Overcoming perfectionism

Perfectionism can get in the way of building or marketing a successful business. It can prevent us from moving ahead quickly or from taking advantage of business opportunities. We set ourselves up with unrealistic expectations or goals, which can be damaging to us personally or professionally. Striving for perfection can damage our self-esteem because we never feel like we are good enough. Instead, consider adopting an attitude of striving for excellence. Look at failure as just another teacher. Let's explore how being less than perfect can move you ahead in your business!

1. Get into action. One of the best ways to overcome perfectionism is to get into action and do something. In the case of your marketing, put yourself out there. Show the world who you are through your website, business cards, brochures, or through giving a speech. Don't wait until you get all of these things perfected. The truth is that they never will be. Everything you do is a work in progress. Do something now. Get feedback, and then make corrections as you move forward.

2. Say “no” to unreasonably high demands. We often set high standards of performance for ourselves that would be difficult, if not impossible, to meet even under the best of circumstances. Learn how to say “no” to yourself. We always set much higher standards for ourselves than anyone else would and in the big picture, it really means nothing. You would be surprised at how satisfied most people would be with average performance on your part. I'm not saying that you should sacrifice quality in what you do, but what you'll incrementally gain for large expenditures of your personal energy is certainly not productive. Trying to be perfect in your marketing will only delay getting your message out to those who need to hear it most.

3. Set realistic goals. Unreasonably high demands go hand in hand with setting unrealistic goals. You cannot expect to do everything at once or even at the same level of quality. Creating a plan of what needs to be done in your business is a top priority. For each major project or item that you need to accomplish, break it down into a number of goals that are easily doable. A goal of creating your website can be daunting. However, breaking it into a number of other goals including drafting a plan for your site, obtaining your domain name, and interviewing three web developers makes it much easier to accomplish.

4. Find support. Find others who will support you in the things you are doing. You might consider asking friends, colleagues, or family members to give their sign-off of approval on some of the projects that you are working on. While you might not think that something is perfect enough, the people on your support team can provide you with much a much less biased opinion. Sometimes we get so caught up in what we are doing, we cannot see that it is perfect just as it is. Recruit a supportive team to help you determine when enough is enough.

5. Perfect as it is. Consider adopting a mindset that whatever you do is the right thing to do and the best thing to do. This powerful attitude can make all the difference in creating a successful business. Not only will potential clients find your sense of personal strength attractive, but you will also have more confidence to make things happen and to make them happen quickly. You'll take more risks, ask more confidently for business, and work more effectively at everything you do.

6. Failure is my friend. Redefine how you look at failure. Failure is a natural part of life and will inevitably impact your business to varying degrees. Failure is not the end of anything, nor does it mean that you are incompetent. Realize that failure is a teacher and that it can help you innovate in your business. It provides you with valuable information that you're doing something or going in a direction that isn't providing the results that you want. The sooner you understand that, the sooner you can re-orient yourself in another direction, which can lead to your success.

7. Reframe your attitudes. Perfection is defined as freedom from fault or defect, or the quality or state of being saintly. What does it mean to you? The words we use to describe what we do or who we are, make a tremendous difference in the success we achieve. How would you define perfection for yourself? What about adopting an attitude that you are perfect the way you are? That you are enough. Write down what perfection means to you and post it in a place where you can read it daily.

8. Make lemons out of lemonade. You might be surprised that when you're not trying to be perfect, you may actually find the perfect opportunity. For example, you might not be dressed appropriately for a networking event and you don't feel like you're “perfect enough” to talk to anyone. But, you take the opportunity to chat with someone standing next to the hors d'oeuvre table and the next thing you know you've created a potential for new business. Opportunities are everywhere. In fact, take a look at the last few things you did which you didn't think were perfect or which didn't meet your high standards. What were the results of what you did? What other exciting things blossomed as a result?

9. Making it happen is more important than perfection. Doing things, putting yourself into action, telling people about what you can do for them…all of these things are much more important than spending another hour or another dollar trying to make something perfect in hopes that it will buy you some increased level of success. People aren't attracted to perfection, they're attracted to people that make things happen. If you're at the office trying to perfect anything in your business, the trade-off is that you aren't somewhere where you can be making valuable business contacts. It is important to surround yourself with people who like to take action. Not only will they motivate you to do the same, but you'll also be able to witness, firsthand, the results they are having by getting out there.

10. Be kind to yourself. Perfectionists often feel down on themselves for not achieving…well, perfection. Perfection is an ideal, not a reality; it is humanely impossible to achieve. Learn how to forgive yourself when you do something you don't think is good enough or perfect. Love yourself for being you and know that everything you do in your business possesses your personal spin. Potential clients won't be attracted to you because of your business card or website. They will be attracted to you because of who you are.

© Copyright 2004 by Alicia Smith

Retooling the hiring process for today s market

As the Baby Boomer generation exits the workforce steadily over the next 10 years, sourcing new candidates will become a tenuous task. Companies that understand the impending scarcity of candidates and can retool their process will have a marked advantage in acquiring talent.

One key to properly retooling will shift the current focus from experience to talent. This fundamental change will be precipitated by the need to develop talent as opposed to hiring experience. The experienced candidate will become a product of a supply and demand marketplace. There will be more demand with less supply which leads to increased wages. The highly successful, extremely experienced candidate will be able to take a free agent approach to their job search. They will be able to select from multiple offers and leverage the best overall package.

There is nothing new in this market-driven scenario except for one item. The supply will be greatly diminished which will put incredible pressures on the compensation packages. However, companies will have an alternative to the bidding war – hire for talent and develop for strength.

This shift in hiring focus will require an “outside the box” approach to candidate screening. The first step will be to wean the process off of the 20th century approach of placing an ad, receiving and reviewing resumes and qualifying candidates with a face-to-face interview. This 3 step process is riddled with vulnerabilities.

First off, the sheer number of responses will surely decrease let alone the quality of the applicants. Gone are the days of simply placing an ad in the Sunday edition of the local newspaper and collecting the overwhelming responses. Some online ads return volumes of resumes, but the applicants’ qualifications are often completely misaligned. Properly written online ads provide fewer responses but a higher quality of fit to the position.

Second, the majority of resumes (some statistics state >75%) contain embellishments of some form. Using these embellished, sometimes fictional documents to sort applicants is similar to building your house on shifting sands. The entire premise is flawed from the start. The resume elicits experience-based decisions which are less than reliable. The applicants’ embellished industry experience is weighted grossly higher in comparison to their true talent and abilities.

Finally, face-to-face interviews are needed in any hiring process, but again, they tend to be used out of sequence for an effective process. Society of Human Resource Management studies have shown that interviewers make candidate decisions within the first 7 minutes of the in-person interview. We are all susceptible to internal biases and blind spots. No interviewer is completely objective.

The aforementioned hiring approach was widely followed in the last century. The onslaught of the Internet, decreasing worker populations and exploding job productivity requirements have made successful hiring the key component of the 21st century.

Retooling a complete hiring process requires a company to release outdated, stereotypical approaches and embrace the tactics needed in today’s market. There are 3 steps all companies can integrate into their process today to begin the shift towards a reliable and repeatable hiring strategy.

Phone Screen. This article discusses new approaches to hiring and then leads off with a retro tool! Perhaps we should consider the phone screen a lost art. Oh, but how effective it is. In our own practice, we do not assist companies in hiring salespeople without using the phone screen. In fact, we use some variation of it for all positions – it is that effective. This approach removes many biases that naturally occur in a face-to-face meeting. An effective phone screen can be accomplished in 15-20 minutes which allows for many more to be completed in a day versus the traditional 1 hour, in-person interview.

The phone screen allows the hiring manager to get a better understanding of the applicant’s thought process, composure, communication ability and even, to some extent, their fit to the position. This tool is vastly more effective for pre-screening candidates than sorting resumes into yes and no piles.

Job Rewards. Remember the days when newspaper ads were riddled with acronyms and abbreviations to save on cost? There were literary artists who could describe an engineering job in 50 words or less. Those days are gone, yet we still see the occasional online ad written in that manner. One might as well place “dinosaur” in the ad's title.

Today’s young job seekers value balance in their work life. Their rewards are less centered on material wealth accumulation. They still work to earn money, but they are greatly influenced by the job’s rewards. How will they personally grow in the position? What skills will they develop? How would you describe the company culture? These topics can easily be added to any online job posting since space is no longer a fiscal limitation. The candidates who respond to this information will have a strong interest in learning more about the role and typically will have a reinforced skill set that matches the position’s needs.

Objective Assessments. There are amazing tools available in the market today that will measure intrinsic traits in a candidate that not even the most skillful interviewer can ascertain. As previously stated, all interviewers bring biases to the process. Two techniques to limit these biases are the incorporation of objective tools and the delayed introduction of an interviewer’s bias into the process.

Candidates should be assessed before an in-person interview. The EEOC encourages this approach in all hiring processes. A validated assessment tool given to viable candidates provides a strong insulator for any hiring process. The tests do not introduce biases and generate objective information.

A secondary, powerful benefit to using assessments before interviews is that it changes the focus of the in-person interview. The interviewer now has reliable data about the candidate that can be explored within the context of the interview. The interview is shifted from the candidate mindlessly regurgitating previous work experience to an exploration into their talent areas and potential vulnerabilities in direct relation to the position for which they have applied.

Most companies have seen the significant shift in hiring that has occurred with the advent of Internet-based technology over the past 10 years. This fundamental realignment has already rooted itself into the economy. The next seismic shift is already underway as the Baby Boomer generation begins its exit from the full-time workforce. Companies that adjust their hiring process and adapt to the changing landscape will ensure their success in the evolving 21st century marketplace.

Protect your business card investment

Business cards can cost upwards of $200 for a set of 1000 nicely printed cards. That price can be quickly increased with special shapes, rounded corners, raised foil lettering, metal or plastic cards and various other exciting new features.

With an expensive product comes the need to protect your investment. That is where a business card case comes into play. Business card cases are usually metal cases that protect your business cards from the daily wear and tear of being in your pocket, in your car, or in your briefcase.

Business card cases come in one size, slightly larger than a business card and they usually snap shut. Most cases can hold between 25 and 50 regular sized business cards. Without a business card case, your business cards risk getting damaged on a regular basis.

If you are paying a considerable amount of money for your business cards, it only makes sense to protect them. Business card cases can be as inexpensive as $15 and can range up to $100 for a custom engraved business card case.

If you spent $200 on 1000 business cards, and that business card case saves your from trashing 100 cards per year, it has paid for itself after only a few months. However, a good business card case will last you a few years. I have had mine for 4 years now, it is a little worn down, but still serves its original purpose.

Business card cases can also be used a selling tool. You can have them custom engraved, so they can make a great business gift to a potential client. You could have this prospects name engraved on the business card case and send him a note that says, "Thank you for considering using our company for your computer networking needs".

This gesture could be the tipping point for that prospect and close the deal.

Business card cases not only protect your business cards, but they also save you money by not having to buy business cards as often!

Top 7 differences between generation x and boomers

: No, they’re not from Mars, but Generation Xers are dramatically different from the Boomers. Here are the top 7 difference you’re likely to see between Boomers and Xers in the workplace. 1. Their approach to authority is casual. It’s not that Xers don’t respect authority; it’s that they are unimpressed by authority. Xers grew up watching many “authority” figures fall from grace. Think Nixon, Jim Baker, and Jimmy Swaggart. Many also saw their own parents (their first authority figures) divorce. What they witnessed has a definite impact on their views on authority. In Managing the Clash of Veterans, Boomers, Xers, and Nexters in Your Workplace, the authors explain that Xers are likely to treat the company president just the way they would the front-desk receptionist.

2. They thrive in a casual, fun work environment. You’d be hard pressed to find a stuffed shirt Xer. Generation X wants an informal and casual workplace. And we’re talking more than Jeans Day once a week. In Generations At Work, the authors report that “Many (Xers) assert that casual days aren’t just a perk: they actually make us work harder and get more done.” Further, the authors of Generations At Work report that “Anything that makes work less “corporate” resonates well with generation X “.

3. Xers are pessimistic when it comes to their future. A survey of Generation X revealed that more Xers believe General Hospital will be around longer than Social Security. Xers have seen massive layoffs and slashes in company benefit plans. They are skeptical about their future and almost no Xer expects to work at one company until retirement.

4. They have a nontraditional approach to time. (Surprise, surprise!) The attitude of many Xers is “As long as I get my work done and do my fair share, what does it matter what time I show up or leave?” Don’t mistake this attitude with “slacking?” Xers grew up in flexible times and they approach everything – even work schedules – with a flexible attitude.

5. Family and work balance is extremely important to Xers. Many Xers grew up in two-income families. And as a result, there was no one waiting at home to bring them milk and cookies. Their parents made many sacrifices, including missing out on school plays and sporting events. Xers are determined to make work serve their lives and not the other way around.

6. Generation Xers tend to be technologically savvy. You’re probably not surprised to learn than that Xers will prefer to hold discussions and make decisions electronically over traditional staff meetings and memos. Xers grew up with GameBoys, microwaves, and VCRs. Technology is second nature to them.

7. Workaholism is not a trait you’ll find in many Gen Xers. While it may be common to find a Boomer who is a workaholic, this is not the case with Xers. Their motto is “Get a life!”

If you’ve had challenges understanding, managing, or motivating your Generation X (1965-1976) employees, you’re not alone. Few managers are naturally endowed with the specific skills, strategies, and smarts it takes to manage and motivate this young, unique, complex, and talented generation.

Get up to speed with Generation X with a pre-recorded teleseminar that is 50% right now by going to Generation X Help.

Beware the busy manager

Only about 10 percent of managers work purposefully to complete important tasks, according to a 10-year study of managerial behavior across a variety of industries. The other 90 percent self-sabotage by busily engaging in non-purposeful activities, procrastinating, detaching from their work and needlessly spinning their wheels.

In a revealing study over a 10-year period, 1993-2003, authors Heike Bruch and Sumantra Ghoshal tracked behaviors of managers in a wide variety of industries (A Bias for Action: How Effective Managers Harness Their Willpower, Achieve Results, and Stop Wasting Time, Harvard Business School Press, 2004).

They found that over 90 percent of managers fail to act purposefully in their everyday work. Bruch's and Ghoshal's study identifies four profiles of managerial behavior, as charted in a grid measuring focus and energy. Managers were charted as being high or low in focus, and they were charted as being high or low in energy.

High focus, high energy managers were described as Purposeful.

High focus, low energy managers were seen as Detached.

Low focus, high energy managers were described as Frenzied.

Low focus, low energy managers were seen as Procrastinators.

The Frenzied: Forty percent of managers are distracted by the overwhelming tasks that face them each day. They are highly energetic, but unfocused. But "the need for speed" prompts them to be unreflective. They could achieve more if they consciously concentrate their efforts on what really matters.

The Procrastinators: Thirty percent of managers procrastinate on doing their organizations' most important work. They lack both energy and focus, spending their time handling minor details in lieu of what could make a real difference to their organizations.

The Detached: Twenty percent of managers are disengaged or detached from their work. They can be focused, but have no energy. They seem aloof, tense and apathetic.

The Purposeful: Only ten percent get the job done. They are highly focused, energetic, and come across as reflective and calm amid chaos.

The costs of unproductive busyness take a toll on both managers and their companies. Continual unreflective activity has a direct effect on an organization's profits and managerial morale, as it's ineffective and ultimately unsatisfying.

For example, frenzied managers often act in extremely shortsighted ways. Under extreme time constraints and the need to do more with fewer resources, they become adept at finding short-term solutions. As a consequence, they seldom take time to reflect, and neglect long-term issues. Frenzied managers demonstrate a well-intentioned, but desperate, need to do something-anything-which makes them potentially destructive.

Chronic procrastinators are generally recovering frenzied managers. Once they have learned that frantic, desperate actions are unsatisfying, many lapse into procrastination, losing energy and focus. It becomes all too easy for them to put off action altogether.

What distinguishes managers who take purposeful action from those who do not?

Willpower, discipline and clarity of purpose fuel the force behind energy and focus, enabling managers to execute action and to ignore distractions. Even when uninspired by the work and tempted by other opportunities, purposeful managers maintain energy and focus through will power, determination and clarity of purpose.

Next time you evaluate your managers' performance, place them on the low/high Focus/Energy grid. Find out who fits the descriptions of Detached, Frenzied, Procrastinator, or Purposeful manager. Then see whether it is focus or energy that can be improved. Busyness for the sake of being busy without regard for results can lead to false assumptions.

Money in reward and recognition systems

The role of money as a motivator is indisputable if you don't have enough. With bills to pay and mouths to feed, most hunter/gatherers will push themselves to get enough money into the bank account to remove those troublesome worries. However, once the threshold of comfort has been reached and there is a steady flow of money coming from a job that is well understood, can money be used as a further motivator?

The answer is firmly in the realms of "it depends". It depends on the individual. Some people will always "jump for the jellybeans" because their lifestyle and their conditioning demand that they acquire the next best car, house, entertainment center or vacation. Others satisfy themselves with smaller dreams that they can achieve without being overly ambitious.

Why Reward Systems?

You will have ambitions for your business. It is important to you that you make the most of your investment both in money and in time and it is important that the people who work with you are focused on the same outcomes that drive you. A well structured reward system can accommodate everything that your people desire and can demonstrate to those who want to do better for themselves, just what it is they need to do to make it happen.

A reward system is more than pay levels, bonuses and stock options. It should encapsulate other forms of recognition for a job well done including promotion, reassignment and a range of flexible bonuses that can be selected to match the particular life-style of the individual person.

Reward systems should be based on the fundamental premise that "You get what you pay for". The old adage "If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys" could never be more true however you also don't want to bankrupt the company, so the balance can be a fine one.

The reward system also has to be responsive. People tire of stretching themselves for future promises. How many times have you heard "If you do this well I'll consider a pay rise at the next review."? If you fail to reward appropriate behavior quickly, you stand less than an even chance of getting the right result.

What is the Reward Strategy?

Like all business activities, it is important to be clear for everyone concerned how the reward system interlocks with the business mission. The Reward Strategy is designed to demonstrate how the company values its people and how the payment practices it adopts help to engage and motivate employees.

The Reward Strategy should deliver the following:

A framework within which the rewards provided by the business will operate

Clarification of the reward objectives

An outline of how reward will be managed

A link between the expressed values of the business and the methods used to manage reward

The total Reward System is, of course, much more than just pay and benefits. Employees also see value in career opportunities, personal and professional development, the management style and, coincidentally, recognition.

How to start meetings on time

Here's how to begin on time.

1) Make it part of the agenda.

Put the arrival time on the agenda. For example, for a meeting scheduled to start at 9:00 AM, you could put "8:50 AM - - - Arrive at the Meeting" at the top of the agenda.

An arrival time is useful because it allows everyone time to socialize, obtain coffee, or organize materials before the meeting. It also ensures everyone is present at the scheduled starting time.

2) Offer a treat.

Provide coffee, juice, or a vegetable platter before the meeting. This can be especially welcome for all-day meetings attended by people from other locations. It provides a time for socializing between visitors and it may also provide a meal for those who came from out of town.

But here's the catch: offer the treat only during the arrival time. Then put it away once the meeting starts.

And another point: serve snacks that make people more productive (such as fruit) instead of stuff that fills them up and deadens their brains (such as donuts).

3) Set an example.

Arrive at your meetings before they are scheduled to start. You can use the time to make sure that the room is set up properly. And you can greet the attendees as they arrive. This helps you appear in control of the meeting process from the beginning.

And of course, arrive at everyone else's meetings on time.

4) Make it easy.

Schedule your meetings to begin at odd times, such as 9:10 AM. This allows everyone who was in a one-hour meeting that began at 8:00 AM to travel to your meeting. Similarly, end your meetings at least ten minutes before the next hour so that the attendees have time to travel to their next meeting.

5) Sell promptness.

Send a memo or E-mail stressing the importance of arriving on time. Call key attendees to remind them about the starting time for the meeting. Give people a reason to be on time, such as ask a top executive to make an opening remark.

Bonus idea: let the executive leave after making the opening remark. These people are very busy.

6) Expect promptness.

If it is your company (or department, etc.), you can tell people that they are expected to be on time. Then enforce this by making it a performance dimension. Similarly, arrive on time to demonstrate your commitment. And when necessary, hold a private coaching session with those who need help understanding your expectations.

7) Be realistic.

Realize that some people are beyond coaching because of their attitude or relationship with you. Also, recognize that it is impossible to guarantee that everyone will always arrive on time at every meeting. There will always be emergencies, surprises, and those few who refuse to cooperate.

Bonus point: Ask that people tell you if they expect to be late. If necessary, reschedule the meeting to accommodate them.

Learn more about Effective Meetings at: http://www. squidoo. com/OneGreatMeeting/

Action vs. inaction

Spring is a great antidote to long cold winters. It's the same with action and inaction. Action is a powerful antidote to the stagnation of inactivity. Being creatively alive involves abandoning a position of inaction in circumstances which have traditionally immobilized you. The name of the game is action. Doing. Overcoming your inertia and acting will give you a whole new lease on being creatively alive.

Action is the single most effective antidote to depression, anxiety, stress, fear, worry, guilt, and of course, immobility. It is virtually impossible to be depressed and active at the same time. Even if you wanted to, it is difficult to keep on moping, complaining, lolling around and wallowing in self-pity if you get active and do something. Anything! Just doing is such an important part of being a fully functioning person.

In fact, that lack of action is not a result of depression; it is the cause. Don't be paralyzed by the fear of making a mistake. Taking action, gives you momentum. Initiating the effort attracts opportunities and synergistic things happen.

Inactivity, on one hand, is most often a choice rather than an inescapable fact of life, while action is a definite way to avoid being victimized by yourself or others. If you decide to do something about your problem or challenge, rather than grumble about it, you'll be on the road to changing things around for yourself. When you take action, you also take control. Thinking keeps you a prisoner of the past. Action puts you in control of the future.

If you find yourself asking, "Yes, but what can I do" the answer is very, very simple. Anything is a lot more effective than nothing.

This old proverb has a lot of truth in it: Even when you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there.

Employee recognition awards create progress

In difficult situations, when companies are in crisis and can only be saved by major effort, group morale often rises to far higher levels than before. Individual objections and objectives are bypassed in the collective drive to do what must be done. This is where recognition awards take its importance. High group morale can enrich individual motivation and performance remarkably!

I. Planned Awards:

1. Recognition Awards

On its basic concept, recognition awards are effective ways of increasing and boosting a person’s morale. It encourages them to accept of and have a desire for change at all times. The change they will make is not entirely for the advantage of the company but to his or her own personal achievement as well. Basically, the common recognition awards given to an employee are based on the three categories of recognition. These can be planned, immediate, or formal. If a recognition award is set on a formal approach, the award should focus more on the employee’s exceptional contribution to the organization for a given year. Some of the examples of formal recognition awards are:

2. Employee Service Award

This may refer to the remarkable service extended out by an employee. This means that he or she had taken responsibility of not only doing their assigned task but were able to complete other work that made the entire organization benefit from it.

3. Customer Relations Employee Awards

This is to recognize people who constantly make effort in reaching out to the company’s most important asset the customers. And by merely providing them with exceptional customer service is good enough in such a way that the company is too grateful to just take it for granted.

4. Retiree Recognition Award

This goes out to employees who gave almost half of their life serving the company, providing exceptional service, and undivided loyalty throughout the service period. On the other hand, if the recognition award is planned, meaning giving out these kinds of recognition awards are pre-set and the frequency of conducting them is on a routine basis, then it should be focused on simply recognizing an employees simple yet notable achievements or manifests a good area for advancement.

5. Employee of the Month

This is given to employees who where noted to have done outstanding performance in a given month. This type of recognition award usually boosts the person’s morale in terms of emotional satisfaction and personal fulfilment. This, in turn, encourages and motivates them that if their colleague was able to achieve it, so can they.

6. Best in Attendance

In order to motivate people to come to work on time and avoid habitual absences, this type of recognition award should be given. This, in turn, reflects the company’s value for the employee’s presence, that a day or even a fraction of missed work is detrimental to the entire organization’s development.

7. Best in Customer Service

This type of recognition award is given to those who have exceptionally rendered customer service to their clients, thereby, motivating more people to opt for their services because of the kind of satisfaction they will get from the organization’s staff. In many cases, it is usually the customer service that keeps people from coming back to the company. And so, if carried out well by an employee, it is just right to acknowledge it. And last, if the recognition is based on immediate recognition, the recognition awards should reflect the urgent need to take note of a person’s commendable completion of a given task, in which, when done by anyone else may not have resulted as well.

II. Unplanned Awards:

1. Teamwork Effort

This type of recognition award is given to a group whose outstanding performance had contributed to the company’s growth.

2. A special project award

This refers to the immediate completion of a special project which reaped good results. This recognition award is effective in motivating people that the earlier they complete their work at the same time maintain the quality of output, they will be rewarded.

3. A simple employee appreciation

This type of recognition award is a simple way of uplifting the confidence and drive of the employee to continue and keep up the good work. The bottom line is that, if a company knows how to take car of its people by giving recognition award, the employees will take good care of the company in return.

Quickbooks tips

QuickBooks is a great accounting program for home-based businesses to track their income and expenses. It is easy to learn and simple to use. It has a great Help file. You do not need an accounting background to be able to generate reports such as a Profit and Loss and Balance Sheet needed for tax preparation and managing your business. I have listed a few key points to consider when using QuickBooks.

Cash or Accrual Basis of Accounting? The first step in setting up your company in QuickBooks is to determine if you will track income and expenses on the “Cash Basis” or “Accrual” basis. Most small businesses operate on the cash basis of accounting. What this means is you record your expenses when you write the check or charge your credit card, and you record your sales or income when you take the money to the bank and deposit it into your account. This is the easiest way to account for your transactions. Some businesses are required by the IRS to report on the accrual basis. This normally pertains to large publicly traded companies and/or some manufacturing entities. On the accrual basis, you record income at the time of sale, not at the time you receive payment. You also enter expenses when you receive the bill, not when you pay it. The choice is yours on which basis to use. QuickBooks supports both accounting methods.

Simplify the Chart of Accounts!! The most important list in your accounting system is your Chart of Accounts. You track your flow of money through this list of accounts which includes where your income comes from, where you put it, what your expenses are for, and what you use to pay them. QuickBooks’ EasyStep Interview walks you through setting up your accounts. The system also offers sample business templates that already have accounts set up for you. You can later delete or add any accounts that were initially setup in this interview to make it match your income and expenses better. Keep your chart of accounts SIMPLE! Too many accounts result in messy reports that are hard to read and analyze. Also, use descriptions for your account id’s, not numbers. If you assign account numbers for each account, you will have to memorize the numbers for fast data entry. It is much easier to type in the name of the account when entering transactions. This is a key timesaver!

Utilize Reports QuickBooks has many reports you can run for daily management of your business. The most widely used reports are the Profit & Loss statement and Balance Sheet. The Profit and Loss statement is simply your sales minus your expenses over a period of time. When you choose to display a report such as the Profit and Loss statement, you are able to drill down from each account to obtain the source of the amount in the report. For example, you see that your Travel Expense account has a balance of $1,000.00. You want to see whom you paid for Travel for the month, so you can place your cursor over the Travel Expense amount and double click to obtain a report that will show you the detail of transactions that make up the $1,000.00 spent. You can then further drill down to view the actual check written. The Balance Sheet report shows you your Assets, Liabilities and Equity of your business. Assets include what you have and what people owe you money, such as your bank account balance, inventory owned, accounts receivable, and fixed assets such as equipment and furniture. Liabilities include what your company owes to other people or your company debts. Examples include unpaid bills, money you owe on credit cards, loans, and sales tax you owe. Equity is the net worth of your company: equity = assets – liabilities. Other reports include detailed and summary sales reports, sales tax reports, inventory reports, vendor reports, sales tax reports, payroll reports, and many more.

Create a Professional Image QuickBooks also has other features that allow you to customize forms such as invoices, statements, and purchase orders you want to send to your customers and vendors. It will allow you to generate mailing labels and email messages to your existing customers and vendors that are setup in QuickBooks. You can also print checks on preprinted business forms.

Online banking is available with QuickBooks, which enables you to pay your bills electronically and reconcile your bank accounts monthly. This is essential to make sure you capture all business deductions to minimize your end of year tax liability.

Keep it Separate! You should not track personal finances, investments, and details not specifically related to your business in your QuickBooks company file. Mixing of personal and business funds makes tax preparation harder and more expensive in some cases if using an accountant or tax preparation service.

An accounting degree is not required to enter daily and weekly tasks in QuickBooks. QuickBooks is an easy to use accounting software program that allows business owners to manage their business more profitably.

3 opportunities to help you make an extra income online

I have been in exactly the same position, for years I have been searching the internet for ways to earn an extra income, not to make me a millionaire over night but just to make enough to help with the bills or to have some extra cash in my pocket for the little luxuries in life.

With so many sites trying to take your money it is not easy to wade through the scam sites and the legitimate opportunities. What as well if you don’t have any idea in what is a good product and will make money and what is a bad product that will just drain your resources? Over the years I have tried so many of the so called opportunities and been burnt financially.

I now believe that I have found the 3 best opportunities available that require a little bit of thinking and time but can give you great rewards once you follow the proven system. Remember you don’t get anything in life for nothing! This is a golden rule to remember, no matter what you do it is important that you need to work at it, how much you work at it can depend on how much you get out of it, not only in a financial sense but also on a personal level.

The best products are ones that can make you an ongoing cash flow, ones that have longevity and have entered a market place where there is a niche. It is no good trying to sell something online where the market is already swamped with goods, this will just lead to your product being another one of hundreds without a customer in sight. This is where the research and the years of hard work have been put in to provide the best products available and you can be a part of this.

The website gives you an overview of the 3 best finds on the internet and gives you the opportunity to make some extra money with a small amount of effort. Remember my golden rule, the more effort you put in the more you will get out. To find out more about these opportunities then go to http://www. toponlinebusinesses. com The website breaks down the best 3 opportunities and gives an overview of what is on offer, take a look today, the sooner you take a look the sooner you can get started and build a brighter future.

Team building activities

Ideas for team building activities can include virtually anything that involves getting your people to interact, cooperate, communicate, and hopefully have some fun at the same time. This is a great way to get staff away from the rules and roles of the office and take a break from the projects and pressures everyone has been dealing with, yet still work on developing transferable skills to take back to work.

Some of the essentials of team building include:

- emphasizing a team focus on shared goals

- maintaining individual commitment to these goals

- identifying problem areas and working together to overcome these

- developing clear strategies to achieve goals

- celebrating achievements together

Engaging in team building activities can help improve team members’ ability to relate to one another, appreciate one another’s strengths, provide stress relief, and renew a shared commitment to working together toward common goals. Activities can provide simple illustrations of how a team is more than the sum of its parts, and how much more we can accomplish by working together.

Although the theme of the activities chosen for your team building purposes may vary depending on the field and particular interests of your organization, activities are generally customizable to any sized group and suit a wide variety of individuals. The main requirements should be active participation by all team members, and a positive attitude.

In order to get the best results, activities should be ones that get everyone out of their chairs, encourage creative thinking and enthusiasm, and require that team members actively work together to solve a problem or achieve a goal. Many professional team building programs integrate humorous props to help create a playful approach to the day’s lessons, and teamwork in general. Timed exercises or a competition between groups may be used to further boost energy levels and prompt a focused, coordinated effort towards achieving the specific goal.

Team building consultants use everything from art, music and cooking to extreme sport simulations, and more to demonstrate the finer principles of effective team work, often with great success. The fun atmosphere and break from the daily routine can help transcend personality issues or other setbacks at work and provide a fresh start for tackling challenges back at the office, with a renewed sense of unity and camaraderie.

Investigate the teambuilding programs and services available in your area, or browse some ideas online to start planning your next team development day. The time you spend nurturing positive working relationships and reaffirming your shared commitment to common goals will have numerous benefits, from a more pleasant daily work atmosphere, to increased productivity. Make the most of your best resources, your people, and find out how much more you can achieve together.

Great business standards do you have them

If you are a business owner, you probably follow certain standards within your business. I'm talking about those "rules" you set up and follow - your business etiquette.

For example, my standards include:

• not working on Fridays, evenings or weekends

• not answering my business phone after hours

• working only with clients I'm compatible with

For me, having my own business is a freedom and a privilege that I was unable to experience in the corporate world. As a business owner, I feel entitled to make my own decisions about how my business should be run. After all, I'm the boss!

Your business should be run the way you see fit. If you have employees, you can of course (if you wish) take their needs into consideration as well. If, on the other hand, you are a sole proprietor like me, having strong standards can go a long way towards keeping you happy and satisfied in your career.

What is important to you? If you haven't already done so, think hard about this. Make a list of the important things in your life, and base your business standards around them. If maintaining a good balance between your business and personal life is important, create a standard that allows you to stop working at a reasonable hour each day in order to spend time with your family. If going grocery shopping on Wednesday mornings is what you prefer to do, work that into your schedule.

I think you get the gist of what I'm trying to say. Create a solid set of business standards today. Then stick to them. Remember, you're in control of your business and your life.

Goodwill builds partnership a constructive dialogue

: The value of business goodwill is in the throws of a major revival under the tent of mutual interest and partnership. Amid a global partnering boom, the future value of your business is at stake. Go-it-alone competitive practices are for the scrapbook. Partnering opportunities created by the communications and distribution revolution along with a global explosion in consumption and production are reshaping the ability of companies to reach larger audiences and acquire value creating resources. A growing number of countries are announcing international business alliances. Small to large enterprises are discovering partners across the global Internet. Nearly any business conference you attend this year is sure to feature passionate evangelists espousing the virtues of strategic alliances and economic goodwill. Shake here. Partner or Perish This fast-growing business climate is focused on collaboration and reciprocation. You can feel it building momentum. To survive in today’s worldwide growth and innovation game your company must seek alliances based on compatible differences. How do you get into the partnering game? Grow, shape and leverage your goodwill. Grow your goodwill by instituting best practices. Prepare your company for future alliances by using your goodwill to shape a receptive mindset within your organization. Leverage your goodwill to team up with allies and the allies of your allies. Are you involved in a constructive dialog with one or more potential partners? If not, what’s holding you back? The days of viewing your competitors with distant suspicion and enmity are over. Few enterprises can operate competitively working out of a cocoon. Today, it’s not unusual to find one division of a company signing on to an alliance with a direct competitor of another of its divisions. The first rule of this game is: “we work together, any chance we get, because working together is nearly always mutually advantageous.” Concerned about resistance from inside your organization? Some stakeholders will support your partnering aims and others will not depending on how they may be affected. Unsupportive stakeholders can kill an alliance before it comes together or slowly eat away at it over time. It no longer makes sense to let internal differences slow you down. If you're future is not in play, be warned. Sooner or later, it'll be partner or perish. Your goodwill can make a big difference in dealing with resistance and the prevention of sabotage. It's not just a paper asset. It is meant to be actionable. Look for silos in your organization. Appeal to those individuals using your goodwill Directly address their contribution to goodwill. Be determined to navigate such situations toward a positive outcome. Use the power of your goodwill as a change management tool to win over as many of your stakeholders as possible. Goodwill has profound impact on your equity value How does your business acquire goodwill? It cultivates it through best practices, such as good governance, customer service, efficiency, branding, pricing fairness, innovation, authenticity, consideration, cooperation, collaboration, thoughtfulness, decency, understanding, trust and community. The result is reflected in the valuation of your business reputation as measured by the loyalty of your customer base and the reliability, stability and good practices of your management and its employees. The dollar amount of your goodwill represents the excess price over fair market value that you’d expect to get at a takeover of your company. Alliance minded executives use their goodwill on a daily basis in communicating with stakeholders. Without the consistent expression of goodwill, they know, it is virtually impossible to sustain a partnering synergy that builds goodwill and benefits all stakeholders. The alternative course may in time result in stagnation and eventual decline. Fostering goodwill among your stakeholders prepares your organization for partnering. Your commitment to goodwill drives change and builds value. Apply goodwill on a daily basis. It may be your most powerful strategy in preparing for, processing and succeeding in the formation of alliances. Get them ready Here are three ways goodwill can be used to increase your organization’s alliance receptivity: First, use your business goodwill as a sign of strength. To achieve a successful transition in a merger, joint venture or other alliance types, quickly identify and address potential stakeholder resistance…and treat it with respect. Approaching others with respect is not a sign of compromise or weakness. It is a sign of strength. No matter how it may be characterized by opponents, your willingness to extend a hand of friendship can never be leveraged to your detriment, nor can it be used to silence your views. Express your goodwill to create an interpersonal zone where the exchange of common interests can be presented for the benefit of all concerned. Finding common ground on the basis of mutual respect allows partnerships to take shape. Second, use your goodwill to diffuse resistance. Your goodwill is the most common and effective way to diffuse negative perceptions. Reach out to those who are concerned about who will go or how their job will get done or done well: “I respect your views. We’ll face it and get through it together. We have the same goals.” Goodwill gives you permission to articulate the needs and goals of your alliance. Keep in mind that your business goodwill may be damaged if this step is not handled well. Avoid this step altogether and it may return to bite you later. Use your current goodwill assets to protect your future goodwill. Third, use your goodwill to invigorate your partnering strategy. Your next partnership will build its own goodwill. At the starting gate its goodwill is inherited from its partners. Good or bad, this asset has a limited shelf life. Your collaborative enterprise -– an innovation development strategy, sales and distribution alliance, or marketing partnership initiative -- will soon forge its own goodwill as it builds a bridge to its own identity. On the other side of the goodwill bridge is profit, innovation, synergy, productivity, mutual understanding and constructive relationships. Walk across it every day. Look for ways to express it. Aretha Franklin sang R-E-S-P-E-C-T in 1967 — an anthem for respect and recognition between men and women. At the time her call was a plea. Today, it’s a requirement. Individually and collectively the path of mutual respect promotes goodwill. Use it to embrace compatible differences and reduce incompatible ones. Develop a goodwill practice for building alliances, near and far, for today and tomorrow. Shake here.

Retail management identifying each salesperson s lowest kpi can boost sales by 30

Stick with me here for minute – its not hard math.

There are five retail KPI’s worth tracking at the individual Salesperson level: Sales per hour; items per sale; average sale; conversion rate; wage to sales ratio.

If you add them all up (individually) and divide by the number of staff you get the ‘store average’ of each KPI.

You can now compare each Salesperson’s five KPI’s to the ‘store average KPI’ instantly revealing the MOST deficient statistic or undersupplied KPI for each individual Salesperson.

Why is it important?

Well you are now able to say with perfect clarity that:

HAD (employee’s) average sale of say $69 been at the store average of $114, (employee) would have sold $2803.

HAD (employee’s) "Items per sale" of 1.68 been at the store average of 3.02 (employee) would have sold $3471.

HAD (employee’s) "Sales per hour" of $129 been at the store average of $169, (employee) would have sold $1355.

And so on…

Thus, $3471 is the greatest sales increase (employee) could have achieved - the deficient statistic - or undersupplied KPI - being Items per sale.

This deduction gives us great insight into what behavior to coach first. In this case it’s ‘items per sale’ and the associated behavior correction is either a) (employee) is not adding on, or b) (employee) does not have enough product knowledge to sell companion products. The point is that managers who want to help their Salespeople perform better now know exactly which area of expertise to focus on to achieve the maximum possible performance improvement result.

In the case of ‘sales per hour’ (employee) may be slow at attending customers or taking to long with others. For ‘average sale’ (employee) probably doesn’t have enough product knowledge or does not know how to sell more expensive items.

By first looking at the deficient KPI, and then sorting through memorable observations about (employee’s) behaviors during the week, managers can quickly home in on corrective behavior, in its most appropriate or truthful form.

If you track these statistics each week at the individual staff level – which implies comparing each Salesperson to the store average – you would increase each Salesperson’s chances of succeeding within their own specific area of need and thereby create an opportunity to increase individual sales by as much as thirty percent.

Management basics. enjoy the perks

"Management" is an umbrella that covers a host of activities: leadership, working through others, planning, organizing, communicating, controlling, and making decisions, to name a few. How can you grasp all of these things? Fortunately, you don't have to.

The basis of effective management tactics activity is to keep control of a situation without enough information, assets, or power to justify that control. That, as it happens, is also the essence of management.

In some ways management needs no introduction. Most of us do it one way or another every day—in families, social groups, clubs, and businesses. Management is universal; it exists whenever two or more people try to do something together. You may not notice this, however, because only mismanagement makes headlines. Planes arrive late, companies go bankrupt, orders are lost, and the Pentagon pays defense contractors several hundred dollars for parts that cost a few bucks Wal-Mart because management has somehow failed.

People become managers by several routes. Those who work for family-owned firms inherit the job. Others may have worked their way up the organization or married the boss's son or daughter. Be especially suspicious of people who declare that they're "born managers," however. They can be identified by their total ignorance of management and their supreme confidence that their every decision is right. But how can you masquerade as a real manager? Very easily, as it often turns out. Few managers really take the time to clarify or analyze their objectives, actions, and motives for what they do. If you, on the other hand, spend even a fragment of your work day thinking about what you're actually doing, you can rise above the rest of the pack. Especially if you maintain steady eye contact, dress neatly, and act sincere. In the words of George Burns, "Sincerity is everything. If you can fake that, you've got it made."


Managers perform many activities. It's important for you to understand what each one involves so you can set goals, assign tasks, and delegate the authority to get them done right.

The major areas of a business include purchasing, production, sales, and finance. Service and retail businesses, which make no tangible product, still have a core of similar areas (minus production) that are vital to success. In fact, lots of people—especially those who sell insurance-now call services "products" to make them sound less vague and intangible. Bluffers have to understand the role of several key management activities that will help them deal with the major areas of a business successfully.

Decision Making

One of the problems with being a manager is that you have to make decisions from time to time. This can be very troublesome, because decisions can blow up in your face. But do you really have to decide? Sometimes not. If you want to sidestep a decision without looking indecisive, you can often fall back on philosophical quotations such as "Sometimes the best decision is no decision" and "If it works, don't fix it."

In any event, don't be intimidated into making a decision until you've analyzed the problem thoroughly.

Most panic decisions deal with symptoms of the problem and overlook the problem itself. If your car has a flat tire tomorrow morning, you could pump it up, but a block or two down the road it'll probably be flat again. You mistakenly treated the symptom (lack of air), when the actual problem (a hole) went unsolved. Adroit bluffers also tend to let subordinates participate in making decisions. Go down to where the problem is and ask your workers, "What do you think is wrong?" Often, after they've recovered from the shock of being treated like people instead of robots, they'll tell you exactly what's wrong because they knew it all along. It's just that you're the first boss who ever bothered to ask. Follow up the previous question with "What do you think we should do about it?" This may produce several solutions that are worth their weight in gold. The end result is that you've shifted the burden of defining problems and solving them from yourself to everybody in your work group. And, if the decision backfires, it'll be more comforting to be able to stand up and say, "Well, we thought.. ." than to have to take all the blame yourself.


You should be quick to delegate authority for routine decisions to subordinates. Delegation makes you look very professional. It also saves you time because you have to wrestle with only unusual, off-the-wall problems.

And how should you deal with those? Maybe the best thing to do is fall back on the suggestion offered a moment ago: call your subordinates together and have them propose what you should do. Emphasize, of course, that you're not relinquishing your authority. You're merely being a democratic leader who believes in lots of employee involvement. It won't hurt to point out that the Japanese make decisions by consensus and participation, and you're simply adopting a tried-and-true technique. It's tough for anybody to dispute the success of the Japanese in the automobile industries these days especially in comparison to the former market leaders – the big 3 American car companies especially General Motors (GM) .


It's been argued that communication is one of the most valuable tricks of the management trade. Getting a simple message across the way you intended can be harder than it seems. People define words differently, have conflicting sets of priorities, and harbor hidden agendas that conspire to make communicating difficult.

One good rule of thumb is to follow the KISS technique-Keep It Simple, Stupid. Another guideline is to reject meaningless jargon. Because people write and speak to impress as well as to inform, they sometimes feel compelled to make memos and reports sound "businesslike" or profound. The result can be a pompous, indecipherable mess. If you believe you're the target of a verbal snow job from subordinates, assert yourself by sending back a memo or report to be rewritten. This puts people on notice that you're a no-nonsense, hard-headed manager who tells it like it is and expects others to do the same.


Accounting is a fairly simple process. It's mostly a blend of basic math and common sense. The information, however, is often susceptible to manipulation and several interpretations. You can take the advice of former U. S. Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, who said, "Success depends on knowing what not to believe in accounting."

The term "creative accounting" is a euphemism for doctoring the books to make a company look better than it is, while "conservative accounting" makes a company look mediocre or worse. Most corporations prefer to look like heroes to stockholders and bag ladies to the IRS.

As an effective manager you may encounter a mass of incomprehensible figures can cover their confusion with such phrases as: Do you really believe this bottom line is realistic? Have you checked for a recent FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board) ruling on this? How much could this change between now and the end of the quarter? And Are you sure overhead has been allocated properly? Perhaps the best comment of all, however, is "You'll have to simplify this so the board of directors will understand it." That probably means that you'll be able to understand it too.

It's important to consider the impact of the notes at the end of accounting reports, because these can reveal situations or conditions that figures tend to hide. For example, one company discreetly admitted that it was so strapped for cash that it had borrowed on the cash surrender value of its president's life insurance policy. Another's report celebrated a rise in its stock price, but the cause was the death of its founder and president

He was an autocratic octogenarian well past his prime, and investors apparently believed the business was better off without him. Notes may reveal what the figures conceal. Catchy slogan, isn't it?

Decision making , delegating , communicating as well as a simper understanding of basic accounting concepts that hold you steadfast in the turmoil of the management quagmire especially when you realize that most of your peers are incompetent .

In most cases they were promoted either for personal or family reasons or as a reward for some behavior or achievement that has little to do with the task at hand

All in all the selection process may have been totally at odds with the long term health and profitability of the firm or organization

A management career offers many benefits , Most of your collegues in the field are idiots. Enjoy the “ perks” of management

Finding the right expense management solution for your company

In recent times, initiatives such as the Sarbannes Oxley Act in the US have dramatically raised the profile of compliance within the corporate world. As a key element of any corporate compliance policy, expense management has shared some of the limelight. As a result, an Expense Management Solution (EMS) is now critical to any business concerned with corporate compliance. But what is an Expense Management Solution (EMS)? Does your company need one? And where do you find a good one? Just as importantly, how do you successfully implement and integrate an Expense Management Solution (EMS) into your corporate environment. This article sheds some light on these issues.

What is an Expense Management Solution (EMS)?

The term “expense management solution” has been used to describe quite different commercial products and services. In the context of this article, an expense management solution is defined as a technology based system that processes:

(i) transaction records received from a credit card issuer (detailing employee use of corporate credit cards0; and

(ii) cash reimbursement claims originated by an employee.

In practice the target application is Travel and Entertainment expenditure. A robust Expense Management Solution (EMS) will also support procurement (pCard) activities as part of a broader strategy of effectively managing lower value, high volume business-to-business transactions.

The three core steps of any expense management process are:

1. the acceptance/input of validated source data;

2. the application of predetermined rules of handling expense records; and

3. the posting of transactions to a corporate repository such as an ERP system.

What is the purpose of an Expense Management Solution (EMS)?

The objectives of an expense management solution implementation should include the following:

1. to automate the preparation, submission, approval, and auditing of travel & entertainment claims, thus improving the productivity of account holders and reducing the time and cost of accounts staff;

2. to support the implementation of a standardized best practice method of managing high volume expenses through the use of corporate credit cards; and

3. to increase the transparency and enhance the governance of financial transactions conducted on behalf of the enterprise.

Sources of Expense Management Solutions

Australian and international organizations now have access to a range of quality expense management solutions which are well suited to driving down administration cost whilst meeting corporate compliance requirements. There are essentially three sources of “expense management solutions”:

1. ERP systems;

2. systems offered by card issuers; and

3. best-of-breed solutions.

Each will have their own merits and will suit organizations in different circumstances.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems

ERP sourced expense management has the attraction of being fully integrated within the financial suite of software, therefore offering a standard look and feel to all users of the ERP. With ERP sourced expense management functionality, the ERP supplies the core software, and the enterprise needs to customize and configure the system to reflect its own structures and rules regarding the management of staff expenses. If you're considering the option of using their ERP for expense management, you need to be conscious of a number of factors, including:

• the actual functionality available within their specific installed ERP system;

• the backlog of work on the ERP system accumulated for the IT department; and

• the deployment time and the cost of the project (which will usually be substantial).

License costs can be an issue if an enterprise if your company has not paid a license fee that will cover all card account holders and cash claimants.

Card Issuer Systems

Some card issuers promote “expense management” solutions which can range from a computer generated report through to an online system with some embedded workflow concepts. The attraction of card issuer expense management solutions is that they are offered as part of a card deal, sometimes (apparently) for free. If you're considering a card issuer expense management solution, you need to know:

• will you be 'locked in' to the card issuer?; and

• will you be able to configure the expense management solution to adequately reflect internal requirements?

Best-of-Breed Solutions

Best-of-breed expense management solutions from specialist providers can be relatively seamlessly interfaced to an organization's internal systems such as HR and ERP, but will not present a common look and feel to the ERP system. You would usually choose a best-of-breed expense management solution if you want:

1. your company to be independent of a particular card issuer;

2. to achieve a fast implementation; and/or

3. to configure the solution to its own unique rules and policies of expense administration.

Best-of-breed expense management solutions are typically deployed as either an ASP (Application Service Provider) or self hosted solution. Although exceptions are common, small to medium enterprises tend to appreciate the lower up-front cost of an ASP expense management solution, and larger enterprises are attracted to the control available through a self-hosted expense management solution. ASP expense management solutions are typically paid for on a per statement per month basis, and self-hosted expense management solutions have a range of options available from up-front license fees to monthly license rentals.

Overcoming the Cultural Resistance to Expense Management Solutions

Some Finance Directors still have an aversion to corporate credit cards. It's not uncommon to hear a finance director say “if I give everyone a card, they'll spend us broke!”

However, the benefits of an Expense Management Solution are apparent as soon as the Finance Director considers the difficulties of controlling the expenditure behavior of thousands of employees using a manual system of reimbursements which is largely based around a set of uncoordinated spreadsheets. Basic activities such as enforcing travel policies, calculating tax implications, reconciling, posting to a chart of accounts at a detailed level and auditing, are so difficult as to be more honored in the breach than the observance...

Viewed from a different perspective, a company with revenues of $700m $50m in EBITDA, and $20m in annual employee business expenses, can make a dramatic impact on its bottom line using an expense management solution without increasing revenue. If automation reduces these expenses by only five per cent in the first year, the savings alone have the same impact on the bottom line as $14m in new revenue. It isn’t surprising that the return on investment of an expense management project is often achieved within its first 12 months of operation.

Expense Management Solutions also play a vital role in Fraud Control. “Fraud” in this context takes many guises, not all of which are the sort that land perpetrators in court. Information taken from our own customer experience and from publications of the USA Association of Certified Fraud Examiners identify the top four categories of fraud:

1. Mischaracterized expenses

2. Overstated (exaggerated) payments

3. Fictitious expenses

4. Multiple reimbursements

Research in the USA has pointed to as much as 1% of company revenues being lost to employee expense mismanagement. Expense Management Systems will not, in their own right, eliminate this but they are a vital tool in creating an environment that drives down the level of mismanagement.


Over the past 18 months, our company has observed a change in motivation for expense management projects. Whereas formerly expense management solutions were an exercise solely in the reduction of administration costs, now governance is equally a driver to implement technology based controls around high volume expenditure. The Sarbannes Oxley (SOX) act in the USA has captured the attention of any enterprise active in the USA. However, inside or outside the USA, the senior executives must warrant that their company has implemented adequate financial controls that prevent fraud and give a true and correct record of the enterprise’s financial activities. As a result, the Corporate Travel Manager who pitches a proposal on expense management to the senior executive team currently finds a willing audience.

The top 10 advantages of using the topax management system

Formula Travel Solutions offers the most comprehensive technology solution for both inbound and outbound tour operators. Here are the 10 top advantages of using the TOPAX Management System that can make your travel business a success:

1. User Friendly

New employees can quickly adhere to the software environment by using easy windows-type screens. Changes and modifications may be quickly made with ease and without frustration. Help screens are also widely available.

2. Productivity

Since the software is very user friendly, less data entry errors will be made and this means less money slipping away. Improving productivity and ensuring accurate management are effectively maintained. More time can be spent assisting customers and producing profits rather than training employees.

3. Profitability

With the TOPAX Management System in place, be ready to lower sales process costs and witness more profits per transaction. Various inventory-handling methods are used in the program, so knowing the real-time status of services helps obtain optimal results.

4. Loyalty

Time and time again businesses want to ensure that their customers are satisfied and will continue to choose them again in the future. With the TOPAX Management System, customers will receive faster responses and a richer product offering. This will help develop strong customer satisfaction and loyalty through such a successful business relationship.

5. Reliability

In terms of accounting, the system can automatically invoice, monitor billing and payment collection. Accurate tracking of customers' outstanding balances and revenues and profits from sales activities are evident.

6. Flexibility

The system offers all types of travel products and since the system is user friendly, changes can be made at any time with ease. The TOPAX Management System is flexible enough to change all types of travel packages as well.

7. Variety

The software offers extensive pricing, costing and quotation generation capabilities. Different price lists can be generated for various purposes. Comparison lists are also included. For a-la-cart, per-person or per-group, a variety of quotation proposals can be made. All of this can generate more sales opportunities and expand bookings.

8. Interactive

The TOPAX Built-in B2B (Business to Business) Web site enables various On-line activities such as availability, booking and update capabilities that make this system powerful, efficient and productive to you and your customers. Transaction history records are maintained as well.

9. Control

With the numerous operational and management report options, tour operators gain total control over statistical and detailed data. From sales reports to net income, staff performance to production analysis, the TOPAX Management System always lets you know where you stand.

10. Expertise

With Formula Travel Solutions’ extensive technical experience, travel expertise and solid financial foundation, we’re here to assist you and your business. From online technical support to sales support, we’re available when you need us.

Formula Travel Solutions wants to make your travel business a powerful selling machine. With 10 reasons why the TOPAX Management System can work to your advantage, there is no doubt that it will benefit your company.

Corporate team building - shake em up to wake em up

Team building has become somewhat of a buzz word in corporate circles over the past few years. Many corporate event planners toss the term 'corporate team building' around willy-nilly as part of their marketing talk - but their events don't always live up to the team building promise. For an event to actually transform and cement new ways of working together, it has to offer more than just lip service and a group trip to go fly-fishing.

Successful corporate team building events have a number of elements in common:

1. The opportunity to see the roadblocks to successful communication and teamwork

2. The chance to see co-workers in unfamiliar roles and situations

3. The necessity to work together toward a common goal

4. The support needed to forge productive new ways of working together

Good corporate event planners take those cut-and-dried concepts and turn them into a fun learning experience. The true geniuses in the corporate event world can create amazing and transforming events that will shake up your organization and wake up inspiration that you never knew existed in your company. Experienced planners of team building events know how to bring your coworkers and employees together in new ways that highlight the strengths you know they have, and show them how to use those strengths to build a solid service or production team that simply can't be beat.

Chillisauce, a UK company that specializes in corporate events and group tours, explains that team building challenges can be beneficial in highlighting how work obstacles are overcome by working together. Among the fun team building activities that they've offered are a Limousine Treasure Hunt, a Spy Mission, Dragon Boat Racing and the opportunity to participate in It's a Knockout!

Other companies plan 'Service Days' that may include building a children's playground for charity or pitching in to completely renovate a home for a local charity. In any case, the value of the day is in the lessons carried home at its end - that the team can overcome anything by getting to know each other and working together - as a team with unique members.

Improving management of your business

All companies have business processes that can be improved. Most companies can benefit from automation or further automation of solutions.

Improving Management of Your Business

Improving business processes is all about a work flow plan, often graphic, and implementation of automating and organizing work processes. It is also a way of defining software architectures and applications. Business process solutions help an enterprise monitor human and automated processes. It can also serve as an enterprise application integration (EAI) tool. Business process management solutions help you identify areas of your business that can be automated and used to apply business rules and guidelines. In practical terms, it acts like a virtual machine that executes process models rather than software code.

Business process solutions take business data and determine how the information is used to perform a task. By creating an overview, a business manager can plan and improve an existing business process. Some solutions also send data through a test set of tasks to ensure that a business process is being followed. These solutions permit a business manager to visually describe, control and trail the flow of a work process. Process solutions generally involve computer systems and software to automate a process.

Technologies used to implement process management solutions include work flow charts, BP-XML languages, ERP (Enterprise Resource Management), software development and EAI (Enterprise Application Integration). ERP is a set of applications that can cover financials, manufacturing, human resources and back-office business administration utilities of an enterprise. It is a business management system that integrates all components of the business as well as planning. On the other hand, EAI software operates as a center that interprets data and messages between different applications.

Improving and automating business processes is the path to gaining huge productivity. These management solutions monitor business presentation by defining a series of tasks that must be performed to attain a defined strategic goal. There are three obligatory requirements - flexibility, reliability and security.

A good solution must help in continuous process enhancement, but managing the huge amount of these processes becomes more and more difficult as organizations become highly complex. Process management solutions give you the capability to satisfy and retain your customers and also maximize your joint venture returns with other businesses.

Remember that business processes define your business, and they can also present your organization with a competitive benefit. If you can make your processes efficient, you will reap better customer relations and profits.

Benefits of dry ice blasting

: Cleans More Thoroughly Dry ice blasting can effectively and easily clean and reach places that other methods cannot. Like reaching nooks and crannies that are difficult to reach with brushes or chemicals Saves time In dry ice blasting, equipments are cleaned on site. There is no need of transporting the equipment to some other place for cleaning. It saves a lot of precious time and reduces any chances of damaging equipment during disassembly and reduces the stress and fatigue of workers. And most importantly, it can shorten the downtime for cleaning from several hours to days. No Chances of Damage Cleaning method such as sand blasting can remove part of the surface or at times drastically changing the appearance of the equipment. On the other hand, dry ice blasting services is a non-abrasive form of cleaning which does not cause any harm to the equipment. When the dry ice pellets hit the surface, they become soft and sublimate and lift the contaminants away. Secondly, it also reduces the chance of any further damage by eliminating the step of taking the equipment to and from the cleaning area. Non Toxic Dry ice blasting doesn’t involve the use of any solvents. It uses harmless CO2 pellets. This method is quite beneficial for companies which have to comply with the environmental regulations. This method minimizes health risks of employees, ensures their safety and also ensures a clean and safe environment. No Extra Waste Disposal In sand blasting or some other methods, the cleaning agent becomes the additional contaminant along with the primary contaminant. In contrast, in the dry ice blasting process, the pellets disappear in the end. They don’t leave any toxic substances to be disposed of. So there is no headache of extra waste disposal. No Need for Extra Space Dry ice blasting units are portable. They are taken to the place where the equipments are located; thereby sparing the headache of moving the equipments to some cleaning site. Dry Cleaning Process The process doesn’t involve the use of chemical solvents, lubricants and water. Thus, it makes for an ideal cleaning method for electrical equipments or other water sensitive applications. Bacterial Prevention Dry ice retards the growth of bacteria and fungus as it is -109 degrees F. This temperature is sufficient to kill the bacteria and fungi present there. Dry ice blasting has revolutionized the way cleaning is done. Thanks to its non hazardous, environmental-friendly, cost effective and comparatively much safer process, a growing number of industries are turning to dry ice blasting method of cleaning to rid their equipments of contaminants giving rise to a growing demand for such services < www. react365.com >.

Corporate event managers - why you need one

Corporate events are a showcase for your products and services. You will expect thousands of current as well as prospective customers and clients to show up. For a corporate event to be a success, you need a well planned, well organized, and a well-executed event. For this, you need the services of a professional Corporate Event Managers. Whether the corporate event is a business or a social one, a large or a small one, a formal or an informal one; regardless of the objective, it requires to be planned well with the help of professional and experienced corporate event managers.

With your company hosting the corporate event, you would have decided whether to plan the event yourself or to hire the services of professional Corporate Event Managers. Of course, you may feel that most of you have planned some event or the other; a meeting with your business associates, a get-together with friends and family, and so organizing a corporate event would be the same. A corporate event is not similar to organizing get-togethers and meetings. The role of corporate is not small and any mistake on this front could cost you dearly.

There are many advantages in hiring Corporate Event Managers. They bring in a number of assets, skills, services, and economical advantages that only with the experience and expertise of professional Corporate Event Managers.

Corporate Event Managers - Adding Value to Corporate Events

Whatever the objective of your corporate event, they require some value additions that are dependent on Corporate Event Managers:

• Corporate Event Managers are adept in visualizing what type of event will suit your objective. They have extensive experience in presenting creative suggestions and various alternatives, as well as having a vision of what the event should look like. A professional event manager also has the ability to execute, successfully, the vision of the client, and alternatively present a vision that will meet the desires of the client.

• Implementation of the vision involves coordination of goods and services. Corporate Event Managers have the experience and knowledge of all the goods and services that will be required to implement the vision, including location, registration, food and beverage, food service, entertainment, interactive games, audio/visual support, speakers, decoration, complementary gifts, security, insurance, ushers, transportation, parking arrangements, - the list is endless.

• Corporate Event Managers are very adept in planning and coordination of the efforts of a large number of people who are involved in organizing your corporate event.

Corporate event managers make sure that you fully enjoy the event without bothering about the implementation side of the corporate events!

Business valuation methods

: Many types of business valuation methods are appropriate when estimating or defining a business value for certain kinds of business evaluations and appraisals. The reason for the evaluation determines which measure will be used. For example, if the purpose is to borrow money, asset values will be key because lenders will be interested in collateral. If the value is based on the selling price of the business, then what the business owns, what it earns, and what makes it unique will be important. The following is a list of many different types of business valuations that can be performed. * Insurable value * Book value * Liquidation value * Fair market / stock market value * Replacement value * Reproduction value * Asset value * Discounted future earnings value * Capitalized earnings value * Goodwill value * Going concern value * Cost savings value * Expected return value * Conditional value * Market data value This article discusses six of the more popular business valuation methods: 1) Value based on assets, 2) Value based on cash flow or net income, 3) Value based on the integrated method, 4) Value based on net present value of future earnings, 5) Value based on the market data approach, and 6) Value based on the replacement cost approach. 1. Value Based on Assets Uses: Used most often as a minimum value because a business should be worth at least the value of its assets. Exceptions might occur when a company is losing money. Steps: Determine the market value of the assets being sold. If business is being sold, deduct the value of any liabilities being assumed by the buyer. 2. Value Based on Cash Flow or Net Income Uses: Used when a business has few assets, the cash flow being the important thing considered here. The value is based on the return on investment the cash flow represents. Steps: Adjust the income statement to reflect the true expenses of the business (for example, subtract personal items being paid for by the business). Calculate the appropriate, adjusted type of income to be capitalized: cash flow, net income before or after taxes, etc.. Decide, based on risk and yields of other, "comparable" investments, the desired rate of return or the capitalization (cap) rate. Divide the income to be capitalized (example, cash flow) by the cap rate. 3. Value Based on the Integrated Method Uses: Used when a company has both assets and cash flow. This method accounts for the value of the assets and then capitalizes the cash flow, but only after reducing the cash flow by the cost of carrying the assets. Steps: Determine the market value of the assets. Multiply the value of the assets by the interest rate the company pays to borrow money to get the cost of carrying the assets. Adjust the income statement to reflect the true expenses of the business. Calculate the appropriate, adjusted type of income to be capitalized: cash flow, net income before or after taxes, etc.. Subtract the cost of carrying the assets to get the excess earnings. Decide, based on risk and yields of other, "comparable" investments, the desired rate of return (the cap rate). Divide the excess earnings by the cap rate to get the value of the excess earnings. Add the value of the excess earnings to the value of the assets and subtract the value of any liabilities being assumed by the buyer if business is being purchased. 4. Value Based on Net Present Value of Future Earnings Uses: Used as a method to sell the value of a projected future stream of earnings at a discount. Used mainly with larger, well-documented companies for which the future is somewhat more predictable. Steps: Adjust the profit-and-loss statement to reflect the true expenses of the business. Calculate the adjusted actual cash flow. Based on supportable plans, project financial statements for 5 years. Forecasting techniques could use moving averages, trending, percentage increases/decreases, or multiple regression. External factors such as industry outlook, technological developments, and government regulation should be considered. Determine cumulative cash flow for the 5 years and discount it to establish the net present value. Each year may be discounted separately to give a more precise value. 5. Value Based on the Market Data Approach Uses: Value of the business (or other property) is estimated from information on prices actually paid for other, similar, businesses or properties. This the most direct valuation approach and it is easily understood by laymen. However, it requires a reasonably active market, the necessity of making adjustment to actual selling prices in an attempt to compensate for differences and it is generally not applicable to estimating values of intangibles. Steps: Identify other businesses or properties generally similar to the one being appraised, that have actually been sold. Determine the selling price, then compare each comparable sale with the property/business being appraised, and adjust actual selling price of each comparable property/business to compensate for the significant differences between it and the subject property/business. Use these adjusted selling prices of the comparable properties/businesses as a basis for estimating, by inference, the market value of the subject property/business. 6. Value Based on the Replacement Cost Approach Uses: Value of the business is determined from the estimated cost of replacing (duplicating) the business asset by asset and liability by liability. Very accurate in valuing tangible assets and reflects actual economic value. Used with asset-heavy businesses such as hotels/motels and natural resources (mining) businesses. Does not take into account the earning power of the business which contributes to total value. Steps: List all assets to be included in the valuation of the business. Omit any surplus or idle assets that do not contribute to the economic performance of the business. Also, list liabilities, if applicable to appraisal. Estimate the current cost to replace each asset with functionally equivalent substitute; also estimate current value of each liability to be included. Add the estimated costs to replace the individual assets, thus determining the total estimated cost of replacing all assets in aggregate. Subtract estimated current values of liabilities, if applicable. Add the values (liquidation value, wholesale market value, etc.) of any non-contributing assets omitted in the first step. Reconciling the Value Estimates & Determining the Final Estimate of Value * Compare the value of estimates resulting from the use of different approaches * Rank each by the relative degree of confidence * Use judgment * Test the final value estimate * Round the final value * No useful purpose is served by taking an average

Avoid becoming a zombie

At any given time in our life, we can feel like a zombie. A zombie is someone who is just going through the motions - uninspired and unmotivated. To be sure, this isn't the recipe for success. This type of attitude doesn't serve us well. When we change our attitude or approach to life, everything changes. So what can we do to create a different outcome for ourselves? Here are a few suggestions.

1. What makes you feel like a zombie? It is said that a problem defined is half solved. Before we can take action to avoid a zombie-like attitude, we need to define what makes us feel uninspired and unmotivated. Only then can we take the right actions to do something different. When you do the same thing over and over, you get the same result. When you do something differently from what you have done before, you get different results. Today, determine what makes you feel like a zombie.

2. Focus on things that pull you forward. An effective way of jumpstarting your attitude is to focus on things that motivate and inspire you. You always have a choice about what you put into your mind. Since you have a choice, select things that will energize you to accomplish the things you most desire. What inspires you to move forward? Are there special people in your life? If so, call them up and chat. Does music or a good book put you in a different frame of mind? Do beautiful pictures or artwork fill your heart with joy? What about physical activities? Do you enjoy yoga, jogging or meditation? Your life is filled with people and things that can unseat you from inactivity. Today, make a list of ten people, things, or activities that motivate you. Select one to focus on for the week.

3. Take responsibility for what you do. Strange as it may seem, stepping up and taking responsibility for what we do can serve to motivate and inspire us. Responsibility demands that we stand up and assume a leadership role - not only for others, but more importantly ourselves. One of the biggest responsibilities we will ever have is being a leader to ourselves. Being responsible for our thoughts and actions helps us to realize the incredible power we possess - that we are in the driver's seat when it comes to steering the course of our lives to create the outcomes we desire. There isn't anything more energizing than knowing that by stepping up, we're taking charge of our life in a very big way. Today, adopt an attitude of taking full responsibility for what you do.

4. Don't justify your actions. Zombies tend to become quite internalized over time. That is, their awareness is more focused on their internal life than on the external reality. When in this “state of mind,” zombies tend to start justifying their actions. They abdicate their responsibilities and feel that they need to explain what they do to others. They start to weave stories around why they did this or that. This is completely unnecessary. You owe no one any explanations for anything you do. The only person who needs to be comfortable with your actions is you. Today, stand up and take charge. Do what you know is right.

5. Don't live in denial. Zombies, as mentioned before, tend to live in an internal world that can sometimes lead to thoughts that aren't necessarily reality-based. Referred to as “living in denial”, zombies pretend reality doesn't exist. They don't want to see things as they are, but instead, adopt a false sense of things - perhaps a more palatable version of reality. To break out of this unhealthy and unrealistic view of things, make the decision to face reality. Know that you have the mental and emotional toolset to handle whatever comes your way. Stare fear in its face. Face the truth about yourself and others. While it might be difficult at first, once you break through the resistance, you'll find that you have a lot more control over your life and circumstances than you could ever imagine. Today, face the truth about someone or something.

6. Live consciously. One of the best ways to break out of a zombie state is to make the decision to live from a place of mindfulness. Mindfulness is about living consciously. It is about being highly aware and attuned to everything that we are thinking, feeling, and doing. From how your body feels, to the thoughts flowing through your mind, to the tone of your voice, you're acutely aware of what you're doing at all times and the impact you are having on others and the environment around you. This level of existence practiced by many highly evolved individuals actually puts you in a powerful position to realize the power that you have over life's outcomes. Today, raise your awareness. Be conscious of everything that you do and the impact you make on the world.

7. Tell the truth. Telling the truth is inspirational. You have nothing to hide. No deep, dark secrets. There are no lies to keep track of. Truth is refreshing. It's a clean way of living. It lightens your heart and soul. Zombies don't always tell the truth. They may not be representing themselves or their company fully. They don't see that their lack of forthrightness has everything to do with the types of clients they attract and the level of success they achieve. Today, tell the truth about everything.

8. Step up and claim your power. One reason some folks enter the realm of the zombie is that they've abdicated their responsibilities and with it, their power. To reclaim your inspiration and motivation, you need to step up and be responsible for designing the life and business that you desire. Moreover, you need to create a plan with clearly defined action steps that you can take on a regular basis. Stepping into the role as the leader of your life demands that you be mature about accepting the consequences of your actions as well. Today, determine where you can take more responsibility in your personal and professional life. Notice the shift in your “come from place” as a result of living into the power that has always been yours.

9. Watch your thoughts. We are what we think. Think about that! For some of us that might be a scary thought. Our mental capabilities are incredible. It is in our minds that the entire creativity process begins. Through our plans and actions we take this creativity and manifest magnificent things. What you think about, you attract. Take a look at who and what you have in your life today. All of this is a result of what you've put your mind on. Would you like to have someone or something else in your life? If so, start thinking differently. Avoid negative, limiting, or critical thoughts. Instead, fill your mind with positive, happy, upbeat, inspirational thoughts. Today, watch what you think and witness the changes.

10. Come from a place of integrity. Integrity has to do with the core of who you are and might be referred to as your central operating system. To come from a place of integrity means that what you think, what you speak, and what you do are all in alignment. Zombies are unbalanced in one or more of these places. Because their energies are misaligned, they don't feel inspired or motivated to move forward. Things feel confused which makes it difficult to make any type of progress. Today, align your thoughts, speech, and actions. Notice the internal calm it brings to you and your life.

© Copyright 2004 by Alicia Smith.

Quick tip - how to set smart goals for your meeting

The first step in planning an agenda is to identify the goals for the meeting. Properly done, goals have five S M A R T characteristics. They are:

> Specific.

The goal must tell exactly what will be accomplished. For example: During the next hour we will develop a strategy to increase market share by 10%. This states exactly what the group will work on. Vague goals can cause you to lose control of the meeting.

> Measurable.

This helps you determine if the goal has been completed. It can be stated as a number (5 ideas, 10% gain, one decision) or as an achievement (Did we write a strategy or not?).

> Achievable.

Goals must be realistic for the resources and time available. For example, most groups could identify twenty ways to reduce the budget in a fifteen minute meeting. On the other hand, it is unlikely that a group could develop a comprehensive marketing plan in 30 minutes.

> Relevant.

To be meaningful, a goal has to relate to the overall mission of your business. Otherwise, you may be wasting time. Challenge each goal with the question, “What happens without it?” If your answer is “nothing,” cancel the meeting.

> Time.

Specifying a deadline (e. g., by noon) or a rate (e. g., 3 per hour) moves activity toward completing the task and provides a criteria to measure progress. Of course, you want to select realistic times.

As a final check, make sure your goals are so clear that someone else could use them to run your meeting.

Realism vs. optimism in the business plan restaurant business plan software considerations

The most important function of a business plan is to create interest among investors so that they write a check. In achieving this goal, business plan writers are often challenged by determining the proper level of optimism in their plan. That is, they must create a compelling story to investors while maintaining credibility.

Optimism shows investors that a company is confident about the market opportunity, its ability to execute on the opportunity, etc. Over-optimism, however, leads investors to believe that the management team does not fully understand the opportunity or the tough road ahead. As such, business plans must be sure to limit over-optimism and show investors they are realistic and credible.

Realism, the opposite of over-optimism, should be used in business plans to portray sobriety and credibility to investors. Realism should manifest itself in management team bios that tell the actual accomplishments of managers, rather than fluff. It should manifest itself in credible market forecasts and sober assumptions of the company’s growth.

While business plans must excite investors so they take action, if they are too optimistic, investors will discount their merit. Conversely, if they are too sober, investors may not feel they will get an adequate return on their investment. As such, business plans should present a compelling, optimistic picture, but continuously refer to hard facts and realistic assumptions to build credibility and genuine excitement

Restaurant Business Plan Software Considerations

Whether you are an entrepreneur looking to start your first restaurant, or you have been working in the service industry for a long time, restaurant business plan software can help you create a streamlined business plan that will improve your chances of funding. Here are few things to keep in mind when comparing various packages.

Your needs - Various business plan software packages are geared toward different sizes of restaurant business and different levels of funding needs. Make sure the software does what you need it to do. Don’t go overboard on a program that offers more than you need.

Feedback - Make sure to get in touch with other people who have used the software before and get their feedback. The more reputable restaurant business plan software vendors will provide testimonials and contact information of previous customers. Make sure to compare. Keep an eye out for positive comments about ease of use.

If you have been in the restaurant business already, you probably have a number of contacts you can network with for information. Ask other restaurant owners you trust if there was a software program they used or have heard good things about. Word of mouth recommendations can often provide valuable leads.

Support – Make certain your software vendor offers full support for their programs. Many top vendors offer 24/7 online and toll free support for their programs. When weighing benefits, this is an important factor to take into consideration. You want to be assured you can get the software to work.

Cost – Once you’ve narrowed your choices down by the above benefits, it is time to consider costs. Check different vendors, as there can often be a large difference in prices between vendors for the same title. Make certain to factor in shipping and handling costs and delivery time of your restaurant business plan software when comparing prices.

Once you’ve chosen and installed your software, it’s time to get to work creating the business plan for your restaurant. If you have any trouble, be sure to get in touch with the vendor’s support as soon as possible. Good luck with your new business venture

Equity the golden handcuffs

Last month, I wrote about positioning your company to attract and keep top performers. One very effective way to do both is to compensate your key employees with equity.

Performance pay has become a critical factor in keeping top talent; combine it with a sense of ownership and a stake in the future of the business, and you've got a powerful set of incentives.

That is what equity does. The basic theory behind equity compensation is simple: generously pay your people in the future, with the financial value they help create, and make it very expensive for them to leave. In this article we'll look at three ways to do that.

Why use equity and not some other variable compensation such as performance bonuses or profit sharing? Both bonus and profit sharing plans tend reflect past period performance, rather than current and future endeavors, which is where you want your people's attention. They are fixed sums of money, and once paid out, no amount of creativity, imagination or hard work can make them larger. Bonuses and profit sharing are typically one-time payouts, which in today's what-have-you-done-for-me-lately atmosphere are quickly forgotten. Finally, bonuses require cash - and profit sharing requires profits. In a rapidly growing company, either (or both) of these may be in short supply.

Equity addresses these shortcomings. Equity is the bonus that keeps on giving. The value of equity compensation is likely to increase over time, often considerably. Equity acknowledges your employee's past contribution, but its real payoff is for work still to be done - and your people have to stay around to reap the rewards. In real terms, the current cost of equity compensation is cheap, especially relative to the loyalty it can purchase. Plus, since no cash changes hands at the time of the equity bonus, you can use it as a reward even if your company is cash-strapped.

There are other plusses to equity. Especially if your business is likely to go public or be acquired, equity helps top talent choose between your smaller company and job offers from larger, well-heeled public companies. Also, equity highlights and underscores the common interests between your company's owners and the "rank-and-file", and helps top performers feel like the business is theirs.

Outright Stock Grants

Outright Stock Grants are simple to implement. Your company grants a key employee a specific number of shares, the value of which is the total company value divided by the number of outstanding shares. That's it. More than any other form, shares are tangible. Stock makes your key people feel like owners, and when people really see themselves as shareholders they rarely want to leave.

But there are drawbacks. One is the lack of a vesting period - ownership occurs at the moment of the stock grant - which means if someone has a better offer, they can leave and take it with them. It also leads to the second drawback: the stock value is taxed as ordinary income for the employee in the current year - resulting in a double whammy - no extra cash to spend and a tax liability to boot. Stock grants can also dilute your control and decision making power.

Critical Success Tip

To use stock as an employee retention vehicle, require a holding period before the shares can be sold. Remember to retain the right of first refusal on any sale - you don't want those shares finding their way into unfriendly hands. Plus, require the shareholder to offer the shares for buyback in the case of termination. (Offer - don't require your company to buy them.) Lastly, if you don't want to share decision-making power, create two classes of shares: voting and non-voting.

Non-Qualified Stock Options

Non-Qualified Stock Options are a powerful and efficient way to keep your employees. An option holder has the right to purchase shares in the company at the "grant price", which is typically the current share value. As your company gains in value, the value of the option rises. Options often have a vesting period before they can be "exercised" to purchase shares, requiring employees to stick around and keep contributing to the company. A benefit for employees comes from the tax-deferral feature: there is no tax due until the option is exercised. Importantly, options themselves do not carry voting rights.

Critical Success Tip

Since you can grant non-qualified options on a totally discretionary basis, use them to reward performance on individual, team and company levels. Also, establish the vesting period to occur on an "stair-step" basis - for instance, 50% vest in two years, the second 50% vest in another two years. This type of structure gives your employees the "choice" to leave, but holds out a significant carrot for staying.

Phantom Stock

Phantom Stock is an accounting fiction which enables top people to partake of increases in company value. Unlike "real" stock, phantom stock does not convey any actual ownership in the business. A phantom share is a credit in an employee account for an amount equal to the value of your company's "real" shares. Over time, the account is credited with changes in share value, along with dividends and other distributions. There is no taxable income for the holders of phantom shares until they are "redeemed" by the employee.

There are two types of phantom stock plans, "growth" and "basic". Under the growth plan, at redemption, employees receive an amount equal only to the appreciation in the share account. Under a "basic" plan, employees receive the total of the appreciation, plus the original value of the shares.

Critical Success Tip

Phantom shares are the equity vehicle of choice when you don't want to dilute either ownership or control, or when you have a Subchapter S and can't exceed the maximum of thirty-five shareholders. Establish a vesting period for phantom shares: grant the shares, but require a minimum holding period. If the employee leaves before the holding period expires, he or she forfeits the value of the shares. You can also establish a payout period, after which time you will redeem the phantom shares for cash. In other words, your people don't have to leave to cash in.


For public companies share value is determined in the marketplace. Private companies must engage in some kind of valuation process, which is outside the scope of this article - but a few "success rules" apply.

1) Perform the valuation at regular, published, intervals - at least once per year.

2) Document your valuation process so that your shareholders can understand it.

3) Establish a capital reserve to enable share redemption, and publicize it.

Following these three rules will increase your employees' sense that their shares (and options) have real value, and will have them want to remain and continue participating in the upside.

Scheduling retail employees

Scheduling my team has always been one of my least favorite tasks as a retail manager. It’s tedious, it takes hours and even when I think I have it right, I probably don’t. What makes scheduling a challenge is that you are balancing the demands of individuals on your team with the demands of your business. This can be a very time consuming and frustrating.

Lets say you complete a schedule which took you 2 hours to create. You have carefully made sure everyone has at least two days off, and all approved requests for days and vacations have been honored. You post the schedule and then you are informed that someone on your sales team needs different days off. This may seem simple, however you have to virtually build another schedule, to make the adjustment. You will have to review each individual and day again to insure that all needs are met. Don’t you hate when that happens.

How can you make this process simpler and less tedious. My first solution was to train my assistant to do schedules and to delegate this task to him. Problem solved. Well, not quite. I was freed from scheduling, but the problem still existed. Instead of me spending 2 to 3 hours per schedule, my assistant was. However, as a result of him doing it I learned one of the solutions to our problem - “Set Schedules.” When he took over the schedule he partnered with each salesperson to ascertain what was their preferred schedule. He then created a schedule primarily based on business needs and secondarily based on individual preferences.

This worked out great. Some people prefer to work mornings, some evenings, some liked weekends off, while others saw weekends as money days. I was always averse to set schedules since I felt it locked me into giving someone certain days off. However, my team understands that in retail the schedule will vary from time to time. They also understand that evenings and weekends are when most retail business is done. They understand this, because we communicate these ideas regularly - which is the next solution.

If you communicate and inform your team and they communicate and inform you, many of your scheduling woes will vanish. I ask that my team inform me of all requests at least two weeks in advance and that they inform me of vacation requests 4 weeks in advance. I in turn publish 2 weeks of schedules at all times. During meetings I let them know that schedule is variable and I also inform them of days that I will need extra coverage. I emphasize dates in which no vacation request will be honored.

Communicating requests officially vary from company to company. One company I worked for actually had a form for employees to fill out to officially request days off. Strict as this may sound, it worked well. It gave me and the employee a way to keep track of approved requests. Once approved, I enter the request in my planning calendar and then file it in the “Approved Requests File.” This is a tidy way of managing requests.

I approve requests on a first come first serve basis. My team knows that asking is not a guarantee, however they also know that I will bend over backwards to give them off the days they want. To keep the approvals fair I restrict hoarding by allowing only two consecutive premium requests. For example, If someone requests Memorial Day off, 4th of July off and Labor Day off, they may get the 1st two, but may not get the 3rd - even if they were 1st to request it. By doing this I limit one person from hoarding all the premium days off. My team understands and agree that it’s not fair for one person to get every premium day off. This keeps requests fair and balanced.

People want to have lives outside of work and you should respect and encourage it. Even though I ask for a two week minimum on requests I will approve a request on shorter notice - rules are made to be broken occasionally.

My priority when scheduling is that I want to have my best people work on the busiest days. In other words my focus in scheduling is driving business, through scheduling. In commissioned environments this is great for your top people but it sucks for your laggards. I have had salespeople get downright indignant over not getting more Saturdays and evenings. In hourly environments it may be a harder sale to your better reps as to why they work a larger share of weekends, for example. You’ll have to find the balance.

Scheduling is one of the toughest tasks you have because you have to manage competing personal demands against the needs of your business. How will you manage the wills of your team and prioritize those against the needs of your business. This time consuming task is manageable if you follow a few proven guidelines:

1. Use a Set Schedule whenever possible

2. Set Scheduling rules & guidelines

3. Communicate the guidelines

4. Document requests

5. Make the request process fair

6. Make business the priority

What is people management

Your employees are the biggest asset you have. Their performance and attitude can result in the success or failure of your business. The most difficult part of any manager’s job is people management. He or she is required to lead, motivate, train, inspire, and encourage. On the other hand, he or she is also responsible for hiring, firing, disciplining, training and evaluating. These functions seem to be at odds, but a successful manager can integrate both the positive and negative aspects of these tasks to create a positive, productive work force.

People management, also known as human resource management (HRM), encompasses the tasks of recruitment, management, and providing ongoing support and direction for the employees of an organization. These tasks can include the following: compensation, hiring, performance management, organization development, safety, wellness, benefits, employee motivation, communication, administration, and training.

When managing the people within an organization, a manager must focus on both hiring the right people and then getting the most out of these people. New personnel must provide the organization with the best talent available that meets the needs of the business. The organization must look ahead to how a new employee can be used to their fullest. Getting the most out of an employee means a business has consistent policies and practices in place to provide its people with appropriate training and development. Employees are involved as “partners” in the business.

Probably the most important task a manager will face when dealing with the people under his direction is that of bringing out the best in them. Unlocking people potential is often seen as the key to any business’s success. When an employee’s talents are not channeled correctly, their behavior can seriously compromise the success of an organization. Some of the roles that an employee who is not being used to his potential can take on are as follows: procrastinator, martyr, gossip, manipulator, backstabber, narcissist, a deer in the headlights, black hole, stonewalled, curmudgeon, bully, and predator.

Instead of dealing with employees that develop defense mechanisms to mask their dissatisfaction with their work situation, let’s look as some ways to encourage effective behavior at work. After a problem behavior has been identified, address the employee immediately. Discuss taking responsibility for the ineffective behavior, how the behavior manifests itself, and the effect the behavior is having on the organization. Next, give the employee alternatives to his current behavior. In other words, teach him or her how the principles of achievement:

• cooperation

• respect

• self-motivation

• trust

• self-discipline

Now that the employee has alternatives to their current behavior, draw up a performance improvement contract in which he or she agrees to specific actions to change his or her ineffective behavior. After the contract is signed, a manager needs to stay involved and committed to the process of change. He or she cannot assume that the problem will be automatically fixed now that it has been brought to light. The employee will require praise and reinforcement of any progress that they are able to make. If positive change is to occur, it will be evident soon after the initial confrontation. If this does not occur, a termination meeting must be scheduled quickly. One employee’s toxic behavior can quickly spread throughout an organization if it is not dealt with quickly and efficiently.

When evaluating an organization’s workforce, there are several areas that must be addressed. First, the staff must have the tools and resources that they need to do their jobs effectively. Employees cannot be blamed for an organization’s inefficiency if they are not provided with the equipment necessary to perform adequately. Next, get to know each employee as an individual and make sure that they are aware of their specific role within the organization. Clarify their responsibilities and goals. Also, involve each employee in making decisions which affect their area of expertise. This will result in the employee feeling that they “have a say” in what goes on in the organization and he or she will feel a sense of ownership. Finally, make sure that employees have an opportunity to have fun with their coworkers at appropriate times.

People Empowerment can be a very effective tool within the field of people management. This technique can be used to involve employees in any improvement program within an organization. Authority, accountability, and responsibility are delegated to the employees for improving the processes which are under their control without first having to obtain permission from management before making changes. This can be successful only when employees are recognized, congratulated, and rewarded for their commitment to problem solving.

Shipping - important information you need to know

When it comes to shipping large quantities worldwide, there is no better option than shipping freightliner. You can ship in a full container or half container, depending on your needs. There is, however, some important information you need to know about shipping in containers.

When deciding whether you need a 20’ container or a 40’ container to meet your shipping needs you simply need to evaluate the quantity and size of items you need shipped. For instance, a 20’ container is generally used to ship a vehicle and some small household appliances and other goods or a two bedroom household without a vehicle. A 40’ container can generally hold a vehicle and a two bedroom household or a house with three or more bedrooms. These are generalizations, but if you have a small amount of things to ship the smaller container will probably work for you. However, if you need to ship a lot of furniture and even your vehicle then you will definitely need the larger container.

When packing your items to be shipped you should keep in mind there are a list of items that should not be packed for the container. These items include alcohol, any jewelry, food items or fruit, plants or seeds, open bottles of liquids or anything flammable, spray cans, and any important papers or documents that include birth certificates, passports, banking records, or any other important personal document. Make sure all of these items are either not transported to your new location or else you carry them on your person.

Once you decide that it is time to ship your belongings you should contact the shipping company with your name and address in the United States as well as the address where you will be living overseas. You will also be asked to provide your social security number for verification purposes and will need to provide a date when the shipment should be delivered to your overseas address. Your belongings will not be approved for shipping until you have this information, so if you are in a hurry you should get this information immediately to your shipping carrier. Also, most shipping companies need at least a week to a week in a half advance notice before you ship your container. So, if you are working with a schedule keep this in mind.

When it comes to paying for your container shipping you will be required to pay a deposit and then pay the balance when your container is packed and ready to be shipped. Most shipping companies accept a wide variety of payment options from personal or cashier check to credit cards, so more than likely you will be able to pay for the shipping with what is most convenient for you.

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