Business Pain Defined

This company had a process in place that automatically ordered more calculators when the computer showed only one left in stock. On one occasion they were getting rid of old stock and ordering newer models for sale. When the old stock’s level hit one, the order system automatically sent a P.O. to accounting for ordering fifty more of that model. Sometimes the accounting department would catch the error and other times it went through. It became a real annoyance to send back-orders they did not need. The computer system was a business pain.

Instead of fixing the system, they relied on the accounting department to make the adjustments. When the suppliers started to get annoyed, they then recognized this as something that needed to be fixed. Sometimes it takes an organization a long time to admit that they have a business pain that needs to be rectified. More often than not, they will not know that they have the pain, they will only feel a dull ache.

All the minor aches of a company should be recorded somewhere on your power page. These are the ones that you are not likely to put into a CRM system, but they are ones that can give you leverage if you have a simple solution.

Tips for Buying a Good Business

Buying a good business is a very important thing, obviously. Unless it is your goal to bring a failing company back from the brinks, you don’t want to do this. You don’t want to have to get a company that is not doing well out of debt, either. But here are things you have to do in order to find a very good business.

A great way to start out the process is to hire a consultant that can advise you during the entire process. These individuals are trained to instruct you on what to do through the process of buying, selling or creating a business of your own. They will be able to instruct you on what to do in order to make the best possible choices in your purchases.

You should always do your research about a company before you decide to make any kind of purchase. This means you should research the financial history of the company in order to make sure that it is a good business in terms of finances. This way, you will be able to avoid buying a business that is in debt and create more of a problem than you started out with. Of course, you can get your consultant to help you with this process to make it even easier for you.

You can also search reviews of the company from costumers to see if the people believe that it is a good business. Whenever you buy a business, it will come with customers already. And these customers have opinions. You need to make sure that the opinions of the customers are good so that you will not have to repair the reputation of a business as well. Online reviews are a great place to search for this.

Due diligence is a very important part of the research process for a company. This process will tell you what you need to know about a company’s history and if it is really worth the money that you are considering paying for it. This information will be given to you in a due diligence report. You will have to hire someone to conduct this investigation for you, but it is an incredibly valuable service.

When you want to buy a business, you of course want to get your money’s worth. You want to buy a good business so that you won’t have to work twice as hard to bring it back from failing. These tips will help you buy a business that is not in trouble and get the best for the money that you put into the purchase.

Growth Strategy in Action

China’s market is very competitive. A wave of consolidation has reduced the number of breweries from 800 in the mid-1990s (when having their own local brewery was a matter of prestige for local party officials) to today’s 300 foreign and domestic brands. As a result, the top five breweries – China Resources Enterprise (whose popular Snow beer is a joint-venture with multinational SABMiller), Tsingtao Brewery, Belgium-headquartered Anheuser-Busch InBev (which makes Budweiser), Beijing Yanjing Brewery and Danish Carlsberg – increased their share of total volume from 55% in 2008 to 70%. The resulting cut-throat competition has slimmed down operating margins across the board to less than 10% in some cases.

In such growing but competitive market, generating profitable growth becomes an imperative. It often implies going on the offensive, it being looking for new markets, inventing new products, teaming up with adversaries, innovating or investing to connect with customers while closely managing the cost base. Faced with normalising growth, one of China’s top five beer makers, Tsingtao Brewery Co. Ltd (pronounced ‘Ching Dow’) is trying to move beyond its traditional low-cost provider play, and presents a good example of a profitable growth strategy:

  • Looking for new markets. For Tsingtao, this means moving in the fast-growing premium market (currently only 5% of the market versus 30% in the US, but it offers bigger margins despite higher costs of production) with high-end products such as Tsingtao Gold beer or Tsingtao Pure Draft beer, aimed at satisfying demand from city dwellers (and their ability to pay and willingness to trade up) for taste, quality and freshness, as well as for dining out and night-clubbing.

Overseas, where it has been available since the 1950s in the UK and 1972 in the US, Tsingtao is now trying to move beyond Chinatowns and into downtown areas with its lighter products, to be enjoyed either with Asia-inspired foods, or even without food. It has also signed a multi-year agreement with the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team, the first such agreement signed by a Chinese beer brand in the USA.

  • Inventing new products. For a single product company, this can represent a challenge but it often takes the form of product extension such as fruit-enhanced, low-calorie or non-alcoholic brews to respond to customers’ quest for healthy living, or of diversification into beers that match Chinese regional tastes e.g. a roundly type of beer in the north, a gentler taste for the South, and higher alcohol content and a bitter taste for the Guangdong and Fujian coastal areas. It is also experimenting with event-related designs, such as a canned beer and aluminium-bottled beer with a football theme for the FIFA World Cup, an aluminium-bottled beer designed after its beer festival, or a “Tsingtao Beer Classic 1903”.
  • Teaming up with adversaries. Tsingtao’s part Japanese-ownership through Asahi Breweries’ 19.9% stake has brought best-in-class practices such as stock management. Its joint-venture with Suntory to produce and distribute beer in Shanghai and Jiangsu province will give it access to new markets. In Mexico, it has signed a distribution contract with Grupo Modelo, the country’s largest brewer and producer of Corona.
  • Innovating – in the case of Tsingtao, towards more environmentally responsive brewing. Through a partnership with a local university in Qingdao, it explores ways to re-use brewery wastewater and other waste through techniques such as bio-contact oxidation. It not only treats high volumes of bio-solids efficiently by adding live cultures to the wastewater, but also allows methane generated in the process to be piped to households for cooking, while the remaining waste is used in fertilizers and animal feed. Tsingtao beer topped its rival on the 2014 list of top 100 China Green companies.
  • Investing to connect with customers. Access to different markets, it being on-trade channels (such as hotels, restaurants, etc) or off-trade channels (supermarkets, malls, convenience stores, etc) is dependent on distributors who often put the their own interests above those of the beer companies’. Tsingtao is the first brewer to reduce this reliance and to develop its online sales channels including with branded flagship stores on third-party e-commerce platforms such as Jingdong, Amazon, or WeChat. Being perceived as a Northern beer, Tsingtao has also developed a social network strategy to communicate frequently and directly with its customers, taking the opportunity to educate them about its products e.g. offering advice for food pairing with regional cuisine.

It is also investing to optimise and consolidate its portfolio of brands, using its strong national brand image as a quality beer (Tsingtao beer) to supplement the regional brand’s perceived value brands including Laoshan, Hans, Shanshui and Yinmai.

  • Managing a lean cost base. As raw materials such as barley are mostly imported, Tsingtao tries to forge long-term strategic partnerships with local barley producers. It invites them to its annual global suppliers’ conference and has named Mogao Industrial Development Company as its sole strategic malt supplier in Gansu Province.

Tips Help Business Survive and Thrive

  • Communication is King: Uncertainty can often breed fear; so if times are tough, keep the lines of communication open with clients, team members and those connected to your business. When in doubt, talk it out.
  • Fire Bad Customers: This tip may seem edgy or counterproductive, but the reality is that customers who are not a good fit for your business will only drain your time, resources and mental energy. Take a hard look at overly needy, overly “frugal” or chronically slow responding customers and replace them with clients who will help your business grow.
  • Be Innovative: Though “innovate” may seem like an overly-used buzz word, being innovative in your business is the key to continued success. Look for opportunities to expand into new markets or partner with complimenting businesses. “If you don’t like change, you will hate extinction”- Ross Shaffer
  • Keep Your Chin Up: Attitude is critically important in maintaining and growing your business and brand. A positive attitude and outlook spreads throughout your team and will ultimately be transferred to your customers and clients. A bad attitude or bleak outlook will do exactly the same – but faster.
  • Keep Tabs on Your Market: Know your market in-and-out, and endeavor to keep tabs on industry changes or updates that could affect your business and your client base.
  • Manage Consistently: When times get tough in business is not the time to “put the hammer down” and micromanage staff or business expenses. Intimately knowing your monthly expenses, income and even which team members are performing well will avoid surprises and moments of panic.
  • Avoid Fear: Fear can be as crippling to a business as a downward turn in the economy. Understand your business’ situation at all times by keeping the lines of communication open with suppliers, peers, customers and your team. Separate what you know from what you “think” you know to avoid pushing the panic button unnecessarily.
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Business Start Up Basics

First, you need to make up a plan and then pick out a couple of things to accomplish each month. Second, you need to  define your short term goals. Yes long term goals are important too, however, remember you want to do this in a years’ time so for now let’s break your goals down into things to do each week and by the end of each month. Also, when you accomplish your goals for the month, be sure to reward yourself with something you like to do. Shopping, movies, hiking, you name it, be sure to reward yourself.  Remember, however, as we discussed when setting up our mock business, you must be sure that your goals are realistic. If you take on too many things to do each month, you will overwhelm yourself, which will eventually lead tofailure. A great analogy here is losing weight. So many people set themselves up for failure bysetting unrealistic weight goals, e.g. I want to lose 80 lbs in 4 months. Not going to happen. So be sure you don’t do the same with your business.
Third, and most important is to write your goals down on 3 x 5 cards and place them prominently where you will see them every day. It is very important that you reinforce to yourself on a daily basis what you are trying to do. Make it a part of your life. Remember, our motto, “YOU MAKE IT HAPPEN”. But YOU have to WORK at it!
Next is to be sure that you surround yourself with support, and I don’t mean family. Family is only good as a support system if they are in favor of what you are trying to do. We have found over the years that most family members will try to talk you out of it. Why? Because you make them look bad, and they have negative karma, which is certainly not something you need. Dieters are very familiar with this type of sabotage! Instead, go to on-line forums/boards which concentrate on new business start ups, and get help and support from people who are working towards the same goals as you are.
One of the best ways to keep yourself motivated and going strong is to visualize what your life will be like once your business is up and running. Picture yourself in your dream office, with yourself at the helm, making a difference, making money, whatever makes you happy. Again, this is a very powerful tool for people who quit smoking and those who are trying to lose weight. For many weight watchers they pick out a piece of clothing they want to fit into. Or smokers will reward themselves with a trip, vacation, or a special present for themselves with all themoney they saved. So be sure you use this visualization technique to picture yourself at the end of the year. It is also very powerful for long term goals also. To picture yourself in the future with a new home, car, etc. Whatever is important to you. For many of us who run our own business it is FREEDOM to come and go as we please, take days off, make decisions without goingthrough channels. To do business with whom we want and don’t do business with those we don’t want to. Not having someone to answer to!
Yes, doing this is sometimes hard and you will need someone to push you. Which is why we suggest getting on boards and forums. When you feel you can’t do it,  and need some encouragement, get on the boards and ask for help. Also, and this is something Chuck and I have emphasized on too many occasions to count, read, read, and read some more. Educate yourself, keep up to date with what is going on in your business. If there is something you don’t know how to do, ask for help! Go buy some educational materials on the subject, take a class, but do something.
Also, be sure that just because you are trying to get a business up and running you don’t forego doing the other things you love. If you do, getting the business up and running is no longer fun and exciting, but just another thing on your “To Do” list.  It just becomes another job to you, and that is not going to keep you motivated towards success. So be sure you keep doing the fun things you like.
Step number eight is “NO EXCUSES”.  None of the following excuses and any others you come up with are allowed: I am tired. This is too much work. This is not going to work, so why am I even bothering to try. I don’t have enough time. I don’t have the money. It won’t work for me. The list goes on and on.
There should be no excuses made. There is no reason why you can’t find time, energy and motivation to do a couple of things each month. This is to make a better life for yourself. Or for yourself and your family. So for every excuse you come up with do your visualization and keep that dream strong.

Business Planning With Sigma

  • Define. During this phase it is necessary to consider VOC (Voice of Customer). In this instance the customer is not necessarily the people to whom you sell products and services. In this process you are the major customer. If you are the business owner then the business plan is to serve you. What is it that you want to achieve with the business in the year(s) ahead. Of course it will be necessary to also consider the needs of other customers such as other shareholders, partners and government since they can have an interest in your business.
  • Measure. In this phase, for business planning purposes, the best place to start would be your last set of accounts and last year’s budget. Here we have a baseline. Typically, we look at last year’s profit result both in dollar terms and gross margin and from that we are able to determine the target that is to be achieved.
  • Analyze. At this point it is necessary to start to breakdown the process into more discrete activities since the overall business objective is to be achieved through a variety of different actions. Of course this, what these activities are will depend on what your business actually does but there are some common ones that will help explain the process.

Say you that your objective is to deliver an EBIT profit of $1mil with gross margin of 15%. In order to achieve this it is going to be necessary to map out the activities that can support this. A great tool for doing this is a fishbone diagram. It’s a simple graphical tool that will provide a structure for you to consider the interrelationship of the various aspects of your business. This chart will then allow you to methodically review the different aspects and analyze the information to determine what to improve. You may have to use some other analysis techniques to help you delve deeper into certain aspects but the fishbone diagram should be the main place of reference to keep the analysis plan on track.

Most effort goes into this stage since it is where you begin to look at your business critically to examine areas for improvement by analyzing different aspects in detail.

  • Improve. After carrying out some analysis it is then necessary to put in some actions to improve. For example you may have decided that you need to improve your sales revenue by conducting a marketing campaign. The improve stage is where you determine how you are going to do this. These activities become smaller improvement activities but as you can see they are all tied back to the fishbone diagram and this in turn is supporting your overall objective. Having this reference document helps keep you focused. In our example we would then begin to detail exactly how the direct marketing campaign would be structured. Identify the targets, the message and the vehicle and timing. That is who, what, how and when.
  • Control. This step is about monitoring and is where you would list the activities that you will undertake to ensure that you are tracking your progress and taking the necessary corrective action if things are going off course. Normally this involves some form of monthly reporting of factors such as sales, lead/prospects conversion, production, service delivery or cost reporting. The key factor is to have a review mechanism that works for you!

Ways to Boost Business Income

Profits = Turnover x Margins

Turnover, in turns, is determined by the number of customers you have, multiplied by the number of transactions each customer had with you and the average dollar sale. Thus,

Turnover = Number of Customers x Number of Transactions x Average Dollar Sale

The number of customers you have depends on your lead generation and conversation rate of these leads. Thus,

Number of Customers = Lead Generation x Conversion Rate

By breaking down the process into small chunks, you will see that your business profit is governed by 5 variables, namely lead generation, conversion rate, number of transaction, average dollar sale and margins.

These experts worked out the formula and found that by doubling each of these factors, you can boost your business profits by an incredible 67%.

When I first learned this formula, it seemed so simple that it was incredulous no one has taught me this before. Yet when I put the theory into practice, the result was truly remarkable. I started by making minor changes and adjustments to my normal practice and within 6 months saw a 20% increase in my turnover.

How much increased profit you can generate for your business depends on your ingenuity and creativity in improving your lead generation,conversion rate of your lead, the number of transaction per customer,the average dollar sale and your margins. Only these 5 factors,nothing else.

Resume Writing Business Opportunity

I decided it was time for a new job and I needed a resume. I began buying all types of resume how-to books. In a few days I wrote a professional resume by myself. My resume was so sharp that I was getting calls for interviews right away. My friends were not even close to getting jobs, so I offered to write there resume for free. Within 4 weeks, they all had news jobs. It felt outstanding to see my friends happy because of a service that I provided them. So I began to think about starting a Resume Writing Service where I can help others all over the world!

I began with a small ad in the Yellowpages listing my service. I had received no more than a call a week and was charging $45 to write a resume from scratch. With an extra couple hundred dollars in my pocket each month I wanted more. I then started passing out flyers at local Universities all up and down the State. I offered a special for recent graduates and before I knew it I had an average of 2.9 clients a week from the colleges.

Business was picking up and all this work was done after my full-time job at nights. I was getting exhausted, but I still wanted more business. Efficiency was low, since I had to call up the client and ask them a ton of questions in order to write their resume. I needed a Website!

I needed to get my customers online to fill out my questionnaire and place the orders in a database where I can access the orders from anywhere. The website would have to be easy to navigate and direct the customers to the order form without any extra steps or obstacles. A clear and concise site was very important to me, as I would have all different types of backgrounds of people exploring the site and looking for a professional resume.

I hired a team of webmasters from Contender Career Solutions to create this website to my exact specifics. They did an outstanding job and I was online in about a week. I knew there was a lot of competition on the internet, so I stuck to advertising the way I knew best, but this time listed my website address instead of my home phone number.

I pumped more money into my advertising campaigns. I hired a few college kids to pass out flyers all over the Universities. I listed in Yellowpages in different states. I was now a servicing people all over the world. I was writing 2 resumes a night and 6-10 on the weekends. Best of all, I was now making more money than my day job and my expenses were extremely low. During the initial months of the website I was making just about $2,000 per month.

I then began to boost my advertising even more by running specials such as 50% off all resume packages. The package included a resume, cover letter, and follow-up letter. The competition could not handle my low prices. My cheapest package now sold for just $50! Remember the cost to make this resume is next to nothing. Although some resumes took longer to write than others, it all balances out at the end of the day. With $50 resume packages, I was now getting home from work at 6:00p.m. and writing resumes until midnight each day. My weekends were pretty much full of resume orders. On some weekends I had over a dozen orders to fulfill!!! That came to over $500 in a day.

Well, no one can really keep up that pace for long so I had to find or create some shortcuts or hire help to write the resumes. I put “Hiring” ad up on the website and had some good feedback. The candidate had to show me resumes they have written and also write a one page resumes based on the information I have provided. Many of the candidates were rather average and I just couldn’t see paying them a nice percentage to write a resume that may give my company a poor name.

I then thought to myself what If I can get some customized software for my computer that can aide my writers to writing professional resumes? And that I did. We obtained 6 copies of most valuable software to any resume business owner. My resume writing time averaged about 1.1 hours. Now I was writing resumes in 22 minutes on average. I was now able to spend time with my family and eat dinner with them and then writing 3 resumes in a hour before I went to bed. The software is a must have!!!

Creating Agility and Speed in Your Business

Have Clear Lines of Responsibility

In the high performance business culture, everyone knows what his or her role and function are. They are defined within the constraints of the strategic agenda and the direction of the business.

Having control mechanisms in place, such as documented position descriptions and standard operating procedures, for instance, ensures consistency in communication and feedback.

These mechanisms also provide a means of coordinating multiple initiatives and tasks, in terms of objectives and measures, consistent with resources and capabilities of the strategic agenda.

Razor Sharp Focus

Everyone knows what the goals and objectives are, in keeping with the strategic vision that must be aspired to. This is because they are clearly defined and spelled out. This can be done very simply and elegantly – in fact, the simpler the better.

Having a Small Business Plan that is aligned and cascades into the company’s functional areas and into its individual work plans will ensure that the vision of the business is communicated in concrete, achievable and measurable terms.

Highly Motivated People

Successful businesses are full of committed and dedicated people. All of the people in such businesses exhibit a high drive for self-improvement and achievement, both at the personal and the corporate level.

Such business environments create a high-trust and winning culture. Activities are focused on the “cause of the business”. Creating such a developmental culture is essential in the high performance business.

Decision Making Happens Where the Action Is

In highly successful businesses, everyone leaves “ego” at the door. Work is about getting the job done and getting results.

This means having a common approach to understanding what is going on. It means people are able to make decisions where they are within the business. This type of on the ground decision making occurs within the boundary conditions of the Mission, Vision and Values of the business, and within the company’s Strategic Agenda.

Conversely, highly centralized decision making environments slow down the flow of information. This results in ineffective decision making and an inability to act quickly in response to opportunities or threats to the business. Information, particularly new information, is the life blood of a successful small business.

Creating a Power Plan

You will not likely work directly with the CEO on any project or product purchase; you will be referred to the appropriate person. The information you gather on others should be the same as the information you gathered on the CEO. You will need to know the personality type to give you that inside edge, and also how much influence they have on the decision to make a purchase; you may find that these other contacts have an authorized spending limit following a set of guidelines.

You want to make sure you target the correct person once the decision is made. These contacts will often have an inside edge on up-and-coming projects where you might be of use. They may even get additional funds in order to buy from you. I had a client that was limited to $10,000 on any purchase order, and my services for the quarter were to be $32,000. Instead of having to fill out the paper work and get additional approvals, he simply made four separate contracts for me, each with their own start dates, milestones, and project completion time. It worked well for him as he did not need additional approval to continue the project, and it also worked for me as I was paid in a shorter time frame than otherwise.

Having a person in the company at the right level for approving projects and purchases will make a difference between making the sale and knocking on the next door. You need to form a close relationship with that person and make sure they are completely satisfied with your work.