Working At Home With An Uncooperative Spouse

When we first decide to make the transition from an outside job to a home-based job or business, some of us might face a dilemma -- a spouse who suddenly seems uncooperative and difficult. Even if our spouse is usually good-natured, we might find ourselves enmeshed in arguments and battles for control over our own careers.



While this can be frustrating, it is important to understand that our spouses are probably not trying to be difficult without reason. More likely, they have concerns that are being expressed in erratic ways. If you suspect this is the case in your own household, you might want to open the lines of communication and encourage your spouse to share his or her reasons for not wanting you to work at home.



Following are some of the most common concerns, and ideas for dealing with them:



Decreased Income. Your spouse may be worried that your salary will be less than what it is in a traditional job. Unfortunately, this is true in most cases. Telecommuting jobs usually pay far less than jobs in an office would. Even if you start your own business, it can take time to build up a decent income. If your spouse earns enough money to cover the household expenses, he or she might be agreeable to a reduced income from you temporarily, but if your spouse's income isn't enough to cover everything, you might need to compromise on your wish to work at home so you don't get into debt and cause financial difficulty for the family. Possible compromises might include keeping your regular job and working to build your own business after work hours, or working a regular part-time job, while working a part-time telecommuting job from home. You can also focus on building up enough savings to carry your loss of income for the first several months of working at home. Aim for at least 6 months of your normal salary, perhaps even a year, depending on the type of business or job you are working toward.



Sacrificing Luxuries. Your spouse might also be concerned that less income means he or she will have to give up extras that your salary makes possible, like entertainment, dinner out, more expensive vehicles, etc. This is also a valid concern. While most of us spend much more than we really need to on recreational activities, it's also not fair to expect our spouses to give up the smaller pleasures in life either. If your spouse is willing to work together with you on your desire to work at home, you might be able to agree on some smaller sacrifices that you can both make temporarily. You and your spouse will need to go over where your money goes, and see what you are both willing to do without. You can also find creative ways to replace the things you have sacrificied. For example, instead of going out to dinner 3 times a week, cut down to once a week, and then make more creative family dinners at home, trying new recipes to keep things interesting. You can rent movies to watch at home rather than going to the theater, or spend the day at a local park instead of visiting an expensive amusment park.



It's Not Really Work. One of the most maddening experiences is having our spouses believe that we sit home all day doing nothing when we "work at home". They might believe that we just want to sit home with the kids all day, watching television or chatting on the phone. If you are not yet working at home, it can be a major challenge to convince your spouse that you do indeed plan to work, but you might try explaining the type of work you plan to do, how many hours a day you plan to work, and how much income you are planning to earn. This can help them put it into perspective in measurable terms. If you already work at home and your spouse treats it like fun and games, it might be helpful to have him or her sit down with you for a short time one day and demonstrate exactly what you do. In my experience, the paychecks were the turning point. Once my husand saw that I was indeed bringing in an income, he began to take my work more seriously.



It's All a Scam. Unfortunately, many of our spouses are cynical about work at home jobs, because they see so many scams. Even worse is if they know someone who got burned by a scam or shady business opportunity. They might have the skewed idea that all work at home opportunities are like that. In situations like this, you can show your spouse the websites of legitimate companies that hire telecommuters, or have him or her read postings on a work at home community. Again, once you begin bringing in the paychecks, this fear will vanish.



Jealousy. Believe it or not, your spouse's concerns might be caused by a veiled sense of jealousy. Why should you get to sit home in your comfy sweatpants and earn an income when he or she has to trudge off to a lousy job every day? Especially if your spouse doesn't particularly like his or her job, they might resist the idea of you working at home while he or she deals with arrogant bosses and office politics. This is completely understandable, and many of us would feel the same way, wouldn't we? This is a tricky objection to overcome, but it is possible. Perhaps you can talk to your spouse about helping him or her transition to a home-based career too, and you would both eventually be working from home. Your spouse might be willing to compromise by allowing you to build up your business to the point where it could support the family and then he or she would be free to pursue their own business venture. You can also start a business together and work on it in alternating shifts. For example, you can work on the business for a few hours during the day while your spouse is at work, and he or she could do a little work on it in the evenings, and you can both work together on it Saturday mornings. Once the business begins bringing in enough profit, your spouse can come home permanently.



Ultimately, I believe that our spouses want us to be happy in our work, just like we wish the same for them. We just might need to work on them a little to convince them working at home is not only possible, but beneficial for everyone. If the above suggestions haven't convinced your spouse, you might need to put some figures down in black and white and show your spouse how much it costs to work outside the home. You might need to list the benefits of having one parent at home, or ask them to give you the benefit of the doubt and let you prove your ability to make it work.



I would love to say to you, "Your career is YOUR business; no one else's," because that is what I truly believe. However, that's easy for me to say because I'm not the one living in your household, facing the hostility from your spouse!



The truth is, everyone in your home will be happier if you and your spouse can come to an agreement, rather than stubbornly butting heads. If your spouse refuses to work with you at all on your desire to work at home, you may face some tough decisions. The best advice I can give you is to consider your options fully, and make the choices that you feel would benefit everyone the most, including your spouse.

Email Grammar Quiz

How good is your grammar?  When writing email messages, proper grammar is important.  By being aware of common mistakes, you can avoid them.



In other words, you don’t need to know all the rules.  (What a relief!)  But, . . . (You knew that was coming, didn’t you?) you need to know what you don’t know.  If you are unsure if something is correct, look it up.  Or, ask someone knowledgeable for assistance. 



If you don’t have the time to seek help, here’s a quick tip.  Use different wording.  To put it another way:



If you can’t determine how to make the sentence correct, re-word the sentence so it doesn’t contain the item you’re having trouble with.  Please don’t tell your high school English teacher that I made this suggestion!



Yes, it would be great if the entire country knew proper English.  However, the reality is many people don’t.  The goal of this article is to convince you to select the grammar that you know is correct.



Quiz

Are your grammar skills good enough?  Find out by taking the following quiz.



Directions: Indicate whether the specified phrase is Correct (C) or Incorrect (I).





C     I     1.    John is (laying) on the couch in the office.



C     I     2.    Peter (laid) the file on the desk.



C     I     3.    He (sat) in front of the computer.



C     I     4.    (Set) the files on my desk when you are done.



C     I     5.    The customers want (their) price quote now.



C     I     6.    The customer wants (their) phone call returned.



C     I     7.    Wilma had (less) callers on her line.



C     I     8.    Fred has (fewer) employees.



Solutions



1.    Incorrect. 

The correct answer is lying. 

To lie means to recline. 

The verb is intransitive; it does not require an object.

The past tense is “lay.”



2.    Correct. 

To lay means to put or place. 

The verb is transitive; it requires an object.

The past tense is “laid.”



3.    Correct. 

To sit means to be seated. 

The verb is intransitive.

The past tense is “sat.”



4.    Correct. 

To set means to put or place. 

The verb is transitive.

The past tense is “set.”

(Yes, it is the same as the present tense.  This is, after all, English grammar.  It is not supposed to make sense.)



5.    Correct. 

The antecedent is plural which requires a plural pronoun.

In other words, the plural form of “customers” requires using a plural pronoun “their.”



6.    Incorrect. 

The antecedent is singular which requires a singular pronoun.

In other words, the singular form of “customer” requires using a singular pronoun “his or her.”

This can also be written “his/her.”



7.    Incorrect. 

The correct word is “fewer.” 

Fewer is used when you can count the quantity (e.g., “fewer students,” or “fewer hours in the workday,” or “fewer corn kernels”).


Less is used with an indeterminate quantity (e.g., “less interest,” or “less time,”  or “less corn”). 



8.    Correct. 

Fred can count the number of his employees, so “fewer” is correct.



Score:



8 = You’re perfect.  (But, you knew that already.)  Keep emailing!



6 - 7 = You’re okay.  You could learn a few tips from my book, Email Etiquette Made Easy (see link in resource box).



3 - 5 = You could use some help.  Try my book, Email Etiquette Made Easy (see link in resource box).



Less than 3 = Ugh!  Call me now!  We’ll schedule your intense therapy immediately.

Successful Business Relationships

Successful business relationships are based on Value, Competence, Trust, and Propriety.



Value



Value:  The customer’s perception of your worth, excellence, usefulness, or importance.  Value addresses the customer’s question, “What can this person or company do for me?”



Value can be articulated by explicitly answering these questions throughout the sales cycle:



• How  much? (what the customer can expect to gain by doing business with you — in increased sales, lower costs, etc.)



• How soon? (when the customer will be able to receive the value)



• How sure? (proof that the customer will in fact attain the value stated)



Provide norms for the customer so that there is little question of what the customer can expect from you: “We have a track record of providing a 15% cost savings and 90% product availability within 2 days of order.”



What are norms that your customers can expect you to live up to?



Remember, it is YOUR job to tell your customers what value they can expect — customers shouldn’t have to work to figure out the value themselves.  If you don’t explicitly quantify the value your customer can expect to receive — and your competition may be doing this work for your customer — who is going to win the sale?



Competence



Competence:  The customer’s perception of your skill, knowledge, and experience with respect to them or their business.  Competence addresses the customer’s question, “Can this person or company do what they say they can do?”



Competence is demonstrated by the following:



• Completing and implementing an organized and logical sales approach



• Conveying an understanding of the customer and their business



• Demonstrating research and knowledge



• Substantiating your capabilities



• Involving team members appropriately and on a timely basis



The perception of competence is gained over time.  As you work these guidelines into your approach to your customers, you will gain credibility and enhance your business relationships.



Trust



Trust:  The customer’s confidence in your integrity, ability, and intent.  Trust addresses the customer’s question, “Do I trust this person?”



Trust is demonstrated by the following:



• Using third party introductions



• Providing a letter of recommendation (objective references help build credibility)



• Displaying honesty, candor, empathy, and respect (show that you’ve done your homework, show a concern for their time and issues)



• Conveying win/win intent (concern for positive outcome/success for both parties)



• Above all, substantiate with action:

o Establish a track record of follow-through

o Set new norms (guidelines for expected behavior that are agreed to and that can be counted on)



Propriety



Propriety:  The customer’s perception of the appropriateness or properness of your actions with respect to them or their business.  Propriety addresses the customer’s question, “Is this person behaving properly or appropriately?”



Part of exhibiting propriety is in the way you present yourself.  Over half of others’ perceptions of you is based — at least initially — on your appearance.  Therefore, take care in your physical appearance, mannerisms, vocabulary, and business etiquette.  If your first “appearances” occur on the phone, pay special attention to your tone, enthusiasm, and vocabulary.



A second, critical part of demonstrating propriety involves your adaptability to other people.  In business, the Golden Rule — “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” — is usually inappropriate.  In fact, if you treat others as you want to be treated, you may end up ignoring their needs, wants, and expectations, which may be completely different from your own.



You must be astute enough to recognize others’ needs, wants, and expectations AND you must be flexible enough to treat people the way they want to be treated.

Relate to your customers in a way that makes them feel most comfortable.  This decreases “relationship tension” and increases trust, credibility, cooperation, and the commitment to work with you.



Build your business relationships — and your future — by focusing on these critical elements of Value, Competence, Trust, and Propriety.



Terence R. Traut is the president of Entelechy, Inc., a company that helps organizations unlock the potential of their people through customized training programs in the areas of sales, management, customer service, and training.  Terence can be reached at 603-424-1237 or ttraut@unlockit.com.  Check out Entelechy's website at www.unlockit.com.

ROI-calculating accurately

The phrase "return on investment" (ROI) is thrown around a lot, but do you know what it really means and how to calculate it?



Three ways to calculate ROI

Cash-on-cash If $20,000 is invested and it grows by $10,000, it’s a 50 percent cash-on-cash rate of return, which is great for wealth building.

Total amount of investment If you put $20,000 down for a $200,000 mortgage, the growth is happening on the $200,000, not what you originally put in. This is arguably less relevant because the amount made on what was originally put in is more important and helpful.

Lost opportunity cost When you’re looking to raise money with another person’s money, you need to demonstrate the loss he could incur if he doesn’t invest. If you have an investment that pays a 20 percent interest and the lender has money in something that only pays 5 percent, you need to show him how much he is losing if he passes up your opportunity.



What the rich do that we don't

The rich develop a wealth building niche that allows them huge rates of return on what they do—real estate, investing in the market, your day-to-day business. Once they make the money, without fail, the wealthiest of the wealthy buy bonds, key bills or some other type of fund that pays a return of three percent to five percent. They want to protect their principle. They only roll the dice in an area of expertise where they can expect a safe return.

Top Tips For Starting Your New Business

Prices are going up, up, up and just about everybody is needing a little extra cash these days. This is probably the best time ever for you to own your own small business.



Now before you start thinking you'll have to get a bank loan, remember that you can own a small home-based business for just a few dollars--or even FREE.



You can easily run your home business from your kitchen table and, frankly, you can finance your business from a few bucks you save out of the grocery money.



How much time will it take to run your home business? That depends on several things, but mostly it depends on how hard you want to work your business. If you've got lots of time through the day you can work your business, then you can go after it full force. If you've already got a job or two, you can work your business in the evening, in the morning before work, or on the weekends.



The amount of money you earn will largely depend on how hard you work your business. If you're full-time, your business can start out earning hundreds each month and move up to several thousand dollars a month in earnings.



Work your business part-time and you can earn anywhere from an extra $100 to $1,000 per month. And that might be just what you need to supplement your income from your regular job.



What kind of business should you own? Try to find one that matches your talents and needs. If you like to talk to people and sell them on your ideas, you would do very well in a business that requires a little selling. You'll enjoy it and make a lot of money at it.



If the idea of having to sell something makes you want to run the other way, don't worry. There are businesses that require almost no selling. About all you have to do is use the products you sell and talk to people about the products when they ask.



Of course, new customers rarely fall into your lap. You have to make an effort to find new prospects. Here are several simple and cheap ways to get new customers.



1. Talk to everyone you know about your business. More than a few will take an interest and want to buy from you.



2. Send out letters or postcards. Send 10 per week. You can get names and addresses from clubs, associations, the chamber of commerce, and "list brokers" who are in the business of selling addresses. Check your Yellow Pages under "Direct Mail."



3. Put up a web site. Include all your experiences, products, and ideas on it, then register the site with Google. It's free to do and pretty soon all the search engines will include your site's listing.



4. Put ads in email newsletters. It's a very cheap way to reach thousands of people who are probably very interested in a home business. Search Google for "ezine directory" to find sites that list thousands of email newsletters.



5. Sell your products or service as a fundraiser for a local non-profit. They can sell the product you supply. It's a win for them and a BIG win for you, as you'll make money from those sales and often grab new customers in the process.



6. Sell at flea markets in your area. Get a low-cost booth and tell your story to anyone who will listen. That's what flea markets are for, and you won't feel one bit out of place.



7. If you already have a web site, promote your business on your site and convert your audience into customers.



These are a few time-tested ideas to help you get started. If you're getting the itch to start your own business, go for it. It'll be the smartest thing you'll ever do.

New Product Development

New product development is one of the most important components of product policy and product management. Product lines and products are appraise and are positioned effectively. Brand decisions are taken wisely. For a higher level of growth, a firm has to look beyond its existing products. A progressive firm has to consider new product development as a cardinal element of its product policy.



Innovation is the essence of all growth. This is especially true in marketing. In an age of technological advancements, change is a natural outcome --  change in food habits, change in expectations and requirements. Any business has to be vigilant to these changes taking place in its environment. People always seek better products, greater convenience, newer fashion and more value for money.



A business firm has to respond to these dynamic requirements of its clientele and these responses take the shape of new products and new services. Through such a response, the firm reaps a good deal of benefits. New products become necessary from the profit angle too. Products that are already established often have their limitations in enhancing the profit level of the firm. Profits from products decline as they reach the maturity stage of their life cycle. Thus, it is necessary for business firms to bring in new products to replace old, declining and losing products.



New products become part and parcel of the growth requirements of the firm and in many cases, new profits come to the firm only through new products. New products can be broadly classified into two groups: new products arising out of technological innovations and new products arising out of marketing oriented modifications. The first group involves innovations leading to intrinsically new products with a new functional utility behind them. The second group involves mere marketing oriented innovations in existing products; it gives rise to new versions of the existing products.

Email Grammar Tips

You may think there is no connection or relevance between constructing email messages with grammatically correct sentences and conducting the functions of a competent businessperson.  However, your clients may disagree. 



In order for customers to buy your products or use your services, they must have confidence in your abilities.  Using proper grammar is important to make a positive impression.



The same can be said for internal correspondence within a corporation.  Coworkers in other departments may not know anything about the work you do, but they may know English grammar.  And, they may be quick to point out when you don’t use that English grammar properly.



Since space prohibits a lengthy discussion on proper grammar, the following is a brief discussion of one common grammatical problem.  Watch for these errors when composing your email messages.



Fewer or Less

Determining whether to use the word “fewer” or the word “less” can be tricky.  Here are two techniques to help.



1.  Quantifiable Method



One technique is called the quantifiable method.  Ask yourself if you can count the individual items (e.g., apples, paper clips, calculators) or if you can’t count the quantity (e.g., food, time, patience). 




•     If you can count the items, use “fewer.”



•     If you can’t then count the items, use “less.”



For example, you can count the number of email messages you receive.  And, most people want FEWER messages!  Why?  Because they’d like to spend LESS time on email.



2.  Much or Many Method



Here is the second technique to help you determine whether to use the word “fewer” or the word  “less.”  This method is a little quirky.  But, hey, “quirky” is more fun and that makes it easier to remember. 



If you can rephrase the sentence by using the word “much,” then you select the word “less.”  On the other hand, if you can rephrase the sentence by using the word “many,” then you select the word “fewer.” 



•     Many = “fewer.”



•     Much = “less.”





Example



The following example demonstrates how to determine when to use the word “fewer” and when to use the word “less.”  This example illustrates both the quantifiable method and the quirky “much or many” method.



Determining When to Use “Fewer” or “Less”



Quantifiable Method:



•     If you can count the items, use “fewer.”



For example:      There are fewer than six cars in the parking lot.



•     If you cannot count the items, use “less.”



For example:      We had less gasoline in the car than we thought.





Much or Many Method:



•     If you would use “many,” then use “fewer.”



For example:      She doesn’t have many students.

Therefore, she has fewer students.



•     If you would use “much,” then use “less.”



For example:      I don’t have much time.

Therefore, I have less time.



Regardless of which method you use, be aware of the impression you’re making with your email messages.  You’ll suffer LESS stress if you can retain MORE customers and staff by being professional.

Tracking For Profits

If you can't track it, don't do it.



Every high-performance venture needs a tracking system. A tracking system with well-designed metrics lets everyone know how well they are doing relative to their commitments. It is a guide to whether additional or extraordinary actions need to be taken.



It is one of the first things I set up with my business coaching clients because without a clear set of objective metrics it is hard for people to be clear about their results.



Establish intentions for your project, figure out the critical success factors, determine suitable measurements for each, and set performance targets for those measures.



For example, say your intention is to increase market penetration. The measure is your venture’s sales divided by total sales in your market. Perhaps your current market share is 10% -- good, you have a benchmark, and your new target is 25% by the end of the year.



That’s objective, measurable, and thus... achievable.



Make someone accountable for your project’s performance against each target.




Establish a timely tracking system for each metric, which easily gathers the necessary data.



Develop periodic interim performance targets, and a reporting structure to let everyone involved know how they are doing.



Your performance tracking systems can be kept with pen and paper, or they can be automated on your computer system. However you implement them, keep it simple and don't let the overhead of your tracking system become a burden of any kind.



Below is a very simple system I used to keep track of my page output while writing Faster Than The Speed of Change. It was kept on a computer spreadsheet, but could just as easily been pencil on graph paper. Whenever I was below the line I had catching up to do.



Start with 0 in the lower left corner, write units of measurement along the left axis, and dates of measurement along the bottom. Draw a straight reference line from 0 to your goal, and plot your performance against that goal. Of course the reference line need not be straight; set it up in whatever way reflects the time-relationship of your goals.



If you want to find out how you can set up a performance dashboard and completely systemize your entire business to make it "scalable and saleable" link to http://www.turnkeycoach.com

Practice Makes Perfect: Changing Your Communication Habits One Step At a Time

We are what we do repeatedly,

Excellence, therefore, is not an act,

It is a habit.

-- Aristotle





The concept of practice applies to any skill that you want to cultivate. If you take up a new musical instrument, you will need to practice a while before you're ready to give your first concert. In Aikido, the martial art I study and teach, we get on the mat many times each week to practice and perfect our technique.



Improving our communication habits also requires practice. The problem with holding difficult conversations is we often find ourselves in performance mode before we have the chance. It is important to learn the skills of effective communication and to take the time to practice them.



There are many excellent books, teachers, and workshops that will teach the skills, then help you to practice and improve. Seek them out. Make a commitment to read one book or attend a workshop every few months.



You can also learn from your successful conversations as well as the ones that don't turn out as expected. By bringing awareness to what you did well and what you might have done differently, you gradually become more proficient. Here are some ways to bring that awareness to bear in the moment, and to continue to practice communicating more clearly and purposefully:



• Increase Awareness. Notice whether your communication style is accomplishing your goals. If not, try something different.



• Acknowledge. What is your positive hope for the communication? What is theirs? Recognize that you are both doing your best, and give yourself and your partner the benefit of the doubt.



• Keep it safe. Maintain a calm, centered attitude, a respectful demeanor, and a positive purpose.



• Cultivate curiosity. Develop an open, curious, and interested frame of mind. Regardless of what your conversation partner says, try to see their centered intent and respond appropriately.



• Practice, Practice, Practice. Try new techniques and learn from them. If you tend toward a passive and accommodating style, try offering a different opinion on occasion. If the opposite is true and you are on the talkative side, stop yourself and listen more. Ask questions. Try being curious.



A tourist stopped a New Yorker on the street and asked: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?” The New Yorker replied: “Practice!” An old joke, but a good one. The point is that change takes place gradually over time.  Try one adjustment today. Review the suggestions above, and pick one. Let me know what happens. Take time to enjoy your newfound power. And most of all – have fun!

Companies Stifle Intrapreneurs At Their Own Risk

I've noticed an interesting trend lately. Usually the e-mail I receive in response to this column comes from rookie entrepreneurs or established business owners seeking my input on startup matters, financing, employee relations, general management and leadership issues, policy matters, etc.



Lately, however, many of the messages are coming from employees of medium-size and large companies who are growing frustrated at working in an environment that they deem (to quote one e-mail) "Intellectually stifling and (that) offers few challenges of one's creativity and innovation.''



These folks are asking how best to move from being someone else's bored employee to coming into their own as an excited entrepreneur.



These people are called "intrapreneurs," and their ranks are growing, which should be of great concern to the employers who have either been unaware that they existed or have chosen to ignore them in the past.



By definition, intrapreneurs are employees who think with an entrepreneurial slant. Instead of just doing their jobs by the numbers, intrapreneurs approach every task with an entrepreneurial mindset.



They are always thinking of ways to improve products or processes. They are innovators, creative thinkers, and are quite often viewed by management as squeaky wheels. Unfortunately, intrapreneurs also are often seen as troublemakers and hard to manage because they push the envelope of what's expected from a traditional employee.



Most big companies don't want employees who think independently. They don't want employees who think outside of their job description, as intrapreneurs are prone to do. I know this from personal experience, but that's a whole 'nother column.



The primary difference between entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs is that the intrapreneur would be just as happy to spend his life as someone else's employee if the working environment nurtured and supported his efforts. Intrapreneurs do not want to become entrepreneurs.



They are perfectly happy working for someone else if the environment offers opportunities for advancement and growth based on initiative and creativity, not just on years punched in.



Sadly, most big companies do not know how to nurture their intrapreneurs. Just the opposite is more the norm: They give employees a policies manual and tell them to toe the line.



They hand you a written job description and expect you to operate within its parameters. When I quit my last real job some 10 years ago, my reason for doing so was that the corporate environment was just sucking the genius and the life right out of me. It's something I hear every week now from intrapreneurs.




Intrapreneuring is nothing new. As long as there have been employers and employees, there have been intrapreneurs. But the Internet boom spawned a new generation of free-agent-minded employees who want the mental rewards and freedom of working for an entrepreneurial venture, and the financial stability of working for an established company.




Just because the Internet boom went bust does not mean the mentality of this generation of entrepreneurially minded employees has changed.



To the contrary, intrapreneurs are now part of practically every midsize to large organization, and they are biding their time and watching for opportunity while on the company payroll. This new generation of employees brings a change in the workplace mindset - from one of "serial employment" to one of "entrepreneurial advancement."



The only way to convert the focus of these employees, who are usually the most talented people within the organization, is to give them what they want - the opportunity to excel and grow within an environment that appreciates entrepreneurial thought. When intrapreneurs are allowed to flourish, the entire company will follow.



We are in the age of ownership, where everyone from the CEO to the janitor has more opportunities and options than ever before. We demand ownership in our lives and in our careers. The gold watch has been replaced by the brass ring.




Here's to your success.

Starting Your Own Business

Once you make up your mind you want to go into business for yourself, that leads to a number of important decisions. You know you want to be your own boss, but you're not sure what kind of business to go into. Here are two different ways of addressing this question.



The "Production Model" of Doing Business



Most of us start out in business by applying what we might call the "production model". We are all capable of doing certain things -- cutting hair, cooking food, framing houses, fixing teeth, designing buildings, etc. -- and we set about to sell these services. We ask ourselves "What can I do? What are my skills?", and then we ask "How can I sell these skills? What products can I produce that take advantage of these skills?"



Many, many people believe the production model is the only way to do business. They believe Kevin Costner in "Field of Dreams" was uttering an important truth when he said "If you build it, they will come." They just change the words around a bit:



"If I set up my restaurant, people will come."

"If I start building bird houses, people will flock to my store."

"If I set up a lemonade stand, the neighbours will buy some."

"If I learn to be an airline pilot, surely someone will hire me."



And generally, this works. People go to school to become dentists or engineers or teachers, and they actually end up being dentists, engineers, and teachers. Other people love to cook or make bird houses, so they set up restaurants and craft shops, and miracle of miracles, their restaurants and craft shops are actually successful.



But this is an oversimplification of the marketing process, and distorts what actually happens "on the ground" when a new business is started.



One important reason trained dentists end up with successful practices is because the dental market is tightly controlled to allow only the right number of dentists to graduate every year.



And the reason we can point to successful restaurants and bird house companies, is because we are looking at them after they have been successful. What about all the restaurants, construction companies, and land development conglomerates that were not successful? Their owners were probably equally skilled, and enjoyed cooking and serving the public as much as the next guy. They built it, and nobody -- or at least, not enough people -- came.



So obviously going into business is not as simple as "If you build it, they will come." There are factors we cannot control, variables we cannot predict. And once we acknowledge this, we are forced to begin looking for an alternative to the "production model".



A Real Life Example



Let me give you another example. Many years ago, long before the internet even existed, I had a client involved in the music business. This company had been around for many years, and had grown to become one of the country's major publishers of certain niche music products. These were aimed mostly at the music-in-schools market, and included things like sheet music, children's music, and specialty record albums, featuring a stable of relatively low profile artists.



Like most companies, this one had built up a set of "skills", and had developed specific products and services in response to market demand. There was just one problem. The market was changing and the company was now losing money. My job was to help them sell more of their products.



Sometimes being an "outsider" is not a good thing. It seemed obvious to me that the market was changing, that sales of the old faithful products were doomed to decrease rather than increase, and that the long term answer to their problem was to develop new products in response to new demands, rather then try to flog the old ones. It was hard for me to be a "true believer" in the long term success of the company. It looked to me as though we were fighting a losing battle.



Of course, this was the beginning of the end of our relationship. As I've said, my job was to help them sell stuff, not reorganize their company. Most companies have a very difficult time shifting gears, and they certainly don't want to hear about it from some young whipper snapper who knows virtually nothing about their business. Within a few months we lost the account. And within a year or so the former client declared bankruptcy, and was forced to contract to about 25% of its former size.



I don't think this is very unusual. Lots of companies -- probably most -- are successful for a while, and then fall on harder times and are forced to change. My point is that eventually the "production model" stops working, and we are forced to consider alternatives.



The Most Obvious Alternative is the "Marketing Model"



When confronted with these obvious facts of business life, most marketers trot out the theory they learned in Marketing 101. "You must begin with an analysis of your market, determine what people are likely to buy, and then develop products accordingly."



In other words, the marketing guy (predictably) advocates that the marketing / production process be inverted. Marketing should be used to determine which products are likely to be successful in the market place, not brought in after the horse has left the barn. Marketing should come before production, not after. Don't worry about what skills you have. Skills can be bought or rented. Worry about what products you can sell. And then figure out how to make them.



The purest application of the marketing model these days is in internet marketing. For example, take Ken Evoy's instructions in the Site Build It manual where he details how to choose your marketing "niche". The process goes more or less like this:



1. Choose four or five possible areas of interest you might enjoy. These are your "website concept" candidates Гў?? the type of businesses you should consider going into.



2. Then analyze each of these website concept candidates in terms of the potential traffic you can generate, products you can sell, etc.



3. Choose the one with the best sales potential.



This sounds like a perfectly reasonable procedure. But in fact it is rather revolutionary for most non-marketing people. They are being told "Don't get "production" underway until you make some important decisions about what people are likely to buy." This is the "marketing model" in a nutshell.



Problems with the Marketing Model



The "pure" marketing model has one obvious problem. It assumes we are all sitting around a table as consultants with unlimited options and infallible information about all of them. The model seems to assume we can just feed the information into our decision-making machine and have the answer to the question "What should I do?" pop out the other end.



Even committed marketers know it does not work this way. Every person or organization has their own special likes and dislikes, and generally are good at doing some things, and not so good at doing others. Ken Evoy's procedure addresses this by saying "Be sure to choose something you feel passionate about." He should probably add "...and make sure you're good at it too."



Think of it like one of those industrial food processing units where you put a variety of things in the funnel at the top, and it spits out products at the bottom. What we feed into our business idea processor is not just a bunch of statistics about products and markets and prices, but also information about our own preferences, skills, habits, and experiences.



And we must keep all the ingredients going into the top of the machine in their proper proportion. It's not just about what people will buy. And it's not just about what we are good at or what we enjoy. It's about all of these things at the same time.

Should you trust your analyst? (Part II)

The first stage of most business decisions, such as marketing, hiring, and investing, is gathering data. In most cases the information is captured in the form of words. Once the gathering of data is complete, the next step is analyzing the collected words. In many cases this analysis is performed by professional analysts, such as marketing researchers, human resource managers, and portfolio managers.  In light of some recent scientific research, should you believe their analysis, and their recommendations?



A recent scientific study (Rothwell, P.M. and Martyn, C.N. Reproducibility of peer review in clinical neuroscience: Is agreement between reviewers any greater than would be expected by chance alone? Brain 2000 123:1964–1969) measured the level of agreement between reviewers of manuscripts submitted for publication in a scientific journal.  These reviewers are usually professors in universities with extensive expertise in the subject of the reviewed manuscript.  The editor of the journal asked the professors two questions: 1. should the manuscript be accepted, revised, or rejected, and 2. is the priority for publication low, medium, or high.  Every manuscript was evaluated by two professors.  The study was repeated with manuscripts submitted to two journals.  In journal A the study compared the evaluations of 179 papers and in journal B the evaluations of 116 manuscripts.  The agreement between the professors was calculated using the Kappa statistic.



The results showed no agreement between the reviewers regarding both the recommendation and priority for publication.  In fact, the level of agreement was no greater than which would produced by flipping a coin.  Moreover, when a larger number of independent reviewers evaluated the same manuscript, the results were the same, no agreement.  As the author of the study write "if peer review is an attempt to measure the overall quality of research in terms of originality, the appropriateness of the methods used, analysis of data, and justification of the conclusions, then a complete lack of reproducibility is a problem.  These specific assessments should be relatively objective and hence reproducible."  The assessments should be reproducible, but they're not.  When one professor said "accept for publication," the other said "reject," when one reviewer said "high priority for publication," the other said "low priority."



Points to consider:

1. In this study, the analysts were professors who were selected for their expertise in the subject of the manuscript. These professors possess a much higher level of expertise in the research subject relative to even the most experienced moderators and interviewers analyzing qualitative customer data, or the most experienced human resource managers analyzing candidate data.  So, if these highly trained experts failed to show consistent processing of qualitative data, what are the chances that the less trained professionals and layman will show consistent analysis of their data?



2. The criteria in this study were whether the research reported in the manuscript is original, uses appropriate methods, correctly analyzes the data, and properly justifies the conclusions.  As the authors of the study say, these criteria are regarded relatively objective.  Unlike this study, the great majority of qualitative studies involve subjective criteria such as tastes, morals, values, or preferences.  If the professors failed to consistently apply objective criteria when evaluating the manuscripts, how can the less trained professionals and layman be trusted to consistently apply subjective criteria when evaluating qualitative data?



3. In this study, pairs of professors assigned different values to the same manuscript.  Who is right?  After all this is science and both cannot be right.  Now, if such great experts failed to convince us that they can process a qualitative dataset correctly, or at least consistently, how can we trust professionals or layman when they say that they can?



Summary:

The first stage of most decision making in business is gathering data.  In most cases the information is collected in the form of words.  Once the words are available, the professionals who gather the data perform an analysis of these words, and present the results to the decision maker.  As the study by Rothwell and Martyn suggests, these professionals, most frequently, will fail in their analysis of qualitative data, and produce results which will prevent the decision maker from making the right decision.

Should we believe the experts? (Part II)

Why do we use experts?  To predict the future.  Consider a patient who is asking a physician about the future effects of a certain drug, or the investor who is asking a stock analyst about the future prices of a certain stock, or the manager who is asking a human resource manager about the future performance of a certain candidate, or the brand manager who is asking a market researcher about the future sales of a certain new product.  Should we believe these experts?  History tells us that accurate predictions of the future are rare.  Many examples exist where the brightest and most qualified individuals failed to see the future.  This series of articles presents examples from the arts (see part I), business (see part II), and science (see part III).



Should we believe the experts in business?

In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell offered his telephone patent to Western Union, the largest telegraph company in America, for $100,000.  A committee of experts was convened to decide on the company’s interest in the new technology.  The decision was clear.



“Bell’s profession is that of a voice teacher … yet he claims to have discovered an instrument of great practical value in communication, which has been overlooked by thousands of workers who have spent years in this field.  Any telegraph engineer will at once see the fallacy of this plan.  The public simply cannot be trusted to handle technical communications equipment … When making a call, the subscriber must give the number verbally to the operator who will have to deal with the persons who may be illiterate, speak with lisps or stammer, or have foreign accents or who may be sleepy or intoxicated when making a call … In conclusion, the committee feels that it must advise against any investment whatever in Bell’s scheme.” (Martin 1977, p 11)



What was the cause of the misguided intuition exhibited by the Western Union committee?  Another common cause of misguided intuition is the “numeration bias.”  Experts, like all humans, tend to assign a value to an idea by the number of people who support it.  On the one hand, Western Union had all the “thousand of workers who spend years in the field” and on the other, the lone Alexander Graham Bell, who wasn’t even an engineer, but a voice teacher.  Who would you believe?  Could you blame Western Union for dismissing the value of Bell’s patent?  The implications of Western Union’s misguided intuition were profound.  In 1877, when three thousand telephones were already in service, Western Union realized that they made a tremendous mistake, and in December of 1877, they set up the American Speaking Telephone Company, in clear violation of Bell’s patents.  In September 1878, the Bell Telephone Company, which was founded in 1877 and owned Bell’s patents, filed suit against Western Union, and although the Bell Company was still a small fledgling company, while Western Union was a giant, it won the law suit and forced Western Union out of the telephone business.



How is this example related to qualitative research?  When analyzing qualitative data, analysts prone to the numeration bias tend to assign a value to an idea by the number of times it is mentioned in the data, a method known as “frequency counting.”  However, frequency counting is ill suited to the analysis of qualitative data.  Consider the following example.



“Bill, the duck used his bill to pull a bill out of his pocket to pay the bill and then reconsidered and very angrily said: “Bill me!”



Frequency counting will argue that BILL is the most important word in this sentence.  But which BILL is it?  Is it the duck, the beak, the money, the tab, or the charging action?  All five BILLs have different meanings and should not be considered as indicating the same idea.  Adding them up to yield a frequency of five is like adding apples and oranges.  Moreover, frequency counting will also tell you that the fact that BILL is very angry is not important since it only mentioned once in this sentence. 



Unlike structured quantitative data, qualitative data always includes a unique expression, voiced by a single individual, which “says it best.”  This expression communicates an idea, or sentiment, that many share but only one can articulate.  Therefore, when analyzing qualitative data, one should look for articulation rather than numeration.  Otherwise, the analysis will produce misleading results and misguided intuition.



Martin J.  Future Developments in Telecommunications.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice-Hall, 1977.

Lowest Price – Enjoy Fast Profits

Lowest price of any product is the price that is set at the minimum without undergoing any loss by either the businessmen or the customers. Before you fix the lowest prices, you should research on factors like what to sell, how to sell and whom to sell. After these factors are decided you should fix the prices of the products and services that you want to sell.



How to win a price war?



A close research on Economics suggests that price is the result of demand and supply. The market will always settle on a certain amount. The wholesalers and retailers will start fixing their own prices depending upon the equilibrium of the market price. If you can be one of those wholesalers or retailers, fixing your prices at the lowest then you can be assured of huge profits.

Traditionally there are three ways to set the price for a product:



- Standard Markup – always adding the same percentage markup to the cost of products [i.e. cost plus50%]



- Competitive Parity – charging the same price or average price of the competition



- Zero-based pricing – receiving a small margin per item with high volume of sales



You should fix your price based on the perceived value to the customers. To fix the lowest price without undergoing any loss, you should know what people want to pay? Either contact a market research firm or do it yourself if you are in a budget.



Pricing for a healthy business



Setting lowest price does not mean that you undervalue your products and services. While lowest pricing is a blessing amongst businessmen, under-pricing is a curse for them. Getting sound business advice solves the first problem of understanding the best way to approach pricing of one’s product or service. Remember that costs determine the lowest price and must include overhead expenses, demand and supply factors of that product or services.



Since cost can determine lowest price, therefore concentrate to keep your cost of production low. Try to use advanced machineries that will produce high quantity of products with little amount of raw materials. This will offer you to produce in bulk and you can keep the price much lower than other wholesalers.



Visit websites of people selling the same products, compare their price lists with one another and then set your own price. This will help you to set the lowest price for your products.



Benefits of setting lowest price



There are several benefits of fixing lowest price. They are:



- You will get lifetime customers who will come to you for business again and again.

- You will gain fast popularity in the market, both amongst businessmen and customers.

- You will have quick cash flow, as customers’ will crowd to your shop.

- You are assured of long-term huge profits.



Your customers are tough and demanding, so supply products and services at lowest prices. This will help you to earn lifetime customer relationships.

Want To Be Wealthy? Don’t Stop Dreaming!

If I asked 100 people if they would like to be rich, I'm sure at least 98 of them would answer yes. Their answer might range from, "maybe if the conditions were right" to "YES, and make it fast!"



Most people think of the wealthy as being reserved and probably a bit cautious. The thinking goes that if the millionaire wasn't very cautious with how he spends his money, he wouldn't have a million dollars left.



But a closer look at who gets wealthy gives a far different picture. You see, at the very core of American business is a deep enthusiasm. People who get rich tend to be people who can make the most of the American business system. And those people tend to be gung-ho, enthusiastic, and more than eager to charge straight ahead. If you say, "I've got a way to make a lot of money, do you want to start tomorrow?" Most will reply, "Let's start NOW!"



One European marketing guru got it right when he said, "American business likes to jump in and take chances. In France they'll sit on a good idea until it's time has passed. Americans can't wait to get going." And I would certainly say that attitude toward business applies to everyone in North America, whether they be in the U.S. or not.



Here are several ways to light your own fire and get your business future on its way:



1. When you see a business opportunity, let your enthusiasm grow. Rather than thinking of all the ways the business might fail, spend time thinking ONLY of the ways it could succeed and succeed BIG.



2. Listen to those around you, but don't let your friends, family, and people at work talk you out of an idea you really believe in. Scientific studies show it's very hard to keep your beliefs solid when two or more people gang up on you. Keep in that in mind. If you start to see the downside of your business after talking to others, go back to step one and get yourself fired up again.



3. KEEP yourself fired up. It's not enough just to get excited at the start. You've got to get up every morning reminding yourself just how cool your business really is.



4. Try to surround yourself with people who see things as you do. That's a great way to keep your resolve and pump up your vision. That may sound a little self-centered, but it's THE way top corporate leaders get things done in the CEO's office. You can use that method even if you're one person working from your kitchen table.



America is number one in business worldwide because we aren't afraid to dream. We aren't afraid to be enthusiastic. And that immense, American enthusiasm is our greatest asset in our never ending quest for wealth and financial security.

Best price endowment selling process and the future of TEPs

The traded endowment market exists because over 100,000 people each year decide to sell endowment policy or surrender endowment. 




Most endowment life insurance policies were originally taken out for 25 years, but the majority of policyholders never wait until maturity for cashing in endowment and surrender them. In many cases, the endowment policy surrender values offered by insurance companies are less than the market value. In addition, investors are keen to buy traded endowment policies as part of their investment portfolios. The market exists because there are people willing to endowment cash in and people wanting to buy them for investment purposes.    



In 2003, the government estimated that about eight in ten of the endowment policies then in force were unlikely to pay off the mortgages they were taken out for. Since then, nearly 70% of those facing a shortfall have re-mortgaged, sought financial advice or applied for compensation. However, about 700,000 people had still done nothing about their endowment shortfall. The general rule is that, people must complain within three years of receiving their first "red letter" - outlining a likely shortfall - from their insurance company or lender. Under industry rules, insurers are allowed to ignore complaints made after the time bar comes into play. Specialists say that, ‘2013 will be the peak year for endowments reaching maturity’. Nevertheless, endowment life insurance policyholders now can imagine the future awaiting them and selling endowment policies on time is the best option ahead.



The endowment policy selling process starts when the owner contacts with the TEP brokers. The details are forwarded to the trader who will endeavor to beat the current endowment surrender value. This service is completely free of charge and there is no obligation if you log on to www.bestpriceendowment.com.



Every offer made by Best Price, to sell your endowments, will be higher than the current endowment surrender value offered by the respective life office. If you decide to accept the offer, you simply need to complete the acceptance form and return it to them.



After receiving your offer acceptance letter, they approach the life office to clarify the policy details. The endowment policy buyer then looks to place the policy into a portfolio with other policies. There can be anywhere between 5 and 300 policies in a single portfolio. As soon as the endowment policy is reserved into a portfolio, they will look to complete the sale as soon as possible. The Endowment selling process is as simple and secured as that if you contact an F.S.A (Financial Services Authority) authorized and regulated organisation like Integrity Financial Solutions Ltd.  



For further details or selling endowment, one may contact Integrity Financial Services. Phone: 08701 287 330/1/3

Fax: 08701 287 334/5

Email: enq@ukintegrity.co.uk

Address: Silvester House

Silvester Road

Waterlooville, Hampshire

PO8 8TD

Should you trust your analyst? (Part III)

The first stage of most decision making in business is gathering data.  In most cases the information is collected in the form of words.  Once the words are available, the professionals who gather the data perform an analysis of these words, and present the results to the decision maker.  Recent scientific research shows that these professionals, most frequently, fail in their analysis of qualitative data.  The article includes evidence from a recent scientific study.



A scientific study (Baxt WG, Waeckerle JF, Berlin JA, Callaham ML. Who reviews the reviewers? Feasibility of using a fictitious manuscript to evaluate peer reviewer performance. Ann Emerg Med. 1998 Sep;32(3 Pt 1):310-7) introduced 10 major and 13 minor errors in a fictitious scientific manuscript.  The manuscript was sent to all reviewers of the Annals of Emergency Medicine, the official publication of the American College of Emergency Physicians.  The Annals has been in print for more than 25 years, and is the most widely read journal in emergency medicine.  The work described in the manuscript was a standard double-blind, placebo control study of the effect of the propranolol drug on migraine headaches.  The manuscript was reviewed by 203 reviewers.  Eighty percent of the reviewers were professors at academic emergency medicine departments, and twenty percent were physicians in private practice.



The analysis of the reviewers' comments produced the following results.  Fifteen reviewers recommended publication.  The reviewers in this group missed 82.7% of the major errors and 88.2% of the minor errors. Sixty seven reviewers recommended revisions.  The reviewers in this group missed 70.4% of the major errors and 78.0% of the minor errors. One hundred and seventeen reviewers recommended rejection.  The reviewers in this group missed 60.9% of the major errors and 74.8% of the minor errors.



According to the table, the 15 professors who recommended publication, on average, missed 82.7% of the major errors, and 88.2% of the minor errors.  In other words, the professors missed at least 4 out of 5 errors inserted in the manuscript.  These errors were defined by the authors as "nonremediable errors that invalidated or markedly weakened the conclusions of the study."  It is interesting to note that one of the minor errors included in the manuscript was a misspelling of the drug's name.  Out of the 203 reviewers, 30 were convinced in the correctness of the misspelled name and used it throughout their interview.  The authors of the study said about the results (with the usual scientific undertone): "the small number of errors identified by the reviewers in this study was surprising.  The major errors placed in the manuscript invalidated or undermined each of the major methodologic steps of the study … The identification of even a fraction of these errors should have indicated that the study was unsalvageable, yet the reviewers identified only 34% of these errors, and only 59% of the reviewers rejected the work."




Points to consider:

1. In this study, the reviewers were professors and private practice physicians with an average of 3 years experience as reviewers for the Annals and additional years of experience reviewing scientific manuscripts for 2 other scientific journals, and with 10 years of experience practicing emergency medicine.  These reviewers possess a much higher level of expertise in the subject of the tested manuscript relative to even the most experienced market researchers analyzing qualitative customer data, the most experienced human resource managers analyzing candidate data, the lawyers analyzing patents, or the investment analysts and consultants analyzing business data.  So, if professors and physicians failed to recognize major errors in a standard scientific manuscript, what are the chances that the less trained professionals will identify gaps and inconsistencies in non-standard qualitative business data?



2. In this study, the professors were expected to identify the technical errors found in the manuscript.  The identification and elimination of this type of errors is the objective of the years of training undergone by every scientist.  Unlike this study, the great majority of qualitative studies in business include psychological gaps and inconsistencies, and unlike scientists, most other professionals receive little to no training in the identifying psychological errors.  If the professors failed to identify most of the technical errors, what are the chances that the less trained professionals be successful in identifying the much more challenging psychological errors?



3. How worried should you be when a market researcher is analyzing your focus groups?  A typical focus group holds about 12,000 words.  An average manuscript holds about 3,000 words, much less than a single focus group.  A typical market research study consists of 4-8 focus groups, or 16 to 32 times more text.  So, if the experts in this study failed to identify most of the technical errors in a volume of data equivalent to one forth of a single focus group, what are the chances that a market researcher will identify the psychological inconsistencies (and intellectual inconsistencies) with a much larger dataset?



4. How worried should you be when a human resource manager is analyzing a pool of candidates? A transcript of a one hour interview holds about 6,000 words (when hiring middle and top managers, the interviews might take a whole day with an order of magnitude more words).  When interviewing a few candidates, the total data may include 30,000 or more words (for 5 candidates).  So, if the experts in this study failed to identify the major inconsistencies in a volume of data equivalent one half of a single interview, what are the chances that a human resource manager will identify the major inconsistencies with a much larger dataset?



5. How worried should you be when an investment analyst is analyzing some companies for you? An annual report might include tens of thousand of words.  For instance, the IBM 2004 annual report is 100 pages long and includes more than 65,000 words.  So, if the experts in this study failed to identify the major problems in a dataset that holds less than 5% of the data included in the IBM 2004 annual report, what are the chances that an investment analyst will identify the major problems hidden in the much larger dataset?



Summary:

The Baxt, et. al. study shows that professors and physicians, who are highly trained professionals, most frequently fail to identify major technical errors in a standard qualitative dataset, and as a result arrive at the wrong decision.  What are the chances that the less trained professionals will outperform the professors at identifying the more challenging psychological gaps and inconsistencies in a much larger non-standard dataset?  And, when the professional analysts fail, what are the chances that, although misdirected, you still make the right decision?

Three Keys To Fabric Selection

There is so much variety available in fabric shops, on-line, and in mail-order catalogs that it's almost difficult to choose. Often, I end up buying fabric whether I need it right now or not. After all, a quilter must always have fabric on hand.



The "magic" comes when you find a fabric that you fall in love with. Finding a suitable fabric usually isn't difficult for a project you're working on. Settling on just one fabric is the hard part.



Here are some criteria to keep in mind when making fabric selections: colorfast quality; fiber content; surface design. If you stick to some guidelines about these criteria, then you're sure to be pleased with the final result of your project.



Surface Design:



The printed or woven surface design and, of course, the color, is very important.



1) Try to pick fabrics with the same color value so one doesn't stand out in the finished quilt.



2)Check to see if there is a one-way direction in the design; you may need to purchase extra fabric to allow for cutting fabrics with plaids or stripes.



3) The size of the design and the background spaces are also important considerations. Are the designs large, medium, or small? Is the background area prominent? How will this particular fabric look when cut it into small quilt pieces? If the design is too widely spaced, it may be lost in the cutting of the fabric.



Take a few minutes to analyze fabric and keep these questions in mind when purchasing fabric. It is far better to have left over fabric than be working on a project and run out of material. I've run out before only to find that the fabric is no longer in stock.



Colorfast Quality:



Avoid fabrics that fade. Pigment-dyed fabric resists light 40 hours. Wet-printed resists light 20 hours. The best thing to avoid having your quilt fade is to keep it out of direct sunlight.



Fiber Content:



The fiber content is especially important when purchasing fabric for quilts. The way fabric responds to manipulation is determined by the fiber content. The standard 100% cotton fabric sold for quilting is easy to work with and this is the best choice.



Cotton blends are harder to work with; they tend to shift while cutting or sewing them. 100% cotton is strong when wet, absorbs moisture, creases easily, irons nicely at high temperatures and wears well.



Beware of Discount Fabric:



For a good finished product, quilters need to purchase good-quality, colorfast cotton fabric from a reputable supplier. I've bought fabric from discount stores because I liked the print. Then I had trouble manipulating the material; it would shift and bunch as I sewed it.



The finished product usually reflected the problems I encountered while sewing. No matter how much money I saved on material, my time was wasted by producing a less than satisfactory quilt.



In order to be happy with your finished product, I recommend that you buy what appeals to you… as long as it is good-quality, colorfast cotton fabric that is treated with finishes to control shrinkage, resist soil, and resist wrinkling.

Should you trust your analyst? (Part I)

The first stage of most decision making in business is gathering data.  In most cases the information is collected in the form of words (also called qualitative data, or unstructured data).  For instance, marketing researchers conduct focus groups, perform in-dept interviews, or use open-ended questions in surveys to enable product managers and sales representatives to choose the best product design and the most effective message to convey to customers.  Another example is human resource managers who conduct interviews with candidates to enable the company to choose the best candidate for the job.  Once the gathering of data is complete, and the words are available, the professionals who gathered the data perform an analysis of these words.



A recent study (Craigie M, Loader B, Burrows R, Muncer S. Reliability of Health Information on the Internet: An Examination of Experts' Ratings. Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2002 Jan-Mar;4(1):e2) measured how consistent are experts when they analyze qualitative data.  The data included the text from 18 threads (series of connected messages) posted on a message board by individuals suffering from a chronic disease.  Each thread consisted of a start message, or question, and a number of responses, or answers.  The experts processing the data were five doctors who worked together in the same specialist unit, and who had at least five years experience in treating the chosen disease.  To process the data, the doctors devised the following two scales.  The start message or question was coded according to a 6-part scale: A = excellent; B = less good but with some details; C = poor with little detail; D = vague; E = misleading or irrelevant; F = incomprehensible.  The responses or answers were coded according to another 6-part scale: A = evidence based, excellent; B = accepted wisdom; C = personal opinion; D = misleading, irrelevant; E = false; F = possibly dangerous.



After processing the data, the codes assigned by all five experts were compared using three statistical tests: kappa, gamma, and Kendall's W.  The results showed poor agreement between the codes of all five experts in both the starting question and the responses.  Moreover, two of the five experts showed a statistical significant dis-agreement between the codes they assigned to the question, and different pairing of experts showed contradictions between the codes they assigned to the responses.  In simple terms, when one doctor labeled an answer with "A = evidence based, excellent," another doctor labeled the same answer with "E = false," or even "F = possibly dangerous."



Points to consider:

1. In this study, the analysts were doctors with at least five years of experience in treating the specific chronic disease.  These analysts possess a much higher level of expertise in the research subject relative to even the most experienced market researchers analyzing qualitative customer data, or the most experienced human resource managers analyzing candidate data.  So, if these highly trained experts failed to show consistent processing of qualitative data, what are the chances that the less trained professionals will show consistent analysis of their data?



2. The criterion in this study was whether an answer is "evidence based" (see code A) or not.  This is an objective criterion.  Unlike this study, the great majority of qualitative studies in business involve subjective criteria such as tastes, morals, values, or preferences.  If the doctors failed to consistently apply a single objective criterion when coding the text, how can the less trained professionals be trusted to consistently apply a large set of subjective criteria when evaluating qualitative data?



3. How worried should you be when a market researcher is analyzing your focus groups?  A typical focus group holds about 12,000 words.  The data in this study included 18 threads.  An average thread consists of about 5 postings with about 120 words each.  These numbers suggest that the data in this study included 10,800 words; less than a single focus group.  In contrast, a typical market research study consists of 4-8 focus groups, or 4 to 8 times more text.  So, if the experts in this study failed to show consistency with a volume of data equivalent to a single focus group, what are the chances that a market researcher will show consistency with a much larger dataset?



4. How worried should you be when a human resource manager is analyzing a pool of candidates? A transcript of a one hour interview holds about 6,000 words (when hiring middle and top managers, the interviews might take a whole day with an order of magnitude more words).  When interviewing a few candidates, the total data may include 30,000 or more words (for 5 candidates).  So, if the experts in this study failed to show consistency with a volume of data equivalent to a two interviews, what are the chances that a human resource manager will show consistency with a much larger dataset?



5. How worried should you be when an investment analyst is analyzing some companies for you? An annual report might include tens of thousand of words.  For instance, the IBM 2004 annual report is 100 pages long and includes more than 65,000 words.  So, if the experts in this study failed to show consistency when analyzing a dataset that holds less than 15% of the data included the annual report of a single company, what are the chances that an investment analyst will show consistency when analyzing a much larger dataset (such as the annual reports, financial statements, and press releases of a few companies)?



6. In this study pairs of doctors assigned different codes to the same question or answer.  For instance, one doctor labeled an answer with "A = evidence based, excellent;" while another doctor labeled the same answer with "E = false," or even "F = possibly dangerous."  Who is right?  After all this is medicine and both cannot be right.  Who should you believe?  And what should you do as decision maker?  If you believe that the first doctor is right, you should regard the response as great advice and follow its directives.  If you believe that the second doctor is right, you should run for you life.  Now, if such great experts failed to convince us that they can process a small dataset correctly, or at least consistently, how can we trust professionals when they say that they can?



Summary:

The first stage of most decision making in business is gathering data.  In most cases the information is collected in the form of words.  Once the words are available, the professionals who gather the data perform an analysis of these words, and present the results to the decision maker.  As the study by Craigie, et. al., suggests, these professionals, most frequently, will fail in their analysis of qualitative data, and produce results which will prevent the decision maker from making the right decision.

How to be the Leader in Wholesale Handbags

There are hundreds of wholesale handbags…why would customers buy their handbags from you and not the numerous competitors?



They want wholesale handbags that are cheap. They want wholesale handbags in a variety of styles. They want wholesale handbags that represent the whole spectrum of available designs. Can you give it to them? Are you really offering the best in wholesale handbags, or will they leave your site in frustration and go to another wholesale handbags provider?



Remember that there are hundreds of wholesale handbags sites on the Internet. If they don’t like your wholesale handbags, they’ll go elsewhere, and take their money with them. With this kind of competition you have to make yourself different. You have to have either the most affordable prices or the latest trends or the widest variety of wholesale handbags they’ll ever find at a click of the mouse.



Now you can really get the best suppliers, the best designers, and the best prices to stock your wholesale handbags inventory. Our extensive directory of wholesale handbags suppliers puts you in touch with the companies that can give you the competitive edge. Now you can sell wholesale handbags that include the latest handbags from this season’s runways, as well as the inexpensive and classic styles that many people look for when they visit wholesale handbags sites.



This extensive directory of wholesale handbags suppliers will immediately increase your edge over other wholesale handbags websites. Since you can talk to more suppliers, you have better bargaining power. You can find cheap sources for wholesale handbags, or negotiate for a better price, and then carry over those savings to your customers. You can be the wholesale handbags website with the best bargains, or the wholesale handbags website with the most frequent sales.



Our directory of wholesale handbags will also enable you to expand your inventory. You can include all the major designer labels and position yourself as the fashionista’s source for wholesale handbags. And if orders come pouring in for a particular style—as if often the case when something is declared as the “It” accessory by all the fashion magazines—and you run out of stock, you can always find an alternative supplier. You don’t lose money and turn away disappointed customers because you’ve run out of the hot item. Having this wholesale handbags directory means you always have what you need.

Deals – The Ideal Business Deal

Deal is an agreement that is reached after negotiation. Agreement is a mutual commitment between two or more people. A deal is a type of contract that two parties agree to follow. Deals are very prevalent in business areas, thus we are constantly hearing terms like business deals, financial deals and more.



While making a deal with another company or person, there are a few things that you should remember. When you are negotiating with another company, take charge of the situation. It is important to be in control of the deal initially to ensure a smooth flow of positive activity. You may sometimes face unavoidable situations when the opposite party cut a deal that leaves you exposed. It is not always possible to shield yourself. Leaving those unavoidable instances, try to be in control of the entire situation when you are dealing with another person or company.



While you are dealing with another company, it is best to collect the money sooner than later. Deposits, advances, and front-loaded payment schedules are ways of judging the reliability of the other company. Cash is always safer than checks in deals, and a certified check is safer than a personal one. While dealing with money matters, do not move beyond your budget. Take help from third-party financing, only after the deal is officially made.



In a deal, you should communicate clearly and specifically about your expectations, leaving no ground for misunderstandings. Have a condition attached to your deal. In a deal, make the key items subject to your approval. The best way of dealing with deals is to self inspect everything. Talk to the tenant and the franchisee to know how things are working.



In a deal, try to be the boss. Create a situation in the deal where the other party will report to you by giving you `various reports on the various stages of the deal. There are very few companies that are self sufficient. Making deals with various companies not only increases the trust between the two, but also ensure a rise for both of them.

The Rise of Condominium Developments

Condominiums are no longer for the retiree and well-to-do.  Whether a  first-time home buyer looking for a safe place to raise their  children or the young professional looking for luxurious living, the  growing market of condos offers another option to buyers of every kind. While most may consider condos to be new or extravagant, the fact is  condos do not have to be.  There is a growing trend of reconstructing rental units into condominiums and the market is taking it in stride.  Condo conversions are, however, causing a decrease in the  rental inventory in major cities, such as Las Vegas, Phoenix, and  Miami.  This is not stopping developers, however, as the condo conversions are priced affordably and are being snatched up by first-


time homebuyers everywhere.



Developers are purchasing run-down apartment buildings in properties  that are close to jobs and schools, converting them into affordable  condo units, and refurbishing them with more extravagant upgrades,  such as carpeting and stainless steel appliances.  They then will  revamp the common areas and put them on the market.  To help them  sell, many are including incentives and even offering to pay the  closing costs for buyers.  Many first-time homebuyers and retirees 

are purchasing them as they feel more secure.



Luxurious condos are also on the rise.  While the ownership of these  are centered more around a buyer looking for a quality lifestyle,  extravagant amenities, and great locations, there are many that are  willing to pay the price.  In Florida last year, a 4,800 square foot  condominium was sold for $4.65 million dollars.  In 2005, California  experienced a 90% jump in condominiums priced over one million.   There were 1,677 condo sales, all in the one million dollar price range.



Many of these luxury condominiums are located in areas of wealth and  many have top-notch views.  Amenities in such luxury condos may  include quality furnishings, such as appliances, granite counter  tops, and window treatments.  Many luxury condo buyers like the fact  that the properties are secure and feel their items of wealth are  protected in this type of environment and they don’t have to pay the  added cost of security.



Condo hotel developments are on the rise in larger cities, as well.   This type of luxury living affords one the opportunity of living in  their own condominium with all the amenities of hotel living, such as  room service, maid service, and concierge service.  Research shows  the average condo hotel buyer to be between the ages of 35 and 50  years old and many simply are purchasing them as either an investment  property and vacation property.



The 576-unit condo hotel, the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, sold all its  units during its preconstruction stage within a two month period.  In  other areas, such as Florida where the first condo hotels were  developed, sales are doing well.  In many of the areas, such as  Miami, there isn’t any undeveloped land available.  Therefore,  developers are simply taking advantage of the market in any way they  can.  These condo hotel sales are hot and when they are not on the  water, they offer luxurious living at an affordable price.



There are several reasons why many prefer condominium living over a  single-family dwelling.  Many consider themselves to be living in a  community within a community.  While there may be strict regulations or rules in the condominium development, most find themselves feeling  safer, as well as more involved, than they were when they lived in a  single-family dwelling.  Condominium developments generally charge a  monthly fee to all owners to take care of the outdoor maintenance, as 

well as security of the building and upkeep of the common area.  This  allows the condo owner to simply enjoy all the amenities of condo  living.



The fact is condo development is on the rise all over the United  States and Canada and will continue to do so as long as there are  buyers.  These condo buyers are simply looking to purchase the  lifestyle of condo living.  For many, feeling more secure in an  affordable home, being pampered by a doorman, and living close to the  city is what condo living is about.

Welding Safety And Certification

Welding is one of the most resourceful activities in the world.  Defined as a fabrication process that is used to join materials, welding often requires the melting of a material before joining it to another through the use of heat.  The welding industry employs a large number of workers and, because it is a dangerous job, it requires specialized training and certification.



In addition to pre-employment training, welding also requires specific safety measures that must be followed by every worker.  The proper knowledge combined with today’s technology can reduce the likelihood of injuries related to welding.  However, the risks associated with any job can never be completely eliminated.  Because welding commonly involves exposure to extreme heat, there is a significant risk of burns.  In an effort to prevent this risk, welding professionals must wear protective clothing, including leather gloves and special long sleeve jackets.  The additional coverage will help to prevent the likelihood of flames coming into contact with the skin and thereby helps to prevent burns. 



Actual contact is not the only risk associated to welding.  In fact, the brightness of the welding process is often damaging to the worker’s eye.  A condition may develop as a result of the cornea becoming inflamed and/or the retina becoming burned after exposure to ultraviolet light.  In order to prevent this occurrence, welding professionals are required to wear a helmet and goggles with a darkened face plate.  A number of companies also manufacture helmets with the face plate built-in. 



Welding professionals are also often exposed to harmful gases and/or smoke.  In an effort to reduce the worker’s exposure to these potentially dangerous pollutants, proper ventilation must be provided.  Employers who offer welding positions are responsible for the care and safety of their workers and, as such, are required to uphold certain safety standards in maintaining a proper work environment.



In order to find work as a welding professional, interested candidates are usually required to attend classes for certification.  The length of time spent in this type of learning environment will vary depending on the position and required expertise of the welder.  In order to enroll in welding certification classes, candidates will likely be required to pay a small fee before signing up.  The certification process is not lengthy and classes typically last for several months.  After successful completion, the graduate is awarded with a welding certification.  At that time, he/she may apply for jobs in the industry that is related to their field of study.

Automated Business Center Systems

Automated Business Center Systems are charging into the home office and sweeping aside many of the old-fashioned ways of doing business. They offer a quantum jump in efficiencies and are fundamentally changing the way part-timers run their home based businesses.



Imagine having an automated system in place that delivered all of your personally addressed promo material electronically to interested people. Then persistently – and without any fear of rejection – did the follow up while you slept.



Imagine new people being trained automatically and being kept fully informed of their progress every step of the way.



Welcome to the world of the Automated Business Center (ABC).



Simply speaking, an Automated Business Center is a sophisticated web-based software package designed to automatically deliver all types of information and perform many of the repetitive, boring, day-to-day tasks that can take up so much time in running a home based business.



Most Home Business owners run their operation part-time. They have to work smart and the ABC allows much of their business to run automatically while they are at their other job or business. The ABC allows the home business owner to operate more efficiently, even while they sleep, which will be the case if they are operating internationally.



Every module in the platform interfaces with the main database and all other modules in the system. This means that the “shopping list” of features is limited only by the imagination of the designer and web team – and the financial budget.



These systems don’t come cheap! Plan to invest well in excess of $250 000+ if you’re looking to build your own!



Here are some of the key features you will find in a state-of-the-art Network Marketing platform like the ABC AutoBiz Center:



• Promotional front-end

• Sponsoring Center

• Training Center

• Resource Center

• Family Tree Center

• Coaching Center

• Email Coaching

• Contact and Archive



For the astute part-time home business owner, being “time efficient” is everything. Cutting edge systems like the the ABC AutoBiz Center platform offer this as their central core benefit – and anything that helps us move toward that goal of a seven day weekend has to be worth a quick look!

Entity Structuring

Entity structuring is the use of limited partnerships, limited liabilities, and corporations. These can help you accomplish three things:

1.    Bullet-proofing your assets so that the bad guys are worse of if they try and take them away from you.

2.    Slashing your taxes so that they are within single digits.

3.    Protecting your privacy and building lasting wealth.



Let me explain how this works with the following example:



A case study: My friend Patrick grew up with the family business. His family sold expensive boats. His business grew. He was a financially intelligent man so he wanted to add a stream of income. Therefore, he decided to start a Marina, a land storage facility, a parts shop and a show room. I wanted to make sure he was properly protected and that he had bullet-proofed his assets. However, he was too busy making money to focus on it at that time. This was his fatal flaw. One day, I got that dreaded call from Patrick. The sheriff deputy was there to shut down his businesses: the Marina, the parts shop, the storage facility, and the show room. His business was locked down with pad locks in a matter of hours. Within six months, he lost all of his personal assets and filed both personal and corporate bankruptcy. The tragedy here is beyond his loses but the fact that this situation was completely avoidable. You can prevent this from happening to your business by using two power tools:

1. Limited Partnerships: separate legal entities. They separate your personal assets from business investments.

2. Limited Liability: similar to Limited Partnerships as they form a wall between you and the creditors and predators.



These two power tools include a built-in charging order that does not apply to your typical “S” or “C” corporations. A charging order basically states that the “bad guys” can not go after your assets. They will be able to go after income but not after you employ the following strategy. We can set up a separate management company for you. Then, you can shift your money from your LLC or LP into your separate management company. The last step in your protection is called imputing income, and it finalizes the prevention of lawsuits. The IRS can step in and tax these bad guys for the money they are suing for (even when they are unable to collect this money.) This ensures the fact that suing you will not be worth the effort.



In summary: They can not touch your assets because you have protected them. They can not receive the income because you have shifted it out. They are left with heavy taxes imposed by the IRS. Therefore, the likelihood of you being sued is next to nothing.

Attracting (And Keeping) Top Performers

Good people are hard to find, the saying goes. For example, by the year 2000 over 190,000 computer programmer and other information technology jobs will be vacant, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics report. (This is now a bit out of date, and although the dot-com bustups and the 2000-2001 recession has eased things a bit, it is still difficult to lure top talent.) It may be easy to fill these empty positions if you are a software giant like Microsoft, but there is a tremendous challenge attracting (and keeping) top performers if you are smaller and less well known.



According to chief executives and industry recruiters who were interviewed for this article, there are three main areas on which to focus: the quality and market position of your product or service, environment, and compensation.



Leading edge technology and a high perception of quality will lure top technical and design people, salespeople and support people, all for different reasons. Technology people relish the challenge of developing something new, plus they need ongoing opportunities for skill enhancement to remain fresh.



As for top sales people, a strong product means they can earn bigger commissions, and their egos are fulfilled by being on the leading edge. And top support people are smart enough to know that a quality product makes everyone's job easier, and it enables them to earn their incentives. For everyone, superior products will earn your company better returns, enabling more reinvestment in R&D, providing challenges and adventure for your technical people, and more and better product for your sales and marketing team.



What if your product is not cutting-edge, or your quality not up to snuff? Appealing to top performers is not going to be your only problem. Unless you control a mature market niche, your company will need to update and upgrade to remain viable - this requires high caliber people. If you want to survive in the marketplace you must concentrate harder on the next two factors.



Environmental factors - the corporate culture, the caliber of co-workers, the attitude of your management team, and your physical environment can be pivotal in finding and retaining talented people.



Corporate culture is one area smaller companies have an edge - that "hell-bent-for-leather" attitude makes it exciting and challenging to come to work, and there are fewer layers of bureaucracy people find so stifling. Real teamwork, where success is shared and the team affirms a common commitment, will draw other top professionals.



Having a smart, talented staff will captivate more smart, talented people. So will a collegial atmosphere which values the opinions of the rank-and-file along with open-management policies keeping the troops informed on the state-of-the-company.



A training plan, designed career paths and professional conference attendance are more ways to attract and keep people. Other small but significant options include dress code, flextime, telecommuting, offices with walls - these all help.



Last is the issue of compensation. The big salary problem is no matter how much you pay, a competitor can pay a little bit more. So in terms of salary level itself, you simply have to be at or near your market rate.



Pay-for-performance however, can take compensation much higher while avoiding salary inflation. A system of carefully designed bonuses and incentives will enable you to pay people for exceptional production.



Equity - stock grants, options and equity-like phantom stock - is a powerful way for smaller companies to entice people at all levels. Plus, smaller companies can grant equity without the usual waiting period required by public and larger companies. (Just remember to include a forfeiture clause in case of early termination.)



What does all this mean in real terms? Some of the ideas in this article are harder to implement than others, and some describe conditions you simply can't achieve. Must you arrange for every item mentioned above? Of course not, but systematically providing your people with the challenge to be their best, the opportunity to learn, the freedom to be creative, the incentives to perform and produce, a feeling of ownership, and the respect as professionals - these are the things that will make top technical and sales people want to join your company, and have them stay.

Should we believe the experts? (Part I)

Why do we use experts?  To predict the future.  Consider a patient who is asking a physician about the future effects of a certain drug, or the investor who is asking a stock analyst about the future prices of a certain stock, or the manager who is asking a human resource manager about the future performance of a certain candidate, or the brand manager who is asking a market researcher about the future sales of a certain new product.  Should we believe these experts?  History tells us that accurate predictions of the future are rare.  Many examples exist where the brightest and most qualified individuals failed to see the future.  This series of articles presents examples from the arts (see part I), business (see part II), and science (see part III).



Should we believe the experts in the arts?

D. W. Griffith is regarded by many as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time.  More than anyone of the silent era, he recognized the potential of movies as an expressive medium.  During that time, his achievements were momentous.  In 1915 he finished the feature “Birth of a Nation,” regarded as the first masterpiece of cinema.  In 1919 he finished the movie “Intolerance” (1919), which marked a new standard in filmmaking.  His next two movies, “Broken Blossoms” (1919) and “Way Down East” (1920), sealed his reputation as America’s preeminent director.  According to James Agee, "To watch his work is like being a witness to the beginning of melody, or the first conscious use of the lever or the wheel; the emergence, coordination, and first eloquence of language; the birth of an art: and to realize that this is all the work of one man."  The great silent movie actor Lillian Gish called him "the father of film" and Charlie Chaplin called him "the teacher of us all."  During the same time, D. W. Griffith also exhibited superb business instincts by founding the United Artist production company together with Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, and Mary Pickford, the three greatest performers of the day.



However, from the mid to late 1920s things began to change.  His intuitive powers started to wane.  In 1924, at the age of 49, Griffith wrote in an article published by the Saturday Evening Post, “We do not want now and we shall never want the human voice with our films.”  Only three years later, in 1927 the first talking movie, “The Jazz Singer” with Al Jolson was released.  The reaction of the public to the movie was astounding.  The picture was a sellout, one of the big box office hits of all time.  In October 1930, the Fortune magazine wrote, "The advent of American talking movies is beyond comparison the fastest and most amazing revolution the whole history of industrial revolutions."  Griffith’s failed prediction was only an early sign of his now chronic misguided intuition.  From the late 1920s, Griffith's movies were slowly sinking into oblivion.  In the glitter of the Jazz Age, his filmmaking was considered hopelessly old-fashioned.  His last picture, “The Struggle,” was made in 1931 and played in theaters for merely a week before being withdrawn.  On July 23, 1948, Griffith died in a small Los Angeles hotel virtually forgotten by the industry he helped build.



What was the cause of Griffith’s transition from great intuition to misguided intuition?  One of the most common causes of misguided intuition, and therefore, the limited success of experts in predicting the future, is the “situation bias.”  Experts, like all humans, tend to imagine future technologies as an extension of current technologies.  The bias grows stronger when the individual has a vested interest in the current technology and is concerned that the new technology will diminish the popularity of his or her prized, older technology.  Griffith was a master of the silent movie.  His skill in eliciting powerful reactions from the audience without resorting to spoken dialogue was legendary.  This unique skill was the reason for his downfall.  It distorted his intuition and prevented him from foreseeing the potential of the human voice in movies.



How is this example related to qualitative research?  The situation bias is especially strong in manual interpretation of qualitative data.  During such interpretation, the analyst shows a strong tendency to look for the familiar.  Pat Bentley from Apple emphasizes this point: “When you analyze the respondents’ answers manually you look for repeats, things that sound important either because you heard them before or you’re looking for them yourself; therefore, they make sense to you.”



Do you want to observe your own situational bias?  Go to (http://www.computerintuition.com/Question1.htm-http://www.computerintuition.com/Question1.htm) and follow the instructions.

Business for pleasure

We might be in the electronic gaming era, but it’s more like a fun game of Monopoly this business for pleasure of sport franchise ownership. The stakes are high, spending free, and visible worries few.



Despite the escalating fees for entry into the game, personal franchise ownership hasn’t been replaced by corporations. Of 121 big league professional sports franchises, only 15 have found their way into corporate hands. Most owners claim to be losing money which would explain takeover shyness of shareholder controlled companies. It’s nicer to think sole owners don’t want to sell because sports ownership is too much fun. A nice break from the normal business routine that brought them their wealth in the first place.



What are these businesses worth?



Unlike traditional industry, sport franchises derive their value from their ability to generate revenue. There are several reasons for this. Within a league, other owners are not the competition. Operating expenses are comparable one team to another. Revenues tend to move in relation to on field performance, the size of the venue, and home market size. Sharing in lucrative national broadcast rights is equal across an entire league.



Depending upon the sport, estimated values vary considerably but, within a given league and except for a few exceptions, franchise values are fairly closely grouped.



NFL franchises are greatest in value, topped by Washington Redskins, the first sport franchise in America to exceed $1 billion in value. Football is so far ahead of other sports, of the 33 top franchises, 32 are football. Only the Yankees, interrupt the string. Still, the lowest valued NFL team, Arizona Cardinals, is a tidy half billion.



Los Angeles Lakers, the jewel of the NBA are worth $500 million, putting them in a bracket more or less similar to the Dodgers and Mets of MLB. You could trade the top 8 NFL teams to acquire the entire NBA. That works out to something like $7.6 billion.



The first NHL team is well down the list at $270 million for the Detroit Red Wings but, that’s still $15 million more than the Tigers. In fact, the 2 to 300 million range represents the most common price tag in sports. There’s a good mix of  40 NHL, NBA, and MLB teams all in that grouping.



The truth is that anything, sports franchise or otherwise, is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. The allure of sport team ownership is the true value.

Magazine Subscriptions: The Perfect Gift

Every one of us has that person in our lives that is absolutely impossible to buy for. It may be a friend, coworker, or acquaintance. It may be a distant family member such as an uncle or cousin. Maybe it is even someone closer to you, like a parent or sibling. For some people, even buying a gift for their spouse can prove confusing.



People are hard to buy gifts for for a wide variety of reasons. Maybe the person on your list has everything they could possibly need. Maybe they are so picky that you are afraid to take a chance on personal gifts. Sometimes if you don’t know the person well enough, it is hard to buy a gift that is thoughtful but not too personal.



There is always the old standby when it comes to hard to buy for folks. Gift cards have become an acceptable way to acknowledge a gift giving occasion without having to worry about finding a present that suits the recipient. The problem with gift cards is that they are so impersonal. They don’t tell a person that you thought about them and took time to pick out a gift that was perfect for them. All they say is that you recognized a person’s special occasion by giving them money. This isn’t a great message to send and you run the risk of hurting the recipient’s feelings or even offending them when you give a gift card for special occasions.



So if gift cards aren’t a great idea and you are stumped as to what you can get for your hard to buy for friend, what is a person to do? Cash and checks are even more impersonal than a gift card and it is really hard to go to the mall and find something nice for someone you know very little about. Magazine subscriptions are the perfect solution. With the thousands of magazines in existence it is easy to find the perfect subscription even if you don’t know the recipient well.



If you want to buy a magazine subscription for any of the hard to shop for people on your list, and you aren’t quite sure what kind of magazine to buy, sit down and make a list of all the things you know about the person. Ask yourself if they have any hobbies that you know about. What kind job does the person have? Does the person travel a lot? Where does the person live? Does the person have pets or children? If you can answer even one of these five questions, you will have a basis to use when choosing which magazine to give your friend. You could buy them a subscription to a trade magazine that will keep them informed about changes in their industry. You could buy them one of thousands of hobby magazines that cover popular subjects like cooking and gardening to those that cover more obscure hobbies such as model trains or bird watching. If your friend loves to travel, there are lots of great magazines that showcase fun places to visit or get them a subscription to a general interest magazine. They can tuck the periodical into their carryon and always have something interesting to browse when they are on the go. If they have children or pets, consider a subscription to the hundreds of parenting and pet magazines that are in existence. Even if location is the only thing you know about the person you want to buy for, a magazine subscription is the perfect gift. There are regional magazines for every nook and cranny of the world and it is always fun to read about events that are local to you.



Once you have decided what magazine to purchase, go out and buy one copy of the magazine and wrap it up in a pretty box with a big bow. Include a card with the gift that tells the person they will soon start receiving the enclosed subscription in the mail. You can even tell them just why you choose the magazine that you did. Perhaps your aunt makes the most delicious pies so you think of her whenever you read through your favorite baking magazine and that made you want to get her a subscription to that magazine.



Don’t worry if the person already has a subscription to the magazine. Your gift will simply be added on to the end of their subscription extending the time that they receive the magazine. Giving a magazine subscription is a thoughtful way to remember someone and the best part about these gifts is that every time a magazine comes in the mail, the recipient will remember just how considerate a person you are.

Patents, Trademarks, Copyrights–What’s the Difference?





A patent protects inventions through federal law.  Inventions are your creative ideas for new products (articles of manufacture), machines, processes, methods, compositions of matter, ornamentation on products, or new plants.  An improvement on an existing product may also be patented.



Utility patents protect the majority of these.  To be patentable, your invention must be useful, novel and non-obvious.  Design patents protect the ornamentation on devices.  Plant patents protect new plant varieties.



Utility patents give you a monopoly (no one else can make, use, sell, offer for sale, or import your invention) for twenty years from the date of filing.



Design patents give you a monopoly for fourteen years from the date of issue, and prevent others from making the patented device with your ornamentation on them.  (By way of example, a table is a useful device.  If you could obtain a utility patent on a table with a flat surface and four legs, you could stop anyone from making such a table.  If your table had an unusual ornamental shape or surface pattern, you would be able to prevent others from making tables with that shape or surface pattern.)



Plant patents last for twenty years from the filing date of the patent application.



Infringement of your patent allows you to potentially obtain treble damages plus attorney fees.



Trademarks



Trademarks (or service marks for services) protect names, logos, slogans, and the like through both federal and state laws.  Your name, logo or slogan identifies you to your prospective customers as the source of the goods and services that you are offering, and thus constitutes a trademark.



There are both federal trademarks and state trademarks.  There are also common law trademarks that are not registered at either the federal or state level.  Federal trademark applications can be filed even before you are using the trademark name, logo or slogan to reserve your trademark.



Other than common law trademarks, federal and state trademarks must periodically be renewed.  Federal trademarks must be renewed every ten years.  If you no longer use the trademark, you lose your rights.  Otherwise, so long as you continuously use and/or renew the mark, you will continue to have rights forever.



Infringement of your trademark allows you to potentially obtain treble damages and attorney fees.



Copyrights



Copyright protects your creative artistic expression, but only once it is set into a tangible form.  For instance, you create and sing a song.  There is no copyright unless the song is recorded or written, because there is no tangible representation of your artistic expression.  However, once you write, record, photograph, draw, or otherwise create a tangible record of your artistic expression, you automatically have copyright.  That is, you are the only one who has the right to make or sell copies.



Ideas cannot be copyrighted.  They may only be patented.  Examples of copyrightable materials are written words, such as in books, magazines, poems, songs; written music; performances of music; paintings and drawings; photographs, videos, architectural plans, website content and layouts, and computer software.



Copyright lasts for 70 years plus the life of the creator (or last to die for multiple authors) for new works under current law.  If the work is made for hire, then the term is the shorter of 95 years from publication or 120 years from creation.



Federal laws provide you with the right to enforce your copyright, but only once it is registered.  There is the possibility of obtaining statutory damages of up to $150,000.00, plus the possibility of being awarded attorney fees.  Thus, it is very important to register your copyright as soon as practicable.



Other



Finally, trade secret protection is another means of providing protection to ideas.  However, the key word here is secret.  Let someone who has no need to know in on the secret and it is no longer protected.  Trade secrets are most suitable to keep secret formulas or processes protected.



For more information, please visit http://www.trwiplaw.com.



C2006, Williamson Intellectual Property Law, LLC; all rights reserved, world-wide.

This article, and/or the reading thereof, shall not be construed as offering, containing or receiving of legal advice, and shall not create any attorney-client relationship or privilege.  If you are considering protecting your intellectual property, you should consult with an attorney of your choice.

How To Write Killer Business Plans – Part 2

Keep your eye on the Executive Summary



The first thing your potential funding audience needs to be reading is your executive summary. There is a saying in the film industry that no great script is written, only rewritten, and in a way that's how you need to treat your executive summary. It's the most essential part of your plan because it acts like a shop window to the plan inside, and it needs to draw the potential investor in.



Why use 5 words when you can use 3? Why be vague when you can be direct? It's got to punch above its weight class and have impact, so don't be afraid of rewriting it until you know it off by heart.



Start with a paragraph about each important part of the overall plan, and avoid repetition. In the very first paragraphs, spell out what it is that your business does, who does it, and why it does it, and how it makes money doing it, along with the funding requirements and repayment / exit plan.



The more exact you can be, the better.



To Finish first, first you've got to Finish.



Knowing when to end your plan is almost an art form in itself, and whilst it's no bad idea to have a living breathing document for internal purposes, failure to bring things to a conclusion is a real turnoff for external investors. Over half think that business plans are too long, and therefore lose interest, or simply have other pressing engagements they must deal with before they'll ever get to the end of yours.



The flip side of this is also true: Too short and the investor will be given the impression that you haven't given this enough thought or done enough research, or worst case scenario will have insufficient information to form a sensible investment decision. Uncertainty is the seed of doubt, and doubt is definitely not a basis for risking investment dollars.



Like the tale of Goldilocks the plan needs to be "just right", and while each business will vary significantly, some where between 12 and 25 pages seems to be the plan porridge that gets eaten all up!



Demonstrate a Need not Greed.



Somewhere along the way you have to show that you've done some market research, and that you've thought about what this truly means in respect of your business.



The point here is to think about the niche or zone or subsector you operate in. For example the world car market is billions of dollars, but if you're setting up a hand car-wash in your local town then this is not the size of your market.




Think about relevance and about the customer's reality. While you might have the ambition for hand car-wash world domination, take the first step first, then the second. Show how the customer has a need or desire for your product. Don't assume the investor will know. Spell it out.



Explain how you will fulfil that need with your products and services. Cover how the customer will find you, or how you will get your message across to them. Discuss the frequency of that need. Some sales people call this the itch cycle. Every so often you've just got to scratch it.




For example, everyone who has a car has a need to have it serviced at least once a year. Everyone who likes ketchup will want some more when it runs out.




Factor these buy cycles into your research.

Should we believe the experts? (Part III)

Why do we use experts?  To predict the future.  Consider a patient who is asking a physician about the future effects of a certain drug, or the investor who is asking a stock analyst about the future prices of a certain stock, or the manager who is asking a human resource manager about the future performance of a certain candidate, or the brand manager who is asking a market researcher about the future sales of a certain new product.  Should we believe these experts?  History tells us that accurate predictions of the future are rare.  Many examples exist where the brightest and most qualified individuals failed to see the future.  This series of articles presents examples from the arts (see part I), business (see part II), and science (see part III).



Should we believe the experts in science?

In science, the predictions made by Sir Rayleigh and Lord Kelvin on heavier-than-air flying provide two famous examples of misguided intuition.



John William Strutt Lord Rayleigh (1842-1919) was a leading British physicist.  In 1876 he was elected as President of the London Mathematical Society.  In 1879, he was appointed as the second Cavendish professor of experimental physics at Cambridge (the first was the famed James Clerk Maxwell).  In 1905 Sir Rayleigh was elected President of the Royal Society.  In 1908, he became chancellor of Cambridge University.  Sir Rayleigh is perhaps most known for the discovery of the inert gas argon in 1895, which earned him the 1904 Nobel Prize in physics.  Sir Rayleigh was also interested in flight.  In 1883 he published The soaring of birds, and in 1889, The sailing flight of the albatross. 




In 1896, a year after making his seminal discovery, Sir Rayleigh commented, “I have not the smallest molecule of faith in aerial navigation other than ballooning.” (Martin 1977, p 12)



Another great physicist who expressed an opinion about heavier-than-air flying is William Thomson, better known as Lord Kelvin (1824-1907).  Thomson was an infant prodigy in mathematics.  In 1841, at the age of 11, he entered the University of Glasgow.  Thomson published his first paper in mathematics at the age of 16.  In 1846, at the age of 22, Thompson became a Professor of Natural Philosophy at Glasgow University.  In 1847, he first defined the absolute temperature scale, which was subsequently named after him.  In 1851, Thompson published ideas which lead to the introduction of the second law of thermodynamics.  In 1856, Thompson coined the term “kinetic energy.” Thompson also showed an interest in practical problems.  In 1854, he participated in the Cyrus Field’s efforts to lay a transatlantic telephone line.  He improved the design of the cables, and traveled on the ships laying the cables to supervise the process.  In 1858, Thompson invented and patented the galvanometer as a long distance telegraph receiver meant to detect faint signals.  He also invented an improved a gyro-compass, new sounding equipment, and a tide prediction machine with a chart-recording.  Lord Kelvin published more than 600 scientific papers and was awarded 70 patents.  In 1890, Thompson was elected as the president of the Royal Society.  In 1866, Thompson was knighted.  In 1892, he was raised to the peerage as Baron Kelvin of Largs, which title he chose from the Kelvin River, near Glasgow.  When he died in 1907, he was buried next to Isaac Newton in Westminster Abbey. 




In 1895, Lord Kelvin proclaimed that “Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.”



On December 17, 1903, less than a decade after Sir Rayleigh and Lord Kelvin made their predictions about the impossibility of heavier-than-air flying, the Wright brothers made their first manned airplane flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, proving that both great scientists were dead wrong in their predictions of the future.



Another example of misguided intuition is Sir Woolley’s prediction on the future of travel in space.  Sir Richard van der Riet Woolley (1906-86) was the Eleventh Astronomer Royal.  He studied at both Cape Town University and Cambridge (where he worked with Sir Arthur Eddington, the physicist who first confirmed Einstein’s relativity theory).  In 1929, Woolley moved to California and began work at Mount Wilson Observatory.  In 1931, he returned to Cambridge.  Woolley joined the Royal Greenwich Observatory in 1933 as Chief Assistant.  In 1939, he became the Director of the Commonwealth Solar Observatory at Mount Stromlo in Canberra, Australia.  In 1955, Sir Woolley was appointed the Astronomer Royal, a position he continued to hold until his retirement in 1970.




In 1956, a year after being appointed Astronomer Royal, Sir Woolley announced to the press that “space travel is utter bilge.” (Martin 1977, p. 9) A year later, in 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I, the first man-made object in space, and five years later, in 1961, the first space traveler, the cosmonaut Yuri Gagrin in Vostok 1. 



Martin J.  Future Developments in Telecommunications.  Englewood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice-Hall, 1977.

Gram Pocket Scales – Weighing in Big with Consumers

What’s no bigger than a flip phone comes in fashion colors and can weigh up to 50 grams with .01g accuracy? Don’t look now, but the traditional jeweler’s traveling scale is all fashioned out and style conscious. Pocket scales, used by jewelers, hunters and field investigators for dozens of uses, have taken the same route that turned cell phones into fashion accessories. You can now buy pocket scales that weigh less than a pound and are the size of a small flip phone – yet still promise to weigh substances with accuracy up to .01g – one hundredth of a gram. They come tricked out in camouflage, flames, translucent blue ice and hot baby doll pink. These are not your Uncle Jake’s pocket scales, son.



There are more modern uses for pocket scales as well. Chemists and chefs find them handy for measuring minute, precise amounts of chemicals and ingredients, and according to at least one manufacturer, many law officers now carry a pocket scale with them for a quick preliminary reading on the amount of illegal substances found in searches and traffic stops.



Some of the more unusual and notable features of particular models of pocket scales on the market now include:



A Pocket Beam Balance Scale



One of the most clever pocket scales on the market is American Weighs Twin Beam Pocket Balance. Priced as low as $9.95, it measures up to 7 grams (35 ct) with .05 g (.25 carat) accuracy. No batteries needed – it’s the only pocket size balance scale on the market.



Blade Pocket Scales



Blade pocket scales feature a retractable digital display that folds into the unit when not in use. They work like a switchblade – thus their name – and the unique, innovative design has made them one of the manufacturers’ most popular products.



CD Pocket Scales



They look just like a CD – until you open the cover. Inside is a precision balanced digital scale, accurate to within .01 g. The CD pocket scales are available in a number of covers – or you can insert your own to fit your CD collection.



Some features to look for when you’re comparing pocket scales include the following:



Capacity/Accuracy



The capacity is the largest weight which the scale is capable of handling. Accuracy is the smallest increment of weight that the scale will read. A scale with a capacity/accuracy of 7g/.25g will weigh up to 7 grams with accuracy to within one quarter of a gram.



Protection



Because you’ll be carrying the scale with you, it’s important to buy one that’s designed with protection of the delicate mechanics in mind. Look for rigid covers that prevent anything from resting on the weighing surface.



Expansion Trays



One of the nicer features of some pocket scales is a cover that doubles as an expansion scale, making it easy to weigh things that are too large for the weighing surface. Expansion trays also mean that dust and residue doesn’t remain on the weighing surface itself – you just wipe out the expansion tray instead of scraping the surface.



© Ben Anton, 2006

Reasons Why Information Is The Greatest Commodity In The World

There are so many reasons why information is the greatest commodity in the world. Information helps people. It spreads the knowledge of topics and subjects. It is the basis for every study, occupation, and hobby. The most important reason why information is the greatest commodity in the world, a reason that effectively sums up all others, is simple—everyone needs information.



Who provides information? Experts, or just people who seem to know a great deal about a certain subject, provide information about a subject to those of us who have limited experience with it. Face it—there is no single person in this world who knows everything, though some may think so! Eventually, everyone has to ask questions and seek answers to matters they do not understand. And since it seems everyone knows something, providing information throughout the world is easy.



You can find information everywhere. The Internet is one of the fastest, most inexpensive ways to obtain information about an innumerable wealth of subjects. Search engines are extremely useful, as are specialty websites. Offline sources include schools, libraries, and people themselves. Ever received a lecture from your dad on the importance of changing your oil regularly? Guess what—he was providing information.



Since information is the greatest commodity in the world, profiting from it can be easy. Consider teachers, for example. Their main business is to provide information to students, sometimes all year long. Book authors, website owners, and even religious figures are all trying to provide information of some sort.




Making it your business to provide information, when correctly executed, will be profitable for years to come. The need for information is not a trend, and it will not go out of style. Since we know why information is the greatest commodity in the world, we also know why it will continue to be just that. Whether you provide your information on or offline, you can earn income and even make a living.

Help Jet Lag with Common Sense, Not Sleeping Pills

“Jet lag” can happen for a number of reasons. Basically, the body’s system gets out of whack. This can be due to air travel, hence the origin of the name, when a traveler passes into another time zone. The term has also come to be used for similar situations, like people working shift work who get out of their daily routine during shift changes. Some symptoms include loss of appetite, headaches, fatigue, disorientation, upset stomach, insomnia and irritability. Jet lag, no matter why you have it, is not a comfortable feeling. In a work setting, it can mean the difference in attitude in working with others and even in work related accidents. In travelers, jet lag can mean the difference between a good trip and a bad one.



While sleep aids like blindfolds, ear plugs and small neck pillows are recommended for people who are traveling by air for great distances, sleeping pills are not. Taking sleeping pills often induces a deep sleep that becomes almost comatose. With little or no body movement during a long flight, the traveler might suffer from a blood clot. Plus, in a deep sleep state, a flight attendant or passerby might not notice if you are having a health problem because your body might not be able to react while you are knocked out.



So, leave the sleeping pills behind for your next long trip. Instead, pack a few items to make you more comfortable and walk and stretch in the aisles when it is permitted. You should also drink more fluids – non-alcoholic fluids – while flying to prevent dehydration.



The best way to deal with jet lag is to plan your travel to allow time for it. Generally speaking, jet lag will not linger more than 12 hours, the maximum time zone difference you can travel.  Within that amount of time, you should start gaining your grounding again and having relief of symptoms. If you are planning air travel to attend a meeting or a conference, try to arrive early enough to have time to recuperate from anticipated jet lag.



If you have tried that and still have horrible jet lag, address it before you board your next flight. If you suffer from serious nausea or headaches with your jet lag, talk to your doctor before your next trip. Explain your symptoms and he or she can make suggestions or appropriate prescriptions for your ailments.

Email Punctuation Pointers

When sending email messages, it’s easy to get in a hurry.  But, remember there’s a huge difference between dashing off a note to a friend and sending a message to a customer or colleague. 



When sending email in a professional environment, the message should be professional.  And, that includes using proper punctuation.  (Phooey!  You were hoping I’d say you could break all the rules, weren’t you?)



There is one area of email that gets a little foggy.  This is the rule that deals with punctuation at the end of sentences (e.g., periods, question marks, exclamation points). 



In typed letters, there are two spaces after the punctuation at the end of the sentence.  This originated from typewriters, which needed this space to create a distinct break between two sentences.  Computers allot space proportionally.  So, a break can be created with only one space. 



In emails, you will see two different formats.  Some people will use only one space after punctuation that ends a sentence.  They will also use only one space after colons.  Other people still use the two spaces. 



Example



Those who prefer one space consider those who use two spaces to be “old fashioned.”  Those who prefer two spaces consider those who use one space to “not be conservative or professional enough.”



The decision as to whether to use one space or two is entirely up to you.  The only rule to follow is that you must be consistent.  Either use one space throughout the message or two.  Don’t mix and match. 



You want the message to appear as though you know the rules and made a conscious choice.  You don’t want the message to look as though you have no idea what the rules are, so you just randomly added spacing.



While you may be able to choose one space or two, you don’t get to make choices about other punctuation.  All of the other old rules are still in effect. 




In case I’ve whetted your appetite for more information on punctuation rules, here is another tip.



Fanboys



When do you use a comma to separate two thoughts in a sentence, and when don’t you?  The quick answer is “FANBOYS.”  This is an acronym which stands for the words:



•     For

•     And

•     Nor

•     But

•     Or

•     Yet

•     So



When any of these words connect two independent clauses, you need a comma.  That’s nice.  Now, what in the world is an “independent clause”?  It’s a phrase that can stand alone.  In other words, it has a subject and a verb.  It can be a complete sentence all by itself. 



For example – The conference call has been cancelled, and it will be re-scheduled next week.



A dependent clause cannot stand alone.  It doesn’t contain both a subject and a verb.  Therefore, it’s dependent on the rest of the sentence.



You don’t use a comma to connect a dependent clause to an independent clause.  To say it more simply, if one of the phrases cannot stand alone (doesn’t have a subject and a verb), then you don’t need a comma.



For example – The conference call has been cancelled and will be re-scheduled next week.



Whether you’re ending a sentence or checking for FANBOYS, take the time to punctuate properly.  Your customers and colleagues will respect you for it.

Starting A Business: Sole Proprietor Or Corporation?

When starting a business, it is important to consider the potential tax and legal issues. Most people choose a "sole proprietor" as their business type when starting out. Starting your business as a sole proprietor does not require any special paperwork from the IRS.



Which is exactly why most people start out this way. Being a sole proprietor means that you and the business are one and the same.




According to the IRS:



"A sole proprietorship is an unincorporated business that is owned by one individual. It is the simplest form of business organization to start and maintain. The business has no existence apart from you, the owner. Its liabilities are your personal liabilities. You undertake the risks of the business for all assets owned, whether used in the business or personally owned. You include the income and expenses of the business on your own tax return."



However, even though a sole proprietorship is the simplest way to set up your business, you still need to follow your local business regulations to make your business legitimate. And you are personally responsible for paying both income taxes and business debts.



So, is being a sole proprietor the right business structure for you?



For most home business, in the beginning, yes.



If you choose to start your business as a sole proprietor, you do have the option of incorporating as your business grows.



What is the difference between a sole proprietor and corporation?



Unlike a sole proprietorship, a corporation is a legal entity in which the individual and business are separate. The great thing about incorporating is taht the corporation protects you from personal liability for business debts. For example, if your business gets sued, your personal assets are safe, for the most part.



And, you may be able to save a significant amount of money in taxes by incorporating.



If you decide to incorporate, there are several options:



• S Corporation

• C Corporation

• LLC (Limited Liability Corporation)



Before incorporating, it is a good idea to check with the IRS and your tax professional first.



Setting up a corporation is more complicated - and may not be right for your business!

Benefits of Incorporating Your Own Business

If you have a small business or starting one in the near future, it is important to look into the benefits of incorporation.  The government provides benefits to companies that incorporate their businesses with tax breaks, limits in liability and benefits for employees.  Here are some tips to benefiting from Incorporation.



Incorporating your business is a very simple process that takes a small amount of time and can cost less than $500 to complete with the help of a lawyer.  You can also incorporate your business on your own without the help of a lawyer by purchasing an incorporation book.  These books show you the exact forms that need to be completed and the process to register your business with your state government.  Incorporating on your own can cost less than $200.



Incorporating your business is an extremely safe and secure way to limit the financial liability of its owners.  If your incorporated business fails, you the owner are not responsible.  Your business which is seen as a private entity is responsible for its losses.



Corporations also include great tax benefits.  You may be able to save money on business expenses, travel expenses, entertainment and other related expenses by controlling a corporation.  If you purchase healthcare, your business can save on the considerable costs to provide it.  So if you have a small business or are thinking of creating once, look into corporations.



More business information available at http://www.business-00.info

Keeping Colleagues Happy With Birthday Ecards

Sending birthday ecards to colleagues to express your friendship and care, is one of the easiest ways to show your warmth and feelings for them. Most of us operate with colleagues. Few people work from home, but even they have some business contacts. Otherwise one can expect a team of ten or more working together in a modern office. The goal of the team is to achieve common goals. To do that it is important that the atmosphere is friendly and cheerful. One most important element is care. If I feel that my colleagues care for me, I appreciate that much more than any thing else.



Most of are always busy with our work and that makes us forget important things in life. Remember urgent always takes precedence over important. That is the reason most colleagues forget birthday of their co-workers. Here is the easy way out. Make a sheet with names of all the co-workers and circulate that in the beginning of the year. Ask everyone to fill in their name and birthday. Now prepare photocopies of that sheet and pass one to everyone.



This will ensure that no one will forget the birthday of a co-worker. On his/her birthday, as soon as they start their computer and check mail, they will be delighted to find the inbox full of greeting cards. Select ecards with warm colors and the text should appreciate their qualities. Rather than selecting a card saying only happy birthday, select the ones that also have nice words to say about them. For example a ecard that says - we all appreciate your work and friendly spirit. Here is wishing you a Happy Birthday- will make the recipient feel much better.



Every business thrives if the people working are happy. Create the much needed happiness and atmosphere of friendliness with birthday ecards. Imagine two offices - one full of highly efficient people but no spirit of friendship and another with people of medium talent but great friendship and care for each other. Which place will produce better results? Make your choice. Keeping co-workers happy with birthday ecards is the easiest way to say - I care for you and I am your friend.

How do you get the money you need for your business?

Answer: Become a low risk investment!



Sounds simple, well it is.  First, know who your investors are.  If you are looking for a small business loan you are most likely going to approach a bank.  A bank will look at you and your business and ask, “is this a good investment for us to loan them money”. Then they look at their criteria of determining risk and make a decision to move forward with approving your loan request or not. 



So again, knowing what the bank is looking for is key.  Every bank has their unique system for determining a loan approval.  In most instances you need a good personal credit score, at least two years in business and a business credit profile.  You lower your risk as an investment for the bank the longer you are in business, the higher your personal credit score is and the more positive information you have on your business credit report.



When applying for credit you will find some banks accept a lower personal credit score then others.  The banks have a choice of three Credit Bureaus to purchase your credit report from.  Each Credit Bureau will have a different formula to determine your credit score, so you actually have three different personal credit scores.  



We recently had a client receive a $50,000 unsecured business line of credit after applying on their own at two banks and not receiving an approval.  We were able to help this client because her personal credit score with Equifax was a 633, while at Experian she had a 685.  The banks she went to bought the Equifax report and we sent her to a bank that purchased her Experian report.  Having the knowledge of your credit scores from each bureau will help you decide if you can apply for a business line of credit or not.

Smart Yearend Planning-Corporate Formalities

There are three main areas we need to keep in mind as the year ends:

1. Taxes

2. Corporate formalities

3. Planning for next year





The power of documentation—shifting the burden of proof

For those who have an LLC (opposed to a sole proprietorship, S Corporation or C Corporation), it’s always better to over-document. By keeping a tax diary, you shift the burden of proof from yourself to the IRS, who then has to disprove its validity.



Annual meeting—an opportunity to have some fun

Make sure you’ve done your annual meeting by the end of the year. Why you’re at it, you might as well make it fun. You can hold it anywhere in the continental United States without a problem, and you can hold the meeting abroad or Hawaii or Alaska if you can show why you needed to hold the meeting there.



Get corporate minutes and meetings in line.

1.    Prepare a notice or waiver of notice (available on Pathfinder’s Web site). When you have a corporation, you need to notify in writing by certified mail all the shareholders of the meeting. If you’re the only shareholder, you certainly do not need to send a notice to yourself; instead, you can print out a waiver of notice because the notice is unnecessary.

2.    Print out a form for the meeting’s minutes. Minutes are what you discuss at the meeting (or think about, if it is just you at the meeting). You can hold your annual meeting in Aspen and ski. When you’re in the lodge thinking about what you want to do the next year for marketing, etc. and jotting down ideas, this could be your annual meeting.

3.    Extracurricular things need a resolution. Resolutions are decisions you made at the annual meeting. You don’t need one to take a client to dinner or attend a seminar. You do, however, need one if you rent new space, open up a new bank account, buy a car. It’s better to be safe than sorry and have a resolution.

4.    This is a good time to make sure you have a medical reimbursement plan in writing. Fill out the form off Pathfinder’s Web site and keep it in the corporate kit. Use the same advice in regard to your educational assistance plan. Preparing this document does not take long, but it’s very important.

Creating Blissness From Your Business: Living In Rhythm With Your Heart And Soul

The word blissness came to me as a result of a challenge issued to me by my creativity coach. She was praising me on the progress I’d made in my fledgling business. I actually shuddered when she said the word "business," as it conjured up images of women in austere dark suits clutching heavy briefcases, sitting in endless boring meetings and never having time to do what they really wanted to do.



My coach suggested that if I didn’t like the word business, to think of a different word to call it. I accepted the challenge. A few weeks later, the word "blissness" blossomed in my mind and I gleefully chose it for my own. I know that teaching SoulCollage workshops and building my website, KaleidoSoul, is a business, but I choose to call it my "blissness" because it is giving me something that I never had before: an opportunity to share my passion for SoulCollage with the world in a way that creates money and spreads joy at the same time.



SoulCollage is a personal growth tool (created by Seena Frost) that is a mystical, magical blend of self-discovery and the fun of collage. Each participant creates his/her own deck of collaged cards using magazine images that speak to the subconscious mind. A SoulCollage deck has four suits that represent our personality parts, persons who have influenced our lives, animal energies that assist us as allies, and archetypes who resonate with and inform our life’s direction and purpose. Inner surprises abound as we interpret our cards and do soul readings with our decks.



I knew immediately on making my first SoulCollage card that I wanted to create a business revolving around it, but I had no idea what this would involve. However, I was so passionate about SoulCollage that I dove right in. I had no business plan, and my only goal was to share the wonders of SoulCollage with as many people as possible.



The key to creating a blissness as opposed to a business springs directly from one’s passion (heart) and intuition (soul). There’s no way to create work that sings to you unless you are living that work from your own heart and soul. And in order to allow the flow of universal abundance, you need to be in touch with your own inner wisdom (intuition).



I began by avidly continuing work on my own SoulCollage deck. The deeper I went with the process, the more excited I became about sharing it with others. I set up a few local workshops in eastern Massachusetts, and began teaching.



It soon became clear to me that I needed a website, so I did a lot of research and found SiteSell’s Site Build It (SBI), which not only has helped me build KaleidoSoul.com, but is helping me to market it as well. Getting KaleidoSoul up and running was a crash course in web design, internet marketing, keywords selection, and the basics of HTML, but I thrilled to the challenge.



After that, each step I’ve taken has come from following my intuition. This has been a real lesson for me in being open, aware, and listening at all times. As I have continued on this path, I have found myself led to take the next step, and the next…



I trust my inner hunches and follow where they lead. In this fashion I have created a monthly ezine called Soul Songs, found other websites interested in helping me promote KaleidoSoul, developed an active community of SoulCollagers on the Yahoo Groups board, written e-courses about SoulCollage, and am now getting ready for our first KaleidoSoul Kindred Spirits Members-Only Tele-Class as well as our first annual SoulCollage Weekend Retreat this August.



There are plenty of things about this blissness that are tedious, of course - photocopying flyers for my workshops, writing press releases and website updates, to name a few. Yet when I remind myself that this is all a part of my blissness, I am reminded of why I began it in the first place - to live in rhythm with my heart and soul. And then the monotonous tasks carry me forward to the next creative step.



I wish you blissness in the daily rhythms of YOUR life and work.

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