Making Your Living Online – Where To Start

Congratulations on taking the first step towards making your living online. You've embarked on a very profitable career, but like any career, you've got a bit of a learning curve. If you're new to the online world and are unsure of the different ways to make your living online, this article is the perfect place…

Congratulations on taking the first step towards making your living online. You've embarked on a very profitable career, but like any career, you've got a bit of a learning curve. If you're new to the online world and are unsure of the different ways to make your living online, this article is the perfect place to start your research.

Your first step is to turn off your computer. Turn it off, get a pen and paper and find yourself a quiet place to sit with your thoughts. Write down what you would like your business to look like. What kind of products and services are you going to offer? What market are you going to service? How much income do you need to make for your business to be worth your time? Why would your customers buy from you instead of your competition? Write down answers to all these questions and anything else you can think of that will help direct you as you build your internet business.

It's important that you have a vision of what you want your business to look like. If you do not have a direction for your business from the beginning, you'll spend a lot of time chasing business opportunity after business opportunity and not actually make any progress. Even though it may take a few hours to lay out a basic plan for your business now, it will save you countless thousands of hours over the life of your business.

After you've written your basic blueprint for your business by answering the previous questions, set some goals for your business. Setting goals gives you a benchmark to work towards. Even if you do not reach your goals every time, you have a direction for your business and you'll be more successful than if you have no goals at all.

Goal setting is a bit of an art, but if you follow the formula below, you'll have a set of SMART goals that help you define the direction of your company. SMART is an acronym for

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Realistic

Timely

To write a SMART goal, answer the following questions for each letter of the acronym

Specific – Who, what, why, where?

Measurable – How much, How many?

Actionable – What do you need to do?

Realistic – Can you accomplish this?

Timely – When will your goal be accomplished?

If you were writing a SMART goal for your model train business, you could envision something like:

I will build an online business that sells model trains and accessories. My business will sell $ 1,000 worth of merchandise per month within the first 6 months. In the second half of the year, my business will sell $ 2,000 each month. I will accomplish this by advertising in magazines, online and at trade shows.

You've now created a SMART goal for your business. You have a direction for your company and it gives you a benchmark to measure your progress. Your goals are fluid, so adjust them as your business progresses and grows.

Your next step is to develop short, medium and long range goals. Short term is anything you'd like to complete in the next 6 months, medium range goals are anything you'd like to complete within the next two years and long range goals are anything you'd like to accomplish in the next five years. Use the SMART goal setting formula for each of the short, medium and long range goals.

When you've set goals for your business, it gives you a general direction for your business and helps you gauge whether your on track or not. Use your goals as fluid guidelines, not rigid borders, so you can incorporate new concepts, products and services as they become available.

Toss Out the Kitchen Sink This Quarter to Clean Up Your Balance Sheet

There are two major reasons this is the quarter you should clean up your balance sheet on all those soft squishy assets and optimistically valued liabilities. First the general economy and uncertainty provide cover. USA Today and other major publications are reporting that a number of companies have been coming forward with pessimistic news that…

There are two major reasons this is the quarter you should clean up your balance sheet on all those soft squishy assets and optimistically valued liabilities.

First the general economy and uncertainty provide cover. USA Today and other major publications are reporting that a number of companies have been coming forward with pessimistic news that their earnings in the fourth quarter or the coming quarters will be a disappointment. Sandy is another sometimes truthful and yet convenient factor to cite.

Secondly, those who move closer to fortress balance sheets more accurately know and can plan for seizing fleeting opportunities when they confidently know resource levels of financing, plant and human capital.

Setting aside generally accepted accounting principles to focus on economic aspects of what balance sheet items to consider assets to partially or wholly reserve or write down and liabilities to increase, consider the three questions and discussion below:

  • Businesses typically capitalize expenses that create an asset with what now may be a questionable recorded value. Consider the convenient issue of two goodwill write offs this year for Hewlett Packard of eight billion dollars for the EDS acquisition followed by another eight plus billion for Autonomy. When the professionals are cleaning house is the time to be truthful about those dated inventory items, questionable receivables and grossly insufficient liability reserves.
  • Most businesses do not know how changes at one of their top 10 customers may affect the bottom line. There will always be a time when your top 10 customers will drop off your A list. Would you rather have Apple or Motorola as primary customer for your cell phone business today? Some people saw the change coming and profit. Others were blindsided and suffered.
  • Many businesses would benefit from looking into an asset that it will be better off selling at a loss to free up cash to pursue a more advancing opportunity. Favorite candidates in this group are those once profitable, but now marginal products, locations and inventory items which sale will generate cold hard cash to be much better deployed in higher yielding area.

The timing is particularly appropriate at this time if your unit has not met bonus milestones, the bonus formula is cash generation oriented, or one time time expense like these items can be excluded from the payout formula.

After all, the correct motives for such an introspective write off of everything except the kitchen sink approach is to lay the foundation for building corporate value and wealth for the shareholder. Unemotionally and properly done, clearing the decks to opportunistically exploit existing or targetable opportunities can do just that.

Strategic Planning With Implementation in Mind

Plans come in all shapes and sizes, but the types of plans that I have in mind are those effective implementation is vital to the organization's continued well-being. The plan may be a marketing plan involving the development of new markets and products; it may be a restructuring to enhance flexibility and customer focus or…

Plans come in all shapes and sizes, but the types of plans that I have in mind are those effective implementation is vital to the organization's continued well-being. The plan may be a marketing plan involving the development of new markets and products; it may be a restructuring to enhance flexibility and customer focus or the adoption of a concept such as lean thinking. It may be all of these which, together, form the elements of a strategic business plan. The common denominators are that the effective implementation of the plan involves many more people than were involved in the plan's formulation and the price of failure to execute is high.

The three fundamental reasons for poor strategy implementation are:

  1. Planning and implementation are seen as two entirely separate activities where the reality is that the seeds of success or failure are sown the moment the planners sit down to plan.
  2. Planners spend a disproportation amount of time deciding what they are going to do rather than dividing their time evenly between that and planning how they are going to do it.
  3. Too few people are involved in the “how” process – assessing the plan's feasibility and its impact on all the organization's resources.

These are further broken down into the following 13 barriers to good planning:

Planning Barrier No.1 – “The plan did not take into account the new environment we were operating in”.

If the plan ignores the present or fails to predict the future environment that the organization will be operating in, it is doomed to failure from the start.

Planning Barrier No.2 – “The ratione behind the plan was never incorporated into the written document”

It is said that 70% of people will change, given a good enough reason to do so. Since almost by definition these days plans invve change, the rationale behind the proposed changes must be explained and justified. It is not sufficient to state that “this is what we are going to do”. Management has to articulate the debt that is resolved in a particular course of action being proposed.

Planning Barrier No.3 – “There was no overall goal that everyone could relate to”

My company conducts Customer Satisfaction Surveys and one of the key outcomes is a weighted Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI). A division of a large public company recorded an average CSI that was satisfactory but which masked a significant problem – inconsistency. The 24% of clients who rated the supplier very highly was offset by the 27% of clients who were dissatisfied with the supplier's performance. The supplier decided to set an overall goal of a certain CSI to replace the contribution margin that they had previously used. Although the staff found the new measure of performance much easier to relate to than the old one, it would have been even better if the revised goal was to eliminate any customer ratings below an agreed figure in an agreed time frame.

Planning Barrier No.4 – “The plan was just a series of activities – there were no clear results to aim for”

If you were trying to lose weight, you might decide to exercise more, drink less alcohol and eat more green vegetables. These are activities. I'm sure your campaign would be far more successful if you set a goal weight to be achieved at the end of 12 months together with intermediate monthly targets. Corporate plans are no different.

Planning Barrier No.5 – “Those responsible for the plan's execution were not adequately involved at the planning stage”

There is an old adage that says that the more people who plan the battle, the less there are to battle the plan. Not only does this strategy begin the transfer of ownership from the “planners” to the “implementers” but it also results in a better quality of planning.

Planning Barrier No. 6 – “The planners failed to integrate the plan with the current circumstances facing the organization”

Very few planners start with the luxury of a clean sheet of paper. As a consequence any plan needs to address the present as well as the future. Womack & Jones in their book “Lean Thinking” recount the story of a company that decided to embrace the concept of “Just-in-Time” – reducing inventions and manufacturing batch sizes. Unfortunately for them, they made no fundamental changes to their production system that remained as inflexible as before. Manufacturing costs and freight costs skyrocketed due to increased machine downtime and the need to airfreight customer orders to meet delivery times.

These six barriers are connected to the first component of any plan which is deciding “this is what we are going to do”. The next stage is to think through the implications of stage 1 of the plan on every function that makes up the organization.

Planning Barrier No. 7 – “The implications of the plan were not adequately worked through the planners”

For example, what if the plan calls for the development of six new products a year? Such a target has implications for Development, Production, Marketing, Sales, Distribution, Supply, HR and Finance. To minimize this problem, you need to involve the people with detailed knowledge of these functions at the planning stage.

Planning Barrier No.8 – “Insufficient time was sent planning before moving to implementation”

You would think that with all their experience, Boeing could design and bring into service a new airliner in the timeframe originally envisaged. This certainly was not the case with the 787 “Dreamliner”. It was four years late into service mainly because of the problems encountered by not only out-sourcing the production of many components using new technology but in some cases also out-sourcing design. As one senior Boeing executive admitted – “… we put a global supply chain together without thinking through some of the consequences”.

Once the issue of “how we are going to do it” has been thought through, the next step is to look at the implications for human resources and finance. These are the two key Enabling Functions. Without people and money, no plan can be implemented.

Armed with the knowledge of “this is what we want to do” and “this is how we are going to do it”, the next set of questions to be asked is whether the organization has the right number of staff with the right expertise in the right places to effectively implement the plan.

Planning Barrier No. 9 – “The implementation of the plan required changes in the current organizational structure that management was not prepared to make”

Furthermore, is the organizational structure suitable to implement the planned changes? Under the direction of Lou Gerstner IBM underwent massive organizational changes in the 90's as it moved from a technology driven hardware company to a market driven services company. The “old guard” resinated such changes to the status quo and the reorganization would not have succeeded, had not Gerstner redistributed the “levers of power”.

Planning Barrier No.10 – “The planners underestimated the cost of implementation”

By this stage of the planning process, you will have built up a shopping list of the requirements necessary to bring your plan to reality. New infrastructure, new equipment, new IT systems … to say nothing of new people for new bars. If you can not afford to implement the plan in its present guise, then maybe you can stagger investment or extend the period for implementation – or maybe you have to reduce the scope of the plan so it is within your means to execute. Far better that you come to the realization now that you can not afford the costs of the strategy implementation than discover it six months down the track.

Planning Barrier No.11 – “There were no clear subsidiary objectives”

It was the Chinese philosopher Lao-tzu who said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Similarly, the achievement of the goal will be dependent on a large number of subsidiary objectives and the strategies to achieve them. It is so important that these objectives are related to “how we are going to do it” rather than “this is what we want to do”. In effect, we plan from the top down but execute from the bottom up.

Every plan should coincide with an initial Action Plan. “Initial” is emphasized because action planning is a rolling exercise. As some actions are completed, others take their place. The final two barriers refer to the transitional phase where the focus on strategic planning gives way to one on execution.

Planning Barrier No.12 – “There was no Action program that set out the objective of each action, who was to be responsible for it and its completion date”

There is one action that is frequently overlooked and that is to communicate the totality of the plan to everyone who will play a part in its execution. If you want to engage your staff – and who does not – you have to explain where the organization is now, where it's going and why and each person's role in getting there.

Planning Barrier No.13 – “Management underestimated the time required for implementation – we simply did not have sufficient hours in the day to complete the actions that we were responsible for by the date indicated and do our” normal jobs “at the same time”

This very real barrier needs to be addressed at the planning stage – not when the execution of the plan starts to flounder. Before agreeing to completion dates with those responsible for completing actions, talk with them, make sure you understand what is involved in carrying out the action and arrange for them to receive assistance if necessary.

The quality of execution is dependent on the quality of the strategic planning. The good news is that as you successfully tackle each barrier in sequence the next barrier, and the one after that becomes less daunting.

How to Widen the Reach of Training Programs Through Webinars

Businesses using webinar technology for hosting virtual corporate meetings and product demos is common practice, but there is an emerging trend of using the same technology to attend employee training these days. Due to the worldwide economic downturn, many companies in the last few years have slashed their training budgets in order to maintain minimum…

Businesses using webinar technology for hosting virtual corporate meetings and product demos is common practice, but there is an emerging trend of using the same technology to attend employee training these days. Due to the worldwide economic downturn, many companies in the last few years have slashed their training budgets in order to maintain minimum profitability. However, studies reveal that the actual key to optimizing return on investment (ROI) lies in investing in more viable skill development techniques and training facilities than slashing budgets. This has somewhat compelled organizations to look for alternative ways that are competent as well as cost-effective; and what they have found is that virtual training or webinar-based training, facilitated by training administration software is an option to be explored seriously.

What makes training organizers resort to webinars?

While on-site training programs are critical for some industries there are certain inefficiencies and challenges that simply refuse to part with the entire business of training delivery. Although, a number of issues relating to manual registration, payment processing, and promotions have been sorted out by the training administration software, there are still a few key elements that make onsite training management a costly and cumbersome affair. These are: unavoidable travel expenses, the challenge to bring the additional trainers into the classrooms, the challenge to reach out to maximum trainees beyond a limited geographical reach, and so on. To tackle these problems effectively, companies are resorting to webinar based training programs.

Why webinar based training is a better option than an onsite training program?

There are many advantages of using webinars for training delivery. These are as follows:

1. Asynchronous tools such as online workplaces and laboratories, learning management system (LMS) products, audio and video conferencing are integrated into one single platform making webinars a more cost-effective option than in-person training.

2. Learners who could not attend an earlier onsite training program for some reason can be trained though webinars.

3. Virtual training programs save significant travel and accommodation related costs.

4. Web-based training is self-paced and since, thought to be more effective that in-person training.

5. Webinars are the most effective options for training offshore clients and employees.

6. For small business owners needing to host training sessions for sales and product demos can save considering cost and time by hosting webinars instead of organizing intensive training programs.

7. Registrations, payment processing, online promotions of webinar based training programs can be handled with the help of the training administration software.

Here are few guidelines on how to make an attendee-funded webinar based training program successful:

· Saleable content selection that is urgent and relevant

· Course module designing should be preferably done for a targeted audience and not for masses

· To transform prospective registrants to paid attendees, course designing should be given utmost importance rather than making it a collation of generalized topics

· An effective description of webinars is a must to attain a sizeable viewership

Finally, since people pay to attend these training programs, commercials should be kept minimal in attendee-financed webinars; otherwise they may lose the competition to free webinars that people can register for at any time.

Thinking of Adding an Associate to Your Dental Practice? Be Prepared!

An old adage applies here – “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” This is the time to set the course for success. Prior to the first interview, do your homework. Three simple but critical steps will help prepare you to discuss the structure of your association with confidence: 1. Complete a…

An old adage applies here – “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” This is the time to set the course for success. Prior to the first interview, do your homework. Three simple but critical steps will help prepare you to discuss the structure of your association with confidence:

1. Complete a practice assessment.

Is your facility adequate for two dentists? Consider both short- and long-term demand for space, and be prepared to expand or move if space is insufficient.

Does your practice have the capacity or potential to meet the income expectations for an additional provider within a reasonable time?

Are effective management systems in place and running efficiently?

Is the practice overhead within a normal range?

Are you collecting at least 95 percent of production?

Is your entire staff open to change and completely committed to supporting an associate?

Is your appointment schedule completely booked for a sufficient period?

2. Quantify the financial aspects of an association.

Identify all fixed and variable costs related to adding an associate including staff, new equipment, instruments, laboratory, dental supplies, office supplies, expansion expense, legal, consulting, marketing, and associate compensation.

Calculate break-even numbers for the identified associate costs with and without owner profit.

Prepare short-, intermediate-, and long-term cash flow projections.

Have the practice appraised if a future buy-in or buy-out is anticipated.

3. Define the basic business points.

Relationship of the parties. Will the association be an employee-employee relationship or an independent con-tractor relationship?

Termination. Delineate causes for involuntary termination and notice period for voluntary termination.

Compensation. Compensation should be clearly defined. If compensation is based on a formula, it is typically a percentage of production or collections that may include a draft against future earmarking, or compensation may be set up as a base payment plus incentive bonuses. Be prepared to offer an illustration.

Exclusive service. It should be determined whether the associate will devote all professional time to the practice, and whether he or she will work full time or only be available for a limited number of days or hours.

Records. All patient files are typically owned by the practice and remain with the practice if an associate leaves, although access may be granted under specific circumstances. Identify any exceptions to the general ownership and access provisions.

Expenses. Outline who will be responsible for the cost of professional licenses, dues, continuing-education seminars, health insurance, malpractice insurance, benefit plans, dental and office supplies, laboratory expenses, and staff salaries.

Time off. How many days will be allowed for vacation, personal time, or attendance at continuing-education seminars. How much advance notice will be required for time off?

Covenants. Restrictive covenants, such as nondisclosure of confidential information and noncompete clauses (with reasonable time and geographical limitations), are typically included in associate agreements. Noncompete covenants may have an effective date different from the effective date of the agreement.

Future purchase agreements. Perhaps you are looking to build a relationship with the associate with a view towards the associate ever acquiring an ownership interest. Consider an agreement to negotiate towards a possible agreement in the future with specific dates and performance requirements. Specify how the buy-out or buy-in price will be determined in the future and be prepared to offer a current practice evaluation and business points for a future purchase and partnership, if applicable.

3 Benefits Planning Ahead Offers Online Marketers

Planning ahead is something every online marketer needs to do on a consistent basis to be more productive! The fact is that when you plan your work you must first identify your primary objectives and then establish how you intend to accomplish them! What this will allow you to do is focus better on any…

Planning ahead is something every online marketer needs to do on a consistent basis to be more productive! The fact is that when you plan your work you must first identify your primary objectives and then establish how you intend to accomplish them! What this will allow you to do is focus better on any activities or tasks that will help you reach your intended goals! Now instead of just simply staying busy all day you will actually be accomplishing something meaningfulful!

Let's break down into 3 steps how you can become more productive working online when you plan your work ahead of time!

Forces You to Get 'Real'

Planning forces you to determine what it is you need to do to get you where it is you want to be as previously mentioned! With a little forethought you are able to now establish what's the most important tasks that require your attention the following day! By identifying these tasks you are able to focus better on what it is that needs to be done so you can be more productive in terms of developing your business! When you plan your work you are actually 'defining' the direction or course your efforts need to take!

Ranks Your Priorities

Alright so you know what you need to do but you also need to rank your priorities so you know what to accomplish first! The planning process you are going through helps bring clarity to what may have been a confusing and even intimidating list of duties that need to be completed! By organizing your priorities you are also introducing control over what you do next so you're not frantically jumping from one task to the next! In so many words having a plan allows you to 'systematically' approach your day in a way that will make you more productive! When you know exactly what it is you need to do you are able to focus better on completing these tasks instead of 'wondering' what to do next!

Channels Your Focus

After you have taken the time to plan your work now now have yourself a 'map' which you can refer to in order to stay on course! It matters little what may distract you, and working online there are many distractions available, by simply having a plan in hand you can easily get back on track!

Although planning ahead may seem to be a bit 'inconvenient' to some marketers due to their 'busy' schedules it definitely helps you to be more productive! The fact is that when you plan your work you are 'forced' to identify what exactly it is you want to accomplish and how you intend to do so! With a plan now in hand you're able to better focus on EXACTLY what you need to do to reach your goals! Without proper planning on the other hand you'll find yourself staying busy all day but WITHOUT really getting very much done! The bottom line is that if you intend to invest the effort, by simply taking the time to plan your work beforehand your efforts will be much more productive!

How to Choose Right Suppliers for Your Sourcing Needs

Selecting a right sourcing partner can help business owners to propel success for their company. Cost-saving is perhaps the motive behind sourcing endeavors, but you can not limit the potential benefit of time saving. Here it is very important to choose a reliable supplier who can meet your expectation both in terms of time and…

Selecting a right sourcing partner can help business owners to propel success for their company. Cost-saving is perhaps the motive behind sourcing endeavors, but you can not limit the potential benefit of time saving. Here it is very important to choose a reliable supplier who can meet your expectation both in terms of time and cost.

Identifying suppliers for your custom sourcing needs can be a strategically challenging task. It is easy to come up with a long list of prospective suppliers, but narrowing down your search to the best is difficult. While price is a prime criteria, there are other factors that should have considered while selecting your sourcing partner. Following are some tips that will help you to prospect reliable suppliers for your business

Step 1

Online business market place: Instead of making a vain attempts to contact suppliers through repeated phone calls, it is good option to find suppliers online. Float your business requirements, and get response from multiple suppliers who are interested in your business.

Step 2

Contact prospective suppliers to determine their capabilities: Question suppliers about their infrastructure and technology. Technology is mainstay of any business – this will help you to determine the capabilities of the supplier to meet your requirements. Moreover, question them about their communication methods during emergencies. What are the strategic advantages that can offer, which other suppliers or competitors can not?

Step 3

No nonsense approach: Timeliness is another major consideration top on list of business priorities. As a business owner, you should focus on your core product launch activities. If someone takes a week to respond to your call, or requires follow up after each order, that is not a good sign. Decide is it worth to put extra effort to maintain the relationship.

Ask for supplier for example order – monitor the process, if everything is seamless as expected, you are on the right track.

Step 4

Quality assurance: Sometimes transportation mishaps can leave you with damaged products. Place a sample order to determine suppliers commit to product quality on final delivery. If the products reach to your destination on time and undamaged, you have all the evidence you need. It is good idea to opt for third party inspection to ensure quality, and suppliers ability to offer custom design products as per your specifications.

Before furnishing your final product requirement to the suppliers, get it in tune with latest market trends and technologies. You can browse through online sourcing guide to know more about the products, and send online inquiries to pre-verified suppliers.

Small Business Strategy: Healthy Employees for Healthy Business

The health and wellness discussion is happening all over the business world due to the impact it is having on business. Healthcare has become the second highest expense in many businesses (after payroll). You can find wellness initiatives in businesses of all sizes. Large companies have been doing it for years and smaller companies are…

The health and wellness discussion is happening all over the business world due to the impact it is having on business. Healthcare has become the second highest expense in many businesses (after payroll). You can find wellness initiatives in businesses of all sizes. Large companies have been doing it for years and smaller companies are now seeing the importance as well. Large or small, the companies that have seen success have done some simple things to ensure that success.
It starts with awareness

When a business is aware of the control they have over healthcare costs, they can make an impact. Businesses of all sizes are experiencing challenges in this area as costs continue to rise. The first step that small businesses have to is look at why they are rising. You can complain about the insurance companies, healthcare reform or any other part of the system, but there is one thing that is impacting healthcare more than anything else: health. The costs are rising because we are spending more than we are putting in. The premiums that businesses pay are being overshadowed by the claims coming from their employees. Where are these claims coming from? They are coming from employees with declining health. Each year the cost increases because the employees on their plan are costing more each year to deal with medical conditions, taking medicines and needing more care in general.

The Good News for Small Business
The care small businesses are paying for is going towards treatment of preventable issues. In fact, as much as 75% of what we spend on healthcare today is spent on preventable issues. That means that we have control over it. Obesity and smoking are at the top of the list and leading to many other related issues. Small businesses can prevent many of the costs associated with their healthcare plans by preventing these issues.

The next step is education
Once a business is aware that they can make a change, they can start educating employees. The difference between healthy and unhealthy is often just a matter of knowing what to do and how to do it. The key to remember is that employees are not causing harm to themselves and their health on purpose. They want to be healthy and when their company educates them and helps support healthy living, it is much appreciated and goes a long way.

The Good News for Small Business
You will see benefits in health and many other areas that will impact business. Healthy employees have more energy. They are more productive and will be able to do more for you. They will also want to do more for you because your goals are aligned and they appreciate the support.

The Missing Link: Facilitation
Looking at the health of today's society, we see many issues. This may lead you to believe that people do not know what to do in order to live healthy. The fact is, people know. They know that an apple is better for them than a candy bar. People know that the drive-through is not as healthy as the supermarket. The problem is not knowledge. The problem is application. The key to living healthy is applying it to your routine.

The Good News for Small Business
Training is a vital part of any company. No matter what industry you are in, training is part of your process. If you do not train employees there are major consequences.

Wellness is simply training for your healthcare plan. Every system in your business has a budget and training. If you treat healthcare and employee health as a system in your business, you will see benefits just like in other areas. Employees will use the tools properly; maintenance will be part of the process which we all know is more cost-effective than dealing with repairs and replacement of costly equipment. That is what happens in health care. We go to the doctor when something breaks. If we maintain health, we avoid many of these issues and do not need the care.

The Challenge for Small Business
Most HR professionals and business owners are very busy. There is a lot to do in any business, especially a small business. When you try to add new things to the equation, things get difficult. To compound things, how many business owners and HR professionals are workplace wellness experts? Not many. Wellness is often left by the wayside due to lack of time and expertise.

The Solution for Small Business
The key to successful implementation of a wellness program is resources. That does not sound like a solution to many busy executives, but it is not as challenging as you think. A wellness program can be built with just a few hours per month. If a single employee (at any level) is dedicated to generating ideas and they can enlist a small team to help implement those ideas, they can create change.

There are many ways to get started with this process. It does not take a massive budget or a tremendous amount of resources. For a small business, wellness is about the three areas above: awareness, education and facilitation. When these three areas are in focus, you can build a healthy culture that supports health and makes it the norm for all employees.

The importance of keeping employees healthy is magnified by rising costs, but there are many more benefits to healthy employees. Increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and presenteeism (when employee is at work but not at full capacity) and improved morale, satisfaction and retention to name a few. Many small businesses are starting to dedicate resources to wellness. Time is being set aside, budgets are being created and tasks are being assigned to employees to help the programs grow.

Our society makes it very difficult to live healthy and our typical workplace is promoting similar habits. We sit all day, we have limited time to do anything and stress is at an all-time high. The workplace has an impact one way or the other. It is also a great place to implement healthy habits and build a healthy culture. You have the choice to promote health within your organization and save money or to ignore it and simply pay more for health care each year. Your business benefits very much from promoting health because the same employees that are causing costs to rise with poor health can help you control costs with good health. In other words, healthy employees lead to a healthy business.

How Many Calls Are You Making?

It's interesting to me how some business owners do not think they're in business. Even if you run a health-based business, you can not help people and do what you love unless you have the clients to do it. You are a business owner, and therefore, you are in sales . The sooner you can…

It's interesting to me how some business owners do not think they're in business. Even if you run a health-based business, you can not help people and do what you love unless you have the clients to do it. You are a business owner, and therefore, you are in sales .

The sooner you can change your perspective around “sales” the faster you can get out of your own way and start making a profit – while doing what you love . Sales is not something you do “to” people, it's something you do “for” them. You have a solution that will fix a problem they have, meaning you have a service that people need and will therefore pay for. It does not have to be a bad thing, and it's all in how you present it .

The process does take some time to master . I have been lucky to come across a script that is not only empowering, but works! I am now giving it to all of my clients because I believe in it so much. However, the type of language and the way you present it is very important. You will also need experience in handling people's objections . Just the other day, I found myself entering into “convince” mode instead of sticking to the script. I was taken off guard and this led me down a slippery slope … because what comes with convincing is being defensive and angry. Not great energy for closing a sale. BUT this is okay, it's a work in progress and do not get discouraged.

Your job during a sales call is to hold the truth for your prospective client and not get thought-up in their story . You've probably heard these stories before – I do not have any money, my spouse will not let me – and if you have been doing this for a while, you know the story is not as simple as one sentence. It's a long, drawn-out rehashing of events that feels real to them. It's best to stay out of their story and hold the truth for them, meaning you bring them back to what they want to accomplish and how you can help them do it. It's amazing how people “find” the money to do something they really want to do. Now, all of this only applies if you can really help them of course. If not, it's okay to let them go or even refer them to someone else. If you are an abundant thinker, you know there are plenty of people you can work with that need your help . There are a billion people in the world and if one says no, move on to the next.

It's also important to track your sales calls . You need to know how many calls you have to make in order to close a sale. This can be figured out by tracking how many people you call and how many sign-up for your services. You will then be able to plan out how many calls you need to make each day in order to reach your financial goals. This was the missing ingredient for my business when I first started out. I can not convey just how important this is.

While it's important to have your financial goals in mind and know what you need to do to meet them, this is where the financial focus ends . Once you are on the phone or in a meeting, you must be focused on how you can help. This creates a wonderful energy that the other person can feel. You know yourself that you do not want to work with someone that is “selling” to you. You want to work with someone who is truly listening to you and who can in turn help you.

My mentor teachers that it's important to be the person you need to be in order to make the sale. Do you need to be confident, courageous, understanding, etc.? I totally agree with this and I will add in something further. It's also important to act like the person you would be if you had met your own financial goals already. How would that person have a sales call? I bet they would not be so attached to the financial portion of it all and would be very focused on actually helping the person. This is key. This will shift your energy and you will have in a different way. Not only will you be growing your business financially, you will be doing what you love, which is helping people. The world needs you and your gifts !

Introduction to Strategic Business Planning

Strategic business planning is a must for every organization for its overall growth in the future. Business is something where one has to be bothered about the future and this is possible only by careful calculation of objectives that are practical and achievable. The aim has to be at increasing the turnover, whether small business…

Strategic business planning is a must for every organization for its overall growth in the future. Business is something where one has to be bothered about the future and this is possible only by careful calculation of objectives that are practical and achievable. The aim has to be at increasing the turnover, whether small business or large, profit is the motive. Defining strategy is not a child's play for which companies create their own team but if that does not come out to be fruitful then you can seek help from consultants who have a knowledge of business market. Strategic planning begins with innovative thinking.

If everyone is offering the same product to the clients then how is your product better than others, and convincing your audiences regarding the same is a challenge. Competition is increasing day by day and your corporate strategy should be strong enough to transcend all national and international boundaries. It is important to learn from the past experiences and the professional consultant that you hire will do a complete study of your past and present strategies. They will also justify why those strategies have failed to give you desired results. The most important strategic business planning involves reading the mind of the customers, a business has to be clear in terms of what your clients actually need from you and will you be able to fulfill all their requirements in time.

If you hire these services then a team of professionals will be at your assistance who have the capability of improving your organizational structure. Strategic planning is important and the most amazing thing about it is that now even this can be outsourced. Every organization might not have a planner who can offer you strategies depending upon the change in the market place. For this you need someone highly qualified and who can understand all the events in the business world to give you hope of achieving the best. With innovation you can dream about the future and then create plans that can help you achieve them.

It is all about working hard and getting out of the comfort zone to exceed the organizational and customer requirement. Planning involves a few simple steps but how to follow them concerns strategy. Your consultant will analyze internal as well as external environment to draw your objectives according to that. It is quite an easy job to create plans but the most difficult of all is to monitor and control, all this is done through PEST, internal audits and SWAT analysis.

Purposeful Behavior, Peak Performance and Meaningful Rewards

Across all walks of life, the idea of ​​performance, especially “peak performance” is a marker of success. There are machines – luxury cars, mountain bikes, high-end computers – “built for performance,” that claim competitive superior because they let you realize more, be more – and, as a result, they often sell more . For lovers…

Across all walks of life, the idea of ​​performance, especially “peak performance” is a marker of success.

There are machines – luxury cars, mountain bikes, high-end computers – “built for performance,” that claim competitive superior because they let you realize more, be more – and, as a result, they often sell more .

For lovers of music and team sports, stellar performances are always in demand and appreciated, whether it's the talent and orchestration of a fine classical concert or the successful game plan execution of a high-profile football game. Sold out venues and loyal fan support are their rewards.

Performers can also stand alone, whether soloists in music, or those with single efforts in golf, tennis, or track. Each player does what they do best to achieve their own clear and defined purpose, and each has their own rewards.

For success in business, high performance is also essential, both on a team basis and for individuals. For the total organization, salaries that exceeded expectations are rewarded with increased valuation. For employees, achieving goals that contribute to team or division successes can be incentivized in various ways.

In each of these scenarios, positive behavior leads to peak performance and results in meaningful rewards.

Another key is that the entity that “performances” must be free of hindrances or barriers to achievement . Said another way, participants need to be healthy, and oriented to good well-being practices so they can put forth top efforts and deliver optimal results.

So, here's a potential conflict with today's employee health promotion model.

For years now, employers have been concerned about their health and medical expenses, and have instituted health improvement programs to help lower costs (increasingly with incentives), with varying degrees of success. Some have had good results, and data are beginning to show productivity gains as well (performance, per se, is rarely studied).

But, consider those top performers that may come to mind as you think of professionals at the top of their game. Do they need “health promotion” plans in place in order to take better care of themselves?

They know that the only way to achieve peak performance is to ensure that their body, mind and spirit are in tip-top shape. For them, purpose is the undering driver, superior health is mandatory, and the rewards that accrue are generally commensurate with their efforts.

For employees struggling to reduce medical costs and improve health, one may wonder how the situation might be difference if their emphasis was on purposeful behavior rather than cost avoidance.

When leaders provide their enterprise with a strong sense of purpose and make certain that all participants know their role and understand how and why their contribution is integral to the achievement of results, employees are then more likely to match their health and lifestyle behavior with those of top performers – ie they do not need a health risk assessment and telephonic coaching to do what's right.

By providing individuals the necessary resources and support , and by more creatively designing rewards (and penalties) that are proportionate to their achievements, they may just work harder and smarter at taking better care of themselves.

Imagine if all those new innovations in health promotion such as team competitions, gaming concepts, reward points, and others were channeled towards improved organizational performance …

The employer market is not yet ready to embrace this philosophy, but as health promotion continues to evolve and encompass total populations, more enlightened organizations will begin to rethink the emphasis on cost avoidance, and increase their strategic focus on promoting and rewarding peak performance .

What Can Trade Show Staffs Do to Boost Up Their Performance Within the Exhibitor Management Process?

At any trade show exhibition, it is vital for the staffs and members to maintain a smooth, responsive and professional exhibition management process, to offer rewarding experience to the audience. Their key consideration should be to display a friendly, professional and convivial image of the organization as well as the products and services. Thus, they…

At any trade show exhibition, it is vital for the staffs and members to maintain a smooth, responsive and professional exhibition management process, to offer rewarding experience to the audience. Their key consideration should be to display a friendly, professional and convivial image of the organization as well as the products and services. Thus, they must possess a complete knowledge about the services and the products as well as maintain proper body language for grabbing the attention of potential audience. By adopting all these qualities, staffs can improve their performance and easily streamline the exhibit management process.

Here are a few ways staffs and exhibitors can boost up their performance for hosting a successful trade show.

· Enhance knowledge:

Exhibitors and staffs must be well aware of all the products and services offered by organization. They can even go beyond the foundations and can prepare themselves for facing any questions asked by the audience at the trade show exhibition. For this, members and staffs must have a complete understanding about the services offered for responding effectively. Ensure that all the staffs at least know the basic questions related to the features and advantages of the products and have a brief idea about the history of the organization and the manufacturing process. You can also conduct a small demonstration among the staffs and team members for educating them about the product presentations, so that they do not have to waste time on learning, at the day of the show. The members must also have a deep knowledge about the goals and objectives for maintaining and reinforcing competent relations. Always remember that a knowledgeable staff, well aware of the organization's target can easily accomplish them and can help in making the trade show, a success.

· Get a professional body language:

Staffs and team members must have the capability to present themselves in a professional way, at the trade show. They should avoid sending negative and bad signals, which may irritate the visitors and audiences. Maintain a decent body language and professional look while displaying the products and try to avoid chatting and useless discussions. Also focus on the significance of smiling while exhibiting the products to the attendees.

· Address attendees by their name:

Over times, research has shown that attendees positively react to their own name, as it makes them feel more engaged, as they receive a personal message. Thus, staffs should always practice to address people by their name, while interacting. This will absolutely make the attendees more comfortable and can even increase the sales, in one way or the other.

By following these ways, members and exhibitors can not only improve their qualities and performance but also maintain an efficient exhibitor management process for hosting trade shows.

Scenario Planning: An Approach to Strategic Planning When You’re Walking on Quicksand

For many organizations, strategic planning can often become an exercise in futility. You spend all this time developing a plan and then bingo, something unexpected hits and you've got to do some pretty quick fancy footwork in order to reach your desired outcome. And sometimes what you thought made sense several months ago is now…

For many organizations, strategic planning can often become an exercise in futility. You spend all this time developing a plan and then bingo, something unexpected hits and you've got to do some pretty quick fancy footwork in order to reach your desired outcome. And sometimes what you thought made sense several months ago is now completely off. So how do you do strategic planning in a constantly changing environment?

One way is to shift from strategic planning to scenario planning. Scenario planning is a strategic planning tool used to make flexible long-term plans and is best suited for organizations that have a great deal of uncertainty on the horizon. It is similar to strategic planning in the following ways:

  • One of the first things you need to do is to conduct an internal and external assessment.
  • At some point in planning planning, you will brainstorm potential goals or scenarios.
  • Once you've prioritized those scenarios, you will then develop an organizational strategy for achieving those scenarios.

Here are ways that scenario planning is different:

  • Scenarios are developed taking into consideration future, unknown outcomes or events that could push the organization in different directions. For example, a newly elected legislature could completely change the business landscape – what seemed to be on track last year is now off the table this year. Therefore, scenario planning helps organizations play a “what if?” game.
  • Those future outcomes determine a particular course of action for the organization or require another set of strategic decisions to be made. Think of this like a maze where you have to continuously make choices about direction.
  • Scenario planning uses more comprehensive assessment tools; instead of using SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) it often uses PESTLE (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal, Environmental).

So how do you go about doing planning planning? Here are the basic steps:

  1. Scoping: What is the question / issue you want to answer / address?
  2. Trend Analysis: Identify external forces in operation and consider the pressures they play.
  3. Building Scenarios: Using the results from the first two stages, build your scenarios to explore.
  4. Generate Options: Consider the options available within the scenarios – innovations, new services, projects or opportunities.
  5. Test Options: Identify and discuss potential implications and impacts of scenarios on the identified options and consider running a pilot.
  6. Action Plan: Define an action plan as a result of these activities.

For some organizations, this could become the new normal. For others, it may be the current reality while an organization is emerging from one dying system into a new one that stabilizes for a period of time. One thing we can know for sure is that change is likely to be a constant in organizational life and so our strategic plans need to be able to flex with those changes.

Techniques Used to Build Brand Loyalty – Part I

It's an entrepreneurs dream to have the revolving doors regularly used for its main purpose, to let customers in and satisfied customers out. One aspect of business that is really important and sometimes difficult is how to provide enough incentive to the customers that leave, so they are encouraged to return. I have a 3…

It's an entrepreneurs dream to have the revolving doors regularly used for its main purpose, to let customers in and satisfied customers out. One aspect of business that is really important and sometimes difficult is how to provide enough incentive to the customers that leave, so they are encouraged to return. I have a 3 part series to help you achieve this goal and boost your revenue for years to come. I'll start with customer service and brand recognition.

Customer Service is important for various reasons, it is the central piece of building brand loyalty because without it, one can not expect customers to return. Being pleasant in every interaction, understanding your customers needs and doing what you can to deliver it is all that it takes.

Companies have built and expanded their customer engagement departments to help understand what their customers want from them and tie that into their innovative initiatives. It's of no financial gain for you to innovate and bring a product to the market that short short of demand because it does not meet customer demand.

Before you bring any product or service to the market, first learn what would satisfy your customer, and target that. The purpose of business is not to force your products on people but to produce products that customers are knowingly or unknowingly forcing on the market. That increases demand and leads to higher revenue.

Brand recognition is all about your brand name, logo and company history. Think of all the well known brands such as Nike, GE, Toyota, Samsung and Apple to name a few, they all possess very strong brand recognition. It's hard to imagine now but there was a time when they did not and were not immediately recognizable. They built that brand recognition slowly and painfully but they won each customer loyalty with every interaction. Their logos became a symbol of something great you like, sneakers, a cold drink, some electronic product etc.

The thing to note about building your brand is constantly innovating and constantly meeting or exceeding expectations. Fundamentally there has to be a consistency with how you approach the market and your customers.

Another factor that helps build brand recognition is marketing. You have to market your product or service, and make sure to highlight what you want to be known for. People have to be able to identify you and it takes some convincing as well as you deliver on your promises when the revolving door lets people in your business.

Find a way to market your business, there are several ways to do it, Online via a website, tv, magazines, newspaper ads etc. Find a way to generate brand recognition and deliver above expectations, while innovating by finding new ways to improve your customers experience and you will be on your way to success.

Implementing Good Strategy Governance

The first question that must be answered is “Who is responsible for overseeing strategy?” This question is key to the overall formation of an effective strategy governance structure, and highlights the importance the organization places upon its strategy. To my mind this is simple – responsibility for overseeing strategy should rest with the Board, Council…

The first question that must be answered is “Who is responsible for overseeing strategy?” This question is key to the overall formation of an effective strategy governance structure, and highlights the importance the organization places upon its strategy. To my mind this is simple – responsibility for overseeing strategy should rest with the Board, Council or other governing body. Delegation of tasks and actions can be made to a sub-committee or working group of course, but it should be understood that oversight of strategy remains with the Board as part of their overall responsibility to their shareholders / stakeholders.

The second question is “Who is responsible for planning?” This question really relates to the overall 'activity' of strategic planning and, accordingly, should be the responsibility of the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) or Managing Director (MD). I think it is acceptable that 'hands-on' management is delegated, where appropriate, to a Senior Responsible Owner (such as a Chief Strategy Officer, General Manager or Senior Manager), but it should be clearly recognized that overall responsibility remains with the Chief Officer.

In order to undertake effective strategic planning, I recommend that the CEO / MD form a multi-disciplinary Strategic Planning Team consisting of no more than six persons under the guidance of a professional facilitator with deep experience and understanding of strategy and group dynamics. Ideally this team should include the Senior Responsible Owner, CEO / MD (if not the Senior Responsible Owner) and Chief Financial Officer (CFO), and should report through the CEO / MD to the Board. Other team members should be drawn from across the organization and should have proven (or perceived) natural ability to think strategically and a broad knowledge and understanding of the organization and its market (s).

Why do I recommend that the team be limited to six people only? Well, in my experience, in any team larger than this efficiency Declines, distractions can creep in, and 'group think' begins. Also, it is most often for internal 'political' reasons that more than six are proposed (rather than their individual capacity to add value to the group). This of course results in a less-than-optimum team developing strategy on behalf of the organization, and is practice with risk.

I think it's also worth mentioning here that I do not believe that organizational hierarchy is important in the composition of the strategic planning team – it's more important to have a team that represents a wide knowledge of the organization and its markets. An important caveat however, this will only work in an organization that is relatively 'flat-structured'. If the organization is (currently) very hierarchical and traditionally ignorant, this will simply not work as more junior members will be less likely to offer their thoughts, and more likely to follow the lead of a dominant individual (a typical example of group think) . In this case, I think it is more sensible to stick to the senior leadership team.

The third question is “Who is responsible for approving strategy?” Well, it is my very strong recommendation that this can only be enabled by the Board who are extremely responsible to the owners / shareholders / members of the organization. It is also important that the Board is actually familiar with the organization's strategy, and this will help ensure this.

The final question that should be answered is “Who is responsible for reviewing strategic performance?” As we know, as many strategies fail through questionable implementation as through poor planning (what is worse, good implementation of a poor strategy, or poor implementation of a good strategy?) And it is a key factor of good strategy governance that the performance of the organization's strategy is carefully monitored and measured. I generally recommend that the Board receive a brief report in the form of a Summary Dashboard at every Board meeting. This report should note any dilemmas reached and any matters of significance relating to strategy that the Strategic Planning Team deems relevant. Indeed, I strongly recommend that strategy is included as a standing item on the Board agenda to reflect its importance to the organization. The Board should also conduct a more thorough review of strategic performance at least annually to ensure that a) the strategy remains current and b) the expected benefits are being realized.

In conclusion, effective strategy governance is key to the success of an organization's strategy, and by following these best practice recommendations an organization will be able to ensure that it supports and enhances its strategic performance. It will increase its 'strategic maturity' as an organization, and provide reassurance to its shareholders that it is managing strategy effectively.