Business

Could you be setting your business plan for failure?

David E. Gumpert, author of Burn Your Business Plan, often tells the story of how he and his partner failed to raise money after submitting their business plan to venture capitalists and meeting with several others to make presentations. Disappointed with the fruits of their labor, they considered quitting their company in 1995. Fortunately, on the advice of their board of advisers, they chose to divert their time from massaging the business plan to making sales. The funding, they were told, would come later.

Turns out they sold enough to stay afloat until 1996. In 1997, sales didn’t grow as fast as they expected, so they decided to seek financing again. This time around, they hoped that positive results would be easier to get – after all, they were now pretty well established. However, the board told them to go out there and promote their business and make more sales.

If at first you are not successful …

Instead, Gumpert and his partner decided to dust off their old business plan, spend many hours rewriting and updating the plan, and once again embarking on the search for financing. And, once again, they were rejected. How could this be? In the late 1990s, it seemed like every internet-related startup in the world was getting funding. In fact, according to the MoneyTree Survey, sponsored by Price Waterhouse Coopers, Venture Economics, and the National Venture Capital Association, the amount of venture capital – $ 7.7 billion in 1995 – had risen to $ 16.4 billion. in 1997.

However, the failed financing left Gumpert and his partner with two difficult options at this stage: find ways to grow the business without funding, or stop. They took the first option. They also hired public relations professionals and had several of their most successful corporate clients featured in industry trade and trade publications, with their agency cited as the key force behind their clients’ success. This advertisement set the agency’s phones ringing with new prospects, several of whom turned into upsells.

As the business grew, they were on guard to monitor their expenses and aggressively collect accounts receivable. By 1999, they were operating profitably with $ 2 million in annual revenue, with nearly 20 employees. Additionally, the amount of venture capital invested domestically had skyrocketed to a staggering $ 55.5 billion. But, Gumpert and his partner paid little attention to this; their interest in external financing had decreased significantly. (By 2000, the availability of venture capital peaked at $ 85.5 billion.)

The power of advertising

As Gumpert and his partner carried their success to 1998 and 1999, their promotional efforts eventually attracted the attention of a public company seeking the expertise they offered in developing and managing online content. In December 1999, this company acquired Gumpert’s company, NetMarquee. To Gumpert’s surprise, the acquirer never asked to see his business plan; I just wanted to see your financial projections in several different scenarios.

In recounting his financial experience, Gumpert makes two points: First, even in good times, the venture capital route is closed to the vast majority of companies who seek it. While it might have seemed back then that almost every company that applied for was receiving venture capital, the reality is that more carefully crafted business plans are flatly rejected by venture capitalists. Second, you will be amazed at what you can accomplish without the funding you think you so desperately need to avoid failure.

The truth is, a business plan alone is unlikely to attract funding unless it is part of an overall marketing strategy.

Four tools to help market your business plan to investors

Famous motivational speaker Jim Rohn says there are three steps to successful communication: “Have something good to say, say it well, and say it often.” These three steps form the basis of the Business Plan Secrets Revealed manual. They are essential to market your business plan with the intention of attracting investors and selling your business plan to them. Here are four tools to help you “say it often” so you can attract investors and sell your business plan to them.

One, a concise, well-written 25-page business memo or “business plan” that builds a case for separating your company from the competition. You don’t need a two-inch thick business plan. Long-standing plans are often aimless; Instead of building a case that leads investors to decide whether the business is the right investment for them, they “fire” in the hope that some of the shots will work.

Two, an effective elevator pitch, a 60-second verbal speech, direct to your business, that communicates to your customers and investors what you do in an exciting and engaging way. The ability to separate your business from your competitors and gain an investor’s interest in the short time it takes to ride an elevator is critical.

Three, an investor relations website to build credibility and help investors quickly get the information they need, when they need it. Of all the media available, the Web is especially important. It’s fast and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With it, you can capture leads and automatically keep in touch with those who are interested in your business.

Finally, press releases to help you spread the word. A press release is the basic tool for getting media attention. The public’s desire for interesting and relevant news remains strong, as does the importance of carefully selecting relevant target audiences. You are dealing with much more skepticism from the public now than in the past, which makes the evidence and objectivity in your press release of the utmost importance.

The process of raising money and attracting investors is not easy. If it were, all business ideas would be funded. You should use all the tools that are available to you and begin to consider this process as a marketing process backed by solid and verifiable evidence. You just don’t know when the plums will ripen, investors, on the tree, ready to invest. But, you do know that if you do everything you can to care for the tree (water it, fertilize it, etc.), it will eventually bear fruit, raise money for your business.

Business

Speech presentation: seven ways to tailor your speech to the audience

Every speech has an audience and every audience is different. Tailoring your next speech to your audience is just as important as the content of the speech. So how do you connect with an audience so that your message matches their expectations, wants and needs and you can get your message across effectively?

Here are seven strategies for targeting your business presentation message with laser-like precision.

1. Research your audience before the presentation.

The more you know about your audience, the more likely you are to connect with them. It often amazes me how many business people just don’t bother to find out about their audience. The more specific you can be, the better. For example, one of the best reports I received from a client was the following audience description:

“Most of the group is on a two-day, two-night, four-off roster. It’s mostly process technicians. The rest are on a five-day roster with two days off. The day shift people includes tradesmen (we call (they are maintenance technicians) and laboratory, administrative and professional employees. The average tenure in the group is eight years and goes up to more than 30 years. The average age in the group is 38 years. Division by gender: women 6 percent, men 94 percent “

What a great start and fantastic audience research statistics. From this, I was able to deduce that almost half of the audience hadn’t been with the company for very long, they were predominantly a younger audience and mostly male! This provided a solid foundation for tailoring my message to connect with this group. Keep in mind that this was an exceptionally good report from the client and most of the time you will have to do the groundwork to find out who your audience is.

2. Find out what your audience wants.

Again, ask key questions of the event organization, such as “What are the key issues affecting your industry, business or members?” I always try to meet as many audience as

possible before a presentation such as asking “what do you have in mind right now and what do you want to get out of this presentation?” Be specific.

This is an example that I used for a recent presentation for entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. I found that most potential investors will want to know 3 things when trying to collect finds. What are the sales projections? Who are your target customers? What is the exit strategy? Provide this and you have conquered them.

3. Use examples.

Nothing builds empathy and sympathy with your audience as powerfully as examples. Remember that you are selling intangible ideas and practical examples make these ideas more memorable, credible and tangible.

4. Use bullets.

No, this is not a type of dressing that you put on your salad! It is a short story, example or incident. The key point is that they are easy to remember and count. But they should be short and relevant.

5. Use metaphors.

These are powerful words that evoke vivid images in the minds of your audience. They are a proven technical speechwriter. I recently heard the former president of the United States, Bill Clinton speak. Clinton used the metaphor of the gap between the invention of the club and the shield to describe the current situation in the war on terror. He said,

“This gap must be closed.” This makes intangible concepts have more impact on the audience.

6. Be specific.

The more specific you can be with real-life examples, case studies, and results, the more accurate you will be in targeting your message. Know your content and don’t be afraid to reveal personal stories as examples in your speech, this will strengthen your relationship with your audience.

7. Use the incident / point / benefit technique.

This one is really powerful. Tell the story, make the point, and then most importantly reinforce how this will benefit the audience. It took me years to figure this out, but it will

a big difference in the impact of your presentations.

Business

Local SEO Industry: Current Status and Future Projections

What is SEO?

This is a common question that most people, especially those who are new to or unfamiliar with online marketing, might be asking. SEO stands for search engine optimization. In plain English, it is the process of capturing traffic from search engines, such as Google listings. Through this reading, I will give you facts about the SEO business, the current state of the SEO market, as well as future projections in this field.

Top SEO Players

Like any other industry in the world, the online SEO business has its players. This includes local SEO tool providers such as small digital agencies, free SEO launchers, and web designers, among others.

Returns for SEO players

The main reason people go into business is to make a profit and expand their financial situation. In the field of SEO business, the rates of return are promising. This is because recent research on SEO returns over a 12-month period shows that at least every player had something to take home with them. However, returns vary depending on the hard work and skills of the players on the field. For example, according to this research, 34% of interviewed SEOs said they received less than $ 30,000 while another group of respondents, 17%, said they received returns greater than $ 500,000.

From the statistics above, it is clear that the size of an organization played a role in determining the amount of returns received. It is better than logic for one to expect a large organization to receive low amounts of returns and vice versa. In addition, the presence of part-time SEOs as well as the entry of newbies into the market could have led to low turnover rates due to low operating capacity. However, it is difficult to predict the direction the SEO market is likely to take due to the lack of a clear shift in SEO earnings since 2011. However, the demand for local SEO services appears to be growing by the day and This is attracting more players, increasing competition among SEO service providers.

Emerging issues with current SEO returns

With the above distribution of returns, several questions arise. This includes the following:

• According to statistics, a large percentage of SEOs receive a low income, something that suggests low prices for SEO services.

• Small and medium-sized businesses may also not understand the value of the SEO services provided to them.

• Low-income SEOs, those who received less than $ 30,000 a year in returns, also have questions about whether they can provide quality services while earning such a low income.

• It is also unknown if most SEOs will continue to work if your income remains static.

Current revenue per client from SEOs

Like annual SEO returns, SEO revenue per client also varies. This is because there are clients who would pay less than $ 100 a month, while others would pay more than $ 5000 a month. This variation in revenue per customer can be attributed to the type of services provided, as well as the depth of services. The size of the business for which a client seeks SEO services also plays a role in determining the amount to be charged. For example, small businesses are charged less simply because their requirements are much lower compared to large multi-location franchise companies.

Research also shows that some SEO service providers operate in high volumes. Such SEOs provide simple SEO services at very low monthly fees. As a result, such SEO service providers end up having high customer churn with a large dedicated network of sales team.

Similarly, some SEO service providers provide services that are more comprehensive in a much more professional and personalized way based on the client, leading to a reduced number of clients.

Due to the above statistics, it is essential for any SEO service provider on the market today to operate in a way that matches their setup.

Modern SEO skills

Currently SEOs are handling more clients compared to previous years. Statistics show that around 40% of SEOs in the market handle at least 11 clients, while 23% of SEOs handle at least 21 clients. Such a large number of clients to handle leads to more audits, lots of tasks, investigations, reports, and even more customer calls to be taken care of. The high number of clients also demands a high level of efficiency so that clients can be assured of quality services.

Market structure for most SEOs

SEOs have been using various marketing techniques to promote their business. Offline marketing channels, such as word of mouth, have been cited by most SEOs as the most effective marketing technique. This can be attributed to the level of trust, business reputation, and relationships that are built during offline campaigns.

In addition to offline marketing, SEOs also practice online marketing, such as using LinkedIn and social media. However, most SEOs have cited LinkedIn as the best option compared to social media because it is better positioned for lead generation and networking.

Services offered by SEO

Most SEO players offer on-site optimization with 91% of SEOs practicing this. Google+ optimization also has a good number of SEOs practicing it, with 86% claiming to be offering this service to their customers. For affiliate marketing, only a small percentage (11%) of SEOs offer this service to their clients.

Other services offered by SEOs:

• Content creation / optimization

• Link building

• Dating building

• Social media marketing

• Website development

• PPC

• Mobile site development

• Video marketing and mobile marketing.

The most demanded service by SEO clients is on-site marketing, while the least demanded service is affiliate marketing. The other services are demanded in some way on average. However, most small and medium-sized businesses do not understand the opportunities that video and mobile marketing can offer them and therefore tend not to use these services. Therefore, SEOs must educate their clients about these marketing channels so that they can choose them.

When asked about SEO services online that SEOs consider effective, 82% of them said that general search is the most effective in generating leads. Local search appears to be the second best after 62% of respondents in an SEO poll voted in its favor. PPC is third with 53%, while social media is fourth with 26%. Daily deals seem attractive to most SEOs because only 1% voted for them.

Tedious SEO tasks

55% of current SEOs on the market consider link building to be the most tedious and time consuming work. Others, although 15% only believe that content writing is the most tedious and time-consuming task of all the tasks they perform. So it turns out that for the 55% who find link building tedious, this task is for them too.

Future projections

This is a summary of what we look forward to in the near future when it comes to the SEO business.

SEO business expansion

Compared to previous years, SEO companies have been growing and expanding steadily. Most SEOs (around 93%) are not only optimistic about expanding their business, but are also hoping to grow their business. In what appears to be a determined move to grow their businesses, the majority of SEOs (82%) are willing to recruit more staff members to achieve their desired levels of growth.

Social media is also expected to grow and be more effective even than local directories. This is because most SEOs believe that social media can work better thanks to recommendations from friends. The use of mobile devices is also expected to grow further and be relevant to local businesses.

Increased confidence in SEO business

Unlike other businesses, the SEO business is showing positive growth in trust among players. Despite being a dynamic and innovative industry, most SEOs are still willing to hire more staff to help boost their business. 84% of SEOs sampled in SEO research are also optimistic that the SEO business will be more profitable from this year 2013.

There is also a lot of confidence that if SEO players increase understanding of SEO / social among the business owners they serve in the future, they will not only increase the investment rate of the business owners, but also make them transfer your marketing budgets from other channels. to digital channels.

Business

Improve your presentation skills by stretching your voice with 5 P

Voice is a powerful tool for presenters. Voice can make the difference between success and failure when your goal is to engage your audience. In sales meetings, company updates, or technical meetings, it’s critical to keep your audience engaged and interested in your feedback. Learn to stretch your voice by understanding the 5 Ps of voice control, including pitch, rhythm, pause, projection, and personality.

Pitch

Pitch refers to the ups and downs of your notes when you speak. We all have the ability to speak from a vocal range, which includes higher notes and lower notes. However, it takes a lot of awareness and practice to realize your own tone and consciously change it. Why is tone important? A monotonous voice bores the audience and a bored audience is less likely to remember your key points or take action. To play with tone, try thinking of popular characters who have voices at both ends of the vocal range, and then practice speaking (or singing!) Like them. For example, you could think of Michael Jackson’s high-pitched voice and then compare it to the deeper tones of Barry White. You can also simulate the voices of movie actors to start expanding your own range. Over time, your knowledge and practice with tone will allow you to vary your voice as you speak, all with the goal of engaging your audience for your comments. Now that we’ve seen Pitch, let’s move on to Pace.

Rhythm

Pace refers to the speed at which you speak. Just as monotonous is boring, so is single rhythm. A good speaker knows the value of changing the pace while speaking. For example, when you present a topic that is exciting, you can speed up the pace of your voice. On the other hand, when you want people to focus your attention, you can slow down to emphasize. The general point is that variation is the key to success here. So play with your rhythm the next time you speak to see the impact on your audience. Now that we have explored Pace, we will move on to see Pause.

Pause

The pause involves pausing momentarily for effect in the middle of your comments. It is a tool that is used hand in hand with the rhythm variation. It’s best to use a pause before or after a significant point as a tool for emphasis. Pause is also a tremendous tool for nervous speakers who tend to speak too fast. By dwelling on the key points, the speaker gives the audience time to process the key points before moving on to the new material. An easy trick is to underline the key points in your notes and then place the word PAUSE in large letters to remind you to stop talking for a few seconds. Playing actively on pause will have a profound effect on your presentation dexterity. Now that we’ve covered Pause, let’s move on to the powerful Projection tool.

Projection

This aspect of voice is by far the most important, as it correlates with your audience’s ability to hear your feedback. Even the smartest presenter cannot have the desired impact if the people in the room cannot hear his key points. With the screening, everyone can hear your comments without having to force the audition. However, it is still valuable to vary your projection to add intrigue and interest to your comments. For example, you may want to soften your voice to emphasize one key point and then increase the volume for another point. In any case, you need to make sure that all members of the audience can hear each and every point. Practice projecting your voice by imagining that everyone is sitting against the far wall of the room. Make sure they can hear you and that you are speaking from your diaphragm. Now that we’ve talked about projection, let’s take a look at personality.

Personality

Personality refers to the color, warmth, and meaning that comes from hearing your voice. The personality of your voice will determine whether people “turn on” or “turn off” when they hear you. Certainly adjusting the pitch and volume will improve the quality of your voice. Adding emotion will add color and warmth to your voice. So will a smile that softens and warms the vocal tones that people hear. Personality can range from passionate to boring, serious to lighthearted. What personality are you looking for when you talk about a certain topic? Give some thought and choose a word that captures the tone you want your voice to convey. Write that word at the top of your notes so that you live consciously to infuse your voice with the personality that will help you make the most impact.

Using the 5Ps of Vocal Control together

When you’re just starting out, you may want to focus on one P at a time and then add more until you can stretch your voice to reveal the 5 P’s in a given presentation. By playing with every aspect of vocal control, you can infuse your voice with interest, warmth, and personality! Use each of the Ps, including pitch, pace, pause, projection, and personality to actively engage your audience and make them want more. For additional information on honing your presentation skills, visit our website for a free copy of the Mastering Your Presentation Skills report at http://www.boldnewdirections.com

Business

Start and run a small business successfully

More than 500 million small businesses spring up in the United States. More than 65% of these small businesses don’t stay long because they don’t understand how to stay on trend and make projections for future circumstances. The most important need in running a small business is to keep accessing the market, accessing your customers’ needs, and keeping up with current business and economic trends in order to guide your business to meet the demands.

The following steps are very important to the survival of your small business management;

  1. Defining your market; Narrowing your market down to the most ideal and potential customers and leads will help you run your business perfectly well; You don’t need everyone to subscribe to your products and services, narrowing down your target market will help you design a better strategy in terms of business expansion and market consolidation. This, in turn, will result in increased sales.
  2. Distinguish yourself from commercial and market competition; Should you stand out from the crowd by your higher value products, lower competitive prices, or any other distinguishing factor, you should make your target customers aware of what sets you apart from the rest. You must keep these benefits at the forefront of your marketing strategies to ensure perfect customer service.
  3. Create a good business plan; nothing keeps you going better than an ideal business plan. This will help you to draw attention and focus on the areas of development of your business that need adjustments and updates.
  4. Create a custom report with your individual clients; Rewarding your loyal customers with gifts or special discounts is very essential to keeping them loyal. Good product and service delivery is also critical to customer satisfaction and efficient service delivery.
  5. Always learn from your past and present experiences; Life and events are still the best teacher for running a successful small business. An entrepreneur who keeps repeating the same old mistakes cannot run a successful business, but when he learns his pass and discovers his strength along with the factors responsible for his temporary mistakes; You must be able to advance in the management of your business avoiding the repetition of your mistakes. You must learn from all aspects of your business in order to design an overall marketing and survival strategy that will make your business stand the test of time. You should seek mentors in your field of business practice and ensure that
  6. Know and understand the difference between sales and receipts; Most small businesses fail due to poor cash flow and poor capital management. Make sure you get cash into the system and have a clear capital investment plan to sustain your business through tough times. Bad credit kills a small business: Don’t sell on credit to too many customers, in the same way, getting your products on credit should be done with common sense.
  7. Get updated; Enhance your business knowledge through seminars, conferences, symposia, and various other business educational programs that will further enlighten you on how to successfully run a small business.

These steps are by no means exhaustive – various small business resources abound. Here are some more small business tips to help you be successful.

Business

The importance of business financial management and analysis

Planning and control are the two most important ingredients for a successful business. A business plan takes most of the guesswork out of business strategy and control through sound financial analysis. Financial data provides a way to measure where you are in your strategic plan, telling you where changes to your plan are necessary. Because of this, financial data analysis and management are vital to running a successful business.

It is extremely important to have a proper accounting system installed throughout your company to make data acquisition easy. You cannot run your business for profitability without a good accounting system. My CPA has an accountant who comes into the business to help set up the accounting system and show us how it works. All of this is done with the guidance of the CPA but at a fraction of the cost. A good accountant is invaluable in helping you capture financial data. Having a working Accounting System in place will minimize the fees a CPA charges to analyze your tax liability and prepare your tax returns.

An accounting system is generally based on the following key financial management tools:

– Income statement (Profit and loss statement)

– Cash flow statement

– Balance sheet

– Budget

– Break-even point of analysis

By having a financial management system in place, you can easily identify early warning signs or spot particularly profitable areas. Not having a system to analyze and organize financial data makes it impossible to manage, grow and control a business effectively. Makes it impossible to measure the success (or lack thereof) of your Planning and Strategy. Furthermore, if misused, inaccurate financial data can be disastrous for the livelihood of a business.

An accounting and financial management system is only as useful as it is used consistently throughout the business. It is extremely important to implement the system in the very structure of the company and to use it in a systematic way. The Accounting System is a reflection of the health, or lack thereof, of a business and from which business decisions are made. Make sure you set it up correctly, train your people on it, and most importantly, use it!

The two main objectives of any business are to be profitable and to have cash flow to pay obligations. The income statement and the cash flow statement occupy a prominent place in this area. The income statement represents how well a business is operating and the cash flow statement shows how well a business is managing its cash. Profit or Loss on the one hand and Liquidity on the other.

The trick is to find a good balance between Profit and Cash, which when not well planned can be very difficult to maintain. Rapid growth with high profits can drain a company’s liquidity, so being profitable is no guarantee that it will stay in business. The role of current and projected cash flow and income statement is to help you identify problem areas so that you can plan for them effectively, such as raising more capital, injecting more capital, or obtaining financing. Additionally, these two statements help you identify areas that can be better controlled and managed, avoiding the need for additional capital and financing.

The equilibrium analysis is based on the cash flow and profit and loss statement. The balance statement and chart are extremely important because they show the volume of sales revenue that is required to accurately balance the sum of your fixed and variable expenses. Equilibrium analysis can be extremely useful when:

– Establish price levels for products and services

– Decide whether to buy or lease equipment / building

– Calculate profit projections based on various levels of sales.

– Determine if new employees are required

– Advance planning of finances / capital needed in the future

– Make strategic objectives more tangible and achievable

– Measure your company’s progress towards profit targets.

The Balance Sheet records the past effects of company decisions (or lack thereof) and projects the effect of future plans. The balance sheet is a record of the liquidity and equity of the company. These variables are directly affected by the income and cash flow statements. The balance sheet is the financial one that is often overlooked, but it is very useful:

– Shows the effect of past decisions.

– Keeps track of the company’s cash liquidity position

– Records the level of equity of the owner

– Quickly display the status of the business.

A budget analysis compares the actual performance of a company with the projected performance on a monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis. The Budget is a great tool to protect against excessive and unmitigated expenses and is closely linked to the Strategic Objectives that the company has established. Analyzing your income statement and cash flow statement projections against actual performance is an excellent monitoring tool that can quickly address problems before they become too serious. Small oversights and errors in a company’s projections over time can have a disastrous effect. Budget analysis is your guard against that.

Working together, the income statement, cash flow statement, balance sheet, equilibrium analysis, and budget analysis provide a complete picture of a business’s current operations, liquidity, past operations, and future viability. Working through an interactive accounting system can be a very useful tool for determining future business scenarios and analyzing past errors. Understanding the financial implications of your financial decisions can mean the difference between success and failure for your business. Probably the most important financial aspect is your cash flow statement, but understanding all these financial aspects and how they work together is the key to a successful business. Projections are based on assumptions; make sure they are well thought out and as realistic as possible.

Business

Microsoft Office Exam: An Important Pre-Employment Testing Tool

Computers have now become indispensable in the workplace and computer skills have become more important now than ever. Software applications like Microsoft Office can increase the productivity of your employees and the entire company. Employees can use it to create a business plan, letterhead, marketing material, profit and loss projection, sales brochures, and more. This software application has lightened the load for many employees by allowing them to complete tasks more accurately and quickly.

Today, Microsoft office skills (and computer skills as a whole) have become more than just an asset a worker can possess. Its central role in maintaining high productivity has made it a necessary skill. Therefore, if the job description requires the use or even a little familiarity with these applications, it is very important to make sure that the job candidates have the necessary skills to get the job done. One of the proven ways to objectively determine computer skills is by taking an exam.

Although Microsoft has its own certification program, they generally charge people high fees. Microsoft Office exams for pre-employment hiring purposes are available through professional providers, such as the online job skills exam. A Microsoft Office exam is usually an interactive or multiple-choice test that will determine exactly what a potential candidate knows and doesn’t know. Interactive Microsoft Office tests are typically the simulation type where applicants are asked to perform specific tasks using toolbars, menus, shortcut keys, and so on. These exams come as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, FrontPage, and Excel tests. You can choose one or a combination of these tests, depending on the needs of your business. They also come in various versions; Whether your company is currently using the 2010 version or the 2007 or 2002 versions, you can find a trial that best suits your current needs.

Microsoft Office exams also come in various levels, usually at the beginner, intermediate, or advanced levels. You can choose between these levels depending on what the job in question requires. If the job requires the preparation of reports and business proposals, you may want to do at least an intermediate level to an advanced level to ensure high productivity. Jobs that require complex or complex Microsoft applications would require advanced level assessment tests. Also, if a job description requires only basic typing and little computer skills, a basic level exam might suffice. (Even if employees don’t work with computers on a daily basis or even if it is not necessary to complete their main tasks, chances are they will find it again and again.)

Is it really important to take a Microsoft Office exam as part of your pre-employment procedures? This question is much like asking if Microsoft Office is really important for completing tasks in your workplace. If the answer to the latter is yes, then it is important to take a Microsoft skills test.

Computer skills have become more important today than ever. A workforce trained in applications like Microsoft Office can give you a better advantage in maximizing productivity. Whether in management (letters, faxes, labels, envelopes, database), sales (interactive presentations), marketing (sales copies, dynamic ads), finance and accounting, media and web design, skills in Microsoft Office are sure to be tools.

Business

Investing: preparing for the next bear market

Read the reversal tea leaves

What do the ‘Tea Leaves’ tell us, “The sky is falling”? No, wait, shake the glass again … “Is the sky the limit?” That is the answer we want!

If investing and trading were that simple, we could visit a reader for a few dollars and find out exactly what the future holds. Unfortunately, if you ask three readers what their sheets say, you get three totally different professional opinions. Consistency is not his strong suit.

First of all, I have never made public prophecies about the future direction of the economy or the market before and I do not intend to start now. Also, I’m not a stock market bear, I’m not a bull, I don’t have dumb buttons to hit that make all kinds of dumb noises to tell you to buy, buy, buy, and my dart board really is a dart board and not a stock picking device. I don’t think Chicken Little was a good predictor and I don’t think the world will end tomorrow. But 25 years of market observation experience tells me that there are some things that should certainly be of concern to individual investors.

Let’s filter out the widespread and sensational noise about every tick in the current market, up or down. We’ll leave that to the Talking Heads with their television cameras and a cup of tea leaves; it gives them something to do and prevents them from disturbing us. We want to focus on the big picture, the major events, and how these events are likely to affect the economy and ultimately the future direction of the market. Hopefully, you can get an idea of ​​what may be about to happen and how you can prepare.

Let’s look at some of the main factors.

For example: unemployment, foreclosures, housing market, foreclosure crisis, the dollar, the EU and gold, just to name a few.

It’s not rocket science, simple common sense says the housing market won’t improve until foreclosures are no longer a problem and foreclosures will remain a problem as long as unemployment doesn’t improve. With 25% of homeowners currently upside down on their mortgage (they owe more than the property is worth), the light at the end of the foreclosure tunnel continues to hit a large moving object with a very loud hiss.

As you may know, the mortgage crisis did not just go away. I mean, all those junk mortgages that were packaged up and handed over to the unsuspecting were not paid in full by the happy homeowners, the money is still owed; There was only a slight adjustment to the accounting method so that they now look better on paper. Let’s move on to another indicator.

With housing, mortgages and foreclosures as a backdrop, now think about the price of gold. As you know, gold has been in a tear and continues to hover around $ 1,400 per ounce. You have to ask yourself, what would cause this? Realizing that supply and demand ultimately set the current price, the obvious increase in demand for this precious metal is probably not due to your dentist having been too busy filling cavities or your jeweler planning a larger traffic during the holidays. So that really leaves only a logical conclusion. Concern for the coin, specifically the green back, and more particularly, its value. Forget the few novice traders who jump into buying gold at current prices in the hopes that the price will double overnight and get rich quick, if they don’t lose their money there, they will lose it elsewhere. It is your destiny. What worries us is the big picture. And the big picture tells us that this is not a good indicator of the economy, to say the least.

There is an old saying: “If you want the truth, follow the money.”

Aside from currency concerns, concerned investors seizing gold, or Mr. Bernanke and his proverbial helicopter distributing green endorsements to everyone but you and me, what are the insiders doing?

You know, the ones that should be ‘In the know’ and get an idea of ​​what the economy is likely to do and the effect it will have on the market, not to mention the effect it will have on the stock price of the company. I should add that I find it interesting that giant companies like Microsoft, Hewlett Packard, and others have made headlines recently by finding and hiring the best economists outside of places like Harvard. Why would they develop such a sudden interest in economics professors?

On top of that, let’s see what insiders are doing with their stocks.

Insiders, of course, are the most important officers, directors, and shareholders of a company. Those who see first-hand orders, sales, projections, etc. They are also required by law to report almost immediately to the SEC whenever they have bought or sold shares in their companies.

Well guess what? They have been on a sales frenzy. Selling the shares of their companies’ stocks at a record rate that had not been seen since early 2007. Let me remind you that this was only a few months before the Great Recession began.

Vickers Weekly Insider Report analyzes internal data each week and calculates a relationship between the number of shares these informed executives have sold that week and the number they have bought. Vickers Weekly says that over the past four decades (40 years) this ratio has averaged between 2 and 2.5 to 1. Any reading above 2.5 to 1 is an above-average selling rate for connoisseurs, and should be an eye too. -opening for the investor.

Now keep in mind that these experts were selling at a record pace in early 2007 and hold your breath before you read what this buying and selling ratio was in the second week of December 2010. 7.07 to 1. In other words, corporate insiders in general are selling more than seven shares for every one they are buying. Just to show that this is not an anomaly, just two months ago, the sell-to-buy ratio was 5.29 to 1, and it has obviously increased since then.

Another factor that the individual investor should consider when thinking about the “big picture” is bear markets. I know, nobody wants to think about the market sinking and absorbing the average 29% of the value of their investment account and then having to wait a couple of years to equalize again. But like it or not, for the last 100 years there has been a bear market on average every three and a half years (3.5). They come like clockwork, last an average of 18 months, and then leave investors waiting a couple more years for the investment account balance to return to black. Do I need to remind you that the last bear market started in 2007? You do the math.

So what should I do? I’m not suggesting you call your broker and sell yourself, and I certainly don’t want to sound like Chicken Little, it’s not my style. But I do think you should pay close attention to market indices, tighten caps, prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. When I wrote the books “Technical Analysis and Charts” and “Common Sense Investing”, this current market scenario is exactly what I wanted to prepare the individual investor for. And more importantly, how to avoid the dredging of portfolio destruction caused by market downturns. Another very important thing to remember is that your financial advisor will never tell you to sell. Protecting your investment money is your sole responsibility. So, learn about investing and know how to make your own investment decisions or keep your hard-earned money safe in the bank. It’s your choice.

Business

6 challenges sales managers face when implementing CRM software

After reviewing and short-listing the CRM software for your team, you finally decide which one to implement. You hope to have more information about what the team members are doing and, more importantly, good information about the process. Of course, that will help team accountability and, more importantly, a better customer experience.

But how simple will the implementation process be?

Changing the culture

When sales managers implement CRM, it is different from most other installed programs. The manager faces a change in business culture. Software is not just a new way of doing business; creates a high level of transparency in what people do each day, week, month.

Whatever CRM brand you bring in, it’s new, different, and will affect culture, and sales find it particularly challenging. They live in a fluid world and do not like information and management by nature. When implementing CRM, it is a major change in your world and the resistance can be high. A simple training session will not be enough to change the culture; It is just the beginning.

These are the challenges that sales managers must address as part of the implementation.

1. Sellers

If it weren’t for the salespeople, CRM would be easy. Salespeople like to be selling and in front of customers. They don’t want to bother updating data in their CRM, even if they have a mobile app on their phone.

If you are doing a CRM implementation, you will hear from the passive-aggressive salesperson “oh, do you want me to update CRM instead of selling?” The answer is yes”.

Salespeople need to understand that CRM isn’t just about their customers and their performance. There are others in the company who also depend on the information. Accounting is looking at potential sales for cash flow operations for product supply or people involvement.

Accurate information is the key to running smoothly, and the people who take the first steps toward earning income are the salespeople. Imagine if the accounting suggested to them that they didn’t feel like doing commission calculations today or that they missed some sales; there would be a sales uproar.

Salespeople must meet the same standards as everyone else in the organization.

Sales managers must explain that data is an integral part of running the business and show how other people trust it. When that is accepted, you will get the commitment you need.

2. Activity tracking

The CRM implementation consists of creating a complete customer profile. From targeting fields for marketing to all documentation, emails, notes, and other customer communications. This information can be reviewed at any time, by anyone, and provide good customer service and understand past interactions. Another team member can update information on their customer interactions while maintaining a complete view of the service.

CRM means that salespeople can no longer own all customer communications. Information is shared and even more uncomfortable for sellers, it can be reviewed, measured and decisions made.

The sales manager needs to measure performance with a sales plan. They need to understand the type of activity, the amount of activity, and how the pipe is filling. Without this information, they are playing their role, hoping that everything will work out.

Information is also critical to discovering salespeople’s coaching needs. Is there a barrier that needs to be removed? A greater understanding of a product is required. The shift to view data and trends opens the door to improve sales and management.

3. Goodbye to spreadsheets

When you implement CRM, you need to live for the fewest spreadsheets. The system has its reporting functionality, which can be customized, providing consistent and easy-to-manage reports.

A well-tailored system will provide you with the sales metrics you need to run your sales organization and compare your team as individuals or across regions.

If you need data beyond what is in the CRM, then the question arises ‘Why is that data not in the CRM if it matters?’.

4. Performance pipelines

As a sales manager, your world revolves around the pipeline. How much entries are going to be signed in a particular month / quarter / year? The simple approach to management is to focus on how much you have earned.

The sales manager who excels is the one who manages the velocity of the pipeline. How many offers are up for grabs? How often do they make it to the presentation or closing? Where are the hard spots where sales drop? It’s the information the entire sales department focuses on every day, every week.

This information is the source of coaching and analysis is essential. How sellers enter their information, how many times they make adjustments to the size of the deal, the closing date and all the other parameters of their particular business.

5. Dirty data syndrome

If you implement a CRM, you are most likely sharing information with marketers. When you upload data for the first time or sync it with other systems, you encounter a lot of dirty data: incomplete records, duplications, and different kinds of errors.

Sellers must be responsible for keeping their data clean. The mantra should be no clean data, no commissions. That’s how serious sales managers should take data. Again, it is trusted by others throughout the company, so each person is equally responsible for keeping it clean when using records.

6. Changing the dynamics of the sales meeting

With CRM in place and the sales team engaged, the dynamics of your sales meeting change. No longer does the team need to email you activity notes, provide projections and spreadsheets. All the information is now in the CRM ready to go to the dashboards.

Sales managers can put together great meetings as they have all the information at their fingertips and can quickly dive into something if the need arises. Salespeople are freed from meeting prep, and the sales manager has time to prepare before the meeting at a time that suits them best, rather than waiting for information to arrive.

The biggest challenge for CRM implementation is the sales manager. Without a dedicated approach to implementing and establishing non-negotiable standards of use, software is of no value to users, the manager, or the company.

Implementing CRM is time consuming, but the best performing sales managers are the ones who are following through and firm on their goal of total engagement. Good sales managers have clear metrics and hold their salespeople accountable.

For more information on implementing CRM, see this information.

Business

Budgets and implementation of business strategies: availability of resources

To simplify this article, strategy and planning will be used to mean the same thing. Budgets and objectives are related, as is the implementation of business strategy. The implementation of a business strategy is considered as the final stage of the business strategy (before monitoring and control). It could be defined as the translation of strategy into organizational action through organizational structure and design, resource planning, and strategic change management. ” Analyzing the definition, it becomes obvious that the implementation of a business strategy would therefore be how well various components to carry it out are successfully integrated.

The organizational structure and design aspect of the definition has to do with how the human resources of the organization are used, mobilized and organized to find them through the use of the organization; And the design aspect is that most employers can leave the company if they are not motivated or if they are not given the right position to operate in the organization, in other words, underutilized.

The next aspect in implementing a business strategy, resource planning, establishes which resources to create and which to remove. It is about identifying the resources needed, how those resources will be deployed and controlled to create the competencies needed to implement the strategies successfully. This resource configuration depends on the protection of unique resources, that is, when a strategy depends on the uniqueness of a particular resource, such as legal means, resource adjustment (that is, mixing resources to create competition), reengineering of business processes (that is, creating dynamic improvement in performance) and leveraging experience by continuously learning and improving to improve competition. One of the many problems is the conflict that arises between departments over the allocation of funds, especially when money is involved in the implementation of the business strategy.

Managing strategic change is the next component in the implementation stage. This change implies an incremental change that is simply based on the skills, routines and beliefs of the organization for the change to be efficient and a transformational change, which requires the organization to change its paradigm over time.

When building a strategic management system, the budgeting process must be linked to business strategy. Therefore, at the beginning of the budgeting process, budget managers establish budget objectives and organizational goals for the next budget period, whose main task is to produce a master budget that combines the business units and budgets of the functional period. From the budgets for the period, the budget manager creates the master budget. This is then adjusted to calculate the expected shareholder value, which in turn acts as a test of corporate strategy. This is the point where the strategic analysis can be verified. If the strategic plans do not create shareholder value, they are carried out through the strategy modification cycle. Once the master budget and therefore the strategic plans are finalized, the budget to be used and the strategy to be implemented is established.

Acquiring a sufficient budget is one of the main requirements for an efficient implementation of business strategy. The question is where do the budget and the implementation of the business strategy interact?

There is evidence of numerous series of failures in business strategy plan and implementations despite reasonable analysis. Someone has said that good planning can greatly reduce the risks of business failure.

A plan is a projection of future activity. It usually translates into budget if it is quantified. Therefore, for a next period of time in which the budget expressed in monetary terms is related. It is defined as a financial or quantitative statement, prepared before a specific accounting period, which contains the plans and policies to be followed during that period.

Budgets are generally prepared procedurally and systematically followed by most organizations (although procedures may differ depending on the size, type, and leadership style of organizations) are as follows:

Communication of details: Those responsible for preparing the budget must know and keep informed of the strategic plans of the company (plans or objectives) so that the budget is adapted accordingly. This means that the organization’s long-term plans must be taken into account when budgeting.

The main budget factor that limits the performance of an organization. It is usually demand for sales. If an organization cannot make and sell more products because consumers do not accept that price, it restricts the demand for the company. Management may not know the limiting factor, say, machine capacity, layout, and sales resources, until a draft budget has been prepared. This is the starting point in preparing the budget. Once this factor is determined, the extraction of the rest of the budget is established.

Sales budget preparation: Generally, this is the base or primary budget prepared based on sales projections and from which most of the other budgets come because it has been established that the main budget factor for most organizations .: Good finished stock, production, resources for production. , overhead, raw materials (stock), raw materials (purchase)

It is when all budgets are in complete alignment with each other that they are summarized in the master budget consisting of the budgeted profit and loss account, the budgeted balance sheet, and the cash budget.

The cash budget is one of the most important planning tools that any organization can use. Its usefulness is felt when it shows that there are not enough cash resources to finance planned operations. The cash budget can show four positions or scenarios that give management an indication of potential problems that may arise so that management can avoid them.

The involvement of the position is one of the areas where the budget interacts with the implementation of the business strategy. For example, when the cash budget shows a short-term surplus position, management must make short-term investments, pay creditors in advance to obtain the discount, or increase sales by increasing debtors and inventories, in case of short-term deficit, appropriate action for Management should take them to increase creditors, reduce debtors, and organize overdrafts to finance the deficit. The rest of the long-term cash-surplus position is addressed by making long-term investments, expanding organically or through acquisitions or diversifying, among others; and the long-term deficit could be managed by obtaining long-term financing or divestment opportunities.

Budgets and objectives (strategies) are clearly assigned to those areas and activities of the organization that are considered priorities. If important goals are to be achieved and priority strategies must be implemented, resources must be provided.

However, research in interorganizational settings identifies the acquisition of resources (i.e., the budget), the acquisition of cooperative interaction, and the acquisition of organizational power as the difficult part of the implementation processes. Therefore, struggles between organizations for larger budgets also influence budget planning and affect strategy implementation. For example, when resources are limited and finite, strategic opportunities may be limited. Since budget planning is usually annual, budgets are often different from the needs of the current situation, especially towards the latter part of the budget period. Because of this, flexible budgets are designed to allow for changes in activity level, which could result from adaptive changes in functional and competitive strategies.

It should also be noted here that while the role of today’s financial managers is rapidly moving up on the strategic plane, the challenge becomes even greater in light of the accelerating pace of change. This reality is rendering traditional corporate governance approaches, such as 3-5 year static annual planning and static budgeting, obsolete. To provide useful financial information, sooner rather than later, managers must think of business strategy as an ongoing process that is corrected more as a series of real options than as a single projected cash flow statement.

The implementation of a business strategy could be compared to a human body without a soul (budget). If there is no soul in a body, it is considered dead; in the same vein, the budget is that soul (especially when implementing a new business strategy) for the implementation of a business strategy; therefore, the two are linked and interdependent.