Friday, April 08, 2005

Everything I Need To Know About Business I Learned From My Dog

Abby Posted by Hello
Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to speak with some of the area’s most successful entrepreneurs. I’ve learned valuable lessons on such subjects as accessing capital, hiring and motivating employees and having a clear vision for business success. In fact, no fancy MBA could have provided me with this first-hand knowledge. Someday I’ll draw on these experiences in my own business.
While I’ve learned a few things about business success as editor of this publication, I think my real business guru is Abby, my nine-year-old Labrador retriever. That’s right, my dog. She’s taught me some business fundamentals I think all businesses could utilize.
It’s surprising that Abby has been such a business mentor. To be honest, she’s not the most intelligent dog in town. For example, we attempted to teach her some dog skills, like playing ball. She will gladly chase the ball, but some of the subtleties of the game—such as giving the ball back—seem beyond her grasp. Maybe it’s us. Maybe we don’t understand her game of ball.
Despite these traits, Abby taught me valuable business lessons over the years. Hopefully, some of these ideas will help you better understand the world of business.
* If you stare at someone long enough, eventually you’ll get what you want. Persistence pays. Try it sometime. If it works for a pig ear, it might work for a big contract.
* When it comes to getting your way, if at first you don’t succeed, beg. What do you have to lose?
* Leave room in your schedule for a good nap. We all understand the value of a good nap.
* Always greet people friendly. Maybe a cold nose in the crotch or a wet, sloppy kiss is a little much, but the more friends you make in business, the better off you’ll be. Remember, people do business with people they like.
* A small ego can go a long way. Abby’s never worried about who’s No. 1 or who looks better or gets credit. She’s focused on the ultimate goal, which usually involves a Snausage or two.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Buying A Franchise

I'm currently working on an article on Buying A Franchise. I think franchises can be a wonderful way to live the American Dream. They provide willing business owners (with lots of money) the opportunity to buy into a current system. In other words, you don't have to re-create the wheel to own your own business. Franchises also provide much neeeded marketing and support, which are vital to startup businesses.
I often wonder, however, would some of these business owners have been better off starting their own businesses from scratch? I mean, buying a franchise isn't cheap these days. When you buy it, you buy it. If the market isn't right for your product and service, you're stuck with it because of the investment. If you start from scratch, you can move on.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

E-mail as a Marketing Tool

If you are like most companies, the number of times your employees “touch” people with e-mails daily is huge. E-mail far outstrips any letters, business cards or brochures in number of impressions.
E-mail has evolved far beyond an informal method for sending notes. If your employees communicate via e-mail, make certain they follow some rules:
1. Use only an HTML “corporate letterhead” that is consistent throughout the company. This should include your logo, contact information and a specific font.
2. Require that all employees have the automatic spell check enabled.
3. Prohibit the use of “instant messaging abbreviations” such as “CU” (see you) and others. These are appropriate only for communications with friends, not business associates.
4. Forbid the forwarding of chain letters, prayers, jokes, cartoons or pictures using company e-mail. Many recipients find them irritating, and it is only too easy to send them to the wrong person.
E-mail has come fully into its own as a business communications tool. Your professional impression can be greatly enhanced or damaged by the look and quality of your employees’ e-mail.
John Dini, TAB-Certified Facilitator, San Antonio, TX

Are Your Salespeople Really Selling?

What are your salespeople doing right now?
Are they face-to-face with prospects, or are they bogged down with paperwork? Surprisingly, many are sitting behind a desk pushing paper. That’s the conclusion Allen Minster, president of Integrated Marketing Systems, came to when he studied the selling habits of insurance sales professionals. Minster’s study found that the average salesperson spent only five hours a week actually selling and less than one and a half hours each week prospecting for new business. That comes out to six and one-half hours of a 40-hour business week.
The problem is that most salespeople spend too much time on things that don’t matter, said Minster, who has spent a career helping companies develop sales processes. Minster recently discussed sales at the monthly Grace Advisors executive briefing.
According to Minster, co-author of “Sales Utopia—Getting the Right People To Do The Right Things—Enough Times,” salespeople should be focused on only these activities: Presentations to decision makers (qualifying and closing); cross-marketing to existing clients; and resolving client issues that no one else in the company can “fix.”
“If your salespeople are not doing one of these things, they are simply not selling, and you are losing money on them,” Minster said.
What can you do to help your salespeople succeed? For one, allow and encourage them to spend more time selling. Instead of adding more salespeople, hire an administrative support employee to take the nonselling tasks away from your sales force. Or, maybe it’s time to retool your sales process, allowing your sales force to spend more time actually doing their job—selling.
“Sales is a numbers game. If you want increased sales, you have to increase the number of selling opportunities.”

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Uncovering The Right Bank

Why do so many good commercial lending deals fail? Not because of lousy business plans, poor personal credit or over-inflated numbers. The real reason is simple: Business owners go to the wrong bank.
Every bank has a different appetite for certain types of lending. Businesses should look at their particular circumstances and find a bank that best fits their needs.
The decision of where to find business capital involves more than just comparing interest rates. Here are some questions to ask when evaluating lending sources:
1. Can you meet regularly with your banker?
Choosing the right banker is similar to choosing a good doctor. You want someone who is competent, personable and a good listener. The right banker can become an integral part of your management team. Meeting face-to-face and discussing your future plans is an important part of building a successful banking relationship.
2. Are loan decisions fair and balanced?
You’ll want a lender who can provide a balanced credit decision that takes into account your total picture, including all of your business assets and potential.
3. Does the bank understand small business?
4. Does the bank understand your industry?
When bankers don’t understand how an industry operates, they don’t understand how they’ll be repaid. And when bankers don’t understand how they’ll be repaid, they decline loan requests.
5. Is the bank small enough?
6. Is the bank large enough to meet your needs?
7. Does the bank have the ability to advise?