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Archive for the ‘General Business’ Category

Essential Services

Our power went out the other day, and as a result our phone system went down as well. It is amazing how the lack of phones will bring producitivity to a halt! Futhermore, we started receiving e-mails (on our blackberries) regarding our customers not being able to reach us.

Now, fortunately, we’ve already planned for a disaster senario similar to this, and we enlisted our phone provider which offered disaster recovery services. In this event, they were able to forward all of our inbound calls to their office where they setup a similar phone system to at least take our calls and drop them to voicemail, which we could then check with our cell phones periodically. That changeover took about 30 minutes to complete – and our power was out for 12 hours! What would that have been like had our phones been down that long.

When was the last time you looked at your customer inbound communication as an essential service, and what plans do you have for recovery should something similar happen to you?

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Fast Acting… Long Relief…

In the matter of all things legal, or potentially legal, it is best to respond quickly — do not confuse this with “react” quickly, as that can cause problems. Rather do your due diligence and respond promptly, and appropriately. If it is a legal notice, court documents, or even simple billing or finance matters. Responding to these issues immediately will go a long way towards a smooth process. When you delay, you can have automatic penalties go against you. The longer you let a legal matter go, the more difficult it is to prove your innocence, or even if you’re guilty, the worse deal you’ll be able to make. With billing issues, neglect causes accounts to start accumulating finance charges, penalties and collection costs – even if you cannot pay your bills, be in open communication early and often many of these fines can be reduced.

Fiscal Review

As a growing business you must learn from your CPA early on about how to interpret your Profit & Loss and Balance Sheets. These indicate the lifeblood of your company. Depending on your business you need to look at these at least monthly, if not weekly or daily! Additionally, as part of your corporations annual shareholder meeting, go ahead an prepare a financial review and prospectus, even if it is only for you. Look at other corporation’s filings – both large and small. This exercise will give you the opportunity to do some looking back, as well as forward looking based on past performance. It also gets a lot of your homework cleared out of the way when you’re ready to look for outside funding. Infact, even before you start looking for F&F financing (friends & family), you really should have something prepared to hand to them as well.

Documentation – Legal

Here is a quick tip — when it comes down to the matter, the person with the more documentation, paperwork, records, etc., will win. Second to that is communication – the person who communicates the most, via e-mail, letter, phone, will win. Whatever you are dealing with, from customers, clients, employees, or the government — in any legal (or potential legal) matter, the one who can substantiate their side with documentation will prevail. It really doesn’t matter who is right or wrong, it is who can prove their case better with solid documentation.

Do you have a corporation? Then you do have all of your corporate minutes, annual shareholders and directors meetings? Written consent agreements for all director level actions?

How about employees? Are you documentation disciplinary action, raises, verbal notices? How about proper timekeeping records?

And what about your clients/vendors? You always have a written contract, documented project descriptions, project scopes, payment terms?

Keep that printer and scanner busy — wear them out with the amount of paperwork and documenting you perform.

Corrective Action

It is amazing how many people are interested in self improvement and the vast number of books that you can find at a local bookstore, yet in business it is surprisingly hard to find employees who are interested in improving themselves. Yes, they would all say they are open to improvement, and many may read books, attend seminars or take other steps towards change… Yet, when change comes to their doorsteps, they resist it. Today I was talking to one of our customers about the process of disciplinary action — corrective action. When an employee goes beyond their boundaries, certain action is required in order to bring the situation into it’s proper place.

Another example would be a business meeting I had with a “membership officer” of a local networking group – one of their policies is attendance, very strict. And you can be removed from the group for attendance issues. However, many groups will give a little too much grace in this area. In order to keep this attendance policy, not only should the warning notices actually be sent out, but the members dismissed if they fail to correct their actions.

Everyone should be interested in correcting their actions. There is little need for a reason or excuse, simply take the steps needed and move forward – correct the action – make yourself better. Don’t sit in apathy, and become disgruntled, or have your pride hurt simply because it was discovered that you’re not the shining example of perfection that you thought that everyone perceived you to be. Wake up! You’re not perfect, and we all know that – and we also know that we, ourselves, are not perfect. So, where do we go? Humbly, take whatever steps it takes to move forwards towards a better you — as an employee, employer or friend.

How to crash the economy in your state

The following is quoted from Michael Gray’s CPA Tax & Business Insight Newsletter for September 2008:

Paul McCauley, who I am embarrassed to say is a CPA, and union leader Brad Rooker are promoting an initiative to impose a one-time 25% “wealth tax” (read success tax) on the assets of Californians exceeding $20 million for single persons and $40 million for married couples. The wealthiest 1 percent of California taxpayers paid 47.9% of the state’s personal income taxes for 2006, but that doesn’t satisfy McCauley and Rooker.

Of course, there is nothing to prevent these individuals from moving out of California to a more friendly state, and bringing their corporate headquarters with them. Say Steve Jobs (Apple Computer, Pixar), John Chambers (Cisco Systems), Larry Ellison (Oracle), George Lucas (Lucasfilm) and Larry Page and Sergy Brin (Google).

In addition, the wealthy don’t keep their assets as cash in a mattress. In order to pay the tax, any of them who decide to stay will have to liquidate their stock, bonds, and real estate. What do you think dumping these assets will do to the market? What do you think it will do to CalPERS, the state’s retirement system and one of its biggest investors?

These are also the people who fund our universities and charities, and bail out the state of California by purchasing municipal bonds to fund deficits.

If the state gets this money, do you really believe it will solve its money woes, or do you agree with me that it will be dissipated in nothing flat?

We should tar and feather McCauley and Rooker and they should be fired as unfit for their occupations.

More importantly, we need to speak out and not passively let their proposal be promoted as a “reasonable alternative.” This is not “just politics.” This relates to freedom, property rights and understanding that the real source of wealth is men’s minds. (See Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.)

For more information, please see http://www.taxtrimmers.com

Paint a picture

One of the best ways to grab the attention of prospective clients is to paint them a mental picture of the end results. They don’t need to know the how, that is your job, they want to know what your product or services means to them. At the end of the day, what is the benefit to them. The process is something which can be discussed later. First off, can they see the end results benefitting their company.

You need to paint a mental picture — say that you’re a janitorial service, you could perhaps paint the picture that your company is distinctive in that due to your services, the restrooms will look and smell as comfortable as home. That is a mental picture that will stick with you. Perhaps the opposite picture will stick clearer in your head. The descsision maker doesn’t need to know about the five organic cleaning materials and rare earth minnerals you use to keep the place smelling just right — they want to know about the end results. There may be time for technical questions, such as “how do you accomplish that”, and you had better know the answer – but first sell them on what it will look like.