Are you Hard of Listening?

We all use the phrase ‘hard of hearing’. We generally apply it to older people, but there is an affliction that affects people of all ages… inability to listen. I call that being ‘hard of listening’ and it is something well worth taking time to correct.
Financial statements can be very misleading when you are comparing months that contain different numbers of working days. The traditional approach presents numbers exactly as they appear from the financial records; producing meaningful financial statements calls for an entirely different way of presenting the information.

Risk Factor Analysis

Risk Factor Analysis Questionnaire
Risk Factor Analysis Worksheet
When people resign or are terminated for poor performance, there is a temptation to replace them immediately. Your managers often come to you saying that it is essential to hire a replacement if the department is to continue to run properly. This may indeed be the case, but there are a number of good reasons to wait before pushing the button to go out and hire somebody else.
A Post-Sale Discount is one you voluntarily offer after the customer has already agreed to buy. Before you shake your head and say “I never do that”, think for a moment and analyze the way discounts operate in your sales process. It’s a more frequent problem than you might think, and it may be a feature of the way you run your business.
Are you stuck in the vicious circle of business ownership?
The well-known quotation “winning isn’t everything; winning is the only thing” predated Vince Lombardi, but was popularized by him. He claimed that what he actually said was “winning isn’t everything – the will to win is the only thing”, and that makes a great deal more sense. 

"Part time woman"

I regularly see advertisements for part time workers. While it is illegal in most cases to be gender specific, people still are, and somebody told me recently that they were looking to hire a part-time woman. They asked me if I knew any, and I couldn’t help asking what gender they were the rest of the time. 
1.     Never give me urgent work in the morning. Always wait until 4:00 and then bring it to me. The challenge of a deadline is refreshing.
I’ve been talking for years now about taking control of your time choices. I recently had an example in my own life of just how important it is to control the flow of information that can hijack you, and I realized that I am finally listening to myself; perhaps now I can stop wearing the t shirt ‘Take my advice, I’m not using it”.
Capturing Greenland happens when you grow and end up with a result that is worse than you expected and could have been foreseen. This is the litmus test to see whether what you will be getting is really what you want. When you have developed your growth plan, answer the following questions:
A ‘Rose’ is something out of the ordinary you do for your customer after the sale is completed. It has to be something the customer would not have expected when they made the purchase and come with no hint of an agenda to solicit either future business or referrals. It gets its name from the following short story which illustrates the concept.
I was at a networking meeting recently where somebody was describing the company. They were intending to say that they were a fly on the wall so that they overheard everything that was going on and were able to help, but what they actually said was that they were a fly in the ointment, and that got me thinking.
As part of their 10,000 Small Businesses Program, Goldman Sachs provided the following information to their alumni from Capitol Hill about potential changes in PPP legislation. While there is no guarantee that these will be adopted, these are big potential changes that all borrowers need to be aware of.
When somebody starts a business and needs to start hiring employees there is a temptation to bring in family members to fill the open slots. You think you know who they are and feel that you can trust them….but do they have the talent and experience to do the job you expect them to perform?
John Lennon and Paul McCartney were one of the most successful song writing partnerships in history. They worked together for a period of about seven years and were driven apart by their success and their egos. From a business perspective, the inherent flaws in their business relationship provide an object lesson on how not to structure a partnership.
One of the biggest problems that I see with small businesses is that they hire too quickly and fire too slowly.  It is important to identify the people who do not belong in your organization and then systematically go about replacing them.  In this article I will look at the practical aspects of how to fire somebody and what you need to do to protect yourself.
It’s bad enough that the government makes us add a ‘gratuity' on top of the salary of the people that we hire.  So many people compound the problem by adding even more 'gratuity' without receiving any additional value for it.
In a real estate negotiation, the broker will lead you to believe that he is representing your interest.  While that may in some instances be the case, in most it is most certainly not because of some deep rooted conflicts of interest which exist.

Preparing for a Business Downturn

Business downturns come in many shapes and forms – from a recession that affects the whole economy to something very specific that only affects your industry. They can be caused by such diverse elements as a market crash, a terrorist attack, a natural disaster (such as Katrina or Sandy), an epidemic on another continent (such as SARS or the avian flu) or by one of a thousand other things.
One of the most easily identifiable risk factors facing any company is the loss of a major customer. It is one of the most alarming things that can happen in business but as with any risk factor, there are ways to minimize the risk beforehand and processes that can be implemented if it does occur. 
All of us have jargon that we use as shorthand in our business, but if we aren't careful that can spoil over into our "communication" with our customers and prospects and be both confusing and counter-productive.
I was surprised to hear on the radio that CBS had developed a special technique to encourage people to cheat their employers by watching the NCAA March Madness tournament on the CBS website while they are at work. 
Being short of cash has very little to recommend it, and it is one of the most stressful situations that a business owner can face. To add to this stress, weak or negative cash flow often brings with it decreased profitability that is linked directly to the lack of cash in a business. This occurs in the form of both increased expenses and reduced productivity and in their different ways these can be equally harmful.

Expense Reorganization

Expenses seem to breed and need to be sprayed regularly if they are to be kept under control. The problem in reviewing them is that the way accountants present them is not helpful and they need to be looked at in a different way that makes review easier.
Time management experts (including me) stress the importance of having a “To Do” list and you can’t move these days without being assailed by the plethora of options available.  This list, updated and prioritized daily will help you identify and execute the most urgent things but it will not help you identify the things that you should eliminate from your day.
It is essential to keep your priority items to a minimum. If everything is important, nothing is important and if you have too many top priorities there is a very real danger that none of them will get done.
If you go into a negotiation with an emotionally based win:win approach and your adversary is a better negotiator than you are, you will lose. There are three key areas that will potentially make you come out second best, and I see these key errors made on a regular basis.

"Taken Back"

I was having a conversation with one of my employees about his performance and laid out a specific area where he had failed to perform. He apologized and said “I’m really taken back by what you’re saying.”
Identifying the lifetime value of a customer is an essential step in understanding the dynamics of your business. It will change your view of acquisition costs and of the profitability of different segments of your business, add urgency to your retention strategy and cause you to think hard about working more effectively to generate referrals.
When somebody makes a mistake you have a choice to make about how you react. You can go after them in an angry fashion or use the mistake as a training lesson. If you give in to your emotions and do the former, you are missing a huge opportunity to turn a negative issue into a positive learning event.

The Half Wit

A business owner received a letter from the Department of Labor saying they were going to audit him.  The audit occurred because there had been a wage and hour complaint and the auditor was investigating wage and hour records and ensuring that the business was paying at least minimum wage.

The Mom and Pop Test

As the name suggests, a Mom and Pop business is typically one run by a husband and wife. They are often family businesses, but the description is by no means limited to them. These owners have little formal business education and little interest in learning new business techniques. They run the operation by the seat of the pants and never invest in themselves or the business. As a result, their businesses seldom grow beyond about 20 employees.
I founded and ran a company that grew from inception to $25 million in revenues over 10 years, and we grew at over 45% per year for eight consecutive years.  It was a wild ride, and in going through it I learnt a number of things that nobody told me would happen.
As discussed in the article on “Back Story”, one of the difficulties of small business is that you know so much about your employees that it makes it difficult to find them when you know that you really should.
There was an important SBA update today in the form of an additional FAQ regarding the SBA’s potential review of a borrower’s “good faith” certification covering the necessity of their loan request.
What you call your customers determines the way you think about them. The way you think about them defines the way you treat them. The way you treat them defines whether they will stay with you or go somewhere where they are appreciated more.

The Token Woman

One of the more challenging people that I had working for me was my lead technician, who I will call Joe. He was prejudiced against most people, but top of the list seems to be black people and women in the workplace [although he was happy to use them as sexual objects].

Who benefits from a lease?

You are a tenant, your lease runs out and the landlord is in no hurry to give you a new lease.  Should you press for a new lease or not?  The conventional wisdom is that you should and that you really need to have a lease, but in recessionary times that may not always be the case.
It seems as though we have been in a recession for so long that new initiatives to make your business leaner and more competitive are harder than ever to find. This is the same for everybody, and now is a good time to take a step back and look at first principles again.