The Right Bookkeeping System

Posted by & filed under General Business, Start-Ups.

When you have a business, you need to make sure you keep track of when and how the business spends its money as well as what money the company earns. You can use a bookkeeper or an accountant to take care of the financial recording and reporting requirements for you.  While accountants usually focus on helping with tax returns and annual financial reports, a bookkeeper can assist throughout the operating year in keeping track of all financial information you need.

Selecting the right bookkeeping system can be complicated. You need to think about what you want to spend; how complicated it will be to record your profits and losses; and what services you want bookkeepingyour bookkeeper to provide for you. Best Business Services provides a comprehensive array of options for bookkeeping services to clients throughout St. Lake City.

Call BBS today to learn more about how we can create the right bookkeeping system for your business. (801) 419.0403. Like us on FaceBook, follow us on Twitter.

Determining the Right Fiscal Year

Posted by & filed under Government.

The Internal Revenue Service requires you to report taxable income for your business, as well as business expenditures. The IRS allows businesses to determine what their taxable year will be. For example, a business can use a calendar year. However, the company could also make reports to the IRS based on a short tax year or based on a fiscal tax year.

Corporations and large businesses frequently operate on a fiscal tax year, which simply means that the company picks a date to start their new fiscal year that is not January 1.irs Operating on a fiscal year basis can be beneficial if you operate a seasonal business or if you spend a lot of money in one calendar year and don’t earn the income from those expenditures until the next year.

A professional bookkeeping service can help you to determine if you should operate on a fiscal, rather than a calendar, year. Your bookkeeper can also help to decide when your fiscal year should start and end, and which year profits and losses should be allocated to.

Call BBS today to learn more about how we can create the right bookkeeping system for your business. (801) 419.0403. Like us on FaceBook, follow us on Twitter.

The ‘8 Great’ Challenges Every Business Faces (And How To Master Them All)

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By Cheryl Conner, Contributor at Forbes

Find it at http://www.forbes.com/sites/cherylsnappconner/2013/03/04/the-8-great-challenges-every-business-faces-and-how-to-master-them-all/ 

This week I interviewed a personal mentor of mine – his name is Neal Jenson, Managing Director of consulting firm Qazztek, in Salt Lake City. He has one of the most diverse business backgrounds I’ve known, ranging from stints with Fortune 500 firms including Citigroup and Bank of America to start up firms looking to bootstrap or seeking their start through Angel funding or SBA loans.

He’s also one of the only people I know closely who actually has two masters degrees – an MBA from Brigham Young University (my own alma mater) and a masters of science in Information Service from the University of Utah. In addition to acting as a mentor, Neal is also a friend—his son is the husband of our daughter, which makes us co-grandparents to two extremely adorable little boys, Riley and Peyton (our next generation of business leadership is in very good hands).

From his client base of all sizes, I asked Neal to narrow down for me the greatest challenges he sees for the businesses he counsels, as well as his thoughts on the ways to navigate each. Here are his responses.

First off, Neal notes that navigating a business is extra tricky these days. The speed of economic and technological changes means that the right path yesterday may not work today and could be a disaster by tomorrow. Solving these dynamic problems is what separates those who excel from the companies who are closing the doors.

While Neal’s experience base ranges from Fortune 500 CEOs to small business entrepreneurs, he notes in our first interview a set of challenges that are common to both:

1. Integrity. Business has never faced the type of moral challenges that it faces in today’s global economy. Everyone is struggling to be more successful, to make the next quarterly earnings estimate, to keep their job, to earn a big bonus, or to compete effectively. The temptation to cut corners, omit information, and do whatever it takes to get ahead occur every day. Many business employees and executives succumb. Sadly, the theme becomes highly infectious and soon people actually start to feel like lying a little, or stealing a little, or deceiving others, is just “a part of business”. These practices erode the trust that needs to exist between employers and employees, between business partners, between executives and shareholders. Without trust, the business will not be able to compete effectively and it will eventually fail.

2. Cash, Borrowing, and Resource Management. Cash is King! We’ve all heard this maxim and it is more true today than ever before. A healthy profit may look nice on your financial statements, but if capital expenditures or receivable collections are draining your cash, you won’t be able to stay in business for long. Too often executives and small business owners fail to focus enough on cash flow generation. In order to head off this problem, businesses must either be adequately capitalized and must shore up cash reserves to meet all obligations as they are needed and to handle downturns and emergencies that may arise. Cash management becomes even more important during recessionary times when cash is flowing more slowly into the business and creditors are less lenient in extending time to pay. For small businesses, handling business accounting and taxes may be within the capabilities of the business owners, but professional help is usually a good idea. The complexity of a business’ books go up with each client and employee, so getting assistance with managing cash and the bookkeeping can allow you to excel when others are calling it quits. Cash flow challenges are exacerbated by the lending climate, particularly for small businesses. Bankers are unlikely to be more liberal in their lending policies any time soon.

3. Increased selection and competition. It’s never been easier to start a business. Gone are the days when it took weeks, months, and a myriad of forms to get your business started. Now if you can buy a domain name and register your business online, you’re in business. However, staying in business is a much more complicated matter. While business expertise was once an expensive and time consuming endeavor, you can now find experts online for many questions that you might encounter. There is help to starting an online store, for example, for getting business cards and marketing materials – all at a very reasonable cost. The ease of starting a business creates a much broader level of competition. You might find different business competing for each product you sell and new business that focus on a single item and spend all their time and focus on being the very best at just one thing. This increase in overall selection and more focused completion will make it more difficult for businesses of all sizes to retain customers who can change their suppliers with the click of a mouse. It’s a battle of perception, focus, and marketing. Business owners who master these elements and provide a great customer experience will win the sale.

4. Marketing and Customer Loyalty. Along the same lines as increased selection and competition is the challenge to market to potential customers effectively and retain your existing customers. Smartphones, social media, texting, email, twitter and other communication channels are making it easy for businesses and individuals to get their messages out. Figuring out the right marketing channels is key for businesses to be successful in the future. Where are your customers and how do you best reach them and what is the right messaging? Once you get a new customer, how do you keep these customers when they are constantly barraged by competitors of all types, sizes, and locations, trying to convince them that they can do it better or provide it cheaper? Identifying what your customers want and doing a better job of giving it to them will make all the difference in your company’s future. The conservative spending climate is also causing a shrinking customer base. Consumers are still quite conservative with their pocketbooks, and as a result, organic growth from current and new customers is not growing as quickly as businesses would like. Business owners and executives are spending more time figuring out how to go above and beyond to keep existing customers, while at the same time figuring out how to cost-effectively reach new customers — without competing solely on price, which always ends up to be a race to the bottom.

5. Uncertainty. All of us, and especially business leaders find great discomfort in uncertainty. Because of global debt and economic struggles, uncertainty is more pronounced today than in the past. The sad news is that uncertainty leads to a short-term focus. Due to uncertainty, companies tend to shy away from long-term planning in favor of shorter-term goals. While this might feel right, a failure to strategically plan five to ten years into the future can end up destroying value. Businesses must learn to balance the need for a more reactive, short-term focus with the need for informed, long-term strategies. Uncertainty tends to put many into a general malaise – unable to get anything done. The ever-running news cycle leaves everyone feeling a bit on edge. This causes business owners and executives to hunker down and customers to stop spending. You need to shut out the world ending news and get back to work.”

6. Regulation. A changing regulatory environment is always of concern in certain industries, but uncertain energy, environmental and financial policy is wreaking havoc for nearly all companies today. Whether a demand from customers or shareholders to become more “green,” or the threat of increased costs due to new carbon taxes, environmental considerations are among the biggest challenges businesses face today. And we don’t need to give too much press to the current issue of financial reform and regulation, although we do have some opinions about how to prepare for that if you’re a bank or a brokerage house. The problems to be solved are to understand the meaning of regulation in your industry, its implications for your business, and to develop the skills necessary to deal with it. Two key areas of regulatory challenges are taxes and health care. Lawmakers are still haggling over what’s called the fiscal cliff, the combination of billions of dollars in tax increases and budget cuts. Even if Congress reaches an agreement, businesses won’t have the certainty they need to make intelligent decisions. When Congress does reach an agreement, it most likely won’t be comprehensive enough that it won’t need to be revisited again next year. Health care has been another challenge for businesses. The new Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) is so complex that state and local governments won’t know what to do and businesses will have to devote significant time and resources to understanding the law — or for a small business, hiring some professional to help them do it. They’ll have to get their arms around the law, look at their options, learn more about the exchanges and determine how to make it all work. Many businesses don’t yet know whether their states will be creating exchanges, or whether they’ll have to go into the national system — and they don’t know what that will mean for their costs. For some businesses, that information will help them decide whether they will buy insurance, or whether they’ll decide it’s cheaper to not provide coverage and just pay the government a $2,000-per-employee fine. For those who have close to 50 workers, they may decide to not hire more workers in order to remain outside the law’s jurisdiction.

7. Problem Solving and Risk Management. A major challenge for all companies is identifying, assessing, and mitigating risks, including human and financial capital, in addition to the macro economy. The lack of a sophisticated problem-solving competency among today’s business leaders is limiting their ability to adequately deal with risks facing their businesses. This is why corporate managers tend to jump from one fire to another, depending on which one their executives are trying to put out, and in many cases the fast-changing business environment is what ignites these fires. So what is the problem to be solved? We believe, to do well into the future, companies must resolve that problem solving is the key to business, then develop a robust problem-solving capability at all levels. As companies proceed to identify risks, they will then have the problem solving skills to know how to best mitigate them.

8. Finding the right staff. Without exception, every business executive I speak to says that one of their biggest challenges is staff – finding the right staff, retaining them, and ensuring they buy into the vision of the business. I’ll freely admit that I have no magic answers here. In fact, if someone could develop a formula for recruiting and engaging the right team members, they would make millions. A small business is almost like a family, and, like many families, they can work well, or they can be dysfunctional. In big companies, the human resource challenge is politics and fit in the workplace, but when it comes to small business, its personalities and skill. When you work in a small environment, each team member’s personality can have a huge impact on the harmony and productivity of the business. The key is to learn how to deal with different personalities, figure out what drives each individual team member and tailor your management accordingly. Despite high unemployment, many companies struggle to find the right talent with the right skills for their business. Many new manufacturing jobs require high-tech skills. They include positions at factories where computers are used to create products like airplane parts and machinery. And some require several years of training. Because of changing technology, businesses are struggling to find qualified workers with IT skills, problem solving abilities, and deductive reasoning skills.

As I consider my own business and its challenges, I agree with Neal’s conclusions that these are the critical 8. How about your company? Have we named the right issues? Would you like to include others?

Get Rich – Here is How

Posted by & filed under Education, General Business.

Here are seven suggestions for moving you along the path of wealth.

1. Knowledge

richJohn D. Rockefeller once said, “If your only goal is to become rich, you’ll never achieve it” (Rockefeller). If you ask most anyone if they want to be rich, they would probably say “yes.” However, if you asked, “what does it mean to be rich?”, most people would probably struggle. Some of the answers they might come up with may include making above such and such an amount, being able to afford this or that, or they might say something about some rich person they admire. If you want to become rich, you should answer the “what” and the “why.” The “why” answers the reason for the desired wealth and the “what” specifies the goal to achieve that reason. Without a goal or a reason you may never completely be satisfied. After understanding what you are going for, you should follow the habits and philosophies of those who have been successful at becoming wealthy. There are specific habits and philosophies which have enabled successful people to generate and retain wealth, while others never reach their goals, or lose what they have.

2. Invest in education

Before you skip over this point, because you may already have a college degree, consider the following. Don’t excuse yourself from investing in education just because you have done so in the past. Remember that knowledge is a base of decision making and understanding of the world changes constantly. Many professional have to do continuing education classes as a requirement to keep their licenses. When you put your mind and money to work getting an education remember not to get into the fallacy of association equals causation. This is the idea that your association with an institution is enough to cause you to be successful. Focus on substance. Recently Mandi Woodruff of business Insider wrote, “Average people think the road to riches is paved with formal education. Rich people believe in acquiring specific knowledge” (Woodruff). Jim Rohn, a well known entrepreneur and motivational speaker, put it this way, “Formal education will make you a living; self-education will make you a fortune” (Rohn).

3. Action minded

If you look at people who become rich, they are typically not passive. They usually don’t just hope for a lucky break from becoming the winner of a sweepstake. Often people who become rich are the people who do those things that others are unwilling to invest the time, energy and mental effort to do. For example, look at Bill Gates. He was willing to take risks and put forth the effort to make the personal computer software. Most people don’t take the time to know how to put together personal computer software. Even years after the launch of Microsoft there are still many who don’t know how, or don’t have the time to program and match the quality of products Microsoft can put out. Rich people choose to become rich because they choose those things which will lead to it. If you want to be wealthy, you must choose to go out and do something.

4. Live in your means

Most people would agree that Warren Buffett is a good example of someone who knows a thing or two about money. One of the lessons we can learn from Warren Buffett that stands out is his careful spending. Buffett has lived in the same place for the last 55+ years (Business insider). If you want to get rich, you want to be the best side of compound interest. This makes sense. Most people would agree that earning a percentage return is better than paying out a percentage of interest. Plan, budget and sacrifice in order to be stay out of debt. Don’t get into the mindset of trying to keep up with the neighbors. You cannot justify living out of your means because your neighbors seem to have the things you don’t. It is not very logical to assume this, especially considering the fact that you don’t know their budget and finances in the first place.

5. Become an entrepreneur

Entrepreneurs have great potential to become rich. They find things that add value to the market and the market pays them according to how well the needs are satisfied. Entrepreneurs are also compensated for the risks they take. In the words of Peter Drucker, a well known management consultant, “The entrepreneur always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity” (Drucker). Entrepreneurs become wealthy because they are able to have control of their salary and the direction of the company they work for. Steve Jobs is a perfect example of this. He consistently made things which people valued. He created a very large and well known company because of this. The act of entrepreneurship (going out and starting a business from scratch) is not for everyone, however , most anyone can learn to take the words of Peter Drucker to heart and have the mind of an entrepreneur.

6. Earnings

Obviously, you can’t expect to get rich by stuffing money in a mattress. Money must be put to work. You earn interest on the money you put into the bank because the bank puts it to work in the form of loans and you receive a small amount of interest for banking with them. Rich people don’t just hoard all their money, they put much of it to work to gain returns in some form or fashion.

There is a saying that goes like this, “it’s not what you know but who you know.” In reality it is a little bit of both. If you want to get in front of the right people, you probably will have to know something of value to them. Learn about what successful people do and where they go and decide be around such people. In order to make the investment, you must put something to work. In this case you are putting yourself to work for others. You are adding value to their lives. You are establishing relationships which can open the doors to opportunity and learning from them first hand. You must also consider the fact that you become like and gain habits from those you associate yourself with. If you want to become wealthy you must learn to network, add value to the lives of others, and find and gain habits other successful people have.

Works Cited

Business insider. 10 Money Lessons Warren Buffett Can Teach Us. 2 August 2012. http://www.businessinsider.com/10-financial-lessons-we-can-learn-from-warren-buffett-infographic-2012-8. 19 January 2013.

Drucker, Peter. Brainy Quotes. n.d. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/entrepreneur.html. 19 January 2013.

Rockefeller, John D. How the Rich Got Rich. 20 July 2012. http://www.inc.com/jeff-haden/how-the-rich-got-rich.html. 19 January 2013.

Rohn, Jim. Brainy Quotes. n.d. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/jimrohn121282.html. 19 January 2013.

Woodruff, Mandi. Yahoo Finance. 4 September 2012. http://finance.yahoo.com/news/21-ways-rich-people-think-differently.html?page=all. 16 January 2013.

 

 

7 ways to be more creative

Posted by & filed under General Business.

1. Change your hat

Often, it is difficult to know all that is “really” going on in a company while you sit in the executive office. If you want some creativity, an easy way to get the creative juices flowing is by taking off the executive hat and getting out of the office. Spend some time doing what your target market is doing or with them, when possible. You can also spend time with lower management. As a company leader you should know all about the company, not just what is discussed at company headquarters. Numbers don’t tell the whole story. When you go out and learn the other side of the story, it will change your perspective and give you more brain material to work with. This will improve your creativity when you are solving problems.

2. Learn from others

Learning from others is my favorite way to increase creativity. When I am looking for a new perspective, I generally ask people for theirs, read about other’s perspectives in books and articles, or look at or listen to the perspective of others through art. I often find that the philosophies, understanding and ideas of others can help me build bridges between the mental gaps I have which exist because of experiences I have never had. I have found that the value in this is not in the philosophies, ideas, perspective or understanding itself, but digging deeper and finding the principles on which they are founded. Make sure that you don’t steal ideas or take credit for those things which are not rightfully yours.

3. Get out of the routine

One great way to change perspective is to get out of your routine. If you get to the end of the day and everything is a blur because you have ended up doing the same things in the same way that you have for the past… who knows how long, you may need to try doing things differently today just to get a different perspective. You could take a walk at lunch time, for example. Maybe you could socialize with someone you don’t normally talk to, take a different way home from work or read a newspaper you don’t normally read. If you normally watch TV after work, put down the remote. Annie Murphy Paul from Time.com summarized the findings of a study conducted by Mareike Wieth and Rose Zacks saying, “imaginative insights are most likely to come to us when we’re groggy and unfocused. The mental processes that inhibit distracting or irrelevant thoughts are at their weakest in these moments, allowing unexpected and sometimes inspired connections to be made” (Annie Murphy Paul). From this we can see that taking a little extra time in the morning here and there can be beneficial to our creativity.

4. Come back later

If you are seeking creativity for problem solving, taking a break is one of the best things you can do. I enjoy art as a hobby. Sometimes if I spend too long on one painting, what I see in my mind and what I see on the canvas start to look the same, even when I have not put down all that is on my mind onto the canvas. Sometimes, I know that something is missing, but I just can’t figure out what it is. This is when I step away from the canvas and decide to look at it tomorrow. This technique has been a great help in the projects I have done, both as a team and individually. When the project seems to be going nowhere and considerable effort has been put into it, taking a break, or even putting the project away for a day, can be very helpful. It allows for a change in perspective. Many times, when I come back to the project, it is very obvious what the answer should be.

5. Idea mapping

Idea mapping is an old technique of organizing thoughts and ranking them. You were probably introduced to the idea back in middle school or high school. Idea mapping is very straight forward. You may have done it in the past without realizing it. One starts out by finding the heart of the matter at hand and draws this idea or thought at the center of a page. The thoughts and ideas that are most relevant to this main thought or idea are written out individually and connected to the original thought or idea. Thoughts and ideas which influence or are related to the individual thoughts or ideas connected to the heart of the matter are written out and connected to the ideas which are connected the heart of the matter and so on. In the end you will have a thought or idea in the center of the page with trees of ideas spreading out in every direction. This allows for individuals to look at the heart of the issue and all that it encompasses. It allows for one to make key assumptions about cause and effect and rank thoughts and ideas in terms of importance. You will also be able to adjust your focus with regards to the problem you are seeking to solve.

6. Physical activity

In the April 2002 issue of Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews, an article was published explaining that physical activity improves mental activity and, “protects against cognitive decline” (Cotman and Engesser-Cesar). Some of my greatest ideas have come to me while I am jogging. I find that it allows me to think and process ideas. I also I found that I have better physical stamina in general when I am regularly physically active.

7. Change perspective

In the movie Amazing Grace the main character, William Wilberforce, is trying to abolish slavery in England. After years of unsuccessful attempts with parliament there was very little hope. Years later a friend gave a suggestion. The ships carrying slaves would put up the French flag to get through to England because of the war. The main character proposed a bill which which didn’t seem to have anything to do with the slave trade, but ended up making it much more difficult for it to take place. This helped make it easy to make the next step in abolishing the slave trade. If you are trying to solve a problem but keep on hitting a brick wall, you can increase your creativity by changing perspective. In my experience, a change in perspective is a main driver in most principles that increase creativity.

Works Cited

Annie Murphy Paul. 1 Feb 2012. http://ideas.time.com/2012/02/01/why-morning-routines-are-creativity-killers/. 16 Juary 2013.

Cotman, Carl W and Christie Engesser-Cesar. Exercise Enhances and Protects Brain Function. April 2002. http://journals.lww.com/acsm-essr/Abstract/2002/04000/Exercise_Enhances_and_Protects_Brain_Function.6.aspx. 5 January 2013.

 

7 things to do everyday

Posted by & filed under General Business.

To be successful in business, do these things everyday.

1. “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning”

Mark Twain once said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day” (Good reads). Now, put that frog down. I am unaware of any secret health benefit that makes people successful by eating live frogs, however, we can learn a great deal from the concept itself. Some of the most important tasks can be some of the least appealing tasks. If you start out doing the less important tasks that you really love first and push the tougher and more important tasks to the end of the day, you could end up struggling. If you are like most of us, things don’t get easier to do after working seven and a half hours. If you are able to get the tougher and more important stuff out of the way early on, you will have a lot to look forward to and a lot less to not look forward to.

2. Enthusiasm

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm” (Good Reads). I would add that great achievements typically come as a result of many consistent successful days. Thus, preparing to be successful everyday is preparing to be enthusiastic every day. Because enthusiasm is an attitude, it requires you to become. You must make the choice to be enthusiastic every day. Passion and having the end in mind can help lead you to becoming more enthusiastic.

3. Review your goals

If beginning with the end result in mind is hitting the snooze button, because you will be sleeping at the end of the day, then you are getting up on the wrong side of the bed. Look at your goals as a source of daily direction. In my experience, goals should be reviewed regularly regardless of their time frame. If you are able to get into the habit of reviewing your goals, understanding what is required during the day to achieve these goals, and committing yourself to meet these requirements on a daily basis, you are preparing to be successful every day.

4. Adjust the sails

People who prepare to be successful everyday in business are able to differentiate between what can and what cannot be acted upon and they act to their advantage. William Arthur Ward once said, “the pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails” (Good reads). Get in the habit of recognizing what you can and cannot change through your direct actions. Learn to put your energy and focus into those things which will change for the better as a result of your direct actions.

5. Stop multitasking

According to research, “multitasking can reduce productivity by approximately 40-percent” (Cherry). There may be many people out there who can check twitter, update their LinkedIn profile, watch a movie, or even do another project simultaneously while working on a project. The question is, “at what cost?” People who prepare for success every day realize that sometimes one cannot get away from situations where multitasking is required, but they understand that multitasking dramatically reduces the quality of their work and increases the time it takes them to finish tasks.

6. Processing information

We live in an “information age.” There are so many news sources which publish every day that you could probably spend a whole day learning about current events, if you wanted to. While it is true that successful people keep up-to-date with what is going on in the world, it doesn’t require a knowledge of everything. People who prepare each day to be successful can distinguish between that which is informative and that which is strictly entertaining. With so much information, it is easy to get sucked into analysis paralysis of things that are completely irrelevant to your success. There is nothing wrong with an occasional “bubble gum for the brain” (fun to chew, but without substance) but make sure to distinguish this as a treat rather than a “necessity.”

7. Focusing

Have you ever seen an NBA player texting while on the court. I doubt you ever will; and if you do, I doubt you would see him on the court again. It is the focus and competition that makes watching sporting events, such as basketball, fun. Business is a much more competitive environment with many more variables. Be “in the game.” Focus is one of the reasons why the last point (about multitasking) rings true. Take the time to get rid of distractions in your office space. One idea is to set a time to check your email rather than checking it whenever you (this does not work for every industry). Another suggestion is to set a timer for projects you are working on. Set the timer for a specific amount of time and put away all other distractions while you perform the task at hand.

Works Cited

Cherry, Kendra. Multitasking. n.d. http://psychology.about.com/od/cognitivepsychology/a/costs-of-multitasking.htm. 21 January 2013.

Good Reads. n.d. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=enthusiasm&commit=Search. 9 January 2013.

Good reads. Find quotes. n.d. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=realistic&commit=Search. 9 January 2013.

—. Mark Twain > Quotes > Quotable Quote. n.d. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/168105-eat-a-live-frog-first-thing-in-the-morning-and. 9 January 2013.

—. Quotes about procrastination. n.d. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/procrastination. 9 1 2013.

 

 

7 Business Mistakes to Avoid

Posted by & filed under Education, General Business.

1. Learn from Pinocchio

Though it should be very obvious that dishonesty is the biggest mistake a business can make, this principle can be a little more complex than it was for Pinocchio. I would like to make two points for you to think about on this subject matter. First, though the example of integrity falls on the shoulders of those directing the company, all other workers represent the actual integrity of the company. Occasionally we hear about large companies which are shut down completely for fraudulent activity, but more often we hear individual cases from our friends about dishonesty at a specific location which leads us to believe the company as a whole is dishonest. The second point I would like to make is that honesty is interconnected with many of the daily decisions people make. Unlike Pinocchio, we can’t get a company wide nose measurement when people clock in and clock out and include this measurement in our quarterly reports. Nor, is it plausible or practical to write an all inclusive list of dishonest actions. In order for companies to make honest decisions continually, It requires a company wide understanding of the principle itself.

2. Know when it’s safe to exit the raft

I went white water rafting down the Snake River several years ago. Before stepping a foot into the raft, we had an experienced professional tell us about some of the dangers of rafting, things to avoid, and what to do in specific situations. Some of what he said was common sense, but there were some points he made which I never would have thought of. For example, there were some places where it was not safe to get out of the raft because the strong current can pull you under the rocks. We were also told what to do when one gets into a dangerous situation. Without that advice, some of the activities which would have seemed harmless could have been dangerous. Working with a lawyer early on is similar to getting the crash course on white water rafting safety. You can avoid some dangerous situations before they come about if you know what to look for. It is easier to prepare beforehand by getting help from a lawyer than to try to dig yourself out of an easily avoidable situation.

3. Choosing the wrong business partners

If you are partnering up, make sure you take the time to get the right partner. You might want to consider aspects such as how you think. If you are a business partner with a clone of yourself, chances are, you are going to be looking at problems from the same perspective and may not be as effective in your problem solving. On the other hand, if you find a partner who does not have the same vision or values as you do, you may be pulling the business in opposite directions. Also consider what is going to happen in the long term. What will happen if one of you leaves?

4. Conservatism Bias

Don’t get the wrong idea by the name. Conservatism bias does not mean it is bad to make conservative estimates or to be conservative in your spending or business image. Conservatism bias is a bias that leads people to be slow to accept new findings. People with this bias don’t accept new evidence contrary to their opinions of what they believe works. This can be detrimental because competition drives innovation and with this come improved means of doing things. If you are unable to accept new evidence, you may end up getting crushed by your competition.

5. Substituting what you see others do for research

I have a friend who would cut the end off meat when she cooked it. She did this because that is what she saw her mom do when her mom prepared meat. She later found out that the only reason her mother cut off the end of the end of the meat when she prepared it was because the pan was too small for the meat. There was no real secret recipe or compelling reason to cut the end off other than the pan size. People often do the same thing in business. They see successful businesses and mimic the actions of the business without understanding the reason behind it. Seeing other successful businesses doing things is is no substitute for your own research.

6. Lack of communication

Several years ago NASA lost a Mars orbiter which cost $125 million. After reaching Mars 36 miles from the planet, a 286 day journey, the probe malfunctioned and “continued beyond Mars.” NASA had partnered up with Lockheed Martin for the project. Lockheed used English measurements while NASA used the metric system (CNN). This lack of understanding of the measurements is the culprit of the major loss. It is amazing that a mishap could occur between two very large companies like this for such a high dollar amount. If you are not careful, you could end up with the same kind of problem on your hands. Assumptions can be very costly. If you don’t feel 100% confident you are on the same page as others, ask. It is more professional to ask, than to have a big expensive mess on your hands.

7. Not paying attention to details

Several years ago, 2008 to be exact, the Chilean 50-peso coin was printed with a misspelling. Instead of reading “Chile” the coin was stamped “Chiie.” Several people lost their jobs over this spelling error (BBC). If you have ever looked through resumes to hire an employee, you should have an understanding of the relationship between detail and credibility. For example, if you read a cover letter which speaks about how excited a candidate of employment is about “perusing this opportunity” or about their experience as a “manger” it might give you a laugh, and probably brighten your day, but it will probably end up in the recycle bin. In college you probably spent time looking at your written work up and down and even had others read it to make sure it was flawless. Take the time to do what is necessary to be free of flaws in your work.

Works Cited

BBC. n.d. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/8511910.stm. 14 January 2013.

CNN. Metric mishap caused loss of NASA orbiter. 30 September 1999. http://articles.cnn.com/1999-09-30/tech/9909_30_mars.metric.02_1_climate-orbiter-spacecraft-team-metric-system?_s=PM:TECH. 14 January 2013.

 

 

Mozart – Master of His Trade

Posted by & filed under General Business, Motivation.

Mozart became a master of his trade and can be an example to entrepreneurs on doing the same.

1. Sharpen your intellect

Mozart once attended a performance in the Sistine chapel. He was able to write the entire score from the performance by memory (Biography.com, 2012). It is clear that his sharp mind helped him in his amazing and well-loved compositions. Business leaders understand that decisions are what make up the business. They understand that they must have a quick intellect. They commit necessary principles to memory as well as names of acquaintances. They are always looking for ways to increase their understanding. Are you learning something new about your business or industry on a regular basis? Have you committed the names of your employees and key members of the business to memory? Have you committed the names of important contacts to memory?

2. Ambition to fuel the spirit of entreprenuership

Mozart started out as an assistant concertmaster. He was appointed by the Archbishop. Though it was rewarding he knew he could do better than an assistant. He quit that position and started doing things on his own. Consider what the world would have been like if he had remained in that position the rest of his life. We would not have the same music we have today. The world would have not received the fullness of his brilliance. Whether you have started your own business or climbed the corporate ladder, don’t forget the reason why you decided to do something different. Remember why you didn’t want to remain where you were way back when. Consider the potential for impact you now have. Never lose the ambition or the vision of what you can offer as a leader. You will probably make just as much an impact as you think you can. Remember the reason why you are doing what you are doing.

3. Power of role models

Mozart, like many successful individuals, had role models, Johannes Sebastian Bach and George Frederic Handel were Mozart’s (Biography.com, 2012). Schooling gives us the opportunity to learn patterns and principles of different subjects. Why should business or leadership be any different? Is there a business leader you admire? Why do you admire this business leader? What can you apply from this business leader’s life to pattern your own business success? It’s hard to aim when you don’t know what you are shooting for. Seek good role models.

4. Ethics inside and outside of the office

Mozart is said to have become a freemason. It is also said that this affiliation became an influential part of his music. Your character, or lack of character, can strongly influence your business ethics. It is hard to be one person outside of the office and another person inside the office. Just as Mozart’s affiliations (outside life) influenced his music (business life) your choices outside the office will influence inside the office. Develop strong character and principles to direct your decisions outside the office as well as inside the office.

5. The Importance of Placement

During the time when Mozart moved to Vienna, it was a location that was known for classical music at the time. His fame may not have reached the peak it did if he had not been located in a place where the product was valued. Consider the lesson that he teaches business owners and business leaders; the importance of location. Make sure your location has the correct market and demographics. Consider the placement of your products and services. Are you reaching the target market you are looking for? Learn from Mozart and know the importance of placement.

Notable Quotes

“Neither a lofty degree of intelligence nor imagination nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.”

Works Cited

Biography.com. (2012, October 29). Wolfgang Mozart . Retrieved from biography.com: http://www.biography.com/people/wolfgang-mozart-9417115?page=2

Brainy Quotes. (2012, November 2). Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Retrieved from Brainy Quotes: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/w/wolfgang_amadeus_mozart.html

 

 

 

7 Reasons Why Passion Creates Success

Posted by & filed under General Business, Motivation.

What is the single most important factor that distinguishes success from failure – PASSION!

1. Passion and process

Passion1Passion is like an emotional fuel that gives entrepreneurs the horsepower to keep going. It is an attitude that pulls entrepreneurs through the good, the bad and the ugly. You must keep in mind that fuel cannot replace a car, but it is necessary for the car to move even an inch. So in terms of business, you cannot generate incredible amounts of wealth by simply having a strong and powerful drive. Even just having the car is not enough. The car must be functional and be maintained with needed repairs. Your business needs the correct organization, team and plan. When all of these things are in place the passion you feed into the business can help drive it to success. The fuel of passion must go through the engine and be ignited. Then, if everything is working correctly, each part of the business carries out its respective process in order to move it forward.

2. Passion and people

Passion must be passed to people through a plan persistently to be profitable (that’s a mouthful). If you are the CEO of a peanut butter manufacturing plant and you have a deep passion for your product, peanut butter, it is not enough. You must be able to transfer your enthusiasm to other employees. Going back to the car analogy, you can have the motor running, and even be reving the engine, but the car will not move forward until it is put in gear and the energy is transferred to the wheels. So how do you transfer passion to other employees? The answer is simple. You have passion based on your perspective; it is your feelings toward your knowledge filtered through your experience. If you want to transfer your passion down the roots of your company, you must transfer your vision along with it. Your employees must see what you see through the angle, or perspective, you see it from.

3. Passion and persistence

Passion is tested with persistence. You know you are passionate about something when your energy and enthusiasm are not extinguished by circumstance. You cannot put water in your car and expect it to run. It must be petroleum or diesel fuel. Similarly, you cannot pretend to have passion and expect to be successful. This is because passion is tied to our vision, perspective, and our feelings.

4. Passion and play

Can you have a passion for something you don’t like? I doubt it. Most people I know turn something they enjoy doing into something they are passionate about. If you consider enjoying life as part of what you consider success, you need to have a passion for what you do. Play and passion do not support success on their own. For example, if you absolutely love making cookies and you have developed a passion for it, it will not ensure a successful cookie business. You must have a passion for doing those things required to support a successful business as well as having fun with and being passionate about what you do as a business.

5. Passion and perfection

If you have a passion for what you do, you will not allow quality to fall short. When people see that you have a high quality product they will have greater reason to purchase it. People who have a passion for what they do have success because they take pride in their work and make sure their work is of high quality. They see their work as part of their identity. This is another test for passion. If you start lacking the motive to reach for high quality products and service, you are probably low on passion for those products or services.

6. Passion and profits

As was mentioned earlier, passion leads to profits but profits do not come from passion alone. If you have a passion for your business, you will not allow it to be unprofitable, assuming there is some kind of demand for your product or service. If you are passionate about what you do you will knock doors, call thousands of prospects or travel to where there is a demand. Going back to the car analogy, if you want your car to move forward, you will do what is necessary to maintain it and ensure it runs smoothly. If it is broken down, it will not perform well even with fuel. Your passion for your product must accompany passion for a profit. This does not mean that the profit overpowers the passion for the product, but without a profit you cannot continue to make a product.

7. Passion and products

Have you ever had someone try and sell something to you with absolutely no enthusiasm by any stretch of the imagination? Sometimes in such situations the person almost seems to have a script which must be said, if they want to keep their job. This is anything but persuading, and it may even be dissuading. On the other hand, have you ever encountered someone who was passionate about their product. Perhaps they persuaded you to buy that all-in-one lint roller back scratcher shoe horn you never thought you would buy. There must be some level of passion when you sell your products. It comes back to the concept of being on a higher level in order to be able to pull someone up to your level. If you want a customer to be enthusiastic enough to pull out their check, you need to be enthusiastic enough to pull them up to the level that will persuade them to do so.

 

Shoot for the Moon – Lessons from Neil Armstrong

Posted by & filed under General Business, Motivation.

Setting high goals and expectations has often been referred to as “shooting for the moon”.  Businesses can learn from someone who set high expectations and achieved them.

1. Risk management

Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon. Think of the many risks that were involved in this. It is important to realize that both Armstrong and many others prepared for the risks ahead. Armstrong had served as a naval aviator and had done much research for NASA before he left. He also had the support of the space station throughout the process. Business owners understand that many of the activities involved in adding value to the business are tied to risk. In fact, running the business itself is a risk. The key to managing risks like Armstrong is to plan ahead and have support throughout the execution of the risky activity.

2. Testing assumptions

Consider that first step out on the moon. He had to be willing to take the risk and test all the theories that led to the assumption that the mission was possible. He had to be prepared for any possible outcome, but when it came down to it, he had to make the decision to perform regardless of the outcomes he may not have known. In business we must be willing to test many assumptions. There are so many factors that it is impossible for one to have every bit of information about a business decision. At some point you will have to take a step out of the spacecraft and be willing to risk those things you didn’t know that you didn’t know.

3. Value of knowledge through experience

Neal Armstrong’s experience gave valuable knowledge. It was completely unique. He was not only the first to walk on the moon but was one of the few who had that opportunity in his time. While scientists could reason about how it could work and pictures and films could be made, only he and his crew would have that unique perspective of walking on the moon. Think about this in terms of your customers. Those who have experienced your product or service have the perspective of its value. As much as you advertise and explain the benefits, that perspective cannot be transferred completely to the customer until he or she receives it first-hand. This demonstrates the importance of the first-time use of the product by the customers.

4. Stop and take samples

As exciting as the experience on the moon was, the crew stopped to take samples. The samples could be used for further research and understanding. The lesson to us as business leaders is simple. Though we must move forward to meet our business goals, it is important to realize that we can learn a great deal as we move forward if we stop and take samples. If we don’t take samples, we may not completely understand if there are correlations in our actions and the outcomes we desire. Remember the value of data. If you don’t collect relevant data and test that data, you may be doing things that are wasting time and money without being aware of it.

5. Small and simple things

Armstrong and his crew had months of preparations for the mission to the moon. The journey to the moon lasted several days, but they stayed on the moon was only a few hours. Consider how this “small step” influenced the world. As a business leader, you need to remember the value of the small things. A couple hours could change the course of your business. If the astronauts had been a few degrees off their mark toward the moon, a couple of days later they could have been much further off from their mark. Let’s look at customer service as an example. Can you think of a business that you would not care to do business with because of poor customer service? This business probably lost your business because of one or a few small instances. They may have lost potential business of the friends who heard about your experience.

Notable Quotes

“This is one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”

“ Believe every human has a finite number of heartbeats. I don’t intend to waste any of mine.”

“I think we’re going to the moon because it’s in the nature of the human being to face challenges.”

Works Cited

Brainy Quotes. Neil Armstrong. 27 October 2012. http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/n/neil_armstrong.html.