Thursday, November 1, 2012

Applying Improv Comedy Principles to Business

Improv comedy is a form of theater where a group of performers take the stage with nothing prepared in advance and use audience suggestions to instantly create comedy. If you've ever seen the TV show, 'Whose Line Is It Anyway?' you've seen improv comedy. Improv is fast, funny, and quite often ridiculous.
The first reaction people have to hearing about improv comedy being applies to business is, 'Come on now, business is serious. How can improv comedy apply to that?'
Well, the answer is quite simple. The key to successful improv is the willingness to take risks, the understanding of how to tap into your own creative resources, and the ability to listen to and work well with other people. Show me a person in business that wouldn't benefit from having the willingness to take risks, the ability to tap into their creativity, and the skill to listen and work with others.
An improviser must constantly take risks. The primary risk is stepping on stage with nothing prepared and trying to create something entertaining. Without embracing this risk, the improviser does nothing. In a similar fashion, a person in today's work force must push forward and try new ideas and methods. Without risk, there is no progress or innovation. Businesses that want to stay competitive require their people to keep pushing forward with new ideas. This can never be accomplished if people are not willing to take risks.
Creativity is often misconstrued as 'artistry.' In improv, it is clear that the performer needs to be creative. An improviser needs to generate interesting ideas immediately, without a moment's hesitation. While most artistic people are creative, creativity is about much more than art. Creativity is simply the ability to create. It is the ability to come up with something from nothing. It is the ability to create new ideas. These new ideas could be solutions to problems, innovative products, or new ways of handling clients. Just because artists are creative doesn't mean that other people can't benefit from creativity.
Unlike stand-up comedy, where the performer is alone, improv requires cooperation between two or more players. When one performer ignores his partners and does not involve them at all, he creates a disharmonious environment that tears at the group. The best improv happens when everyone is involved and there is a free flow of ideas that are supported and built upon by everyone. This attitude is the heart of communication. Whether talking to a co-worker, client, friend, or family member, the ability to openly and honestly listen to another person and incorporate their ideas is the key to building strong relationships.
The keys to effective improvisation are the same as the keys to success in just about any other area of life. It really should not be that surprising though; life, after all, is the ultimate improvisation.
Avish Parashar is a dynamic professional speaker who shows organizations and individuals how to get what they want using the Art and Science of improv comedy. He weaves together humorous stories, witty observations, and interactive exercises from improvisational comedy to get people laughing, learning, and motivated!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Making Money Without Being Perfect

Making Money Online Without Being Perfect (or Spending A Fortune!)
I've always been fascinated that you can make money in business without being perfect. Like horseshoes, just being close can make you a big winner.
I wish they had taught me this in a business class. I would have succeeded sooner. I've learned this from long experience.
I understand now that taking action makes me money. Trying to be perfect just makes me frustrated!
I think new people are often intimidated as they start a business, especially an Internet business. They're trying to learn everything and struggling to understand mountains of information. In the face of all that, it's easy to be overwhelmed and never really get started.
After all, if you can't understand everything and do a perfect job, you probably  shouldn't get started at all, right? (Sure... just give up on the idea of your own home based business and financial freedom and independence!)
Wrong! Very, very wrong.
The old saying, as I'm sure you've heard, goes like this: "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right." The implication is that you should not attempt anything unless you can do it perfectly.
I am adamantly opposed to this idea. First, because I know there's a ton of things I do that are less than perfect, but are important to me anyway.
Some I do for pleasure - like playing golf. I'm nowhere close to perfect, but I enjoy the game.
Others I do for business - many of these pursuits don't work perfectly or, sometimes, even well. But, most of them make me money in spite of the imperfections.
My second objection is that the idea of never attempting anything unless we'll achieve perfection simply boils down to never attempting much of anything at all. Truly, achieving perfection in any one pursuit is the achievement of a lifetime.
One of the many reasons I love doing business on the Internet is the huge margin for error that exists. I can make a lot of mistakes and still profit. Your overhead (fixed costs) to be in business online is a $100 or less per month including your web hosting, merchant fees, etc.
To break even, we just have to make back that $100. Of course, all the money above the $100 mark is profit that goes in our pockets.
When we advertise our business, we won't always get it right the first or second time. But, even a bad ad will bring in some money. If you spend $100 to run an ad, you'll rarely lose the entire $100 unless you have a horrible ad being run to a completely incorrect list. A marginal ad will usually make you a profit.
A good ad will bring you huge profits. A great ad will bring you riches.
We all have to work to refine the good ads, but we get to make money even when we are testing and refining.
To make money, we don't need to be perfect. We just need to be taking consistent action to build our businesses.
Yours in success,
Shawn M. Casey

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

5 Ways to Boost Your Business Income

Profit in any business comes from your business turnover multiplied by your margins. In simple term,
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
1. lead generation
2. conversion rate
3. number of transaction
4. average dollar sale 5. 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%.
Putting Theory into Practice
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.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

How to Perform a Site Inspection Like a Pro

When a professional meeting, event or conference planner goes to evaluate the suitability of a venue for a client this is called a site inspection. There are three basic areas to be considered:
  • Appearance and accessibility of the location

  • Service and quality of catering

  • Amenities and special features.
  • Without a doubt, choosing a venue for your affair is the most significant aspect of the event planning process. No venue=no event. Choosing the proper setting for your organization is of paramount importance. If you find yourself in a position where you are unable to have a professional planner perform a venue inspection for you, the following checklists should get you started.
    Appearance & Accessibility (Outside)
  • When you initially approach the building, is the façade well maintained and pleasing to the eye? Is there someone available to greet you at the door and direct you where you need to go?

  • Is the location centered and roughly equidistant from the areas from which your guests will be traveling?

  • Is parking available for all of your guests? If not, is there a parking alternative outside the facility?
  • Appearance & Accessibility (Inside)
  • As you move inside, what is your impression of the inside of the facility? Wallpaper and paint well maintained? Carpets and floors clean?

  • Are there tables and chairs lying about from previous functions? At the very least, tables and chairs should stacked neatly and out of the way.

  • How far is the actual room where the event will be held from the entrance?

  • Will the room itself be spacious enough to accommodate all of your guests and still have room for at least ten more should your count unexpectantly increase?

  • Does the room have a built in sound system (if applicable)? Does the facility have in- house audiovisual equipment or will you need equipment from a rental agency?

  • Is the room clean and in good repair? Wallpaper and carpets well maintained? Any visible cracks, stains or tears?

  • Is the room well lit? If you need to darken the room for a presentation, make sure that the lights are adjustable.

  • Is there room for a registration or display table if applicable?
  • Service & Catering
  • What entrance do the waiters use to come in to set up the food? Make sure to stipulate that the catering tables be placed in a position where the waiters and guests will be able to have access, but also in a position where the wait staff will not have to pass in front of your speaker if they need to set-up during your program. (If you don't have a speaker presentation, this, of course, is a moot point.) The facility manager can assist you in making a decision.

  • How receptive was the staff to your request to view the facility? Were they pleasant and courteous? Did the facility manager greet you with a handshake and a smile upon your arrival at the venue?

  • Sometimes catering or banquet halls have an adjoining restaurant. This is a perfect opportunity to sample the facility's cuisine. Observe the attitude of the wait staff towards their customers. Do they seem pleasant and attentive? Are their uniforms neatly pressed? How often do they come back to check on your table? This is a fairly reliable indicator of the service that you will receive on the day of your event.

  • If the facility does not have an adjoining restaurant, you are perfectly within your rights to request a small sample tasting. Most facility managers should be happy to oblige.
  • Amenities & Special Features
  • Amenities may include any number of items such as a built in sound system, in house audiovisual equipment, valet parking, complementary floral arrangements, a mystery dinner theater or any special perk that sets that venue apart from others. It may be helpful for you to make a list of these features, so that you can compare the various sites that you have inspected. No facility is perfect. If you look hard enough, you are bound to find some small flaw in service or in the maintenance of the building. Use the following checklists as a guide for evaluating the facility as a whole. Don't drive yourself crazy looking for every rip and tear! Only you can decide what type of venue is right for your event. If you are fortunate enough to find a venue that meets all of your requirements and fits within your budget, you've hit the goldmine! However, this may not always be the case and some form of compromise may be required. For instance, you may choose one venue over another because it is more conveniently located for your guests, although you may have felt that the other site was more elegant. Only you can determine what factors will come into play when making your final decision.
  • Just remember the basics. The following should never be compromised:
    1. Cleanliness and proper maintenance of the facility both inside and outside.
    2. Convenience and accessibility of location.
    3. Attentive and courteous service.
    4. Quality and presentation of catering.

    Andrea Pellettiere has over ten years of experience in the events and hospitality industry. She is a small business owner and the founder of Eleganza Meetings, Events and Conferences Inc., a full service agency providing a wealth of meeting, event and conference planning resources.

    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    What is an Acceptable Response

    Many online marketers work odd hours, with no beginning of the day and no real end. How does this impact support and customer service inquiries? Some small businesses are afraid to reply to customer queries off-hours, fearful that the message time-stamp will betray them as a small business. The Internet however is timeless. The fact is customers appreciate a quick response.
    With the globalization of the Internet federal holidays are blurred. Customers expect timely responses and often make little note of the time zone the vendor they are working with. While large corporate businesses have a large amount of resources (staff and money) for sales, customer service and marketing are often tied to traditional methods of communication with customers. Sales are in person; customer service is over the phone and marketing by advertising and mail. Email is often used to funnel customers into these traditional channels of communication. When emailing often the reply back is to call back or a request you show up in person. More so in the past then recently, many companies do not respond to email at all. While communicating by telephone and mail is important, email is part of the fabric of how people interact and companies often do not take this into account.
    As many small main street businesses are offering a more personalized service, email can be more personalized than large corporations are able to provide. Since customers have become accustomed to looking on the Internet to either make or research purchases email is an easy way to communicate. Besides an easy way to get an answer, some customers want reassurance there is a human behind the web page, and not just some wizard speaking out of a microphone.
    Service and forum queries are typically handled by online businesses within 24 hours; rarely do weekends or holidays alter response rates. Customer demands and the 'need' for instant answers have driven the standard. If you do not respond in a timely fashion a competitor will.
    Customers are used to surfing the web and emailing. They want instant information whether it is 4pm or 4am. They want an immediate response. Many companies provide 24-hour customer service.
    While some people expect responses immediately, others will think business is slow if you respond right away. This is difficult to gauge, if the answer is simple respond as soon as possible. If research is required then at least email a response that you are looking into and will get back to them.

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

    In Business, Image Isn't Everything; It's The Only Thing

    We have all heard this lament, but how much do we practice it. With all the relaxed rules today, do we really present ourselves in the best light. It seems all the articles I see today are about how old fashioned today's workers find their supervisors or bosses to be in the way they dress, the policies they implement and the old fashioned ways in which they conduct their business.
    I am of the belief, and will continue to believe, that the first impression I make is the lasting one. Whether it is by phone or in person, I want to present myself in the best possible light. But then again, I am from the old school, the one today's workers are complaining about.
    Let's look at the companies that are still standing. After all the hoopla has passed, the companies that have used the fundamental principles of Business 101 are the ones still among us. The Intels, IBMs, Burger Kings, AT&Ts, Sears, Microsofts, Dells, Gateways, etc.
    I am not advocating living in the dark ages. I believe for a company to survive it has to move with the times, but the basic structure and foundation on which we have built our business - image, courtesy, ethics, the customer being right, are the cornerstones to running a successful business, whether it is home-based or not.
    Too many home-based business have taken the pajama mentality into all of their business practices. I have called on businesses that have cute messages on their machines, music that is obnoxious, children answering the telephone, screaming televisions, radios in the background. This does not inspire confidence in me to do business with this person.
    That is not to say I have not had reservations about companies that have offices outside the home. In fact, it was a call placed to one that inspired this article. When I called and spoke to the owner of this business, she had no idea on how a particular process worked or what it's cost would be. Wow, it's her business and she doesn't know how it works or what it costs. Guess who I didn't do business with. I am not saying you have to be an expert, but at least know the basics and tell me you employ an expert in that area that will be better able to help me, don't hem and haw and tell me you don't have a clue. This does not give me a good impression of you or your company.
    There are businesses in corporate offices that are more fun houses than companies...and they don't inspire any confidence in me either, so I am not picking on home-based businesses.
    The purpose of this article is to remind all of us (home-based and non-home-based) that how we present ourselves is of paramount importance.
    When you answer your telephone, answer it in a professional manner. When you go to an outside meeting, if you are home-based, dress for the meeting, not for home. If you have clients come to your home, be sure it is presentable, and that you are too. Just because you work out of your home, does not mean, shorts and a T-shirt are appropriate for meeting a client. Have your identity package (business cards, letterhead, brochure) done professionally, proofread and spell check any correspondence that leaves your office.
    Your first impression, whether in person, by phone or correspondence is a lasting one. Make it a good one and you'll have clients for life if you treat them right - the old fashioned way.
    The only place I've ever found I was wrong is with restaurants. Some of those little holes in the wall have turned out to have the best service and the best food, so I guess when it comes to businesses, you can't judge all books by their covers, just most of them.

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

    Small and Homebased Business Owners

    The homebased and small business owner is the "Unsung Hero".  Why? The small business owner and today even the homebased business owner are the cornerstones of our society. The homebased business owner employs a number of independent contractors. Small businesses account for a large percentage of our economic work force.
    Think of the homebased and small business owner as the leaders of a team. They organize their team, tell them the strategy they want to be followed and  how to implement that strategy. The business owner takes their responsibility of that team very seriously. Why? Because it they don't, they won't have those people working for them very long, in fact they won't be in business for very long.
    The small and homebased business owner are - Unsung Heroes! Why? Because people do not realize how important they are to our society.
    They not only take care of their business and their family, but the families of all their employees. Think about it. Look around at the town you live in. Sure there are Walmarts, Targets, and other large businesses, and malls. However, our malls are not only comprised of corporate franchises but also a lot of small business owners.
    Those small business owners are the backbone of your local economy. You might think, Oh, they only employee 6 people. However, multiply those 6 people by 100 small businesses in your area, and it adds up very quickly.
    The homebased business owner is also of major importance to your local economy. They contract with other homebased and small business owners. Think of the local contractor. Many contractors are homebased. That contractor needs supplies from the local hardware store. They might have to employ a plumber or an electrician to complete a project, because they don't have expertise in that area. All of these people make up the business spectrum of your local economy.
    People are leaving corporate America everyday. Either because they want to run their own business or due to a layoff. These folks are discovering that the only sure thing is to run your own business,  that they only have themselves to rely on.
    So while yes, the large corporations are important, REMEMBER, the backbone of our society will always be "the small and homebased business owner".  They are what keep our society going. More UNSUNG HEROES are joining our ranks every day. Let's  give them a HEROES WELCOME!

    Wednesday, September 12, 2012

    Business Start Ups...Let's Play Ball

    Starting a business is like starting your own baseball team. Start-up (Spring training) is when you are doing your research, deciding on a business name, zoning requirements, setting up your business, deciding on what form your business will take (sole proprietorship, corporation, LLC). You're assembling all the parts of your business (team), getting ready for the season (your opening day).
    Once spring training is over, and the season begins (your business is open) you start making your run around the bases. Getting to first base is the hardest (obtaining your first customer, making your first sale, doing your first consultation).  You are helped along to second base by the support staff (players) you assembled. Moving around the bases constitutes all the steps, hurdles, obstacles, however you want to think of daily business grind. This is part of running a business ( and what the game of baseball is all about). Having game plans to deal with certain contingencies.
    Being aware of what your staff is capable of. Some of your staff will be single hit players.  Others will hit doubles.  Some will hit or make the triple play, while others will hit home runs. Your employees (players) look to you, the business owner, (their coach), and learn from you. They will look to you for direction (signals), on how they should respond (play the game).
    The season (your first year in business) gives you the opportunity to assess your staff (your team) to ascertain where they work best. Do you need to make changes (change the line-up). Obviously, some will perform better than others. It's up to you, as the leader (coach) to decide who belongs in what position, where their strong points are, where their weaknesses are, and how to utilize them to the best of their abilities. Be sure to set up staff (team) meetings.
    How successful your team is (your business) will be determined by the end of the season. Are you just one of many new businesses in your area, or will you make the playoffs (distinguish your business, find your niche, make a name for yourself in your area).
    Making the playoffs and/or winning the championship means your business has made it. You paid your dues.  You're in it for the long run. You're part of the business community (recognized by the other teams).
    Now you're ready to play every season. You use spring training of each year to feel out the other teams (find out what your business competition is doing) and make any adjustments you need to keep your business (team) in the thick of things for the coming year.
    If you listen real carefully you'll hear......"Let's play ball!"
    Copyright 2002 DeFiore Enterprises

    Wednesday, September 5, 2012

    Realistic Goals...How To Set Them and Why

    So many people want to start a business today and be rich tomorrow. Sorry, people it doesn't happen that way. If it did, everyone would do it. There is no free takes hard work, determination and realistic goal setting.
    Think about the businesses you have worked at, look at the businesses in your community. I mean really look. When you go to the dry cleaners, how many other people are there also. Think about what it takes for that dry cleaner to open every day. How many people he needs to come in with their dry cleaning in order to make a profit. OK, dry cleaning doesn't excite you. How about that specialty shop you want to open! You want to open a retail store that caters to people that buy Hummels, knick knacs, bric-a-brac. Will you only handle certain types? How many will you order of each type? What are the best sellers? How many will you have to sell to make money for yourself, and to also keep that shop open, or will you sell them by mail order only from your home?
    Want to do business on the web? The same principles apply. How many visitors to your web site do you need to make a sale? How do you get them to visit? How do you get them to stay? You get the idea. You need goals in order to measure any progress in your business.
    Realistic goals come from a well thought out mission statement, which leads to a very good business plan, which leads to a well thought out marketing strategy. You should have short and long term goals. The short term goals will cover the upcoming 6 months to 2 years. Your long term goals will go further out, let's say over the next five years. Remember, you need to give a business at least two years in order to give it a real chance. Not all businesses make a gigantic profit immediately.
    Let's say you want to start a house cleaning business. Your initial plan is to work it yourself, and add independent contractors as needed. You decide on your mission statement, you make up your business plan. You want to make $500 per week, working six days per week, 10 hour days. Your marketing will include advertising in your local paper, flyers, and mailers. You can clean 3 houses/apartments per day at $25-$50. You also have to decide your price points, what will you charge for a 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom, or a house with 3 bedrooms 2 bathrooms, etc. After all this is done you can better determine how many of each type you will need each week to meet you goal of $500 per week. These are your short term realistic goals. Your long term goals are to eventually hire independent contractors to do the work. Obviously, the more clients you market for, the more independent contractors you need, but also the more income you can generate. You will make up long term goals for the third, fourth, and fifth years of how many independent contractors you want to add and how many clients you want. Your marketing plan will reflect what you need to do to get the numbers you are projecting.
    Realistic goals can and must be set, you just need a plan. For example, in Lease Purchasing, as in any other business, goal setting is of paramount importance. You need to follow a plan, a plan for success. Short term goals and long term goals are part of this plan. Like many franchise businesses that have an outline for their franchisees to follow for a successful business, the same should be done in lease purchasing.
    To set these realistic goals and to obtain a good foundation, you need a program that provides you with support in the start up and running of your business. Using our own Lease Purchase Coaching Program as an example, we schedule consultations that cover all students need to know to get started. We role play with students and have specific assignments giving them certain things to do, and certain goals to meet. If they follow the program, and do their deals, they will be able to run their own successful business. We work with our students to accomplish the above and to help them set realistic goals.
    An example of goals in Lease Purchasing is the number of deals you want to do, and how many calls or contacts you need to make to do that number of deals. How many consultations do you want to do, again, how many contacts you make will determine how many you get. Lease Purchasing like many other businesses is a numbers game. Make so many contacts, and/or calls and get so many deals. However, in order to do this, you have to make some goal making decisions and set realistic goals, not farfetched ones. Making a million dollars by the end of six months is not a realistic goal. Making so many calls per day, per week, per month is, and then from the number of calls/contacts you make, realize you are going to get so many responses, and from those responses make so many deals. A realistic income working full time the first year is $50,000 to $75,000.
    Following a proven method is of the utmost importance. You don't hear of many Burger King or Taco Bell franchises failing. Why, because they follow the corporate plan. The company will tell them there are no short cuts. If they want to succeed, they need to follow the company's proven formula.
    The people who fail in business are usually those who don't listen; don't want to follow a proven program; want to take short cuts; and who don't set realistic goals.
    So remember, no matter what your business is, if you want to succeed you need to set goals for yourself ... and make them realistic.

    Wednesday, August 29, 2012

    Businesses - Leisurely Dining Or Fast Food

    It occurred to me the other day, that so many people today liken their businesses to the way they eat - fast. Think about it. All over the web we are inundated with... make $1000's of dollars a day, make $10,000 a month, make a million by the end of the year. Everyone is looking for the magic formula or the magic bullet to get rich They want their business to succeed in the time it takes to get their hamburger or chicken sandwich. No wait, no delay of gratification. I want it now, and I want it without having to work at it. I want to sit back and rake in the dollars, my way.
    Those of us who have been on the web for the past six years, realize that just like the businesses we ran off the web, a web business takes time to grow. It is not fast food, but instead like an five course dinner. We start with the drink, the business idea, then go to the appetizer, the business name, mission statement and business plan, then the first course, formalized plan, the second course, the strategies to market our business, the main course, the everyday running of the business, and then comes the dessert, the moneys, we so richly deserve.
    We know that it takes time to digest, and we have to go through several courses to get to the dessert. The dessert does not come first. One course builds upon the other, till you get to the end, however, this also allows us to savor our success. Going through the courses also allows us to take a good long look at things, so if we need to add a piece or entrée (make small or big adjustments), we can do so immediately.
    If you want to run a successful business on or off the web, remember your business is not fast food, but rather a nice long leisurely meal. Take the time to digest it, and savor it over several courses, and your just desserts will be realized in the end, but the dessert does not come first.

    Wednesday, August 22, 2012

    Networking - It's Important

    Networking opportunities are everywhere. Don't let them pass you by.
    1. Recognize that there is more to networking than greeting people. Develop a step-by-step plan for how you'll build relationships and how you can effectively tell your story. Don't forget your 30 second commercial to tell your story.
    2. Zero in on specific groups of people. Who are the ideal prospects for your business? Do they live nearby? What activities do they participate in? Try networking groups meetings. For those of us in lease purchasing we network with real estate agents, accountants, financial planners, and a multitude of others.
    3. Determine where you'll be most likely to find your ideal prospects. Do they belong to specific organizations or associations? Do they frequent particular events, performances or recreational facilities? Again, for those of us in lease purchasing, investors, buyers and sellers are just the beginning.
    4. Identify organizations, events, professional groups and social clubs whose members meet your profile characteristics, and get involved. Get to know people, and let them know what you do. Volunteer for committees, attend conferences, and maximize opportunities that might spin off from the formal sessions. For those of you in lease purchasing, and even other businesses, become an expert. Give seminars, speeches, write articles. Become involved and get your name out there.
    5. Work on your ability to make small talk. Have some prepared topics in mind--current events, sports, vacation plans. And be sure to ask open-ended questions of the other person like "What is it you enjoy most about your work, or where you live or your free time?" Remember, too, that having a good conversation depends greatly on being an active, courteous listener. Again, your thirty second commercial is a must. And let's emphasize again being a good and courteous listener.
    6. Explore organizations dedicated to business networking. Chambers of commerce, tenant associations and networking clubs offer opportunities for you to meet and greet. Look for the groups in your area. Many times your local paper has a certain day of the week that lists all of these types of meetings. If you don't see it, call your paper and ask about it.
    7. Look for partners. Specifically, look for other businesses that complement what you do and might be a good source of referrals. Again, those of us in lease purchasing have it easy. We have a ton of people to work with. For those of you in other businesses, think of who would complement your business. If you are a travel agent, how about hotels, spas; a flower shop, what about bridal shops, catering services, party planners... you get the idea.
    8. Don't look at networking as a sales opportunity. Instead, look at it as a reconnaissance mission--a chance for you to learn something and enjoy the scenery. There is a proper time and place for sales calls. This is a very important point. Read it over and over again. Networking is not sales.
    9. Make a habit of being patient, polite and friendly to people, whether or not you're in an "orchestrated" setting. This is just good business behavior. If you are going to run a business, at least a successful one, these are just some of the characteristics and behavior you will need to employ.
    10. Finally, do something constructive with the names and information you've gathered. Stay in touch with the most meaningful contacts. Again, those of us in lease purchasing know the importance of following up and have numerous ways to do so. For those of you in other types of business, develop a few types of follow-up methods; such as phone, fax, newsletter, brochure, card and letter.
    Referrals, introductions and contacts that simply come by chance are like gifts. Be sure to thank anyone who helps you network, and when appropriate pay a nice referral fee. Your ability to be seen as a giver rather than a taker will spread the word that you are someone with whom people want to do business.

    Wednesday, August 15, 2012

    Paralysis By Analysis

    Every day we get emails and telephone calls from people who want to get started in Real Estate. We hear, I am just checking out your program. Or, I've been researching for the past six months to try and find a program. While researching and checking out programs is an important step, so many of these individuals never follow through to the next step, which is getting started and moving forward.
    Making a decision on starting a business or a program to help you start a business is the next step people. Otherwise all you have is "Paralysis by Analysis". You can look and dither back and forth, with all the questions: "Will it work for me?; How long will it take? How many calls, letters, emails, (fill in the blank) will I have to send or sell before I start making money? The questions go on and on. Eventually you will come to one that can't be answered and that will be your  reason for not proceeding.  Oh, I can't do it if I can't have (fill in the blank).
    The one question I love is: "Can you guarantee I will succeed?" NO! I CAN'T, ONLY YOU CAN DECIDE THAT. In all honesty, if you ask that question, you probably never will. You will never move forward to make a decision, hence the "paralysis by analysis". You will keep spinning your wheels in one fashion or another and never get anywhere. You will stay in the same place the rest of your life, and continue to moan and groan about it. In addition to blaming everyone but yourself for not moving forward.
    So if you see yourself in the above, realize what you are doing, and either move forward and do something or stop wasting everyone's time, including your own, and resign yourself to the life you have. Remember, it's no one fault but your own that you have the problems you do, especially if you do nothing to change them.

    Wednesday, August 8, 2012

    Using Those Business Cards

    One of the first things you do when starting a business is to have business cards made up. The next thing you need to do is give them out. If you keep them in the card holders or the box in your office, they are not doing what you got them for.
    You should send a card out with any correspondence you send. You should tell all your friends and family what you are doing. Give them a bunch of cards to give to others.
    Do you go to a dry cleaner? A special car repair place? What about the grocery store, do you like to go to a particular checker? All of these people should have your business card, and know what you do.
    One of the first things we tell our PFYS students to do is to get their name out there. We tell them to get cards made up and give them out to everyone. With lease purchasing we emphasize that we offer referral fees. For example, we gave cards (a bunch of them) to our video store. We told the owner that if we do a deal with someone who got the card from his store he would get 10% of whatever the assignment fee was. Well, guess what, he received a $500 check he wasn't expecting. Well you can imagine his surprise and shock when we dropped it off. He was ecstatic, and told everyone and we mean everyone about us! In fact this particular owner received numerous checks from us.
    Remember, for those of you in creative real estate, or wanting to get into real estate we show you how to do this as a business. This avoids you always having to look for the deals, we show you how to get the deals to come to you.
    So even if you are not doing creative real estate, think about a way you can set up a referral program. For example,let's say you do manicures. Give your cards out to a hair salon and tell that owner that for everyone she/he sends you, you will pay a $10 referral fee; and will recommend their salon for haircuts. Or you could both work together and give discounts to each others' customers. There are a number of scenarios that could work for a salon and manicurist.
    Use your imagination, and you can come up with many different ways to work with others and have them promote your business.
    Just don't forget your business cards do you no good sitting in your office. You need to give them out EVERYWHERE.

    Wednesday, August 1, 2012

    Splitting the Roles of CEO and Chairman

    Traditionally, in American businesses, the same person occupies the role of chairman of the board and chief executive officer, though this is gradually shifting to the European model. In most European, British, and Canadian businesses, the roles are usually split, in an effort to ensure better governance of the company, and in turn bring higher returns to investors.
    Combining the roles does have its advantages, such giving the CEO multiple perspectives on the company as a result of their multiple roles, and empowering them to act with determination. However, this allows for little transparency into the CEO's acts, and as such their actions can go unmonitored, it paves the way for scandal and corruption.
    According to Ira Millstein, an expert in corporate governance, an effectively independent board is a shareholder's best protection. Separating the roles allows the chair to check up on the CEO, and in turn the company's overall performance, on behalf of the stockholders.
    Separating the roles also allows the CEO and chairman to focus on different, equally vital aspects of the company's performance.
    "We think it is an appropriate segregation of duties. As a business grows, the CEO can focus on the business and the chairman can help with the ever-growing regulatory requirements," noted Lino P. Matteo, CEO for the Montreal-based management accounting firm Mount Real.
    Ultimately, when the chair does not also occupy the role of CEO, they are able to govern the board in a more impartial manner, meaning that investor returns could potentially be higher.
    However, a new survey by three consultants for the international management consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton found that the companies that divided the roles actually had smaller shareholder returns, leading some to rethink the CEO-chairman split.
    A survey by Christian & Timbers showed that 97% of European executives believe that the roles should be split. However, stockholder returns were nearly 5% lower in European companies that implemented the split, when compared with companies that had the same CEO and chairman.
    In America, where only about 20% of the major public companies split the roles despite that 86% of executives polled by Christian & Timbers believed that the roles should be split, returns were 4% lower in companies with a separate chairman and CEO.
    One of the reasons they gave for the higher returns in the companies with the same CEO and chairman was the once the board commits to arranging itself that way, they focus less on constant watchdog evaluation of that individual than making him or her successful.
    They also pointed out that CEO-chairman might be able to withstand pressure better, especially when short-term changes don't pay off, than non-CEO chairman.
    Thirdly, they attribute the surprising results to lack of authority on the CEO's behalf. "Clearly, a CEO who is not a chairman is the board's hired hand; a chief who is also chairman has far more influence over other directors," they noted.
    According to an article in the business journal McKinsey Quarterly, Americans tends to view the role of chairman with less respect than that of CEO, especially in companies where the roles are split.
    Therefore, they should consider remarketing the job of chairman as a more respected career path, as it is in British companies, where 95% of companies have separate people occupying the roles of CEO and chairman. The remarketing could then function as a way of restoring trust and confidence in the increasingly corrupted corporate American landscape.
    Regardless of whether the CEO is the chairman of the board or not, there is no way the company can be successful unless the directors dedicate themselves to helping the CEO and other upper-management sustain a superior level of performance.
    Jessica Klein is a member of the 'Mount Real Research Team', whose aim is to seek out and distribute business information to the virtual public. She is a freelance writer based in Montreal, Canada who loves writing about anything from accounting to zebras.