The Article Box

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Basics For Writing A Business Plan

Just about every nine to fiver has dreamed of leaving the world of office politics or the factory floor behind and starting a business of his or her own.

There are many reasons why owning a business is such a common dream. For one thing, owning a business puts you in solid control of your future and your earning power. Instead of tying your financial future to the fortunes of another, an entrepreneur takes matters into their own hands and takes charge of their financial future.

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Creating A Business Plan For Your Business

The preparation of a detailed and complete business plan is a necessary first step toward creating a thriving and profitable business.

A business plan is a necessity for any startup business, and it will be essential in order to get the financing that is needed, or to attract the business partners and investment that will be needed by the fledgling company.

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How To Write A Business Plan for Your Business

A business plan is a very important document, both for new business and existing ones. While many people think of business plans as important only for newly created startup companies, the truth is that a quality business plan will also be very important to obtain financing to expand the business and help it grow.

The typical business plan will help a new business look ahead and prepare for success, and it will help an existing business assess their past and plan their future.

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Writing A Restaurant Business Plan To Help Your Business Grow

At one time, every chef has dreamed of opening his or her own restaurant. Indeed, owning a restaurant of your own can be a great way to put yourself squarely in charge of your own financial future.

There is a good reason why owning a business remains such an enduring American dream. There is a freedom that comes with knowing that you are responsible for your own future success.

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Writing A Music Business Plan For Your Business Growth

For those interested in the music business, few things are as exciting or as challenging as opening their own music business. There are many facets to the music business, from acting as agent to the hot new music group to running a successful outlet selling new and used musical instruments.

==The Music Industry==

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Large Scale Organizational Change: Look Before You Leap!

I am often asked, “Should organizational change be done quickly or slowly over time?” and “Should management attempt large radical changes or small incremental changes?” The safe answer is, “It depends.”

The literature on organizational change identifies two general types of changes: first-order change and second-order change. First-order change gets less attention because it is less dramatic. It is incremental and evolutionary in nature. We see first-order change today in organizations in the form of quality improvement programs (e.g., TQM or Six Sigma). First-order incremental change is also important after large-scale, organization-wide, second-order change.

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Improve Your Strategy by Taking Decisions

The credibility of a strategy can be deducted from the way internal decisions are (not) taken.

We all take a number of decisions every day. Many of those are simple and have little effect. In your organization there are choices to make that can have a large impact, like the many investment decisions. There are however also options that are not really taken. You can experience that by the fact that there are two sorts of camps dealing with familiar problems though with different solutions.

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Drop Shipping The Secret of Success

Drop shipping is one of the fastest and easiest ways to start a business on the internet. The startup costs are low, the risk is low and it is very easy to find products that sell well. Because it is so easy, many people try drop shipping on the web.

Like any business, however, drop shipping is not the whole solution to success. A drop shipping business has to be built on a solid foundation and it must be properly promoted.

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Writing Mission Statement For Your Business

A Mission Statement is a brief description of your business.

It is the present and future task that your businesses plan on accomplishing, in about a paragraph or more, up to one page. You should mention the reason your business is in existence.

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Pitfalls of Having a Partner in Your Online Business

Do you have a business partner in your online business?

I had the wonderful opportunity to undergo a course of study under a proven established online marketer before I went full time as an online entrepreneur. I was on Lesson 1 when I was shocked to read that my mentor advocated NOT to have a business partner in running my online business!

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Business Practices for Photographers

There must be as many business policies as there are photographers in business. Through the years I have learned by my mistakes and by observing other successful photography business. Here are some policies that have added to the success of my business.

Concerning weddings, require the full payment for the basic package that the bride and groom order. Extras must be paid at the time of the final order. The argument that no goods are in the hands of the buyer must be politely put aside.

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What is Strategic Planning?

If you own small business or lead a FORTUNE 500, multi-national company, most business leaders ultimately want to leverage previous successes and eliminate causes of prior failures. This is a difficult and complex process that begins with strategic planning.

Sometimes it is not enough to focus on day to day operations, leaders must have the discipline to take the time and effort to clearly define where the organization is now and best determine where the organization must be within a specific timeline.

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Why Doesn't Your Business Plan Consistently Secure Your Desired Results?

From small businesses to large corporations, when you render all the challenges and issues facing these economic engines from employees to growth and innovation, the inability to secure desired results or implementation always float to the top as the number one to number three obstacles that prevent business success. As a business owner or management executive, have you ever asked yourself one of these five questions:

1. How do I move from my vision to my desired results?

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Strategic Planning The Reality of Making It Work

There's often a gap between the theory and principles behind strategic planning, and the reality of business life, and planning. Here are a few things to keep in mind before, during and after the planning process.

It's Non-Linear!

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Finding Offshore Services

"Many who are concerned about the safety of their assets have turned to offshore-services as a way of helping them. If you are one of the many who worry that your assets could be sued by some frivolous lawsuit and you’ll end up losing everything, then the consideration of these offshore-services is something that you must look farther into. The good news is that there is a wealth of information to be had that can help to ease your fears considerably.

There are various types of offshore-services that can provide you with the safety and secrecy that you may need. For example, one of the most common problems with keeping money in United States banks and financial institutions is the simple fact that they are easy to fall victim to possession should someone win a lawsuit against the individual. But, with offshore-services, there are any number of remote ways to keep those assets safe from this type of action.

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You Never Have a Second Chance to Make a First Impression: Position Your Company Wisely

One of the most profound statements made on the subject of positioning comes from Louis Carroll's, Alice In Wonderland. When Alice asks the Cheshire Cat which path to take, he responds, "If you don't care where you're going, it doesn't make a difference which path you take."

Your positioning statement is the foundation on which all communications activities are based upon. It is the most important marketing practice, and often the most overlooked. Without clearly defined messages and positioning, promotion efforts are fruitless.

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You, Your Team, and Your Coach

The grand purpose of coaching is to help your managers, the people they manage, and your organization make the transition from where you are to where you want to be.

Some points are so obvious it seems silly to even mention them but experience suggests that, just as common sense is not really so common, we can be blindly oblivious of what seems obvious.

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Why People Don't Listen... and Some Fun Things You Can Do About It

It's frustrating when your co-workers, audience members, teenager or even your dog (!) won't listen. While you can't control how they receive what you say, you can control how you send it. Here are a few tips on why people don't listen and what you can do to change it.

1. Short Attention Spans

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Leading the Witness: How Asking Questions as a Trainer Can Limit Learning and Reduce Trust

"Asking questions can be a means of establishing authority, fulfilling leadership functions, and ensuring effective learning. In fact, asking questions is probably the most subtle power you have for controlling people. The person who asks questions always controls the conversation... if we could discipline our minds to ask questions instead, we could lead any conversation to wherever we wanted it because the other person would still be wrapped up in thinking what he or she wanted to say next...One of the rights you have as a trainer is to ask questions and expect answers. This is why question-asking is such a powerful tool. It challenges and avoids confrontation at the same time."

Mitchell, Garry, The Trainer's Handbook: The AMA Guide to Effective Training, Amacom, 1998, p 63.

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Listening Between the Lines

Have you seen the tee-shirt with the slogan, “Talk to the hand ‘cos the face ain’t listening?” Do you feel it’s like this sometimes when you are trying to get through to people? But just how good a listener are you? Do you actually “listen between the lines?”

So often we hear about a problem, and immediately jump in. We want a quick fix. However, we are inside our own head, and make no attempt to get into the head of the other person.

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How Does Personal Development Help in Business?

Teams run most businesses and teams work best if each member is aligned with the whole group and works in a happy friendly way. Team building has been very popular over the last ten years or so, but wouldn’t it be so much easier if we naturally lived a life in synchrony with your teammates and your customers.

Businesses in the past has employed people for the purpose of fulfilling a role and paying a wage, were the employee may not really enjoy the job they are doing. As we move into the New Energy and develop our awareness. As New Spirituality develops and Self-love grows and your appreciation for fellow employees naturally changes, we grow in synchrony and Self-realisation.

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Constructive Group Dynamics: How to Go from the S.N.I.P.P.Y. Syndrome to a C.L.E.A.R. V.I.E.W.

If asked to look at your work calendar for the week, the odds are pretty good that you have a few if not several meetings already scheduled. Now, if asked how you feel about attending some of those meetings, the odds are even better that you may either roll your eyes, groan or mutter something under your breath. Sound familiar so far? Okay, that was the easy part.

Coming from a background of 20 years in the corporate world, I can readily identify with attending a surplus of meetings. Additionally, I know all too well how employees come to "dread" going to meetings and clearly I fell into that category as well. But now in retrospect, I've come to learn a few things, as we often do once we step back and reflect. After reading this article, you'll have a better understanding of what causes meetings to break down-- (S.N.I.P.P.Y) syndrome and an alternative (C.L.E.A.R. V.I.E.W.).

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Virtual Team Work

At a time when many companies are scaling down their marketing budgets, big design firms are finding it harder to win new clients and projects. Things maybe tough for the larger design firms, but the situation could be ideal for freelancers and other smaller boutique operations that can operate virtually.

One obvious advantage that full-service design companies have over independent freelancers is access to a wide range of creative and technical resources. So how can the individual compete with multi-skilled consultancies? The answer is to form a Virtual Team using a product that provides collaboration software that gets everybody on the Same-Page.

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Effective Team Building for Stronger Teams


Alice asked Cheshire cat “which road should I take?” (Cheshire cat) “Where do you want to go?” (Alice) “I don’t know” (Cheshire cat) well it doesn’t matter which road you take.

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What's the Secret Ingredient That Turns Groups into Teams?

What’s the Secret Ingredient That Turns Groups into Teams? Working together building and maintaining long-term team relationships is the key behavior and skill of the most effective people in any organization.

Mutual Trust is the secret ingredient that turns groups into teams. It leads to cooperation, productivity, faster problem solving, loyalty and high morale.

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The 'Low Down' on Team Development, Part I

In recent years in the business-world there has been a lot written and said about team development. Unfortunately, most of the people doing the majority of talking lack the psychological background to accurately describe the conditions under which people choose to become a true team.

In a large retail store it can be a challenge to build an environment where all or most of the employees feel they are part of a store team. It’s more common to find individual departments that act as a team, rather than the entire store. That’s because as a general rule it’s easier to build a relatively small team of up to a dozen team members than it is a team with a hundred or more members.

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Skate To Where The Puck Is Going To Be But Arrive With An Attitude

Wayne Gretsky, the famous hockey player coined the original phrase; “Skate to where the puck’s going to be.” I suppose he was trying to say that you have to anticipate the action. You must know your competition, trust your teammates and be aggressively proactive in your approach. “Arrive with an attitude” simply means doing all those things well and doing them with the confidence that you are the best at what you do. Success breeds success and attitude is one of the primary ingredients necessary to be a leader in the distribution business.

You and you alone are responsible for your attitude and the attitude your company reflects. You must will yourself to seek improvement in everything you do or time will catch up to you and you simply wont be able to compete. It was Mark Twain who said:

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Survivor; Are You Leader Enough?

Real Consequences

Survivor has started again! The thrill of making decisions under the stress of dire consequences is a scenario that rivets millions of us. This vicarious experience shines a light on our internal competitor. It gets us asking the questions, am I tough enough? Am I flexible and clever enough?

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Jealousy and Territoriality in the Workplace

There are times in every company when people "butt heads" with each other whether subtly or overtly. These conflicts, if persistent, can become detrimental to the business and should be addressed if possible.

If you are a manager or co-worker of the conflicting parties, you can have a positive effect on tension reduction. If you are an underling of one or both parties, hide under the desk and avoid the crossfire unless you have an exceptionally strong relationship with a "superior".

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Danger... Never Hire Until You Profile!

You always have the staff you deserve! If you went, “Ouch!” when you read that, then good for you. You already realize you need a better team and the desire for something better is the always the first step on the road to success.

Teambuilding is one of your most critical entrepreneurial activities. In business, every day is a game day and to win you must be able to field a winning team. Winning teams are made up of great employees yet many employers fail to put enough effort into their hiring activities to obtain them.

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A "Must Do" Tactic to Improve Your Team Motivation Skills

Has this ever happened to you? You go to speak to your boss, or a colleague, a friend or even someone in your family and you feel they're not listening. How does that make you feel - not very good I suspect.

When I bring this up in a team motivation seminar, some managers start to feel a litle bit uncomfortable.

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Why Team Leading Is Like Riding A Bike

Team leaders have three functions:

• to get the team to perform a given task to the satisfaction of the customer
• to allow for individuals to find job satisfaction and sufficient motivation to want to continue in the team
• to develop the team so that, with the same people and the same resources, a higher performance can be obtained.

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Empowering Teams & Leaders

A recent dream spoke to me about leadership. In this dream, I was a member of a good-natured team of life-loving characters. Isn't this typical of most of us in life and how we want to experience our lives? I believe it is. With performance being such an issue to sustain a business and create profit-margins, a great deal of stress is experienced at the supervisory level when performance falls below the line. In efforts to motivate, some supervisors will try a variety of tactics in order to ellicit the support they need from the team to keep up the pace. Are tactics really the answer though?

Leaders, like members of the team, also want to feel connected; a part of the team or community. It's a lonely place as leader. If a supervisor is between upper-management and the workforce, they're in a vulnerable and isolated place if upper-management is less than supportive. It has happened where they are raked over the coals and held accountable for a teams lack of performance. Some managers in my past have been the buffer zone protecting the team from the flak from above. Other managers aren't so kind or more accurately put, as capable. They react out of fear and desperation. They need help.

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Building High Performance Teams

Your managerial success is tied to your team. Teams are the most valuable resource of an organization. The times of lone leadership are over with Alexander the Great. These are the times of the team leadership. If you can build a successful team and work as the leader who is just a little more equal than others you may be able to pull off everything you do with great success.

Successful team building requires a lot of focus and effort. Here are a few tips to build teams that are effective and deliver results.

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Make Way For A New Diversity Training Book

Open My Eyes Open My Soul: Celebrating Our Common Humanity, is a special collection of poetry and stories, with contributions from people of all walks of life. The book includes entries from celebrities such as Maya Angelou, Margaret Cho, Muhammad Ali, Dr. Bernie Siegel, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and others, along with a diverse group of contributors.

I am very proud and humbled to have been a part of the creation of this wonderful anthology, along with my co-creator, Yolanda King, who is the daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Coretta Scott King, who graciously wrote our books foreword.

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Five Simple Strategies for Unifying Project Teams

Do your project team members show confusion about who is responsible for what aspects of the job? Do their conversations and meetings usually end in heated personal attacks? Or do individual members ever exhibit an "every person for themselves" attitude and refuse to help their teammates? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, then you're not alone. Sometimes, a team simply doesn't "gel."

Every experienced project manager has certainly experienced challenges in getting their teams to behave like...well, teams. But with organization and guidance you can help your project teams accomplish more and eliminate many of the setbacks and challenges that make teamwork so difficult. Consider the following five strategies for unifying and organizing your teams:

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Not Another Ice Breaker! Team Building with a Purpose

"We just don't work as a team!" Janet, a group manager for a large insurance company, was complaining to Larry, her human resources consultant. "Everyone just seems to do their own thing, they don't share information, don't try to help each other, and don't seem to care about anyone else's problems. What we need is a team building offsite!" Janet and Larry decided to put together a two-day offsite for the team at a resort about two hours away from work. Janet wanted immediate focus on the problem so Larry worked double-time to put together the event to be held later in the month. Larry put together an agenda full of trust-building exercises, ice-breakers, and brainstorming sessions on how the team could work better together.

On the first day of the offsite only about half of Janet's team had shown up; the other half were working on a hot project that needed to be completed later in the week. The remaining team members politely participated in the team building exercises, but didn't seem very interested in the activities as they felt too "squishy." Because Janet wanted to focus the offsite on team building, there was no clearly stated business purpose for the event. The brainstorming sessions were good, but no tangible actions were taken down for the team to follow up on. In short, the offsite was met with a resounding thud from the team and was a dismal failure.

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The Horror of WorkZilla (Or, How To Handle A Nightmare Employee)

Although self-employed for many years, I have been a regular visitor to workplaces small and large as a Business Consultant, Staff Trainer or Special Event Speaker. When the purpose for my visit has to do with business consultation, it doesn’t take long for me to locate the biggest potential problem in any office. It’s WorkZilla!

WorkZilla is a nightmare employee who instills a quiet fear in the workplace that causes productive employees to quit, stay home or just give up when it comes to deadlines or productivity. This monster is smart and knows how to exploit the system. Even if supervisors know about the problem, they are unlikely to report WorkZilla for fear of retribution. By the time upper management becomes aware of a WorkZilla in their midst, most of the damage is already done. This creature knows how to consolidate its power and create carefully planned barriers to prevent its dismissal.

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Top Nine Tips for Better Teamwork and Team Building

Team building and teamwork skills are critical for your effectiveness as a manager or entrepreneur. Even if you are not in a leadership position yet, better understanding of teamwork can make you a more effective employee and give you an extra edge in your office.

Team building success is when your team can accomplish something bigger and work more effectively than a group of the same individuals working on their own. You have a strong synergy of individual contributions. But there are two critical factors in building a high performance team.

The first critical factor of a teamwork success is that all the team efforts are directed towards the same clear goals, the team goals. This relies heavily on good communication in the team and the harmony in member relationships.

The other important element is the diversity of skills and personalities. When people use their strengths in full, but can compensate for each other's weaknesses. When different personality types balance and complement each other.

Here are some additional team building ideas, techniques, and tips you can use in your situation.

1.) Make sure that the team goals are totally clear and completely understood and accepted by each team member.

2.) Make sure there is complete clarity in who is responsible for what. Do your best to avoid overlaps of authority. For example, if there is a risk that two team members will be competing for control in certain area, try to divide that area into two distinct parts and give each more complete control in one of those parts, according to those individual's strengths and personal inclinations.

3.) For issues that rely on the team consensus and commitment, involve more the whole team in the decision making process. For example, use group sessions with collective discussions of possible decision options or solution ideas. What you want to achieve here is that each team member feels his or her ownership in the final decision, solution, or idea. The more he or she feels this way, the more likely he or she is to agree with and commit to the decided line of action.

4.) Make sure there are no blocked lines of communications and you and your people stay fully informed.

5.) Build trust with your team members by spending one-on-one time in an atmosphere of openness and honesty. Be loyal to your employees, if you expect the same.

6.) Allow your office team members build trust and openness between each other in team building activities and events. Give them some opportunities of extra social time with each other in an atmosphere that encourages open communication. For example, in a group lunch on Friday.

7.) Be careful with interpersonal issues. Recognize them early and deal with them till full resolution.

8.) Never miss opportunities to empower your employees. Say thank you or show appreciation of an individual team player's work.

9.) Do not limit yourself to negative feedback. Be fare. Whenever there is an opportunity, give positive feedback as well.

Finally, though teamwork and team building can be challenging, the rewords from high team effectiveness are well worth it.

Sergey Dudiy, Ph.D., is a personal growth writer and web entrepreneur, founder of, dedicated to building a stronger foundation for your success skills, from personal goal setting and decision making to teamwork and team building.

You have permission to reprint this article electronically or in print, free of charge, as long as you keep the above resource box. A courtesy note would be appreciated.

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Workplace Conflict � Facilitating a Peaceful Outcome

It is worth remembering that the work environment is primarily an unconventional setting for adults. At home we may have responsibilities for bringing up children, paying mortgages, doing DIY and being good neighbours. These are all self-regulating activities and most people manage to do these without too much stress. The workplace however often requires us to leave our adult instincts at the door and adopt a ‘role-play’ approach in order to fit in with the prevailing culture. Such a setting can encourage competition which in itself can encourage the individuals within it to raise their game and perform better than they may do alone. On the other hand, this competitive ‘system’ can lead to behaviours that seem to conflict with adult best practice. When disagreements arise, the consequences can often be ugly and lead to ongoing stress and low morale amongst those involved. Below we shall look at how such a situation may arise and how a facilitated discussion might help.

Let us take an example – Joe is in charge of business development for an IT consulting firm. He has successfully negotiated a key contract to develop some software for a hedge fund company. The negotiations were difficult, considering that a competitor was also bidding for the same project. Joe is very pleased to have won the deal. A team is assembled to design and deliver the system. It is estimated to take six months and cost £200,000. There are financial penalties involved for late delivery. The project seemingly starts well but as it progresses, Kevin, the Project Manager is getting stressed and key deadlines are being overshot. Five months later, it is clear that the project is way behind schedule and the company looks likely to incur penalties. Whilst Joe had consulted with his analysts before pricing the deal, he had ignored some of their concerns about a particularly complex module of the work. The analysts couldn’t quantify how potentially complex it might be until they started the work. In the end Joe decided to ‘wing it’ by taking the most optimistic scenario, i.e. that the module would be easy to develop.

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Surviving a Business Project

In a perfect world, any business team assembled to take on a project would be a competent group of professionals who seamlessly act as one entity. In the real world, it’s a bit different. A good team tends to be made up of strong, creative, energetic and insightful members. That‘s the perfect recipe for egos, personalities and methods to clash. People tend to act in their own best interests and play the blame game regardless of the outcome. Here are some ideas that will help you and your team keep their eyes on the prize:

1. Keep A Log

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Six Indispensable Benefits of In Service Training for Your Business

In growing your business you may be looking in many directions for stimulus, ideas and pathways for development. But have you considered looking inward? If you have a small (SBE) to medium-sized company (SME), INSET or In-Service Training can provide for both immediate and long-term benefits for your company or business. Here are six indispensable benefits of in-service training you can start reaping now:

1. Quality Control

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How to Deliver Training and Development that Delivers the Desired Business Outcomes

To be competitive and to remain a player in today’s 24/7 knowledge driven business world requires that your employees be thoroughly trained to deliver the best customer service both to your external and internal customers. The old 19th and 20th centuries’ paradigm of controlling the employee has transformed to one of freedom for today’s knowledge worker.

Yet, continued research suggests that the majority of training and development initiatives estimated at 80 to 90% whether they come from the human resource department to the executive management team fail to deliver a positive return on investment. Consequently, when training fails, the first department to experience budget cuts is human resource because of this failure.

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Why Outsource? How Does Outsourcing Help Companies in Rationalizing Their Costs?

Outsourcing has been the cause of much debate in recent times. There have been arguments for and against outsourcing. The supporters of outsourcing are primarily those motivated by the desire to cut costs and streamline their business processes while those against outsourcing are those primarily affected by their jobs being given to others. Whatever may be said about the topic, the fact remains that in these days of heavy competition, it’s become a necessity to outsource certain components of a business in order to remain competitive.

For all those against outsourcing, they should realize that if their company supports them and doesn’t outsource, their company will be the first one to lose and they will consequently suffer from the company’s inability to remain competitive. Outsourcing makes companies more competitive and this in turn benefits the end-consumers in the country.

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Guidelines For Purchasing Business Laptops

Laptops or notebook computers can empower any business or company. They can be a platform for a fully equipped workforce, one that is well organized and ready to meet all of today's vast technological challenges. A workforce that's cohesive, well connected and totally prepared for the modern work place.

Laptops are state-of-the-art communication machines. These sophisticated devices are ideal for many business applications such as record keeping, wireless networking, presentations, instant communication... can your company really compete in today's business world without this great techno advantage?

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Why You Should Never Hire Your Best Friend

Supervising close friends rarely works because the dynamics of the two relationships contradict one another. Friendships are based on mutuality. Friends reveal intimate secrets to each other and make themselves vulnerable. This completely contradicts the relationship of a manager and employee.

Managers are in a superior-subordinate relationship with employees. It is not possible to simultaneously be a person’s superior and be his peer. Ultimately, your friendship or your ability to supervise will suffer. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average job lasts about three years. A good friend lasts a lifetime. Good employees are hard to find but good life-long friends are even harder to find, so don’t hire your friends.

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Stop Trying to Motivate Me! Part II

Stop trying to motivate me! Part II Or Why are you trying to make me angry

Throughout our industries, both public and private, there persists a perception that motivation is a commodity to be handed out by the manager at his own discretion.

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Culture and Communication

In Western cultures we use all manner of jargon to communicate. Especially sports analogies. How many times have you used...

  • let's get this project over the goal line.
  • the deadline is here, throw a Hail Mary Pass.
  • this will not be a slam dunk.
  • we need a full court press on this!
  • there is no "I" in Team.
  • that is a sticky wicket.
  • is that par for the course?
  • where is the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat?
  • we are in extra innings.
  • it isn't over until it's over.
How many times have you seen that look of confusion or the blank stare on the face of someone with a different culture? How many times have you provided instruction and then discovered that your employees still don't understand? Could you be using jargon to instruct?

Western politics, corporate boardrooms and the guy next door all use these to communicate. But how does that translate across cultures? As Americans we tend to think the rest of the world is on the "same page" (anther one!) as us. Unfortunately, in this global economy, that is far from the truth.

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Managing People for Performance

“People improve productivity, not organisations.”

Managers who have had any form of training will be familiar with the idea of setting goals or objectives, and probably with the principles of appraising performance. With this in mind, why is it so many managers keep asking about how to motivate their staff or how to get more from them?

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Does Your Culture Support or Sabotage Your Strategy?

“An organization’s capacity to execute its strategy depends on its “hard” infrastructure--its organization structure and systems--and on its “soft” infrastructure--its culture and norms.”
Amar Bhide
(Harvard and Columbia)

Is your organisation one which invests a considerable amount of time and effort (and, therefore, cost) in looking to the future and creating a strategy and strategic plan? I hope so! However, what happens if the plan is not successful and the objectives not achieved? Is the blame put on to the market, the competition, the planners, the staff, or even the plan? The problem may be something more fundamental – the culture is not right for the strategic direction!

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Why Leadership Matters in Professional Practices

“A leader has two important characteristics; first he is going somewhere; second he is able to persuade others to go with him.”

How many of the people who run professional firms have achieved their positions as a result of planned career development? Or through assessment centres, or their ability as leaders and managers? I wonder whether a large number are still there because of some family connection, who they know and bring to the firm as clients, length of service or revenues generated? This does not mean that there has to be a problem with those at the top as some will be capable and some will be natural leaders. However, how many could be better? When I have worked with groups in professional firms, the senior people have generally admitted to having no real training in leadership and often admit to lacking the skills. Those at lower levels commented about a lack of leadership, direction or support.

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Medical Billing Services: Choose the Type That's Right for Your Practice

Medical billing service providers come in many different shapes and sizes. At one end of the spectrum are large Practice Management Companies, with an extensive network of support but sometimes rigid and expensive. At the other end are small, home-based businesses. With more and more programs offered through local colleges, mail order and online, home-based businesses are popping up everywhere. Somewhere in the middle of these two extremes is what we’ll refer to as Professional Medical Billing Services. When considering your options, it is important to understand what each type of medical billing service provider has to offer and which is best for you. This article discusses these common types of medical billing service providers and some of the services they offer.

Home-Based Medical Billing Businesses vary significantly from one to the next in experience, ability and services offered. Many are small start up businesses with only one or two employees. Some offer extensive experience from previous employment in a doctor’s office, others may have only one or two clients. While these service providers can offer the highest levels of customization, a small, home-based business can sometimes run short of management knowledge and business acumen to be there for the long term. And what happens to practice cash flow when the solo biller decides to take vacation? Most provide the core services of medical billing (discussed later) and many have other personal experience to offer ancillary services.

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Medical Billing Services Save Heatlhcare Practices Money and Time

There are many reasons healthcare practices might outsource their billing to a professional medical billing service; confusing insurance requirements, staffing problems and just keeping up with industry changes are a few examples. In the end though, the reasons most medical billing companies hear about come down to the two driving principles of any business – Time and Money. This article discusses how medical billing services are able to create significant savings in time and money for healthcare providers.

Medical Billing Services Save Training and Research Time - Some readers might take the short view and think medical billing companies just enter data into a computer and send it off to a clearinghouse. In reality medical billing is a detailed process requiring specialized skills and in-depth knowledge of medical practice management, insurance industry practices, and the regulatory framework around state and federal laws. Professional medical billing companies invest countless hours in training and research to keep abreast of current codes, submission requirements, industry trends and the needs of their clients.

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Medical Billing Services: Percentage Vs. Flat Fee Pricing Structures

As the business of running a medical practice becomes more competitive, many practices are turning to a third-party medical billing service for cost effective solutions to maintain maximum profitability. In evaluating any medical billing service agreement there is an array of factors that should be taken into consideration - pricing of services is principal among them. This article compares the two most common pricing approaches offered by medical billing services – Percentage Based Agreements and Flat Fee per Claim – and identifies some of important points to remember when selecting a medical billing service provider.

Percentage Based Agreements: Probably the most common approach to pricing by medical billing services is the percentage based agreement. In this type of agreement, the medical billing service’s fees to the practice are based on a percentage, usually in one form or another of the following:

  • Percentage of collections,
  • Percentage of gross claims submitted by the billing service,
  • Percentage of total collections for the overall practice.
With the first type above, percentage of collections, the medical billing company charges the practice only on net received for those claims in which it has directly assisted in collections (typically excluding monies collected at the office, such as co-pays, deductibles, etc.). This is the purest example of how a percentage based agreement will tie the medical billing service’s success to the practice while safely limiting it to that which they have some measurable ability to affect. This type of percentage based agreement benefits the practice by its “self-policing” quality- the medical billing service only makes money when the practice makes money.

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Managers Must Choose Their Battles Carefully

The most difficult choices you’ll ever have to make as a manager are in choosing your battles. You need to answer three questions:

1.) Which battles can be won?
2.) Which battles do I have to win?
3.) Which battles are best not to fight?

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OE Consultants: Is There a Future for Them?

Since my “Death of the OD Practitioner” article was published about a month ago, I have been asked whether Organizational Effectiveness (OE) consultants will experience the same fate. My answer is “no.” Of course, that assumes that OE consultants do not follow the same destructive path that Organization Development (OD) practitioners chose.

OD practitioners made the mistake of not partnering with their clients to produce business results. OD practitioners looked at business executives (their clients) with disdain. They saw business men and women as bourgeois money-grabbers who didn't care about their workers. Their anti-business, anti-capitalism, anti-management rhetoric has led to their own demise. (You can't look down your nose at your business client and expect to stay in business yourself.)

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What Do Wolves and Leadership Have In Common

So exactly what do wolves have to do with CEO Strategist and leadership? The wolf is a very social animal. They travel together, eat together, hunt together and play together. There are referred to as a pack. The pack is generally a larger family group. Wolves within the pack are related by blood line. Being accepted, respected and cared for by their siblings and parents is important to the wolf. Isn’t being cared about, trusted and respected important to every employee of every successful organization in the country?

Just as management hierarchies vary in size, wolf packs vary in size but average six to seven members. Does that sound like an executive team? Each pack member plays a specific role with a very specific rank. Some young wolfs go off on their own (Lone Wolves), in search of their status. Generally speaking, the older wolves in the pack tend to be the leaders and they command the respect of the pack. They make the decisions for the group. The pack protects itself and it protects one another. The lead wolf plays the role just as it sounds. He leads the pack. In fact, they generally will travel in single file with the lead wolf blazing the trail and setting the pace. Sounds like the role of the CEO doesn’t it? The lead wolf however, is not afraid to share his roll. He will at times step aside to allow another up and coming wolf to take the lead. Make no mistake; each wolf in the pack has specific responsibilities. Each know in their own right that even if they don’t aspire to be lead wolves, they must be prepared to step up to that responsibility if called upon. Does this have any relationship to bench strength and succession?

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Ten Tips for Creating a Terrific Appraisal System

Based on my experience in helping dozens of companies create performance appraisal systems that actually work, here are ten tips that will help any company create a new performance evaluation system that will provide useful data and be enthusiastically supported by all system users.

One — Get top management actively involved. Without top management’s commitment and visible support, no program can succeed. Top management must establish strategic plans, identify values and core competencies, appoint an appropriate Implementation Team, demonstrate the importance of performance management by being active participants in the process, and use appraisal results in management decisions.

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Performance Appraisal What IS The Point? From Blaming To Better Performance

Probably the most misused and abused and disused management tool in history is the performance appraisal. It's the strangest thing. Ask managers or human resources staff whether they think performance appraisal is an important thing to do, and you'll find they usually agree. "Of course it is", is the common response. If you ask why it's important, they will tell you and tell you and tell you. But they don't tell you the right thing!

The odd thing is that they often don't get done, and managers, supervisors and employees hate the darned things. Human resource professionals spend a lot of time whipping people into doing them, while managers look for a variety of reasons to delay and delay. Why is that?

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Meeting Your Corporate Needs

So you have decided to make a career belonging to a corporation. Being part of corporation require you to be a team player and at the same time require you to take full responsibilities for all your actions. The sense of urgency and making deliveries on time are essentials in making it on any corporation. Another unwritten essential aspect of being in the corporate world is the ability to recognize the cutthroat competition out there.

In order to have your head above water and out of the chopping block, you would need resources to help you get valuable corporate information to keep you ahead of the others.

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Service Businesses Can Learn a Lot from Manufacturing

Many service businesses appear to be operating efficiently enough. But are they really, having been in the service business and worked along side the Manufacturing Sectors of many an industry, it is amazing the insight into true efficiency one can get.

For instance an interesting thought exercise is to study and apply the Finite Capacity Scheduling Models of manufacturing to a service business. I did this for my company and saw its many cross over uses in the Mobile Car Washing service sector. Routing is similar to routing of parts, scheduling is almost exactly the same as scheduling manufacturing runs of products to be made. Washing the actual car is a process. There is a right way, a wrong way and there is the most efficient way using the least amount of energy. We searched for it, found it, practiced it, refined it and then taught it. You can do this exercise to, pick any service company and try it.

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It Was an Open and Shut Case Or Not

A couple weeks ago my wife and I went shopping. We are thinking of upgrading something in our home and have been spending time getting ideas, checking out our options, comparing style, price, and quality.

We drove up to the front door of one potential vendor. The sign said, “CLOSED.” I started backing the car out of the parking space muttering something about, “Gee they shouldn’t be closed on a Saturday morning.” My alert wife noticed some lights inside and other cars in the parking lot so I waited with she tried the door. Sure enough, they were open.

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Starbucks Team Partner Legendary Service Robot

Starbucks employees are not just regular employees behind the average counter, they are Team Partners in charge of providing “Legendary Service” the millions of regular customers worldwide. In fact there are secret shoppers at Starbucks; did you know that? They do the ever feared “Snap Shot” where they judge the Team Partners to see if they are really “pouring their hearts into it.” Every Starbucks Team Partner knows that the next customer could be someone doing a surprise visit to check on the temperature of the coffee, the greeting to make sure it was in 30-seconds and even the cleanliness of the bathrooms. These Team Partners are judged on their abilities to keep up the ultra-high company standards of their founder Howard Schultz. In fact Howard’s original standards are still in place today, with a few upgrades. These high standards rival Ray Kroc’s original standards for McDonalds in their early years.

The problem with this, it is very difficult to find such incredible employees who can handle such stringent requirements. I therefore propose some Starbucks to get robots. The customer would come in and while in line select a greeting type of motif such as; The English Butler accent, Rude, Extremely rude, Polite, Helpful, Youngsters (for kids), Cheerful, Depressed, Shy or the Standard Legendary Service. Depending on the customers mood, they can choose? If they wish to be mistreated, they can have that. Generally what I think you will find is that most customers will refer the simulation of the standard already legendary Service. Think about it, as soon most all outlets of your favorite brand names will need to go to robotics to maintain consistency at all their locations when the labor supply is tight.

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How to Turn a Difficult Meeting into a Positive Meeting

Have you ever heard someone offer a positive idea in a meeting and nearly everyone around the table shoots it down immediately? There seems to be more reasons why it can’t or shouldn’t happen than in ways to make it happen. Many times these meetings become downer meetings, spiraling downward toward failure, and everyone leaves in frustration.

Does it seem that your meetings never accomplish anything?

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So Now They Call You "Manager"?

You have worked hard and you have just gotten that promotion you have always wanted and certainly earned. You have never supervised or been held responsible for other’s job performance and productivity. Now what?

If you can define answers to these fundamental management questions and truly understand how they can or will affect you in your new group leadership role, you can position yourself to maximize your group’s ultimate productivity.

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Step by Step Guide to Employee Satisfaction Surveys

The benefit of running an annual employee survey has for a long time been widely accepted but many organizations have been put off by the amount of effort that is required.

Many organizations who have bit the bullet and conducted their own internal employee satisfaction surveys have often relied on word-processors to allow them to design and compile a survey, then gone through the effort of printing and distributing the survey and spent time chasing and collecting the completed surveys and then even more time transferring the survey response information into a meaningful management report.

Fortunately with the introduction of the Internet and hosted survey websites like what was once a time consuming, resource hungry, long winded and cumbersome process is now slick, quick and easy.

This document provides a step by step guide to help implement a survey that will bring considerable benefits to any organization.

Step 1 - Identifying The Need

The reasons an organization would need a survey are as wide and they are long. Listed here are a few of the common reason why employee satisfaction surveys are conducted.

Event Driven

If your organization is about to embark, or is going through, a change management program employee surveys can assist in managing the change, measuring the effectiveness of the change, help to deliver a 'message' and gather valuable feedback throughout the change cycle.

For organizations that are experiencing rapid growth employee surveys can monitor internal communications and management structures to ensure that employees are aware of their reporting and management responsibilities.

Where an organization is suffering from poor moral brought on by either internal or external influences an employee survey can be used to identify the specific concerns of employees so those concerns can be properly addressed.

Where there is an increase in turnover of staff employee surveys can help an organization identify the underlying cause of employee unrest and through their findings help find solutions.


As part of a periodic assessment, surveys will help an organization review their personnel and monitor on an individual level job satisfaction, training and career development.

Employee surveys also offer senior management the opportunity to look at the soft underbelly of their organization to confirm that their 'top down' view of the organization matches the reality and 'bottom up' perspective.

With the help of employee surveys an organization can establish good employer/employee communication that will in turn bring both direct and indirect benefits.

Step 2 - Management Buy-In

Management buy-in is always desirable for any initiative and many will argue that it is essential to ensure a successful employee survey, however, in some instances the findings of an employee survey can lead to kick-starting a management that has grown complacent and detached from their employees.

Some organization may be fortunate in that the senior management recognize and drive the need for employee surveys, while in others the management may need to first be convinced of the direct and indirect benefits an employee survey will bring.

The level of management commitment to an employee survey will have some bearing on the nature of the survey and to some extent will help determine what questions are to be asked and the manner they are asked.

A management that is supportive of the initiative may require feedback on specific areas of the business or they may give the go ahead because they feel confident that the results will only confirm that the level of employee satisfaction throughout the organization is high.

In nearly all cases it is good practice to at least try and get management to buy-in to the employee survey from the very start as they have a lot to gain and are in a position to effect any change that is later identified as being required.

Step 3 - Designing The Survey

Designing a good survey will take some time and effort but by following the basics of survey design and concentrating on the 'need to know' questions and removing the 'nice to know' a survey will rapidly take shape.

Determining the exact questions that should be asked will be entirely dependent on the individual organization, its structure and the previously identified primary need and objectives of the employee survey.

When considering what questions to ask consideration should be given to how the results are to be analyzed. For example there may be a desire to ask for individual comments but these types of answer formats can be very time consuming and cumbersome to analyze and should therefore be avoided or used sparingly.

With online surveys it is generally better to do a few smaller surveys than one very long survey as the longer the survey the higher the drop out rate will be.

Step 4 - Proof Reading And Testing

Grammar, Spelling And Clarity

Before publishing the survey make a careful check for spelling and typing mistakes and incorrect grammar. If available it is always better to have someone who has not been involved in designing the survey to proof read the survey with clean eyes, if no one is available try to take a break before checking through the survey again.

Say What You Mean And Mean What You Say

When checking the survey you need to consider the survey from the viewpoint of the respondent, you may know what you mean by each question but will the questions be clear to the employee?

Allow The Employee To Answer Truthfully

For closed questions where the employee will be required to choose from a number of available responses have you allowed the employee to answer accurately? Make use of responses like 'Don't know', 'No comment' or 'Not Applicable' where you have made the question mandatory but the employee may not be able to answer.

Consider allowing the employee to include an 'Other' answer but also appreciate that 'Other' answers will add to the complexity when analyzing the survey results.

Don't Require A Response To Questions That May Not Have One

Check that for any questions that you have made mandatory you do require an answer, for example open questions such as asking for additional comments should not be mandatory unless you definitely require the respondent to write a comment.

Check You Will Be Able To Analyze The Data

Check through the survey again but this time looking at how the results of the survey will be analyzed. Consider how you are likely to want to analyze the survey data, have you asked the right questions to be able to perform detailed analysis? For example if you wanted to view the detailed response data from the perspective of the different genders, or maybe departments, check you have asked the employee to indicate their own gender and/or department.

Don't Ask Anymore Questions Than You Need To

Consider all the questions in the survey and look for questions that are not 'need to know'.

Test The Link And Try Completing The Survey

Publish the survey and then send the survey's link to a number of people who will be willing to test the survey. By completing the survey yourself you will get a feel for how the respondent will view the survey. From your own and others feedback stop and make adjustments to the survey as required.

Repeat this process until you are happy with the survey.

Check The Data

Take time to view the online summary results of the test data and confirm that the data is being collected in a manner that can be properly analyzed and that will give meaningful results.

Step 5 - Promoting And Deploying The Survey

Where all or the majority of employees have access to the internet or company intranet deploying the online survey is as easy that ABC, either via email or by establishing a link to the survey from your own website or Intranet.

Where there are some or many employees that do not have direct access to the internet there are a number of alternatives that can be used from issuing the survey in printed form, providing a shared terminal or giving them an incentive to complete the survey at home.

Anonymous Responses?

There is a choice to allow all surveys to be completed anonymously. Allowing a survey to be anonymous may encourage employees to speak their minds enabling the survey to provide 'a warts and all' report, in turn giving management an opportunity to address underlying problems before they become serious.

However, allowing anonymous comments also allows employees to be more cavalier and flippant with their responses. Some organizations would therefore only want to consider comments where employees are prepared to stand by their convictions and that will also provide an opportunity to follow up the specific concerns of individual employees.

The decision to allow anonymous responses or not will, among other factors, be down to the individual organization, the specific nature of the survey, the surrounding circumstances, the management style and the existing employer/employee relationship.

Step 6 - Monitoring The Survey

While the survey is in progress you will be able to view the summary results online and also monitor in real-time the number of surveys that have been both started and completed.

If after a few days the number of completed surveys falls short of the expected target it is advisable to send periodic reminders to employees asking them to complete the survey.

Step 7 - Analyzing The Results

There are no hard and fast rules for analyzing the data. Much depends on the individual survey, the questions asked and the number of responses.

Most surveys will benefit from many of the results being displayed in graphical as well as tabular form.

When first analyzing survey data often a number of 'headline' results will immediately stand out that will provide you with a general overview and, providing the right questions have been asked, give you an instant assessment of the mood throughout the organization as a whole.

Where the results give areas of concern a more detailed analysis may be advisable. For example if employees were asked if they felt the organization provided equal opportunities to both genders and 25% gave a negative response it would be useful to know the gender split of the organization and also to look at what the gender split was of the 25% that answered negatively. Was the negative view shared by employees of both genders, evenly spread throughout the organization, or of a particular gender from a particular department?

There is a method of reporting that presents the result data in tabular and/or graphical form allowing those who are interested in the results to view the raw data.

Often used as a compliment to the first, another method is to interpret the results and provide an analysis of the data and offer a view as to what the meaning is behind the results, what circumstances may have contributed to the results being as they are and, where the results indicate a negative, what initiatives could be taken. Such analysis if done by a single individual is likely to be very personal, if done by a committee it is still likely to be objective and therefore open to interpretation.

Step 8 - Further Action

Probably the most important step is the last. An employee survey will either confirm that the perfect organization exists or it will highlight areas that are less than perfect by identifying individual and common concerns.

It may be that further more detailed surveys are required that target specific areas. For example the survey may reveal that employees working in a particular department are collectively unhappy, but the reasons for their dissatisfaction may not be clear. A smaller, specifically targeted follow-up survey may help reveal the root causes.

When employee surveys are periodically run an organization that has taken steps to address issues will see their efforts reflected in subsequent survey responses. Almost all organizations have some problems and it helps an organization's moral to see that a channel is available that will allow problems to be highlighted, addressed and resolved.


These guidelines are intended to help an organization conduct successful employee satisfaction surveys, they are however, only a guide.

Each organization is different in style and structure and the organizations 'personality' will go someway to influencing the tone and nature of the survey and organizations will have many different circumstances and primary reasons for conducting a survey.

By utilizing existing technology and conducting surveys online you are now able to monitor the heart beat of an organization, quickly, easily and, by using websites like Survey Galaxy, at minimal cost.

Martin Day is a Director of Survey Galaxy Ltd a web site that allows anyone to create, design and publish online surveys. For more information or for assistance in conducting your own employee satisfaction surveys please visit

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What is the best Incentive ?

Incentive schemes have been much criticised in recent years, and it is quite true that some schemes have been singularly unsuccessful. Their failure, however, has often been the result of inadequate planning, rushed introduction, or not thinking through such a scheme properly. These points should not be used to generally condemn other more successful applications.

Whether any particular incentive scheme achieves long term success depends initially on the thoroughness with which the current working situation is reviewed, hence the need to re-look at some key Action Points, and question why you need an incentive scheme.

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Inventory Control: Can You Afford Not To?

Inventory control is the most basic form of protection that you should have in your retail establishment. If you have people come into your location, then you need to make sure they are not leaving with anything that they should not be. But, many business owners do not know the right way to handle inventory control. There are various methods that you can use and they all work well in their specialties. If you have had enough with shoplifting, employees stealing or other loss prevention issues, then it is time to consider a reliable inventory control system.

First, take a good look at your options. There are several options in front of you as well. For many, a simple security system of some sort can be installed. For others, you can count on using a security team. Regardless, there are many options out there that can help you with your inventory control issues. But, how will you choose the correct one for your specific needs? Here are some things that you need to consider.

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Hey, Billy Goat Gruff! Are Ya' Sayin' What Yur Sayin'?

From the Eye of the Potato: Train the people that deal with your customers.

I called a support number the other day—I got the message! A recorded female voice said that I must call during a certain time period and "goodby."

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How to Turn Customer Complaints Into Gold

Did you know that marketing isn't only about getting your clients or customers? It's also about KEEPING them, and keeping them happy. That's a big key to growing your business, because not only will those customers themselves keep coming back to you for more, but they'll send their friends and colleagues as well.

Studies done by the American Management Association show that your average HAPPY customer will tell three people about her experience with you. But your average unhappy customer will spread the negative word about you to 11 other people!

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Heroes Take Care of Customers Even If They're Wrong

It has been said, and I was taught it as a young teenager in my aunt's small hotel in Dublin, Ireland, that the customer is always right. While trying hard to accept this philosophy (With my aunt, it was a dogma!), l can still recall incidents that, in my mind, totally disproved this theory.

And yet, as I advanced in the world of business, I soon learned that the best way to lose customers to the competition was to make sure that they knew when they were wrong... and put them in their place! Can you be sure that some of your customers haven't gone to your competition because of an "I can prove you wrong" attitude on the part of one or more of your people? Employees follow examples and generally do what they’re trained to do.

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Customer Service Week Wear Red Pants!


Why should you bother?

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Fun Email Quiz

Are you creating a positive, professional impression when you email your co-workers and customers? Or, is Miss Manners shrieking in horror every time you hit the send button? Are you being efficient and effective when you send messages, or are you wasting time? To find out, take this fun quiz.

1. The tone of a professional email message should be:

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Dial One if You Have Your Credit Card Handy

Dial one if you have your credit card handy and would like to speak to an intelligent person, in your own country, who can really help you!

I've recently have had some incredibly bad experiences when I have tried to phone some very well-known banks in the UK.

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What Really Makes the Difference Between a GREAT Business and an Ordinary Business?

Every once in a while I come across a business that doesn’t just stand out visibly but is truly outstanding in every sense. A business that has somehow created a great Team of people, a business that has mastered the art of delighting it s customers, a business that is achieving spectacular growth and profits.

These sensational businesses are the ones that I really like to watch. After all, that’s where so much of the material for my book comes from. But what is it that makes the difference? How do these businesses succeed when others around them are failing? How do they manage to recruit when other businesses cannot find good people?

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7 Simple Steps to Help You Resolve Complaints and Delight Your Customers

I’ve recently been working with a small business close to where I live. It’s an accountancy practice. It’s a great little business. Super people, working very hard and really trying hard for their customers. However, every once in a while they get a customer complaint. And, when they do, I see some interesting things start to happen.

Firstly, they are hurt. Because they are working very hard and really trying hard for their customers they feel hurt. Criticism is always difficult to accept no matter how positive you try to be. And the harder that you are working to please the customer, the deeper the criticism cuts.

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Branding Your Business To Make More Money

Branding your comapny should be the first thing a company does. You have to convince potential customers to buy from you. Very few people have a monopoly like Microsoft or Ebay, Everyone else need to steer business to their company or product. When people think about your company, what is their impression. For my company, Solutions Ink, I wanted to portray a fresh, professional, ease of use type of company whoose product meets their quality needs while helping their business. I wanted to portray Solutions Ink as always on the fore front of the printing and promotional product industry's.

To achieve this I needed to tell potential customers of new and innovative products for the printing industry. Variable data, large format digital printing, digital printing with pantone colors, label and form combinations, magnet and form combinations and e-commerce ordering systems. How best to show customers then actually devise a campaign where the product you are trying to educate your customers about is sent out to them to give them ideas how to use this product to help their businesses. One campaign I organised was to compile a list of fashion retailers whoose logo's were specific pantone colors that are not reproduced well in 4 color process printing. Today with 6,8 and 10 color presses you can print in 4 color process and 2 pantone colors quite easily. This keeps the integrity of the company's logo intact in their big marketing or flyer campaigns. This is OK for large run printing jobs. The problem is that even for large chains, you tend to have regional sales in a small amount of stores. In store displays usually are done in small numbers and are printed digitally. Today there are certain digital presses that can insert pantone colors on top of the 4 color process printing. After devising a mock up campaign and targetting by variable data the buyers of these retail fashion chains, I was able to secure 2 large accounts for present and future business.

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Hawaiian Heirloom Jewelry

Back to the era of the Hawaiian monarchy, the origin of Hawaiian heirloom jewelry can be found. The Hawaiian kingdom had long enjoyed a favorable relationship with England.

In February 1862, Prince Albert, husband to England’s Queen Victoria, was dead. During the queen’s time of grief, only mourning clothes and black-accented jewelry were acceptable apparel at the royal court. Meanwhile, jewelry accented with black jet or enamel and carved with floral, vine or scroll designs became the fashion trend in England. These pieces came in the forms of rings, broaches, pendants and bracelets.

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What's The Aim of Your Name?

Large corporations spend lavish amounts seeking names for their products that grab a consumer, or convey positive feelings. Book authors do the same. As do magazine writers.

So, say you are planning something that needs a name: your new company, a speech, an article, your website, your email address.

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Marketing Options For Cleaning Companies � Part Two

Part one looked at telesales, yellow pages and other directories, using mailing lists and advertising in local papers and journals. In this article I will be considering direct selling techniques, leaflet drops and internet advertising.

1. Direct Approach

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The Power of Image for Men

The power of image has determined that it takes thirty seconds to form impressions about educational ability, capability, level of sophistication, personality, integrity, social ancestry and sense of humor. Many decisions not to hire or do business with someone are based on your appearance. People who are well dressed and groomed are liked more, demand higher fees, and are considered more intelligent, successful and competent.

Men have the power to do all of the above. What are clothes saying about you? It is not always easy to know because people do not always tell you whether or not your appearance is appropriate (do people always tell you if you have a piece of broccoli stuck between you teeth?).

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Brand You to Stand out and Shine

Personal branding is important to stand out from the crowd. Essentially branding is a function of public relations. And public relations is "relationships" with your "public". So here's some tips on how to Brand You ... to Stand out and Shine.

* Do a personal audit to determine your values and vision, your future goals and strengths for you and your company. Defining who you are aligns with your deepest passions. A clue to discovering the feeling or emotion of who you are is to identify where you are and what you are doing that makes you truly happy. For me it's swimming in the ocean, feeling the warmth of the sun, the colours of sunset and sunrise over the ocean, those feelings and colours help me to shine.

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What's In a Name?

Whats in a name? Possibly your entire image – take time to choose the right name.

Think about the last time you named a child or a pet or perhaps that prize-winning racehorse! How many days and nights did you agonise over choosing just the right name? Think of all the baby name books, the names that jumped out at you while watching TV or listening to the radio. How they sounded when you said them out loud. A lot of time and effort was spent in coming up with just the right name because you knew that you’d have to live with your decision for many years. Choosing a name for your company and products can be just as difficult.

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Prime Impressions

Is Your Image Working for You?

Ten seconds is all it takes to make a first impression – whether it’s your personal presentation or the first contact a potential client or customer has with your company. When you walk through their door – or they walk through yours – your image is imprinted in the first moment. Make sure you know what it is.

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Logo Design and Branding � Points to Remember

A good logo design is highly instrumental in establishing a business brand and creating a long lasting impression among its customers. It should be able to create a powerful impact on the viewers and successfully exude the nature and attitude of a business. Ideally, a company logo design should be able to communicate your company ethos, principles, mission and the nature of product/service offered, to the viewers.

A professional logo design would establish a professional image of your company and strengthen your brand. Actually, in most cases the consumer gets the first impression about the company through your logo. Your business logo should build a brand that is strong enough to give your consumer a visual imagery of your company. People should be able to identify your company on sight of your logo.

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Call The Professionals!

No, we don’t mean Bodie and Doyle... now I’m showing my age! So you’ve started your new business and the purse strings are tight (We know, we’ve been there!) So why should you be paying out good money for a logo that you could do yourself?

We’ll give you a few things to think about below...

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With The World Such A Huge Place, How Do I Get My Company Noticed?

If your reading this article, chances are your surfing the net. You and millions of other people, from your same town,from your same country, from your same continent and all over the globe. Now with all these readers how did you come to read my article. I own a printing and promotional product business in Montreal, Canada. Chances are you've never been to Canada and if so chances are you've never been to Montreal. So how did you get here.

Did I invest thousand of dollars for an SEO (search engine optimization) company to use tricks to push my company to the first page of Google, Did I use pay per click to drive traffic to my site or did I use some trick to send thousand of emails to unsollicted email addreses to get you to come to read my article? The answer is no, no and no. These techniques while sometimes effective for the short term, are not the answer to your problem. If you want traffic to your site you need to brand your site. If someone is driven to your site unwillingly, chances are they will have a negative opinion of your company.

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Brand Strong

For years there have been individuals branded as embodiments of “The American Dream,” and now Lance Armstrong has once again raised the stakes. The Tour de France has always been a monumental sporting event, but even when Greg Lemond was in the yellow jersey we were not as inspired to identify with and stand behind him as we do for Lance Armstrong. Lance Armstrong is what Americans want to believe they could be. Even a commercial for Fitness USA (not to be mistaken for Nike) shown during the tour represents this concept. Lance runs down a busy street and everyone he passes starts doing something active. Business people start running like track stars, delivery men start doing curls with water jugs…etc. Look around your own neighborhood or on the streets as you drive in your car. Notice how many bikes you see on the roads, and think about why all the sudden people are motivated to shift gears and pump up hills.

Ironically from the same state as the President of the United States, Armstrong has motivated people around the world to “LiveStrong.” The yellow bracelets are as abundant as ever (and caused a universal bracelet craze similar to the ribbon bumper stickers craze). Americans value professional athletes (the proof is in the paychecks), and if they find an athlete who triumphs not only as an athlete but also as a person, they cling to him in a childlike manner, wanting desperately to be identified with him.

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Viagra: A Brand That Won't Go Away

Remember That Brand? Well It’s Back! One would have to travel to the back woods of the Appalachians or perhaps to the cave dwellings in the Southwestern canyons to find anyone who has not heard of Viagra. Viagra, the market-leader of male erectile dysfunction prescription drugs, continues to occupy valuable space in the mind of the male consumer. What is so enchanting about an erectile dysfunction pill? How does Viagra have such appeal when it is the focus of late night comedy and radio morning shows? As consumers we seldom question a successful product. (Or maybe we just would rather not have to address or explain male erectile disorder more than we have to).

The consumer is exposed to a pill with a split personality. Viagra lives a double life: one of in-your-face comedy and one of universal solution. Despite the advertising that continually tests our comfort elasticity, Viagra’s brand works harder than any other “miracle drug” to be accepted by the tempestuously self-conscious male population. Viagra’s branding adheres and accommodates to the male population as a whole, not only to males with sexual difficulties. Viagra evaluates precepts regarding acceptance and community before considering the shock thresholds of consumers in general.

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Crazy About Packaging

“It’s the same old tissue, honey, it doesn’t make a difference, ok? It’s still going to work the same way”, my exasperated husband hissed into my ear as I grabbed cartons after cartons of some ‘designer’ tissue. DESIGNER TISSUE! Hah, can you even hear me say that? I can’t believe I actually wrote ‘designer tissue’. So, yes, for a graphic designer and writer who knows all about the kind of effort one puts into packaging and branding products, I sure fell for it. All the hoopla. The shenanigans. The ‘suck ‘em in with good copy and fab color combo’. Hey, I am still a consumer, remember that. I am entitled to fall for nice packaging, I have a prevailing right to be human.

But they are so pretty…the packaging. I swear!

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Self Employed Professionals: What's Separating Your Services From the Rest of the Pack?

Imagine for a moment that a prospective client of yours is frantically thumbing through the yellow pages (or surfing the Internet) searching for the exact service you provide—and she finds herself faced with literally dozens of options—what is it about the way you convey and deliver your particular service that is going to convince her to hire you over another professional offering the same thing?

If you want to attract more clients and quickly double your current client base, you'll need to identify that "special something" you provide for your clients and be able to clearly communicate it in all of your marketing materials.

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Branding is Everything... Everything is Branding

A consumer will give you about three seconds, maybe 4 if you're lucky, to get to your message across. To make it obvious that your brand is different, that your brand is better, and why they should take time to care. That's it. You've got three seconds.

It's imperative that you make it clear that you differ and deserve a languid look. Three seconds isn't much time.

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Reinventing Velcro: The Importance of Brand Simplicity

Akin to the concept of white space and minimalism in design, simplicity of brand representation is the right direction to go in order to increase your market share. Simple is better. Your company knows it, your brand should show it, and your customer is desperate for anything that makes his life easier.

Ironically, there are several definitions of simplicity. Simplicity can be defined as being simple or uncompounded, the absence of pretense, the freedom from difficulty or hardship, the lack of ornamentation, or the quality of being natural or based on natural principles. Each one of these definitions holds the key to what today’s consumer desires: a better way. Clearly, brands that embody simplicity are more likely to hold a place of honor within the mind of the consumer because the brand appears to humble itself in order to communicate a larger message to the consumer rather than merely putting itself on a pedestal.

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Logo Design: What You Need to Know Before Jumping on the Brandwagon

Your company is branching off a new division. Your organization is starting a new program. You and a couple of cohorts have quit the 9 to 5 (opting for the 24/7) and what pops into your head? "We need a logo! A fine logo, a professional logo. We'll put it on our stationery, business cards, website, brochures and business presentations! We'll wear it on t-shirts! It will make us official and respected. We'll be branded!"

Take a deep breath. In the history of design, never once did a design firm single-handedly brand a company solely by the creation of a logo. Logo design by itself is not branding -- it's decorating. The word branding is as ubiquitous today as the word start-up was in the dot com era, but few companies truly understand the heart of branding.

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Macintosh: Apples for Businessmen

There is something oddly intimate about the relationship between consumers and their iPods. In fact, it is easy to say there is something oddly intimate about Mac users and their Macs in general. For years Mac has presented itself as a niche for creatives. Perhaps after the mainstreaming of iPods and iTunes it is time for Mac to move on and show the computer market what it is made of. We at Stealing Share argue that Mac is made up of a lot more than creativity, superior art programs, and amazing product/packaging design. Mac is made of business solutions.

Being a company who worships the Mac system and who must constantly accommodate clients who are not within driving distance, we are constantly utilizing Mac’s well-organized systems of iChat, iSight, and Entourage. Even though these programs work well with clients who are across the country, we find these programs useful internally and with local clients who may not have time for face-to-face meetings. In fact, we provide a lender iBook to our clients so we can communicate via the Mac system.

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Building Brand Consistency: Materials Checklist

As a graphic designer, I work with clients that range in size from a few people to tens of thousands. If you are reading this, you probably work for an organization somewhere in between. No matter what size your company is, you need a cohesive system that simplifies marketing and communications while building your brand. Implementation is always more difficult in large companies -- there are more people who need to understand the importance of branding standards, more people who are resistant to change and more people who really don't care about any of it. It's easier to get all five employees in on the same page than all 5,000.

Small or large, high quality consistent design is imperative to the success of a company. Actually, I have seen great success with poor-quality consistent design. I was recently in Las Vegas, and for those of you who have never been, Las Vegas is at once a creative Mecca and cesspool. On every sidewalk, every ten feet, someone in a smock is handing out cards. The cards are poorly printed, cheap, loud and ugly. With a photo of an excessively proportional, mostly naked woman on the front and an 800 number, I bet these cards get a higher response rate than all the design work I've ever done and will ever do in my life. At the other extreme is the incredibly well designed digital wine list at Aureole Restaurant, a posh restaurant at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Customers use a tablet PC with a stylus to touch through wine characteristics (red or white, dry or sweet, cheap or the cost of a yacht, etc.). Rather than an ungainly wine manuscript that would include Aureole's 10,000 bottles, the process is efficient, beautiful and fits perfectly into the restaurant's style and theme. Whether quick and dirty or slick and high-tech, both systems work for their specific audiences (which, only in Vegas, is the same audience).

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How Important is Vaule of Brand to the Consumer & Company?

The Brand: A source of value for the consumer

Although we are primarily dealing with brands and their optimization, it is important to clarify that brands do not necessarily exist in all markets. Even if brands exist in the legal sense they do not always play a role in the buying decision process of consumers. Other factors may be more important.

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Private Label Your Products And Make A Fortune

I have a great Callaway jacket – what do I like best about it? It has my website embroidered on it – a subtle yet distinct

Anything that is customized or personalized suddenly becomes very much more valuable. We like our own names and our company names and our sports team names, don’t we? So when we customize a product or service for an industry or a specific business, we create massive increased value at very little cost.

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Logo Designers Would Give Michael Jordan a Run for His Money. Take Control of Your Design Experience

A waste paper basket is surrounded by a smattering of scrunched up balls of paper. A hush falls over the studio as the creative director takes aim at the miniature basket ball hoop hanging delicately over the bin. He aims and fires from a distance of 2 metres. After the whooping and high fives have finally died down, the studio resumes back to some normality. A junior designer rummages through the bin to locate the winning paper ball as it did, coincidentally, have his latest logo creation on it that was waiting for a critique from the creative director - hmmmmm.

The excitement, tension and ulcer inducing stress of putting that latent entrepreneurial flair into practice can bring with it decisions that were never really considered at the time of inception. One such area is the translation of the essence of your business into an identifiable brand.

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