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.