bookmark_borderSet-Up Your Own Company As a Foreigner

  • Review Online Listings of the Lawyers: There are websites that give free reviews of the businesses.
  • Ask for Recommendations and Referrals: Speak to your friends and family members who have had recently worked with lawyers. Ask them who they hired, what kind of service they have opted for and where they happy with the services. It is equally important to ask whether they would recommend.
  • Make a List of Potential Attorneys: While doing so, jot down the attorney’s name, contact number, address and website address. This way you can organize your search.
  • Review Attorney’s Website: Every website usually provides information about each attorney who is working for the firm. It is suggested to check the attorneys’ educational background as well as the work history. Typically, you should seek a lawyer with at least 3 to 5 years of experience in practicing the kind of law you need help with.
  • Write out Questions about the Lawyer’s Practice: Generally, you will find the basic information about the lawyers online, say such as; how long she/he has worked and/or where and when she/he went to the law school. But there are certain areas that you will need asking questions; like not every firm states their pricing online as that may vary from one lawyer to another.

Plus you will need to know about the time frame, right? You should ask them a tentative time period for the delivery of work. Similarly, you need to ask about their availability. Ask how quickly the attorney can start working on your assignment and then decide so.

  • Bring Documents to the Meeting: If you have fixed a meeting with the lawyer, he/she may ask you to bring the documents. Make sure you have them with you. Show it to the lawyer so that he can have a better understanding of your situation.

bookmark_borderOver Disclosure Hurts Businesses

In my company we have done extremely well on the Internet in attracting people who want their car washed, we are well spidered on the search engines for key words, partly because our websites have been up prior to 1995. We therefore get a high number of website visits or hits; we have exceeding 1 million visits per month on many occasions. Many times people in the market sector of car washing will come to our site after searching the words that categorize their industry. They look through our site and then they find the opportunities page, and think to themselves, hmmm? These competitors then fill out the online form without revealing they are already in the business and actually competitors.

The FTC’s online complaint form also draws many such people to file complaints; few of these folks represent legitimate grievances. In the case of our company, The Car Wash Guys, like Ray Kroc who never sold franchises to those previously in the restaurant business, we will not sell to those in the car wash business. We believe that they have ingrained in themselves their way of doing things, which is incompatible with our system and methods and of course we feel are quite inferior to our business plan developed over 27 years. Had such competitors been as well developed they would be franchising as well. These competitors ask us questions thinking the can copy some of our idea, so they call up, email, and start asking questions. Sometimes about five minutes into such a conversation we often know they are not real, but not always. They are too knowledgeable about the industry and they usually slip up in one of their questions or just have to tell us how great they are and how many cars they are watching, thus giving themselves away.

The Car Wash Guys like many franchising companies are in a really ugly and highly competitive industry, almost as bad as the garbage business before the massive consolidation by Wayne Hiezenga or trucking prior to the days of de-regulation. Luckily that comes with intense egos from independents and not a whole lot of smarts. Why should The Car Wash Guys send out a UFOC to a possible competitor when the UFOC they receive could be copied and a few changes made and potentially save them $35,000 in legal fees and take away from a practicing attorney (who pretend to works their butt off, when paralegals do all the work and they use CD ROMs and Boiler plate clauses). These attorneys often claim to be decent and hard-working professionals on the ABA Franchising Forum as they try to put a lock on their industry from those who might advise in a similar capacity?

The UFOCs cost to send it out is just about $8.00 (including postage) and if those competitors realized I had to send them out they would have every one of the industry’s 19,000 tunnel car wash owners across the country email us. So what is $8.00 times 19,000. Oh and there are about 35,000 estimated coin-op car washes too all of which are direct or indirect competitors of the Car Wash Guys (the only mobile car wash franchisor in the country). The UFOC contains estimated number of projected units and all kinds of information we do not want out. We are not a public company and until we know who is asking we prefer to keep our information close to the vest, as the competitive markets are not the level playing field we are led to believe as we study business in our educational institutions. Too bad the Federal Trade Commission cannot see this obvious fact. By keeping information secret we protect our current franchisee team members (consumers) from lose lips sink ships syndrome. Why add competitive disadvantage in the market place to our team against competitors we should not have to disclose information since they are independent businesses.

The Federal Trade Commission fails to understand the extreme competitiveness of the marketplace, they fail to see how this hurts individual franchised units, who are small business people and the Federal Trade Commission fails to see how these independent franchised outlets of the franchisor are actually the same consumer they purport to protect. Therefore the logic that the incessant and unnecessary and totally over regulated and required disclosure is a bogus notion indeed. The Car Wash Guys do a disservice and can cause hurtful competition to our franchisees if we divulge information that easily. There is more information about our company in those 190-230 pages of the UFOC and attachments than on my personal computer or in my wallet. A person could go through my trash, car jack me and steal my wallet, with one of our company laptops inside and still have less information than is now required by the current UFOC.

bookmark_borderStart A Low Cost Business

You will need to spend some money purchasing a website domain name and hosting for your website. You can build your own website (it’s not as complicated as you might think) or you can employ a freelancer to build it for you. But these are minimal costs as compared to the substantial costs of renting a physical building to operate from, buying stock or employing staff.

So what options do you have to start a low cost business online?

  1. Sell Other People’s Products. This online business model, known as affiliate marketing, is like being a commission paid sales person. You don’t have to buy any stock, deal with any payment programs or arrange any deliveries. The product owner takes care of that. Your job is to find the customers and get them to visit the product sales page. You can sell tangible products that get shipped to the customer’s front door or you can sell digital products which the customer downloads to their computer.
  2. Freelance Your Services Online. If you have a specific level of knowledge or expertise there will be people looking online for them. Freelance websites like UpWork have countless numbers of customers looking for copy writers, creative designers, linguists, website developers, marketing and advertising staff, legal and financial specialists and more.
  3. Create A Digital Product. The greatest advantage when you a create digital product is that once you have produced it, you can sell it online again and again. And you don’t need to be an expert in a particular subject to create a digital product like an eBook, video tutorial, white paper, or report. You just need to know more than the average person on your chosen subject.
  4. Build A Membership Website. A membership site is like being like a consultant in the traditional offline world. You help and advise clients with your knowledge about your specialist subject. Every month you provide new content for your paying subscribers. You can produce content in advance that drip feeds to your clients when they sign up.
  5. Become An Online Teacher. If you have particular know-how about a certain subject, you can pass on your knowledge to students from all over the world. People may not have a teacher near to where they live and don’t want to travel for long distances for their learning. But, the internet makes it easy for you and your students to use online video and audio connections. You can set up one-to-one classes or group classes.

bookmark_borderRecover From Business Burnout

Recognize You Are Burned Out

This can be tough for some people to admit. They will keep on pushing themselves to the limit even though they are getting more and more exhausted and their personal life turns into a shambles. Admitting you have a problem is often one of the best ways to start solving it.

Understand That There Are No Easy Fixes

It’s taken a while to get so burned out, so the road back to a more normal, balanced life will take time and effort.

Start to Delegate

You need to learn to delegate. Make a list of all the essential tasks that need to be done in your business. Then decide which absolutely must be done by you, and which can be handed over to someone who can help. Go to Fiverr.com to try to find some reliable people who can help. Once you do this, you should start feeling a lot of the weight lifted from your shoulders.

Make Rest a Priority

Try to get plenty of rest, at least eight hours of sleep per night. Chances are you’ve been experiencing sleep disruptions, which can lead to insomnia and a sleep deficit.

Eat Right

Aim for high quality protein and avoid simple carbohydrates such as white bread, cake, cookies and so on. They have no nutritional value, and can spike blood sugar and leave you with peaks of energy and chasms of exhaustion and hunger even though you just had a sugary donut an hour before.

Exercise 30 Minutes a Day

Exercise actually gives you energy, and improves mental health as well as physical. You may feel totally exhausted, but you can still probably manage three 10-minute sessions, which have been shown to be just as effective as one sustained workout.

Spend Time with Friends and Family

It is important to always have a support network you can turn to when times are tough. Make sure you are honest about how things are going and how burned out you feel. Don’t feel afraid to ask for help if you need it.

bookmark_borderTraits of an Outstanding Salesperson

  • An outstanding salesperson needs to be able to communicate clearly and concisely. You might only have two minutes to pitch your sale to your potential customer. Are you going to blow it rambling on about something that may or may not matter? If you can’t communicate clearly then you have already lost your sale.
  • Outstanding salespersons keep their word and are honest. Being able to communicate and being personable will never help you if you can’t be trusted.If a customer comes to you with a complaint, they should feel reassured that you are handling the problem, and they can count on you to get the job done. In addition to that, if you are selling a product or a service then you need to be able to stand behind that product or service. If you can’t, your ability to sell will suffer tremendously.
  • Great sales people must be convincing. You have to be able to show your customer why your product or service is superior to other products or services. Or you have to show that your product or service is going to help them in some way and they should not live without it. This motivates your customers to not only buy from you, but to keep buying from you.

bookmark_borderChoose A Franchise

  1. What products or services would you enjoy selling? What industries do you like, or dislike? Your best bet is to find a franchise in an industry you know at least a little bit about. All too typical is the case of the Chicago car salesman who decided to change careers and go into business for himself. He bought a basement waterproofing franchise but then found the business boring. He wanted to sell it, but sales weren’t as high as he had expected they would be and he had trouble finding a buyer. He was stuck paying off the franchise fee and working at a business he didn’t enjoy.
  2. How much money do you have available to invest? The amount of money you have available to invest in a franchise is an important factor. If you’ve only got $30,000 and the minimum investment for a specific franchise opportunity is $90,000, the opportunity isn’t going to be right for you, no matter how much you like the company.
  3. What’s the total cost of purchase? The franchise fee won’t be your only expense. Find out what you can expect to pay for advertising, training, inventory, insurance, and all other costs in addition to the franchise fee and royalties.
  4. How well established is the franchise? How long has the franchise been in existence? Have they been in business for many years or are they brand-new? How many other franchises have they opened and where are they located?
  5. How stable is the franchise? What is the background of its officers? (Any history of litigation or bankruptcy of the franchise or its officers is supposed to be included in the disclosure document.)

bookmark_borderBecome a Better Decision Maker

  • Start Small. Even making small everyday decisions will help you accomplish the bigger goal. Small decisions such as what food to eat at a restaurant are not to be underestimated. A good way to start is the next time you’re eating out, look at the menu and decide what you’d like to eat. Then put the menu down and don’t change your mind. Don’t ask your companions what they’re having and base your decision on that – make the decision on your own and then stick to it.

Small steps like this can be empowering and help you to tackle the bigger decisions to come in the future.

  • Approach decisions logically. Many of us tend to make emotion-based decisions rather than logical ones. In business this can spell disaster. A good way to help you approach decisions in a logical manner may be to write down a list of pros and cons.

Simply grab a sheet of paper and label one side pros and one side cons. Then list all the good and bad points of your choice. Logically think through your comments and then make your decision. This way you can leave emotions out of the equation and concentrate purely on the facts.

  • Cut yourself some slack. Making decisions is a skill which can be learned but even pros don’t always make the right choices. Realize that making decisions effectively takes confidence and is a great first step, but your decisions may not always be the right decisions. If you happen to make the wrong decision, give yourself a break and take comfort in the fact that you thought out your decision clearly and logically and made the best choice possible at the time.

Being a good decision maker takes time and practice. However, it’s a worthwhile skill to develop. Making decisions regularly may help build your confidence level and also help people know where they stand with you – two great entrepreneurial qualities.

bookmark_borderBuilding Sustainable Businesses

The concept of low prices has long been the kingpin of IKEA’s outstanding performance in a traditionally low profitability sector as it was translated across all the operations of the company to ensure that every possible cost is taken out – from tasteful and knock-down design to lean manufacturing to flat packing to tightly controlled logistics to the concept of its stores and its self-service model – all mutually re-inforcing.

After having mastered the virtues of lean operations, IKEA is now taking it to the next level under the cover of achieving sustainable growth i.e. decoupling growth from environmental impact and increasing the company’s positive social impact.

This will obviously drive cost reductions further through initiatives such as becoming 100% energy self-sufficient by 2020 across its operations from stores to factories to distribution centers (with an investment of €1.5 billion to 2015 in renewable energy through for example installing solar panels on the roofs of its stores and building wind farms) which will additionally cut the risk of carbon pricing that will be implemented in most of the countries where it operates. Further costs reductions will also be achieved through ensuring that all operations are LED enabled or remaking classic products using fewer parts or working with furthest parts of the supply chain such as the cotton farmers to reduce their running costs (e.g. pesticides, fertilisers and water) while increasing yields.

IKEA definitively seems to “walk the talk”, making a direct link between sustainability issues such as energy efficiency, waste management and pollution and business value. However, the business case of reducing costs to sustain its business model profitably has always been at the core of IKEA and sustainability issues only add a 21st century twist to the purpose defined by its founder and the company’s strategy.

bookmark_borderSmart PR Tactics for Small Businesses

Use your business library. If you are savvy enough to identify the best media for your primary target audience, your local library or the nearest city library near your very small town has valuable informational tools to assist you at every turn. The librarian is a public resource that your tax dollars pay for anyway.

Having identified your target media, find a PR agency that charges by placement success instead of a standard six months or yearly contract. In that way, you can share the PR burden by supplying the media to be targeted, and pay only for premier hits. Besides, if the placement is impressive enough, you can put it on your website, and get incredible mileage from it.

Market your business service or product in the corporate fashion
with mat features to print and online newspapers nationwide at half the price. A young service like Points of Persuasion Syndicate provides PR preformatted newspaper features free to editors nationwide. Their columns get printed exactly as written when the mentions are subtle and useful for the publication’s reader. These trademarked, non-copyrighted features are picked up regularly by suburban daily and weekly papers, and remain on P-O-P-S’ editorial website for six months to a year for instant downloads.

People talk of Public Relations as free compared to the expense of advertising. PR is never free but used strategically, it is more believed than its more costly brethren. Each time a placement is made your business is getting the endorsement of the editor of the publication, or host of the radio and TV show. The public depends on these consumer advocates to help them make the decisions important to them and their families.

bookmark_borderFind A Group that Needs Speakers

Finding groups that use speakers is not difficult. I find that most organized service groups use speakers for their regular meetings. I am a member of Rotary and have been for nearly fifteen years. In that period of time, the clubs use a speaker almost every week of the year. There are thousands of Rotary clubs all over the world. The most important thing to remember, especially for Rotary, is that the topic must be of interest to the members and that you cannot sell your services to the group. Many a good speakers have not been recommended to other clubs as they tried to sell attendance to their speeches or training sessions.

I find that other groups such as Lions, Kiwanis, churches, PTAs, etc., all want to hear good talks and they do not want to be sold a bill of goods. You need to remember that your goal is to get your name known, not to sell. If one group likes your speech, they may give you referrals to other groups that would like to hear what you have to say. Another great place to offer a talk is at the Chamber of Commerce. Almost every town in North America has a Chamber. You will need to find out the protocols for putting on a talk, but most are open to new ideas and fresh topics. More often than not, you will find out about groups through your own networking efforts.

Even though some groups are easy to get on the speakers list, others will make it more difficult. They will want to know more about who you are, why you want to talk to the group and how the topic fits for their members.