Getting Great Employees for Your SME

The limiting factor in the growth and success of any small business is its staff. The right staff can take on responsibility, innovate, sell, keep customers happy and make your life as the business owner much easier. The wrong staff can drain you and the rest of your employees of energy and time.

SMEs often struggle to recruit good staff. There is a shortage of good people whatever the size and reputation of an employer. At the moment it is a buyers' market. There are also some real or perceived reasons that small businesses may struggle in comparison to larger employers. For example, these might be:

• Your company pays below the market rate
• You may not be providing benefits such as healthcare, pension or childcare
• You operate in an unattractive working environment
• Employment in your company offers a limited career path and scope for personal or technical development
• Your company may be unable to guarantee the same level of job security
• The position on offer is not impressive addition to the CV for future potential employers

On the other hand there are some real benefits to working for a smaller company. Some examples of these are:

• Individuals matter and can make an impact on the whole business from day one
• The right people can progress to a senior position quickly
• Decisions are taken quickly and small businesses are fast-paced
• Employees in small businesses get opportunities to be involved in all parts of the business and to feel really engaged

You are in a market for the best employees – so treat it as a marketing exercise. It is as important for your business to win and keep great employees as it is to win and keep great customers so go about marketing in the same way. Create your recruitment strategy based on the following core principles:

• Identify your niche employees and your unique employee proposal
• Develop your brand or reputation and position it so that it attracts the kind of employees you want
• Build a portfolio of possible future enrollments and market to them – do not just go to market under pressure if someone leaves
• Develop a sales (recruitment) process that works
• Walk the talk – your proposal for recruits should have the reality for existing employees. They are your best recruiters
• Take on the six possible barriers to recruitment for SMEs mentioned above and find ways to remove them from your business

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According to the SBA, Size Matters

If you have done any research at all on the 8 (a) certification, then you've inevitably visited the SBA's website. As the name suggests, the Small Business Administration is concerned with providing resources and advantages for small businesses. But what does SBA consider “small”. Since that is a question that comes up often, we'll be exploring that today.

The SBA's website is full of information, but one of the most valuable resources I've found for obtaining specifics on any question relating to any of the SBA's programs is the Code of Federal Regulations. Thankfully, in today's digital age, there is an electronic version of the code that is updated daily by the Office of the Federal Registrar. If you have not embroidered your inner “nerd” or have better things to do with your time than scour through the code, then you are in the right place.

SBA defines “small” differently for every business. They consider economic characteristics of the industry that include things like competitors, barriers to entry, average firm size and a distribution of firms by size. The SBA will also look at the threat of competition from other industries, the growth cycle of the industry and unique factors that may distinguish small firms from others. Another major factor SBA auditors when calculating their size standards is if any business, at or below a certain standard, would be dominant in that industry. The main purpose of size standards is to ensure that a business at a specific size is not dominant in its industry.

Now, let's get into the fun stuff, shall we. In the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (e-CFR for short), there is a 40 pages section that lists all of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes with the SBA's maximum size requirements for each. The SBA uses either either 1) annual receipts or 2) number of employees to qualify a business based on size. Here is an example. If you are a Heavy and Civil Engineering construction company that does highway, street and bridge construction, then your NAICS code is 237310. The annual revenue for your company would have to be less than $ 33.5 Million in order to be considered small. If however, your industry was in food manufacturing and you processed fresh and frozen seafood, your NAICS code would be 311712. Your company would have considered small if it had 500 employees or less.

One of the reasons the SBA requires an annual review is to ensure that the businesses participating in the set-aside programs are in fact “small” according to size standards. Remember, the 8 (a) Business Development Program is a 9-year program. A firm could be accepted into the 8 (a) program as a $ 6MM Testing Laboratory where the requirements for “small” are $ 12MM in annual receipts. If that company wins a $ 4MM contract in their second year and another $ 4MM in year 3, the firm is no longer eligible based on size; therefore, on or before the annual review, the firm will be excused prior to the expiration of the 9 year term and will be considered an early graduate of the program.

Like I said in the title, size matters (only to the SBA of course). So be sure that you do your homework to accurately determine the size criteria because knowingly misrepresenting the size of your small business concern comes with criminal penalties.

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Cooking The Books

For the past two tax seasons, I have been completely organized with my business financials, but that was not always the case. Before I got organized, I remember spending the ENTIRE weekend, from Friday to Sunday evening, getting my books straight in preparation for tax filing.

Now, you have to understand, I was career banker. I am the lady who uses a checkbook register (some of you do not even know what that is). And balances her checkbook TO THE PENNY. If it's not to the penny, then I go looking for it. Why? Because it's math dang it! Simple addition and subtraction, and if 1 + 1 ≠ 2 then the world as we know it is coming to an end.

I had considered angst when gathering my docs in preparation for the 2011 tax filing, because my business books were a mess. Well, not really a mess, they just did not exist. I had received for every dime I'd spent stacked in a manila envelope on my desk. It was strategically hidden behind my laptop so I could not see the growing pile.

In early 2011, I entered a business plan competition and won a prize package including a Sage Peachtree Complete Accounting software system. But had I been using it all year, NO! So I reluctantly called my CPA and set the initial appointment to confess my sins. I – with my anal retentive, banker personality – would probably be providing a shoebox full of receipts instead of my usual itemized files.

Several things happened in the meeting that caused a shift. It was not anything that was said, necessarily, and I did not even realize it until I was about to write this article, but it was meaningful for me:

1) I felt the weight lifting. The fact that the receipts were piling up and I was not being my usual, organized self about managing the books was weighing heavily on my spirit, and I did not even realize it. By sharing the secret, admitting the truth about the state of my record keeping, I became free of it.

2) I saw the lie in my story. I've been telling myself that the Peachtree system was too hard; it was not as user-friendly as Quick Books was, yadda yadda yadda. That was all BS! Yes it's different from Quick Books, but I certainly had the brains to figure it out.

3) I created momentum by taking action. The conversation I had with the CPA motivated me to get the books in order. Was part of it to save face? Probably, but the lesson is I took action; I rolled my head out of the sand and called the CPA for help. That one step started the ball rolling and Newton's first law of motion that states an object in motion, places in motion; took over from there.

4) I got organized. It took a long, long LONG weekend of keying in all of my invoices and receipts, pulling past statements, categorizing all of my spending, and playing with the software; but now it's done. The CPA has the file and is making the adjustments necessary and I can move on. I know how to use the software so I can me my updates monthly and I can be more productive.

Now, how does any of this relate to you, your business and certificates? I promise it does. First off, if you are like I was a few years ago, get your head out of the sand and call your CPA. I know if you're reading this you have a CPA, so just call him / her, already. NOW! Really, right now, this can wait. I know things change and sometimes you have to fire partners, so if you do not have one at the moment, call me. I can give you a list of some great CPA's.

Second, if your goal this year is to get into the federal marketplace, then plan your tax return accordingly. Government contracting requires leakage. So if you do not have the cash reserves to cover the cost of carrying a contract, make sure you show whatever profit you need to ensure you can borrow the working capital from the bank. That's why your CPA is so important, by the way, not to mention a good banker.

And finally, your financial infrastructure is a key pillar upon which contracts are based. Having a good partner to ensure this integral piece is in place will allow you to focus on other areas of your business. And remember, any certification you get will require financials, so get them together, and file them where you can find them so when you're ready to get certified; your numbers are at the ready.

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Certification Myths Busted

As I go about my business – meeting people, networking, speaking – I run into several common misconceptions and myths about certificates that'd I like like to bust wide open. Some of these can really get me on a soapbox so I apologize in advance if I get a little passionate.

The first of these myths is that certificates are an entitlement program. Nothing can be further from the truth! I say to people ALL THE TIME that certificates provide Opportunities and NOT Guarantees. What's the difference, you ask? The difference is you get NO benefit by just “being certified”. Having a certification does not mean that manna will rain down from heaven. You have to research the agencies who buy what you sell, you have to find who the contracting officers are in those agencies, you have to learn how to market your business to those individuals and you have to be pleasantly knowledgeable about letting them know how your business solves their problems. Long story short, you still have to do the work.

Another misconception I hear often from prospects is that certificates are a selling point. This is partially correct but only in the right context. Ten years of experience in your field is a selling point; a track record of on time / on budget delivery is a selling point; past performance with clients / projects of similar size and scope are a selling point; certificates, however, are not a selling point. Certificates are the icing on the cake or the cherry on top; it's what folks from Louisiana call a “Lagniappe” or a little something extra.

One of the other really common misconceptions out there is that you should get every possible certification you can. Although I've helped clients with multiple certificates, that is not the right choice for every business. It's back to the old adage, 'just because you can, does not mean you should'. I always talk with my prospective clients about their goals; what is i that they want to do with the certificates. I get to the root of who they are trying to sell to and let that determine the certificates that can offer a competitive advantage for that prospective client.

As an example, if you are a minority owned bottling equipment company your goal is to sell your bottling equipment to one of the Fortune 500 cola bottlers, then an MBE certification would be better than an 8 (a) certification. If you are both a minority and woman-owned large animal veterinarian and you want to sell your services to the Department of Interior, then WOSB certification would be a better option than MBE certification. In both scenarios above, the businesses would qualify for each of the certification, but having both may not provide additional benefits.

These are not all of the myths and misconceptions circulating around about certificates, but they are the ones that I hear most often. Let me recap the realities:
1) Certificates provide Opportunities, NOT Guarantees,
2) Certificates are just a piece of paper until you put them to work,
3) Certificates are NOT the selling point; they are the cherry on top, and
4) Just because you can get a certification, does not mean you should get it.

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Are You HUBZone Qualified?

Is your business located in HUBZone? You may be wondering why this is important. Well, businesses located in these Historically Underutilized Business Zones – or HUBZones, for short – are eligible to compete for contracts set out for companies that are HUBZone qualified.

The HUBZone program was enacted into law as part of the Small Business Reauthorization act of 1997. The program is regulated and implemented by the SBA. The SBA also determines which businesses are eligible to receive HUBZone contracts and maintains a list of HUBZone qualified small business that federal agencies can use to locate vendors.

To qualify to be a HUBZone participant, your business must meet the following criteria:
1) Your business must be considered small – according to SBA standards
2) Your business must be located in a HUBZone
3) The business must be owned and controlled by one or more US citizen, a Community Development Center or an Indian tribe and
4) At least 35% of the employees of the business must stay in a HUBZone.

This is great news for small businesses who'd like to gain a competitive advantage when it comes to government contracting but do not meet the race, gender or service requirements for certificates like 8 (a), WOSB or VOSB. Even established businesses who relocate to a HUBZone can qualify to participate.

So, the next logical question is what advantages does a HUBZone certification provide.
There are 3 types of HUBZone contracts:
1. Competitive HUBZone contracts,
2. Sole Source HUBZone contracts and
3. Full and Open Competitive contracts.

Competitive HUBZone contracts can be awarded if the contracting officer is reasonably sure that 2 or more qualified HUBZone small business concerns will bid on the contract and that the contract will be awarded at fair market price.

A Sole Source HUBZONE contract may be awarded if the contracting officer can determine the following:
1) One qualified HUBZone participant is responsible to perform the contract
2) Two or more qualified HUBZone participants are not likely to bid and
3) The anticipated award of the proposed contract, including options, will not exceed $ 5MM for manufacturing NAICS codes and $ 3MM for other NAICS codes.

Full and Open Competitive contracts may be awarded with a price evaluation preference. The offer from the HUBZone participant must not, however, be higher than 10% than the offer from a non-small business.

Now that you know the basics, check to see if your business is located in a HUBZone by going to http://map.sba.gov/hubzone/maps/ . Simply type in your business address and it will tell you whether or not you are located in a HUBZone. It also has a map that appears and highlights eligible areas in Green and those ineligible areas in Red. Most of the major metropolitan areas are not HUBZones, but be sure to type in your address because there are pockets of areas that may be eligible due to unemployment rates and other factors.

Is all of this worth the fuss? When I last checked there was a commercial cleaning company in the Metro Atlanta area with 3 active HUBZone contracts in the amounts of $ 1.372MM, $ 62K and $ 64K respectively. So do the research in your industry and decide if it's worth the effort.

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Chat versus Contact Form: Pushing the Boundaries of Web 2.0

A chat is a real time online conversation between computer users. All participants must be in front of a computer at the same time for the chat to work. Users type their message and their message appears on the monitor as text entries that scroll many screens deep. Businesses often use chats to provide customer service, but the service is only good if both parties are online. Add time zones, busy lives and late night Internet usage and often chat's turn into a one way messaging service and the company replies later to your email address. Chats were very popular in the late 1990s, but they have declined in value with instant messaging and other communication vehicles growing in popularity.

Some chat providers cite that a live conversation beats out a contact form as the chat operator can guide visitors through a website, set appointments, provide information and more. The chat promise is that the conversation is real, instantaneous and the beginning of the relationship between the client and the business.

But of course, a live operator must be available to participate in the chat 24/7 and this can be costly. Pricing can range from $ 40 per day to outsource the service to $ 1500 a month or more. Or you can license the chat software, pay for additional bandwidth to run the service and then take time to complete the training program. Add a support person to operate the chat while you are out on business and the prices becomes unrealistic for small business owners. Its can add up to thousands of dollars with no guarantee of enhancing your business. The Houston Chronicle states that “[online chats] could wind up boosting your profits, but there'll also be a possibility it could chase customers away. about its success … ”

There are a plethora of free and paid contact forms available. Using contact forms avoids the problem of company's sharing their email and getting spammed. Contact forms are becoming more widely accepted among online users.

Contact forms can make it easy for a visitor to give feedback or submit an inquiry. But they are one-way communication vehicles. They can be a bit difficult as well with too many required fields and if the visitor is sensitive about providing that much detail, the common conclusion is to exit the website. Or the visitor completes the form in its entity and it takes days for someone on the other end to respond. Either way, these scenarios mean potentially lost business.

According to Dan Schawbel, “In a web 1.0 world, contact forms were acceptable, based on the fact that communication was one-way. As we engage in social media, we want to 'open the doors' to everyone who takes interest in our brands. This may be for feedback purposes, to establish or accept new opportunities or just further relationships. ”

The world is constantly changing and business must change to meet the demands of the market. Transforming your website into an interactive marketing vehicle to capture more business not only makes sense in the short run to accelerate growth following a deep recession, but it makes sense in the long-term for continued economic survival. Small business needs to look at all avenues to heighten the visitor online experience to not only remain viable, but to prosper.

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List Your Business on Google Places and Increase Your Local SEO

If you're a website owner you've probably heard a lot about local Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Local search parameters drive traffic to your site and business to your physical storefront. This is vital for businesses which have a physical location. It will not do you much good if you're attracting people from hundreds of miles away if you do not offer online shopping. When you claim your business on Google Places you can ensure the information is correct and help build your local SEO.

Enhance Your Listing

Google lists your business using several sources it finds on the internet. Unfortunately some of this information may not be correct or very detailed. When you claim your business in Google Places you can correct any errors, add photos, coupons, videos, and offer updates on sales and specials. When you verify your listing this gives you the opportunity to really beef up your SEO and web presence.

How It All Works

You can add up to 10 listings manually, or up to 100 single listings on Google Places by using the bulk upload. Listing your business is fairly easy. Here is how to actually get it done:

  • First sign up for a Google Places account and click Add New Business .
  • Select the country of your business and enter the phone number and click Find Business Information . This will pull up your current Google listing.
  • Look for your business, but if it's not listed you can add it at this time by clicking Add New Listing .
  • Fill in the information about your business. This must include name, an address, and phone number. You can also add your website address, but this information is not mandatory. Once you enter all of the information click Next .
  • Now you can add some details about your business. Remember the more details you enter the more likely people will feel comfortable visiting your business. Details may include up to five categories for your business, hours of operation, payment methods accepted, photos, videos, and any other information for example parking accessibility, handicap access, and if you allow pets.
  • Next preview listing and if you're happy with it hit Submit . Choose your verification method and click Finish .
  • Once you've completed all of these steps and verified your listing you can then sign into your Google Places account and check your listing. Once you're in Google Places click See your listing on Google . This will take you to your Place Page. You will see your listing as it is seen by visitors. If you find any errors contact Google by sending a report through the Report a problem link.

Google Places is free, but only available in certain countries and it is only available for businesses. Your business must have a physical mailing address and phone number. Be sure to check Google's quality guidelines before you begin so you will not have any problems getting your business listed. Claim your listing on Google Places, tailor it to your business, and you will increase your local SEO.

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9 Essential Tips to Protect Your Small Business From Information Security Threats

Last week we spoke of why small business owners should be concerned about information security.

Just take a look at these statistics from a recent Symantec (refer resources) survey of security issues affecting companies around the globe during 2012:

• On average, Australian and US companies had data breaches that resulted in the greatest number of exposed or compromised records

• German companies were most likely to experience a malicious or criminal attack, followed by Australian and Japanese companies.

• At an average of 34,249, Australian companies have the highest number of breached records .

The risk and the damage that can be done :

Although strategies and technologies will vary between businesses, relative to their size, small businesses can take a big knock if they're lax about internet and cyber security. A website being hacked or confidential information being stolen or corrupted can wind up costing many thousands of dollars you almost certainly have not budgeted for.

The impact on your reputation and customer relationships is at stake, and breeches can land you with a law suit. It could cost you the loss of your business and more.

Types of breaks :

Breaches to security can occur in one of three ways: technical , physical and personnel .

Technical chapters include things like system failures, website or server hacking and security issues. The physical relates to physical access to the equipment used; the PC, laptop or even server equipment, and personnel refer to those who work with or for you.

To ensure maximum security and reduce the risk of violations and access to private information, here are our top tips for minimizing your exposure to risk in each of the three main areas.

Technology

1. Ensure that your servers, computers and mobile devices have anti-virus, malware, firewalls and spyware correctly installed and updated to the latest version.

2. It is essential that you look into more specific technologies, such as encryption software to ensure the protection of customer information and prevent theft during transactions, utilize external payment processing company, such as PayPal.

3. Keep your technological systems up to date. Ensure that you're running the latest operating system, your database is protected and you regularly update your system. Manufacturers regularly update the security and protection inbuilt into the system so keep updated to ensure maximum security.

Policy and Processes

1. Access to equipment needs to be restricted, not only from those who are regularly in the area in which you work; whether this is from home or a small office, but also from external visitors.

2. Keep your equipment hidden from view and ensure you have strict policy around screen locks and passwords. Changing passwords regularly and ensuring passwords different between equipment, accounts and other system access will help improve security.

3. Where possible, set your system up so that strong passwords are enforced, not just suggested, and force password changes for yourself and others on a regular basis.

Personnel

1. It's essential that only the people who genially need access get that access. Limit it to as few people as possible.

2. Develop a systems usage and security policy, communicate it to everyone in your organization and be seen to enforce it.

3. Personnel also need to be kept informed and up to date on security issues, new viruses and scams doing the rounds. Include this information in your policies and processes and regularly check to ensure your personnel are following all the updated security procedures.

Remember, no system, strategy or process is 100% secure. The best you can do is keep everything updated, layer your security measures and ensure your policies and processes are followed to reduce the risk of information security threats.

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Top 5 Worst Practices of Small Businesses

Small businesses are popping up in record numbers due to a growing realization that running a business is probably the only way to financial freedom. Financial gain from desk jobs are simply not keeping up with inflation and the devaluation of money, and is usually subject to the whims of a select few on top. However, according to Bloomberg, a whooping 80% of entrepreneurs fail within the first 18 months. To become a successful entrepreneur, you must have an attitude of learning from mistakes – hopefully, someone else's. And if this is the case, it follows that volumes of lessons can be drawn by the unfortunate 80%.

Here are our top 5:

1. Lack of capital

As the saying goes, “it takes money to make money.” Differences between capitalists and entrepreneurs notwithstanding, the latter would do well to do a fair amount of study as to just how much money you need to give yourself a fighting chance to make it to a break even point. Do not be fooled by a few exceptions – getting to said point could easily be two years down the road, probably as many as five. In the meantime, is your estimated capital enough to keep the business running? Does it cover all possible expenses? Is it enough to keep you fed and sheltered for that timeframe, even?

2. “What we have here is a failure to communicate”

This is a potentially huge problem in two ways.

The first problem is not being on the same page as your customers. “The customer is always right,” and if you do not know what your customers are right about, chances are, you'll be wrong. This is especially true in the modern world, where you have all the tools in social media to actually have deep and meaningful dialogue dialogues with each and every customer. This has also evolved the consumer base to demand nothing less than complete honesty and sincerity in all business deals and marketing campaigns. If you're in it for the money instead of for the customers, you'll soon be found out and torn down brick by perfidious brick. Speaking of which …

3. You're in it for the wrong reasons

If you're starting a business for reasons such as making a ton of money and not answering to any boss, you might be better off making minimum wage and getting shouted at the COO (child of the owner). Valid reasons for starting your own business include a passion for the product and service you aim to provide; dedication and perseverance to weather any challenges; a highly independent streak; and, as touched upon earlier, a sincere love for your customers, marked by honesty and integrity.

4. Poor management

StatisticBrain.com compiled research from Entrepreneur Weekly, the Small Business Development Center, Bradley University, and the University of Tennessee. It was found that the number one major cause of failure is (drum roll please), “incompetence,” which made up 46% of all failures. “Specific Pitfalls” enumerated were emotional pricing, living too high for the business, non-payment of taxes, no knowledge of pricing, lack of planning, no knowledge of financing, and problems with record-keeping. Google it, or better yet, ask for expert advice from established businesses in your area.

Networking with other businesses in the area can also greatly help in other ways. You can help market each other's products, even if in the same line of business. For example, if you own a burger joint and befriend a pizza place, you can give out each other's flyers and suggest each other to your own customers. No sane person will eat either burgers or pizza every single day anyway, so there's no real reason to compete with each other. People tend to go after sincerity in the small businesses that patronize, which is directly linked to a propensity to support local homegrown businesses that foster a sense of solid community and friendship.

5. No effective online presence

This is simply a mistake in today's world. Period.

Not convinced? Here are some quick stats:

– 77% of the population are internet users

– E-commerce sales were $ 165.4 billion in 2010 alone, which is expected to significantly increase each year

At the very minimum, you should have a site with all the usual information a customer may want to know. However, expand to social media and networking with other businesses, and watch your business explode.

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Way for A Travel Writer To Make Money

Consider a career as a travel writer! Not only will you be able to share your travel experiences with others, you can also make some good money while you're doing it.

There are several ways through which you can make money as a travel writer. Below are a few of them given for your convenience:

* Posting on other people's blogs!

Blogging is emerging all over the internet as today's fad. There are many blogging sites for visitors to comments and share their opinions. Also, you can write about any subject that you want to.

Check out some traveling blog sites and offer them your articles. Although most sites require you to write at least a few hundred words per article, but if you have a lot of travel experience, you'll have no problem in doing that. Set a certain fee for your articles and begin making money with ease.

* Start up your own blog post!

Initially, people will not come to your site and will not immediately buy your travel articles; they will come there to read them and will return for more. This makes your site the perfect place to put ads in hopes of selling them. If you are planning to become an affiliate partner with some business, this could be a great opportunity for you. While your articles will generate traffic to your site, they will also bring in the revenues.

* Sell your travel articles to newspapers and travel magazines!

If you're a reliably good writer and write content that other travelers like yourself would enjoy, many travel magazines will pay you money for your work. Check out the Writers' Market and you'll get a list of periodicicals that will pay good money for your written work.

* Consider writing your travel articles on various project sites!

How does it sound ?!

There are many project sites over the internet where people sell their work. Guru, Elance and Do My Stuff are a few project web sites where you'll find many people interested in buying your work. You just have to set up an account. Check out people looking for writing projects and you may just find someone looking for exactly what you have to offer. You do the writing assignment and you'll be paid online – your money will be deposited directly into your account. Check these sites out today!

There just may be someone looking for travel information that only you can provide them with.

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The Path of Honor

Honor, integrity, and uprightness, all follow along once you remember who you are. In order to get there you must first identify your core values-what is so important to you that you would defend them at all costs. At this point, you can not go back, because once you know, you know. Period. That knowledge stays in the forefront of your mind and red flags appear if you step outside the boundaries of your integrity.

Your core values ​​and your choices combine your personal sphere of integrity. You alone are responsible for this sphere. You can choose to accept or reject any ideas, beliefs, commands, paradigms or reality or statements that are presented to you. As long as you stay in alignment with your personal sphere of integrity, you retain your honor. Start by making a list of the values ​​and beliefs that are the basis for your truth, that are what you 'stand for'. Then narrow the list down to five or six that are your core beliefs.

The interesting metaphor for Honor is your spine. When you have doubts about your truth, you will develop subluxations in your vertebrae. Vice versa, if you are having back pain, it's a clue that you are out of integrity about something! When you get your honor back in line, your BACK will fix itself. The body is just that literal! Louise Hay wrote a wonderful little book many years ago, Heal Your Body. In the paperback version, the small blue one, there is a chart in the back equating each vertebra with the associated energetic issue. I highly recommend this as a handbook on your path!

The energetic component to honor and integrity is held in your chakra system. The chakras, or energetic centers align with your spine and refer to your organs and glands. They, too, can be affected by your issues of honor and integrity, causing physical manifestations as well. Your body is a great barometer of the health of your soul. When we are out of integrity with our truth, the messages begin to
arrive-subtly at first, but stronger if we do not get the message. It's like the ol 'carrot and stick principle. When we do not learn from the carrot, the Universe will present the lesson to us via the stick (or the cosmic two by four!) This will generally involve pain or disease within the physical body.

We come here with a purpose and a path to follow. It's unique to each of us. By finding your truth and living in alignment with it, your path becomes a path of honor-free from pain or distraction. It's a path that leads to leach.

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How to Start a Business and Follow Your Dream

Owning your own business is a goal that many people dream of, but not everyone realizes this dream. In order to make your dream come true you must a plan. This plan will lay out the steps you need to make your business a success. Many small businesses fail for lack of planning and resources. Use these tips to start a business and follow your dream.

Write a Business Plan

A business plan is the first place to start. In your business plan you need to state the nature of your business, a company description, organization and management structure, marketing plans, your target audience, and a budget. Depending on your business you plan may contain more items; each one is different because each business is different and has different goals.

Get Training

The Small Business Association has free training seminars you can attend if this is your first time starting a business. Their courses cover all aspects on how to start a business. If you've never had any financial training you may want to consider taking accounting or bookkeeping classes. These classes will give you a understanding about the financial structure of your business and how to keep accurate records.

Location is Important

If you are going to start a business and have a physical storefront you need to give location a lot of thought and research. Scout out locations in your town and talk to other business owners in the area. Ask them about the traffic flow, if the area is safe, and if they would rebuild there again. Enlist the services of a commercial real estate agent. They will help you navigate the complicated process of purchasing commercial property, or find the perfect location for building your storefront.

Research Financing Options

You have several options to explore when you start a business. The Small Business Association offers loans at competitive rates, and they have several types of loans and loan structures set up to help people start a small business. Banks are an obvious choice, but you may want to explore venture capital, personal loans, and grants.

Obtain the Proper Licenses

In order to do business you will need to register your business' name with your state. This is known as “doing business as” or or DBA license. You must get a tax identification number from the IRS, and register for any state or local taxes. You will also need to get any local and state business license and permits.

Hire Your Crew

As an employer you have certain legal responsibilities to your employees and to the government. Contact OSHA to find out the safety concerns pertinent to your business, and get an employer identification number so that you can file taxes. Do not forget to deal with the three types of withholding taxes; federal, state, and social security. Keep excellent records so that when it comes time to file your quarterly taxes you will be ready.

It may not sound easy to start a business, but if you have a passion and want to see it become a successful business it will take planning and organization. Use these tips to get started and build a business you can be proud of.

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Getting Started With Mobile Apps For Small or Startup Entrepreneurs

Mobile app marketing is a fast expanding segment of mobile marketing that has rapidly grown over time. Business owners have now realized the potential of using mobile phones for the present, as well as in the future in order to make business better for their customers. But, small or startup enterprises may have a distinct advantage over the competition.

Mobile Marketing Association has defined mobile marketing as a set of practices that allows organizations to communicate as well as engage their audience in an interactive and relevant way through any handheld device or network. It simply means that businesses are able to reach out to their clientele through their mobile phones.
It may sound really easy and straightforward thing to do, but it can be a complicated strategy, and several huge businesses have been associated to join the bandwagon.

Small or startup business owners have been wondering too, though they have recently started to concerne the idea of ​​mobile app marketing. We are now experiencing the trend where small to middle sized businesses are creating apps to offer exclusive mobile content to their loyal customers and more.

Have A Working Knowledge of Mobile App Marketing Before You Begin.

One of the best way to make sure that you are doing mobile app marketing the correct way is to first of all familiarize yourself and have a working knowledge of mobile app marketing before you get started. Learn how other businesses approach the market and follow on their trial and tested strategies. What kind of specific features do they offer, can you have access to the app, what are the processes involved? Find out which is the best one and figure out why.

Make A Mobile App That Your Customers Will Surely Love.

The moment you have made some research, start by taking notes of your own business and find out the possibility of developing a mobile app. Determine what you can offer your customers that your competitors can not? What will set you apart from the competition?

Setting up your goals and aspirations is very important. For this purpose, you can ask your customers directly through a survey. Know what do they want to see in a mobile app? What specific features do they find fit for their needs? Will they require push notifications and direct messages? Would they require a rewards program historically?
Sit and write down your objectives and what you wish to achieve out of your mobile marketing. Take note of the costs, the time it takes, and be really specific regarding the kind of mobile presence you which have to for your business. Take some time to truly set up a plan that will spell a big difference for your business and your market rivals.

Mobile App Marketing and Social Media Campaigns

Any business at this time must be online, if you want to remain accessible to your customers every single time. But, if are not yet ready, then set up Facebook and Twitter accounts for starters. It is worth checking sites such as Pinterest, Tumblr, LinkedIn, or Instagram and such others that may be relevant to the many goods and services you provide your customers. Link them all to your mobile app, that way your customers will have a way of getting started. The more models you have to advertise your services and products, the more you interact with your customers, the better.

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Why Selling a ‘No-Brainer’ Makes You a Bit of a Jerk

About that title: Why do people try to sell on the nutty reason that the choice is a 'no brainer'? Do you really want me to buy your product without giving it prudent thought? 'Thought' is the breakfast of champions so why would you want your prospect to make a decision on an empty stomach (or mind)?

I get that a vendor is trying to convince me that their item's benefits are so abundantly clear that only a dolt would not whip out a credit card. But, would not you rather know I bought your product after careful consideration? That your sales effort was so strong and focused absolutely on my desired benefits that I'm completely secure with my choice and will never experience buyer's remorse?

The 'no-brainer' argument almost feels like a form of bullying, suggesting that not buying from you makes me the jerk instead of the party who's advocating it. Here are some other negative messages that will reduce the power of any sales effort:

  • the other guys are jerks – somehow, this does not translate into 'we're great!' It just tells me you do not have enough good things to sway me to your offer and instead, hope I'll fall into your arms for fear of being associated with the 'jerks', your competitor. Instead, this makes me even more curious about who the 'other guy' is!
  • you can return it – Oh man; This is like a tell-tale sign in a horror movie: I'm being warned right up front that I'll be unhappy with my choice.
  • this is a close out – While you may think you're telling me it's a special deal, what I'm hearing is the folks who used to stand behind this product have run for the hills.
  • this is a one-time opportunity – Uh, is it stolen? Is it damaged goods?
  • we're clearing out inventory to make way for the new model – So that means you will not be serving my newly purchased, older version any longer?

I know there are some buyers for what the risks associated with these pseudo-benefits are worth it yet, is it really worth it for you as the seller? None of these messages are really adding value to your reputation nor are they building relationships with truly 'sold' customers who 'look for you as an ongoing source of quality in your category of goods. Instead, what you'll become is the Crazy Eddie of your industry (kids, once upon a time, Crazy Eddie sold consumer entertainment equipment with the tag line 'this offer is insaaaaane!' And he meant it – Eddie ended up in jail. ..)

Sales pitches like these create a single financial transaction. Sales messages that encourage real desire for your goods based on knowing what a prospect wants as a result of buying create relationships with customers. More than a single financial transaction, this creates ongoing purchases, referrals, feedback, testimonials, and a lower cost of selling. And guess what that delivers: more profit. Sounds like a totally sane benefit statement to me.

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Shooting for the Moon or Shooting Yourself in the Foot?

Celebrating the new year by working on some new habits, promises and intentions business owner? Let's start with your mindset. Before you can craft the practical decisions, relationships, policies and procedures to build your successful business, your mind needs to shift to your role as a leader and not be guided by your past success as an employee.

Think what got you success as an employee will get you off the launching pad as an owner? Not true. Sometimes, your past success as an employee may be a predictor of failure as a business owner. Here are several examples.

  1. When you're an owner, success and productivity are assessed from different perspectives. For example, as an employee, you typically have a shorter term view of a project than you need to have as a leader or owner. When you're an employee, your typical project may last days or months. And you're commonly implementing what others have forecast. the owner, it's up to you to stay aware of coming changes and innovations. It's likely someone else will implement your crafted, appropriate response before anyone else even sees that shift coming. That's why you're the leader: your event horizon is probably well beyond the foreseeable future. Your success as a leader depends on your ability to predict what's going to happen in your business environment rather than respond to a change that has already occurred; that's what you typically did as an employee.
  2. Here's another shift: as an employee, you typically wanted to 'look busy' and equated that with 'being productive'. So, how did you interpret that? Talking, writing, moving, scrolling, gesturing, dialing, even mumbling; all these physical things have the appearance that you were engaged in some worthwhile activity. And that last word – 'activity' – is a problem once you shift to owner status. You see, as a biz owner, your most important function includes no physical activity at all. What you need to do more than anything else is sit still and think, envision, dream, strategize, imagine, plan. This is the work of a capable, forward-thinking, big picture-creating leader. Yet your past training as an employee – that desire to look busy – may have left you uncomfortable with sitting still and sometimes giving the appearance of doing nothing at all. Yet that's the most critical function you, as a leader, have now: designing your business for all its tomorrows. And that starts with zero observable activity.
  3. The next mental shift starts as a riddle: How can social training to excel in one arena prevent your leadership skills from taking hold? Well, just as I rarely see a new business owner who's comfortable sitting still, I frequently see owners who have a strong need to have a hand in every element of their business and maintain control. It's not a stretch to see why: often your business represents the intense risk of having left a predictable job and income, a commitment of personal funds and your family's future. As a result, you, the owner, feel compelled to oversee every process or slip of paper. Or, you may feel a need to help those who are not as quick as you are. For women, the Superwoman complex often comes into play here. Too often in the business world, women have thought that they need to be twice as good to be perceived as equal; this may be more prudent with a woman owner over 45 than a younger woman. However, regardless of who it strikes, it's a real danger. The Superwoman wants to handle everything herself; she wants to show the world she can handle anything and, as a result, handles no one thing expertly. Man or woman, the need to control prevents a business owner from properly hiring, training and delegating, whether with employees or an outsourced team. That's a shame because that's a strong path to build a business that's a true asset rather than an ego trip. Once you can let go and remove yourself from the daily routine, you have an enhanced opportunity to focus on building your one true product: the totalality of your enterprise. The real leader knows when to let go and trust others instead of control or feel compelled to help everyone solve their problems.
  4. Conversely, the owner knows how to ask for help when s / he needs it and can focus on where s / he makes her most important contribution to her business (see #s 1 and 2, above). Action may speak louder than words yet directed action that results in a desirable result takes time, support and resources. Without the owner knows when to reach out for expert assistance with a necessary function, something important is going to lack expert implementation.
  5. 'Cover your behind' may be a time-honored employee's credo yet willingness to take an educated risk has a higher pay-off for an owner. Again, focusing on the future's potential before anyone sees it coming is what positions you for greatness and protects you from disaster. If only the buggy whip industry had seen automobiles coming …

Making these fundamental mind shifts can distinguish an entrepreneur's path from that of an employee.

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