.
  • Proven Products and Methods. When it comes to buying a franchise, it is highly important that you take not of the ones that are really in-demand and are not seasonal. When it comes to having a franchise as compared to starting your own business out of nothing, you will actually have the confidence at heart that your products and services will sell because it already has a proven market.

bookmark_borderSuperior Business Skills

The first four skill sets should represent 80-90% of where an entrepreneur needs to invest his time in building his business, especially in the startup phase. Many new entrepreneurs make the nasty habit of focusing on things such as getting office space, office equipment, stationary and even develop the ultimate business plan. Instead, the entrepreneur needs to focus on one thing: creating and keeping a customer. Customers represent sales. Nothing happens until a sale is made. Before that, nothing happens until marketing starts. My business mentor always stressed to me that the entrepreneur must create a customer before creating a product or service.

Product development comes after a market demand is created or met. As a former partner in a publishing company, I worked with authors who wrote the book before starting a marketing campaign. I began to search for what made authors successful with moving units. All successful authors create a campaign as they write the book. In other words, they create a demand by developing a platform. It can be through blogging, social media, interviews or other marketing tools to create a buzz.

Networking is essential to an entrepreneur’s success. The successful ones create alliances to build and maintain power. No successful entrepreneur can operate with an emperor’s mentality. Even the most powerful needs friends. Negotiation is important to resolve conflicts and discuss possible deals, acquisitions, mergers and takeovers. Part of negotiations is building credibility and trust with the other parties involved at the Round Table.

The final skill set, cashflow management, is the life force of every successful business. If cash is king, then cash flow is God! Effective cash flow management means you are generating enough revenue to meet your fiduciary obligations and responsibilities while having surplus for working capital to invest in the company for growth. Many times, entrepreneurs focus on profit, not realizing that there could be “leakage” in the revenue model. If you’re bringing in $1.50 in revenue and $2.00 is leaving in expenses, cash flow is compromised. Cash flow management needs to create a “positive imbalance” in your financial statements.

bookmark_borderSome Mistakes In Choosing Strategy Consulting Firms

Unable to help teams to be focused

One of the main goals of hiring consulting firms is to help employees to be focused. Unfortunately, some consulting firms forget this since they tend to other aspects that are visible on the team. As a result, hiring consulting firms can only be a pain in the pocket.

Cannot provide good and relevant options

It is also essential not to hire consultants who cannot provide good and relevant options. In any type of industry, there are numerous options business owners can choose from. Therefore, it is the job of consultants to present all good options for the team to help them make better decisions.

Providing solutions that are not suitable for your team

As mentioned above, consultants need to provide different options. So, it is also a must that consultants can provide the right solutions. In this way, employees have better insights about the best solutions that can cater to their needs.

Working with consultants who offer low cost services

Lastly, business owners must not hire a consulting firm solely for their low cost services. Of course, there are reliable companies that can provide competitive rates for their services, but there are also companies that provide services that match their rates. As a result, low cost services cannot support your needs.

bookmark_borderMake Business More Profitable

Keep Adding More New Markets

Every new market you open captures a new layer of sales …and makes your business more secure. The more markets you serve the less dependent you are on the sales from any one market.

Tip: You can quickly add several profitable new markets to your business by sub-dividing your present market into several narrowly defined niche markets. Then create customized versions of your current advertising that offers specific solutions to the unique needs of each niche market.

Continually Add Something New

Every time you add something new to your business you create additional opportunities to close sales. For example, by just adding one new product or service to the list of those you already offer you create 3 new selling opportunities:

  • It attracts new prospects who are not interested your current products and services.
  • It generates activity from existing customers who want to find out about your new product.
  • It enables you to create attractive combination packages of two or more items …which also produces some bigger sales for you.

Tip: Even something as simple as adding something new to your web site creates more selling opportunities for you …by attracting both new visitors and repeat visitors.

Find Some Ways to Generate Publicity

Publicity is what you get when somebody else promotes (or you get them to promote) your business. It creates more credibility than advertising – and generates sales without an advertising expense.

Look for some ways you can generate some publicity for your business. For example, contact non-competing businesses that serve customers in your market. Offer to publicize their products and services to your customers in exchange for their publicizing your services to their customers.

Tip: Don’t expect non-paid publicity to replace your paid advertising. Instead, use publicity to supplement your advertising. You control where and when your advertising appears – and what it says. But you cannot control where or when you get publicity …or how effective it is.

bookmark_borderAbout Fear of Failure

The thousands of missed baskets made by Magic Johnson were not failures. They were successful attempts to train his mind and muscles to get those magic game-winning 3 pointers. If he allowed the fear of failure to get in his way, he’d never even have attempted those throws from center court. Many other players, even great pros, may never make those spectacular winning shots. The spectators who watched Magic play will, of course, never make them.

According to the study by former Treasury official, Bruce Bartlett, some 80 percent of millionaires acquire their wealth in a single generation without the benefit of inheritance. They are self-made millionaires. Two thirds of these self-made millionaires got wealthy because they started their own businesses.

It is obvious that your best shot at becoming a millionaire is by starting your own business. The biggest reason that the majority of people do not go into business for themselves is the fear that they will fail, despite the fact that it is almost guaranteed that they will fail if they do not start their own business. Guaranteed? Yes. The historical statistics prove it.

85% of people who do NOT own their own businesses are not financially independent at retirement age. Only 15% of people who choose the security of employment, rather than the risk of self-employment, are able to retire with any degree of financial independence and less than 5% end up wealthy.

So, as odd as it is, most people are afraid of starting their own business for fear of losing their security. The fear of failure actually produces the loss of security. In other words, that which you fear shall be your reward, unless you find the courage to face your fear and do the thing anyway.

And like Magic Johnson, don’t let the fear of missing the shot prevent you from scoring the game winning basket. Or as Wayne Gretzky, who missed more than 90% of his shots on goal, once commented, “I miss 100% of the shots I don’t take.” In any game, if you do not take the shot, you cannot score the goal. Life is a game. Take a shot at winning.

bookmark_borderKeys to Entrepreneurial Success

  1. Focus, focus, focus, focus, focus. The word “focus” simply cannot be said enough. When launching and growing a venture, tons of opportunities and obstacles arise. Entrepreneurs that succeed are typically the ones that see the forest from the trees. They remain focused on the prize. They consider new opportunities, but also note that pursuing them often takes them away from accomplishing what they set out to do.
  2. Hire smart. Companies succeed based on the people that comprise them. Virtually all people in a small, growing entrepreneurial company make key decisions and take actions that can significantly impact the success of the venture. As such, the people that are hired must be hired with care. They must be intelligent, responsible, and equally importantly, have the enthusiasm to succeed and the ability to work in a fast-paced, rapidly changing entrepreneurial environment.
  3. Communicate. So, you’ve followed the first two lessons. You have set company goals and remain focused on achieving them. You have hired great people. Now, it is important to effectively communicate. The laser-sharp focus and goals must be communicated to the great team. Management must share information, instill company values and vision, discuss each employee’s performance with them, and make employees feel that they are the company and that the company is them.
  4. Win. Entrepreneurship, like basketball or football, is a game. There are winners and losers. There are narrow victories and landslides. There are Davids and Goliaths. Competition should be hard work, but it should also be fun. The company should be instilled with competitive spirit and be committed to winning. Winning may take many forms, such as hitting sales goals or turning a profit by a set date. Regardless of how winning is defined, it should be clearly articulated and everyone in the company should have a competitive, winner spirit instilled within them.

The above four lessons can help entrepreneurial ventures edge out their competition and enjoy the financial and emotional success that such ventures are capable of generating.

bookmark_borderEssential Elements of Operating a Successful Business

Find a need!

Is there a market niche for your particular product or service? Does the world, or even your community, need what you have to offer? Only by sampling and testing will you be able to determine this with any degree of certainty, but we will be covering this as we go along in greater detail. The most important aspect would be to determine a Unique Selling Proposition for your product or service. Too many business owners are just trying to be me-too companies. You cannot be just like the next guy and expect to prosper in this volatile economy.

One of the most important things I learned from my Dad was, there are really only two things to consider, and next to them everything else is minor. Those two things are: (1) What do you really want? And just as, and perhaps even more important, (2) Are you willing to do whatever it takes to achieve it?

What do you really, really want from this endeavor? What is your ultimate goal? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to achieve this goal? Instead of looking for a business based on how much money you can earn up-front, select a business based on your love for that endeavor. The most successful and fulfilled people are individuals who are following a dream or vision of their own. They are not just out trying to make a buck.

What opportunities can you act upon? Woolworth saw a need for small inexpensive items and opened the chain of stores that grossed billions. Wrigley started giving gum away as a bonus, and seized the chance to expand worldwide.

You must create a uniqueness to your product or service. What can you offer that no one else can offer? Is it a better warranty, improved customer service, more technical support, faster shipping, or lower price? Think of something that will set you apart from your competitors and describe in detail exactly what it is.

Be good at what you do.

Are you as good as, or better than, the next guy when it comes to producing/marketing your product or service? This element requires an honest self-assessment. “What are my abilities?” To determine your abilities you must take an honest inventory of yourself. Examine every possibility and be sure to include strengths and weaknesses. Will your strong points be able to let you overcome your deficits?

Have true passion for the business.

If there is one element you absolutely cannot do without, it is passion. Passion is an irresistible attitudinal energy that generates power. Do you have a passion for working with your particular product or service? Notice, I didn’t say “do you like what you want to do?” There are too many competitors out there who are ready, willing and able to “eat your lunch” when it comes to competing with you. They may have found the same niche that you have found. They may like what they do as much as you do. But what separates the winners from the losers is passion.

What are you really passionate about? If your answer is, “I’m passionate about making a lot of money.” That is not the right answer. Making a lot of money is consequence of engaging in a successful activity where you remain motivated long enough to be successful. The key to creating passion is to find and do what it is that you truly love. Passion is the laser-like focusing of our creative life force. We do not create passion. (Don’t confuse passion with being a workaholic. Workaholism devours while passion amplifies.)