Month: August 2019

Freelance Writing

The first place to look for freelance writing topics is within. Your personal experiences can make great fodder for article ideas. Nearly every magazine has a personal essay section, and more of them have an opinion page as well. Your local newspaper may welcome a guest column on a subject that is both timely and from the perspective of someone who has personal knowledge of the subject matter.

Weekday morning shows such as The Today Show and Good Morning America can give you some ideas for freelance writing topics. While they’re both focused primarily on national or international issues, most can be localized if you are trying to get published in a local magazine or newspaper, or on a local Web site.

Networking is crucial to freelance writing. Your friends and colleagues can offer ideas as well as personal experiences that may give you some idea on things to write. One local writer recently sold a story to the local newspaper as a result of a problem she had paying a local appliance dealer for a refrigerator that never arrived. After five weeks of wrangling for a refrigerator and then finally for a refund she finally learned that the company owner was a city council member and vice mayor of her hometown. That led to a great piece on the ethics of local elected officials.

Blogs are great for brainstorming ideas. You can be a part of the conversation or sit back and listen to others. Most newspapers now have blogs, both by and for their reporters as well as the general public. You should be very careful, however, that you don’t put your story idea into the mind of a reporter who will then take the story from you.

The Internet is an absolute gold mine of freelance writing ideas. A quick keyword search on just about anything will bring up a wealth of articles, sites and blogs on the subject from many different perspectives. All you will have to do is find a way to create a different slant on the topic and you’ll have a great freelance writing idea.

If you get really stuck why not consider hiring a freelance writer [http://www.jvmembers.com]. Some great places to look are elance.com and scriptlance.com. Make sure you get the writers to send you a broad cross section of their work, so that you can assess their writing skills before you award the contract.


Business Coaching

Understand the Purpose of the Partnership

Successful partnerships exist in business because they focus on mutually agreeable business objectives and goals. To ensure this result, partners must be compatible.

This compatibility is primarily determined by having a shared value base. The shared value based must be explored thoroughly, honestly and openly if the partnership is going to succeed. It must be documented and clearly understood by all the parties involved.

If the businesses share a common vision and values base, their partnerships will be successful. If they do not, they will not. It is as simple as that.

Spell Out the Commitments of the Partnership

Partnership agreements form the foundation of successful alliances and affiliations. Therefore, partnership agreements must be constructed using a shared process and must be entered into in a spirit of generosity and customer-oriented service, if they are going to be effective.

Once a partnership understanding is reached at a compatibility level, a plan must then be documented that clearly identifies roles, objectives, accountabilities and responsibilities, as well as clear time frames for completion of tasks and initiatives.

Managing the partnership itself has to be the first objective. A communication and issue resolution mechanism must be in place, and an effective decision making suite of tools is essential. Great partnerships are built on trust. Having trusting relationships is the hallmark of good partnership governance and management.

Have Realistic Expectations of the Partnership

Successful partners, in life as well as in business, talk to each other. Not just when things are going well, but also when there are problems.

They talk honestly and openly with each other, and they take on the responsibility of managing the relationship as a priority. They spell out their expectations so that problems can be fixed when they occur. They share knowledge and skills generously in ways that are of mutual benefit.

Pursuing excellence and quality in partnering relationships is a major source of mutual satisfaction.

Manage the Risks and Opportunities that the Partnership Presents

Business development and risk management are essential ingredients of successful business partnerships. There must be a dispute resolution process in place. Business partners must master problem solving/conflict resolution skills in effectively managing the risks that accompany working with others.

By identifying risks and their potential causes, successful business partners prevent them from occurring in the first place, and they have a process for addressing them, if they do eventuate.

Successful business partners are always on the look out for enhancing and exploiting the opportunities that emerge as the partnership arrangement proceeds. This can lead to exciting new product and service opportunities that are extremely beneficial to everyone concerned.


Acquiring a Small Business

People are generally anxious about starting their own small business, the level of financial input and time put in to the business can be far greater than imagined. At least 50% of these types of ventures fail with the majority not getting passed the first 2 years. The odds are better for people acquiring a franchise; however it has to be remembered that royalty payments of up to10% have to be met annually.

One of the many problems acquiring a small business can be the asking price. Many small business owners are unsure how to properly valuate a business. The use of mythical formulas or the ‘sweat equity’ based on how much work has been put in is totally useless.

To value a small business this is a good guide is;

  • Retail Businesses 30% of annual sales
  • Service Businesses 60% of annual sales
  • Distribution Businesses 35% of annual sales
  • Manufacturing Businesses 50% of annual sales

Naturally these are just guides, in reality a businesses value is only really worth what a person is willing to pay for it. Other considerations are; cash flow, assets, liabilities, growth potential and risks. The terms and conditions of the lease, the state of machinery and how many staff are employed, the list really is endless.

In summary, before even contemplating acquiring a small business, you must realise that the failure rate is extremely high. Proper research, good timing and a good amount of luck should help your business being one of success stories.


Ways to Get More Referrals Without Feeling Aggressive

Set an Expectation for Referrals

Before you begin working with a new client, you can condition them to think of you as someone to send business to. That can look something like this:

“I am excited to work with you. When our project is completed, I know you will be thrilled with the work we did together. If you are happy with our work would you be willing to share us with others? Your referrals are how our business grows.”

You can also mention the incentive you offer for those referrals that result in a sale. For instance we offer $100 towards any website, SEO or marketing work as our way of saying “thanks”. (See point number 4 below for more details on this.)

Ask for a Virtual Introduction

A really terrific way to get referrals is to ask a contact to do a virtual introduction with the prospect. Here’s how an email like that goes:

Subject: Henry and Mike – A Virtual Introduction from (your name)

Hi Mark,

I’ve been working with Mike for three months and he’s done a terrific job at getting our bookkeeping up to date. I know you’re looking for a qualified bookkeeper so I thought I’d put you two together.

Mike, meet Henry from Company A. I have known him for five years and he has really made a name for himself in the industry. He’s been a really valuable to have in my circle. He mentioned he needs a good bookkeeper and I thought you could help.

Henry, meet Mike from Company B. Mike and I go way back. He is a real rock star when it comes to accounting. He makes sure our books are balanced at all times.

Here’s both of your contact information. Now reach out and connect!

Henry: 555-555-5555 <a href=”mailto:[email protected]”>[email protected]</a> companywebsite.com

Mike: 444-444-4444 <a href=”mailto:[email protected]”>[email protected]</a> mikecompanywebsite.com

Ask Happy Clients

The best time to ask a client for a referral is right after you finished working with them. They are excited about the results you generated and are ready to sing your praises to the world.

Here’s an example of such an ask:

Subject Line: FIRSTNAME, Quick Question.

I’m so glad you’re happy with our PRODUCT OR SERVICE. I love helping people like you so knowing you’re excited with the results made my day. Actually, it’s because of this that I was hoping to ask you a favour…

It’s my goal to help many more people like you. So I was wondering if you knew of any other people who could use my help? I’d love it if you could send a short note to them with a few kind words and asking them to connect with me?

With Gratitude.

Offer a Gift for Referrals

Giving a referral takes time and energy. When you make it worth their while, people are more likely to take the time to do it.

As a sign of your appreciation for their efforts, offer to give them a gift card, a referral fee, discount, or other gift if someone they refer you to hires you.

You can make a referral page on your website. Write an email to send to your clients and connections. Ask people in your Facebook groups. Let your vendors know you give rewards for referrals. Even put a teaser on the back of your business card letting others know.


Leadership Coach Will Make Difference

Leadership coaching is very simply a trained professional delivering a structured and personalised development plan to an individual or small group focused on improving their people skills and performance, and ultimately progressing their careers.

In her blog, Wendy Mather describes a business coach as “someone who can help you reach your full potential and someone to walk with you on the often challenging journey of running a business”.

There are a few key terms in those past two sentences that help define leadership coaching:

  • People – coaching is focused on how to lead others effectively at that time.
  • Structured – coaching is planned out from beginning to end.
  • Personal – coaching is tailored specifically for an individual or small team.
  • Develop – coaching is all about people growing and learning.
  • Progress – coaching takes someone from who they are to who they want to be.
  • Reach – coaching makes people stretch out of their comfort zones

Coaching has proven to be the most potent tool for creating personal and positive change, because it is so tailored and targeted to individual needs and ‘in-the-moment’ challenges.

I like to call it the Mount Everest of corporate training where you have a guide helping you navigate to the peak.

Success is reaching the summit. It’s a personal challenge that is measurable and empowers the individual on completion. A number of routes can be taken and there are no short cuts.

So, who is leadership coaching useful for in business?

In short, anyone who needs to manage people.

It can be beneficial for people who are new to leadership roles and team building; people who want to take their leadership to another level; leaders embarking on change such as mergers, acquisitions or downsizing; and, people who are good at their job but have people or team challenges within their role.

So how does leadership coaching make a difference?

  • It unlocks potential and transforms people into who they would like to be.
  • It develops leadership skills and accelerates a change in behaviour faster, more effectively and with more depth of understanding than if the person is left to move forward on their own.
  • It is highly relevant and personalised with the coach, person being coached and their immediate manager all involved in its structure.
  • It fulfils a deep human need to be understood without judgment.
  • It can be applied immediately based on the person’s learning readiness.
  • Progress and results can be measured by others in the business therefore is accountable and adaptable to feedback.

Leadership coaching mainly involves 1-on-1 sessions but can also incorporate team building exercises, corporate training workshops and team culture programs.

One of the most rewarding experiences as a coach I have had was with an already highly competent lady who reported directly to the CEO of a large global bank.

She was amazingly efficient at getting results however her department had a very high turnover of people and she was deeply unhappy in her personal life.

It took a few sessions for our trust to build to the level where we could have deep authentic conversations and when we did, the results were transformational.

By the end of our coaching program, her job satisfaction score and that of her team had improved exponentially. And, some personal relationships in her life turned from near disaster to flourishing.

Importantly, coaching can help find balance for the person between their professional and personal lives, as success in both can be intrinsically linked.

Leadership coaching is rewarding, fun, engaging and productive, and simple to undertake.


Starting Business With Little Cash

Sales is Job #1 To Get the Cash Flowing

Before delving into the bootstrapper’s toolbox, make sales the most imperative job. Be sure to over-deliver and not over-sell. Satisfied clients will come back for more and tell their friends, allowing you to reap sales with much less effort than the first time around. Of course, you must have long-term goals, but you should make “next week” your time horizon.

If you put sales at the top of your priority list, marketing is a close second for your attention. Do a little marketing every day and you’ll be surprised how the actions mount up. Prepare a marketing plan. This should not involve a big budget. You can do it on a shoestring, like getting press coverage, for example; it costs nothing but your time and some careful preparation. You can start with your local press or the journals that cover your industry and expand from there. You can design and print your own stationery (business cards come first).

Get Paid On Time to Conserve Cash

Invoice on time or even early. When the invoice is prepared, make sure you know to whom it should be sent (in the accounts payable department is best). But take care: the customer company may have special procedures for approving invoices, so follow their rules.

Ensure that your customers pay within thirty days. There’s no point in your new business playing banker to established firms. If you’ve made it plain at the outset that you have a 30-day settlement period, there should be no problem. Hesitating to contact the customer will cost you money.

Here’s an example: The working capital required to finance monthly sales of $10,000 with an average settlement period of 45 days is $15,000. If the settlement period stretches to 60 days, you need an extra $5,000 in the business. By this simple illustration, you can see how much easier it is to have $10,000 in the business by getting settlement in 30 days than it is to go to the bank for a $10,000 loan on which you have to pay interest. Just imagine that you get a loan of $20,000 at 15% interest. Your monthly repayments would be more than $1,800.

Purchase Economically

As well as raising the bridge by selling, you can lower the water by buying EUR effectively. There are some big choices that will effect your cash and thus your seed money. Look closely at the relative costs of leasing vs. buying, or buying second-hand or re-conditioned equipment. Maybe bartering or reciprocal trade would be possible in equipment and services, or between the two.

Examine the different costs between cash discounts and extended credit rates. Your cash flow may be the determining factor here; if you don’t have the money now, you’ll have to have extended credit or find another solution. It could be that you don’t need to own the equipment at all and you could sub-contract the work at lower cost or you could buy the equipment together with another user if you’re not going to need to use it full-time.

Outsourcing Can Conserve Cash

Many businesses shy away from outsourcing, especially since outsourced overseas call-centers have often received a bad press. It does not have to be that way and as an indicator, 400,000 US tax returns were prepared in India in 2005 (McKinsey Quarterly). More frequently still, companies use outsourced payroll and bookkeeping services.

You can always take the work back in-house when the business has grown and cash or time is at less of a premium. In fact, any so-called ‘back-office’ jobs can often be outsourced effectively.

Delay Paying Rent

Of course, it’s nice to have fine premises at the best address, but unless you’re in a business like retailing, where location may be part of what makes or breaks the enterprise, you should not be tempted to take on premises out of your league. Your startup may be one that you can set up at home, or you can share workspace with others. There may be a disaffected building available where short-term or low-cost rental is possible while you’re finding your feet.

Having no fixed workspace may be even better if your trade is plied on the Internet. Try a free wireless service cafĂ© if there’s one near you that has an owner happy to have you, but make sure you buy plenty of coffee and Danish pastries!

Low or No-cost Bodies

Above all, your business will depend upon the quality of the people that work in it. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to have them on the payroll.

At the inception of your company, you’re unlikely to recruit a Board, but you can set up an advisory board of good contacts whose advice and support you value. If you chose wisely, such a group will enjoy working with you and having the occasional meeting, perhaps over a meal. You may also be able to establish a support group of peers, such as other entrepreneurs, with whom you can share experience to mutual advantage.

Students can be an excellent source of motivated contract workers. You may have a business school near you and its students, particularly graduate students, may be highly motivated to work on real-life projects. You don’t have to exploit these young people; you’ll probably be able to strike a mutually beneficial bargain, and they may prove to be excellent recruits later on. You’ll have an opportunity to gauge their worth in a working situation.

Public Money – Don’t Count On It, But Grab What You Can

If a business cannot be sustained without grant or cheap money from Government sources, then it’s unlikely to be viable in the longer term, with the possible exception of businesses in the social enterprise field.

However, if there are government soft loans, loan guarantees, or other incentives to be had, go for them. In many parts of the world, not just in the US, there are special breaks for underprivileged or disadvantaged groups in society.


Complying With Environmental Regulations

The best way to contribute towards a pollution free environment is recycling. In this case, recycling refers to the practice of salvaging useable components from obsolete electronic devices or safely disposing off electronic devices. Each one of us must inculcate a practice because inappropriate handling of discarded electronic devices can cause environmental hazards.

Studies estimate that over 40 million electronic pieces become obsolete annually. These pieces have constituents such as lead, cadmium, barium, and mercury, which are hazardous to the environment. In a landfill, these materials seep into the ground and then into our food and water supplies. This can cause serious health concerns over a long period.

Obsolete computers that are simply dumped in the garbage drums are the biggest threat to the environment. The computer monitors have cathode ray tubes containing four to five pounds of lead that contaminates the environment acutely. Besides lead, the computers have many other hazardous elements such as mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chromium. When inhaled over a long period, these elements cause high blood pressure, liver and nerve disease, blood with poor iron, and even brain damage to the exposed group. This causes great concern, considering several million computers become obsolete annually.

Therefore, we must handle the obsolete electronic devices carefully. Moreover, different Environmental Laws have banned the illegal landfills by the disposals of computers and other electronic equipment. These laws necessitate sending the un-functional computers to a reputable recycler for harmless recycling. The laws also specify the need for regular recycling to avoid such computers from piling up.

There are several methods to deal with old electronic devices. Some of them are as follows:

  • Give it for reuse: If the is in a decent condition, you can sell it to a company or an individual so that it can be used further, or simply donate it to someone needy.
  • Trade it in: Many dealers offer trade-in promotions electronics.
  • Auction it: You can sell the electronic device eBay or any other auction site. You can also organize a quick garage sale and see if any of your friends or neighbors wants it.
  • Salvage some parts: You can see which parts of your old electronic device are in good working condition. You can salvage those parts and use them in a number of innovative ways.


Intranet For Small Businesses

Advantages of Intranet in Small Business

  • Communication
    Even if you run a small business, there must be some way for the staff to access information, find out about new company policies, and update their knowledge and skills. If your staff consists of part-time or telecommuting employees, having an intranet makes things easier for both you and your employees.
  • Building an Understanding
    The employees must understand the objectives of your company. An intranet system helps you get your goals across to your company.
  • Building Employee Relationships
    An intranet system is the virtual counterpart of the office water cooler, a place for employees to exchange the latest information and update each other on the latest policies. Having an intranet access helps employees build better interpersonal relationships.
  • Virtual Conferencing
    An intranet system cuts down on the time you spend on business conferencing, leaving you free to oversee the implementation process. Instead of having to start from scratch at a business meeting, as you introduce the participants, brainstorm, and have protracted discussions on policy issues, you can take your time to discuss everything beforehand in a chat room or on a message board.
  • Paperwork
    Form filling, filing, and requesting time off can be tedious and eat into company time. Streamline the process using intranet services.
  • File Sharing
    One of the most useful features of the intranet system is the file sharing system. Instead of having to go repeatedly over to a colleague’s cubicle to work on a Power Point presentation, an employee can simply share the relevant documents by interaction through a chat room.

Installing an Intranet System

Before you install an intranet system for your office, have a good layout in place. You can hire a Web site developer and business solutions consultant to develop the system for you.

If you want to set up the system on your own, you can use online services provided by Microsoft. This is not only cost effective, but the maintenance is also easy, since you do not need special staff to look after the system.


Get a Business Credit Card Without Hassle

Here are the steps you can take to get a business credit card into your hand without hassle.

  • Visit any online article directories and look under the business credit card categories. If you already have a specific card in mind, you can visit the card issuer web site directly. If the issuer is a bank, you can also choose to visit its branch or call up the bank’s credit card department to request for an application form to be mail to your house.
  • Review the requirements on the application form. You will want to know what documents you need to submit for verification purposes. These documents include tax returns, latest billing statements, your personal income statement and other information related to you business. If the requirements are not stated on the form, you may want to contact the card issuer to find out the requirements first.
  • Take a look at their terms and conditions. Some of the important items to take note include grace period, late payment charge and APR after the introduction period. These items affect your business expenses and you should not skip over them.
  • Fill in the form and pick the design of the card you want if there are more than one design. If you submit the form online or via telephone, you will probably need to fax in your supporting document.
  • Be patient and wait for the card issuer to approve your application.

Here are a few things to take note when applying for a business credit card.

  • Credit card expenditure is equivalent to borrowing money from the bank or card issuer. You have to pay the money back. Make sure you make payment on time.
  • Different credit cards come with different benefits. Choose the one that meets most of your needs. If you frequently fly to other cities or countries for business purposes, a card that allow you to accumulate air miles will be suitable for you. If you do not fly often, you are probably better off in getting a card that can provide discount for office supplies purchases.
  • Take note of the grace period. You will want to pay the credit card bill promptly to avoid late payment charges. Whenever possible, pay the outstanding balance in full.
  • Interest rate should be as low as possible. You do not want to use too much of your company fund for interest payment.


Ecommerce and Removal of Personal Business Barriers

We’ve all heard stories of the dot com boom and bust. We’ve seen a handful of the original boomers live to tell the story and succeed in a new generation. With the failure of so many online businesses in the past it may seem something close to insane to consider diving into cyber waters.

No one wants to fail and it seems entirely possible with an online business. So we come full circle, why should anyone consider developing an online business?

The reasons may be many, but I want to key in on a few compelling reasons why an online business can have significant meaning for entrepreneurs.

  • Appeals to the dreamer in all of us. Most of us have an idea we polish from time to time with the secret hope that it can be made into a business.
  • An online environment provides an inexpensive way to conduct business. Many online businesses require very little investment and allow a business to be developed in steps.
  • Does not foster discrimination. An online business provides the opportunity to erase borders that may be felt in traditional businesses. For instance there is no age, gender or ethnic boundaries in an online business. This component alone provides the opportunity to level the business playing field.
  • Allows your business to impact a global marketplace. Your online business will be accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. This allows the greatest potential for business success.
  • Can help finally answer the question. You know, the question you have always pondered, “Do I have what it takes to develop a business of my own.”
  • A part-time online business is workable. If you are unsure of the potential success of your business you can remain in full time traditional employment while you monitor the success of your online company. Remember this can take some time as you wait for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies to fully develop.
  • Can assist in developing self-confidence. The confidence you can gain from developing your own online business can help you in all aspect of your life. The skills of marketing can be learned in your spare time and can be useful in other areas of online and face-to-face interaction.

Most of the barriers erected against the development of an online business are of our own making. We assume so many things about our abilities, our potential and ourselves. Usually we have not assessed our situation correctly and we shove potential back in a cage of our own making.