New Venture Thinking

Before diving into a new project, take the time to think about its feasibility, costs, marketability, acceptability, applicability, and definition of success. Why would you want to start a new venture, usually to make money! The structure of our society compels the generation of funds. The fungibility of money translates into the ability to accomplish goals and objectives in our daily lives.

As an example, let’s assume you wish to create a website to deliver Forex services. Forex stands for foreign exchange; it’s an accessible medium for trading currencies for many traders. Low cost of entry, easy access to leverage along with twenty-four hours of operation six days a week, makes this an attractive alternative to traditional trading methods such as stocks and bonds. Services in our example will be information products, some you will create yourself, and others that you will resale.

Feasibility

Is the project feasible, can it be done, with your resources? Can a Forex website bring in enough money to pay for itself plus profits? Feasibility does indeed seem possible due to a large number of Forex websites in existence. Many sites do not constitute proof, conduct additional research to consider how profitable. What new angle can you bring to the world? Maybe your niche will be accepting cryptocurrency for all transactions?

Costs

When we ponder costs, don’t forget about the opportunity costs along with the expenses. Can you think of something better to do with your time? Most likely you will develop new capabilities, will you be building transferable skills? Creating a website involves some technical skills that you could learn if so inclined, it is possible to outsource some tasks. Again we see the old saw; you are going to pay either time or money. Take an accounting of what it will cost you to get resalable products and or what you will need to make your own.

Are you able to sustain the venture without undue hardship? A pro forma sheet can be helpful when planning future business expenses. Keep a keen eye on possible costs and hidden liabilities. Regulations and laws are ripe with surprises for new enterprises, thoroughly research any planned expansion such as hiring employees. The amount of red tape that you have to deal with may not outweigh the benefits you will receive. The goal is to eliminate unexpected obligations. There will, of course, be unforeseen events; navigatable best by the person who is best prepared to deal with the issues that are predictable.

Marketability

A website cannot be profitable solely because it exists, think regarding what value a site can bring to your potential customers. The more goodness you can give to people the more capital you can make. Do you think that the products that you offer are valuable? It is nigh impossible to sell something that you do not believe has value.

Now is the time to think about your marketing strategy? How will you attract customers? There are many methods available from, email lists, search engine optimization, advertising, blogging, joint-ventures, affiliates, cold calling, farming, word of mouth, and many others. Pick a combination of methods that agree with your marketing budget. You will pay with time or money so select your mix, make a plan and be ready to take action.

Acceptability

“Acceptance” by Bernard Goldbach is licensed under CC BY 2.0Would you be comfortable telling someone you respect that you are involved with your project? Respect is difficult to earn and easy to lose. Consider the effect your actions will have on your reputation, hiding behind a facade will not ease your soul. Just, do the correct and professional thing every time. When you know deep down that you have given it the appropriate amount of effort, rest easy. Forex websites are ripe with charlatans and hucksters, think of ways to combat the initial negative impressions that some may have of your business. Do you have the force of will to stand up to criticism?

Applicability

Do you have or can you learn the right skillset to be successful at what you wish to accomplish? Do you even like what you plan to do? If you are doing it merely for the money then good luck. Working on something you dread does not lead to long-term happiness, no matter how much dinero you make.

Do you currently trade in the Forex market, would you use the products that you are trying to sell? Have you got the coding skills to develop trading robots? Are you an exceptional organizer who can outsource everything and keep tabs on how your operation is running? Find out how to use your strengths to your advantage and figure out how to outsource your weaknesses, over time you may be able to gain additional capabilities, but at the onset of your business make plans for mitigating what you lack. It may be possible to take on a partner who is strong where you are weak.

Success

What does success mean to you? Ah, we all want to be a success, but unless it is defined unambiguously, we can never reach it. Success is not some general feeling of doing well; success is a goal achieved. So be sure to specify your goals concretely so that you can measure your achievements. In the case of our Forex website success could be defined successively with each goal being more demanding than the previous. Initially, the goal could be that the website recoups all the monetary expenses invested in the operation. Next, you could want to value your time at a particular rate say, one hundred bucks an hour? Tracking your time versus income minus investment would reveal the hourly rate that your site is paying you.

Conclusion

Should you start your venture or lay it aside. Taking time for it to fester in your brain is not a wasteful activity. Creativity flourishes when your mind is at rest, so after thinking about your new venture for some time let your subconscious dwell on it for a while. Ultimately, you could decide that what you planned to do is not feasible, and that would be a good thing, you would then know what you do not want to do, along with some skills on how to think about what you may want to do in the future. The information and research conducted will reside in your subconscious and may unexpectedly prove useful when your creativity demands it.

3 Keys To Starting A Small Business

Since the majority of startup small businesses fail, how can you succeed?

Before we answer this, who am I? I have set up and sold 4 small businesses over the last few years, all of which continue to be successful, so I know a few things about the subject.

Now, let’s get to the main points:

Planning

It is important to know what, when, why, where and how you are going to start your business. Unless you have clear focus, don’t even try, it will just be a waste of your time and energy.

In addition, you will want to do whatever courses are available that might help you achieve your goals. For instance, in my case, before starting my most recent venture, I completed a Certificate 3 in Business Studies, a Diploma in Digital Marketing, a Diploma in Sales, and, a Diploma in Project Management.

Practice

What I mean by practice is not to just dive straight in and learn on the job, no, what will really help you is to observe how SUCCESSFUL people have started the same kind of business that you are attempting to start. How can you do this? One effective way is by getting a job in the industry where you intend to work. Once you have done this, observe the process. If it truly is a successful business, they will have a highly organized and effective process.

Another possibility is actually starting the business. I know, I know, I said don’t do this, however, this suggestion has a little difference. Start the business with no expectations. Become the marketing director, accounts manager, sales director etc… do everything yourself. The problem with this approach is that it will take up huge amounts of time, amounts of time that will be saved, if you are able to work in a successful business that someone else has started. Yes, this suggestion is the harder of the two routes, however what it does do is go from theory to a complete practical knowledge of the industry, to become fully immersed in it.

Pursue

There is a reason why 4 out of 5 small business start ups fail, the rewards are hard to achieve and take inordinate amounts of time to achieve. How can you get over this obstacle?

The key is to Pursue. You need to be focused on your goal, and, never to look away or be distracted from this purpose. How long can you focus on your goal? Only you can answer that! However, realistically, it will take you some years to truly progress in your endeavor. If you are someone who gives up easily, you should really not try to start a business. Instead, look for a well paying job.

The Benefits

If it is all such hard work, why bother? The rewards can be huge. Consider just a few:

*Time – Have a flexible schedule, spend more time with your family or other priorities.
*Passive Income – Depending on the type of business you intend to start, it may keep paying you even when you are not working.
*Capital Gains – You have the possibility of achieving significant R.O.I on the outlay involved in starting your business.

Creating Repeatable Business Growth

Mix the power of today’s social media with the constant need for business growth and you get a whole lot of:

  • Hoping for success
  • Wishing for things to “go viral”
  • Comparing with someone else who “went big”
  • Being willing to pay exorbitant amounts for social media experts
  • Pleading for growth

But the recipe for business growth has not changed. It remains the same:

  1. define what you want
  2. figure out how to get what you want
  3. and then do it

Instead of hoping and wishing for success, wouldn’t it be better to control the process? Then you could push the REPEAT button as often as you like.

Thankfully, you can get the business growth you want and need, over and over and over. Whatever your industry, business growth is the goal.

Here is how you can do it:

STEP #1: Define What You Want

Starting at the top, do you know what you want? Are you looking for awareness, prospects, referrals, authority, respect, recognition, local networking, open doors, branding, more sales, retention, upselling, or something else?

Be sure you know exactly what YOU need. Specifically, what is it that will boost your business to the next level? What is it that will cause the exponential growth you seek? What exactly did you want to “go viral” and how would that have helped you?

Once you know what your business needs, the next step is figuring out how to get it.

STEP #2: Figure Out How to Get What You Want

Mike had one pressing need: RETENTION. Together, we created a book (print cost was less than $1/bk) that was given to his customers. The book explained the benefits of the nutritional supplements that Mike’s company created and sold. Each supplement order included the small book, which increased retention as people became more knowledge about the product. As a result, the company’s profits went up by $100,000-$200,000 per month because customers stayed on the product for 2-3 additional months.

Dave wanted one thing: more SALES of his core product (a $2,000 leadership program). We created a book (less than $1/bk to print) that was sold to his franchise sales reps (for $3/bk) who in turn gave the books to their prospects. Business soared! The leadership program sold faster than ever. Dave promptly reprinted 5,000 more books and repeated the process.

Beth wanted more BUSINESS. As a commercial architect, she was always looking for more jobs, leads, and referrals. We created a children’s book, full color with a glossy hard cover, that cost around $5/book to print. Every person she did business with received a copy. And when the clients went home and read her book to their children, they could not help but remember Beth! And recommend her! And her business grew.

Chris needed a JOB. We created a small book (at about $4/bk to print) that turned 8 job interviews into 8 job offers! His challenge became which job to choose.

Bill wanted REFERRALS. As a home inspector, he wanted as much business as he could handle. He bought a DIY home-maintenance book (for around $10) and gave it to his customers as a small “thank you for your business.” One customer referred Bill to everyone he knew who was selling or buying a home. One $10 book turned into countless referrals!

The stories are endless, but each of these real examples show the incredible power of repeatable business growth. To get more retention, sales, business, jobs, or referrals, all these individuals need to do us push their own REPEAT button!

They know what they want and they know how to get it. Their growth is repeatable!

STEP #3: Then Do It

When you know exactly what you need to grow your core business, and you have a proven way to get the growth you want, the only thing left is to do it. And then you can do it as many times as you want. REPEAT… REPEAT… REPEAT is now at your fingertips!

This is far better than any “viral” success because you are the one who controls it. You created it, and that means you are in charge. You can tweak it and refine it. And you can do it again and again.

6 Ingredients For Meaningful And Productive Meetings

Meaningful meetings are possible, desirable, and should be the aim of every executive. Many people say meaningful meetings is an oxymoron, and they have a point. Research shows consistently that most meetings waste time and cost significant sums. Some studies show over 75% of meetings waste time. Get a Klu, a corporate coaching and training consulting firm found that professionals lose 31 hours monthly to unproductive meetings. Besides, they show that of the eleven million meetings held in the U.S.A. daily, half are wasteful meetings.

Curtailing wasteful meetings boost personal effectiveness and morale and improve company-wide productivity. I estimate that at least half of the hundreds of meetings I attended at work, church, and elsewhere, were unnecessary. We could have achieved better results without a meeting while not impeding relationships.

We must strive to hold meaningful meetings and stop the meaningless meetings epidemic. Always err in the direction of not holding a meeting. Still, as I show below, sometimes we need to meet. Meanwhile, here are six elements needed to hold meaningful meetings. Although they are not exhaustive, when followed, the chances of positive outcomes will improve significantly.

Meaningful Meetings Ingredients

These few basics will create the foundation for attendees to be effective at the meeting and following, and will aid the productivity of the group:

  1. Convener
  2. Purpose
  3. Agenda
  4. Targeted invitees
  5. Start & End Times & Meeting Etiquette
  6. Air Traffic Controller

Convener

Conveners have a responsibility for making meetings meaningful to produce specific results graciously, and compassionately. Conveners or their delegates arrange the meetings-including developing the purpose, agenda, and expected outcomes, with relevant persons. They ensure the right people record highlights and take needed actions, but they do not perform these activities themselves-they merely ensure others do them.

The convener needs someone to assist her to look at the process during the meeting. Without concern for the process, a few people will dominate, and discussions go off topic. It is crucial folks understand that the process determines the outcome.

Purpose

Not all meetings have the same purpose. However, each meaningful meeting must have a purpose. There are at least three meeting categories: information sharing, accountability and or reporting, and problem-solving. Why would anyone call a meeting without an explicit purpose? Often, a meeting is the ideal way for some folks to procrastinate-defer a tough decision. Then again, the convener, and maybe a few other folks, know the purpose, but do not articulate it to others in advance because that’s the way things happen in that firm-poor communications is the norm.

Sometimes people call meetings out of habit. They hold weekly and other meetings because that’s been happening for years. And nobody asks, why. I recall being invited to be an elder at a church. The pastor said they had weekly elders’ meeting, and I asked why. My response shocked him. Why wouldn’t I know? Still, I said, why do we need to meet weekly? The answer: That’s what we have always done. I declined the invitation.

Measningful Meetings in Japan

I saw two differences between business meetings there and in the West. First, most of those meetings were meaningful, but long, unlike here where meetings are meaningless and long.

Second, often in Asia, they tell you the purpose before problem-solving meetings. Then, they invite folks who plan to present at the meeting. Here in the West, many people come to meetings unprepared, but ready to give their views.

Third, the group paid attention when each person spoke, likely because of respect for elders and hierarchy. Participants listened to each other and built on each other’s contributions. In the West, when one person speaks, others don’t listen but plan his and her statement, which might be unrelated to what was just said.

In the West, sometimes you don’t know the aim of the meeting until after it starts. Many times the invitation does not mention the nature of the meeting. Then again, in the meeting, we compete for airtime. People don’t listen to another person’s view with an open mind. Instead, we interrupt one another in mid-sentence to add our views, even when it does not build on the speaker’s point.

In Japan, we defined and agreed the purpose of the meeting at the outset. Then we focus on solving the problem. Each person did not compete for airtime. However, I found this system weak in information sharing and accountability meetings. For instance, I was on the board of two Japanese public firms and the dearth of data given to shareholders and the brevity of shareholders’ meetings amazed me.

Meaningful Meetings Have Agendas

The ideal vehicle to define the meeting’s purpose is a carefully crafted agenda, with a starting and ending time. It should be comprehensive and indicate clearly items for discussion: ideally, with a starting and ending time for each agenda item. Besides, it should show a person or persons responsible for each item and the expected meeting outcome. Often we spend time on the first few items, especially if they are non-controversial, and rush the remaining, irrespective of their importance.

Targeted Invitees

Folks who attend meetings need a reason to attend. If the session is to share data or receive reports from others, only those folks relevant to those matters should attend. When the session is to solve problems, the size and invitees will vary based on the issue. These sessions need careful planning and a skillful convener to make sure each person explains his view without interruption. Folks must listen, hear, and consider what the speaker says before giving their ideas. It is crucial that folks know others’ views before debating and dismissing them.

Here are procedural matters to help us stay focused during a problem-solving session.

  1. Explain fully, specific proposals before debating them.
  2. Differentiate clarification discussions from challenges to substance.
  3. Finish one proposal before moving to another.
  4. Convener should encourage out-of-the-box approaches that challenge the status quo; never suppress discussions until each person understands the issue. Unusual proposals may be the basis for the solution; don’t restrain them just because they are unfamiliar.
  5. No one should monopolize discussions.
  6. Convener should be sensitive to different personalities: some folks will need encouragement to present their views.
  7. Meeting should agree action items: Someone should record key developments and specific follow up activity for each proposal including the following:
    • Who – responsibility for specific action
    • What – nature of action
    • When – timing of next feedback
    • Cost – source of resources necessary until next feedback

Although many of the above items apply to all meetings, they are particularly essential during a problem solving meeting.

Start & End Times & Meeting Etiquette

When the convener or other person call the meeting, the invitation should show the start and end times, and time and responsibility for each agenda item. The meeting should not last longer than 45 minutes to an hour-and should stick to the allotted times.

Do not allow late attendees. Advise all invitees that the meeting will start at the appointed time, so each person needs to be there a few minutes before to ensure an on-time start-and stick to the allotted times. The most offensive thing I see happening in meetings and events is when the convener says she will wait on more people to arrive. That’s an affront to those who arrived on time and merely encourages a sloppy, lateness culture.

Meaningful meetings mean proper time-keeping and the following meeting etiquette:

  • No latecomers allowed
  • No talking on cell phones or side discussions in the room
  • If someone leaves the room to take a call or to talk with a colleague in the corridor, she is not allowed to return
  • No extraneous discussions: time spent must focus on agenda items under discussion
  • Meeting will end on time and each topic will get its planned time
  • No interruptions-each person must finish his thoughts and no one must interrupt. Further, the next comment must refer to the most recent statement unless the convener decides to move to a different topic.
  • Each person present is valuable and her views are welcomed and encouraged-nobody will be allowed to monopolize the discussions.

In my “on-going meetings” (my classes) I insist that my students be in the classroom five minutes before the start time. Students who can’t be on-time can enter during a break period, but not while the class is in session. My students get it and are on time 99.99% of the time.

Meaningful Meetings Need An Air Traffic Controller

One person trying to take over discussions is the most difficult but crucial to prevent. Often the convener or chair does not focus on the process, so people get off topic. A few folks control discussions, and the meeting ends without attaining its aim. It’s vital the convener picks someone to help to ensure fair air-time for those with needed knowledge. An “air traffic controller” or process consultant (consultant) is the person to do this.

Process Consultant

When the focus is only on the result, shy folks and others who do not want to vie for air-time won’t speak. Others will talk, but will offer little. A process consultant who sits beside the convener to focus on the process and informs the convener, with no distraction, about deviant process issues is vital for a meaningful meeting. While the convener deals with the outcome, the consultant looks at the process to ensure ample air-time for folks needing to contribute. The consultant will look at body language, non-verbals, folks talking too much, people trying to speak but unable, and so on.

The consultant’s role is tough because that he or she is not part of the discussions, but is he or she tries to promote, through the convener, maximum sharing in the group. A well-versed consultant will watch the flow of discussions and ensure folks who would be reluctant to speak, but who wish to speak, offers his and her views on central issues. My experience is that these reserved folks have the most notable positive impact on the meeting’s outcome.

When Do We Need To Meet

Today, we have many different ways to meet electronically. We must be careful we do not meet because it is convenient, and we don’t have to leave our offices. Essentially, as I mentioned before, there are three broad categories of meetings, beyond needed face-to-face, one-on-one meetings: information sharing, accountability or responsibility reporting, and problem-solving. Still, before meeting, folks should ask the following questions:

  1. Why do we need to meet?
  2. Do we need interaction?
  3. Will we merely be telling people what they can read conveniently?
  4. Do we need to work together to come up with ideas?
  5. Will being together be valuable?
  6. Do so many people need to interact with each other?
  7. What if we didn’t meet?
  8. Is this the best use of people’s time recognizing that reducing the number of attendees saves time for everyone-attending and not attending?

Zero Electronic Devices Except For Note-Taking

To increase the probability of a meaningful meeting, we should not allow electronic devices in the room except for note taking. People who are “expecting calls” should not attend. The rule should be simple: If you are invited to the meeting, we need your complete attention. If you expect someone to contact you during the meeting, we will excuse you from the meeting and meet with those willing and able to be present.

To increase the probability of a meaningful meeting, we should not allow electronic devices in the room except for note taking. People who are “expecting calls” should not attend. The rule should be simple: If someone invites you to the meeting, they need your complete attention. So, if you expect someone to contact you during the meeting, excuse yourself from the meeting and ask someone else to brief you on the result. Only folks willing and able to be present, should attend.

Meaningful meetings help firms become more dynamic. These sessions can inspire employees. Every CEO should support them. The converse is true. People getting together with no real aim except to meet, create waste, expense, and crush morale.

To be sure, we need many face-to-face meetings because of the need for human interaction. However, we should question whether we need all meetings we plan to hold. Also, we should question the need for meetings others arrange and invite us to attend, always suggesting appropriate alternatives.

Best Strategies for Saving on Flights and Hotels

As a business owner, you always look for ways to save money when running a business. Amongst all areas business travel is one key area where you can find savings on flights and hotels. By following the best booking strategies and utilizing affordable options, travelers can reduce the cost of their business trip.

Here are a few ways to save on hotels and flights:

Saving on Hotels

Book hotels and flights together

Online travel booking sites offer price breaks for purchasing a flight and hotel together. Combined packages are mostly used by vacationers but also offer great value to business travelers with flexible preferences.

Surf online, book over phone

To get the best deals, browse through various online booking channels and figure out your preferred option. Get in touch with the hotel and ask them to reduce the rate further. This works as many hotels will go lower to avoid paying third-party booking fees.

Advance fees

If you are sure about your travel plans, nonrefundable hotel reservations offer the best price. Paying advance can save up to 20% on bookings made directly with hotels.

Take advantage of refundable bookings

Alternatively, you can make a refundable booking by looking for the best prices online. Hotels usually don’t have any cancellation fees like airlines.

Use corporate discounts

Businesses often negotiate with preferred hotel vendors and get discounts up to 40%. So, using corporate booking tools can give you the lowest possible fare when booking.

Last-minute travel

If you are booking in last-minute, you can find deals on unused rooms. Talk to your preferred hotels to know about possible cancellations. Also, searching last-minute booking sites such as Hotel Tonight can help you get other options.

Say no to cookies

Travel sites maintain cookies to identify customers with strong intention to buy. Clearing your browser history might give you more favorable prices.

Flight Saving Strategies

Travel during off-peak hours

Flights are cheapest between 5 am to 7 am and after 8 pm. Businesses can save an average of $116 per flight by flying at peak times.

Fly on specific days

Reports from recent studies revealed that Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are the low cost days to fly. Flying on these days can save you money.

Take connecting flights

Direct flights are convenient, but flights with layovers will cost you less. Taking connecting flights is one of the strategies that can help you save money.

Check out from less expensive airports

When you search for flights, check the box “include nearby airports”. You can choose alternative airports that cost you less than others and not necessarily farther away.

Make early bookings

Tickets booked fewer than seven days before departure will cost you an average of 44% more than if they had been booked 15 or more days in advance.

Book on the right time

Airfares fluctuate throughout the week. Studies revealed that the best time to book air travel is Tuesday at 3 PM ET, the time when airlines will release their discounted seat inventory.

Leverage refund rules

Bookings made at least 7 days in advance can be canceled within 24 hours. This creates a grace period in which you can cancel your bookings if your travel plans are not final.

How to Manage Your Business While Traveling

Whether it’s following up on work, assigning tasks, checking on your business mail, or just replying to customers, it can all be done from your phone. As a matter of fact, almost anything can get done online, through your phone today.

Yes, it’s that simple. But don’t go running home or rushing off to your next vacation destination just yet! We need to establish how you can get all this done and more without being at the office. Keep reading to find out the key factors you need to consider when managing your business while traveling or being away.

Key Factors to remotely managing your business:

Conduct Regular Meetings:

Everyone doesn’t need to be huddled up in the conference room to conduct a good meeting; you can get remote employees, freelancers, and employees at the office all in the same meeting with just an internet connection.

Now meeting on a daily or even weekly basis can be difficult while you’re traveling because you’re mostly busy and have other things to address. However, meeting with the managers weekly or bi-weekly will reassure your presence in the office and confirm your supervision on all business matters.

You can easily conduct meetings through Skype or Google Hangouts where everyone can see each other and even share files if needed. You can also use Google Slides for presentations or Team Viewer to share your computer screen with everyone for demonstration.

Be sure to regularly interact with your employees no matter where you are and build close relations with them that can evolve into trust. If this is accomplished, you’ll never need to worry about business when you’re away.

Follow-up on Work Progress & Hours:

You being away from the office should never mean work doesn’t get done or is on pause. Technology created a solution for slacking or lazy employees, time tracking software. This type of software allows you to track employees working hours so you will always be updated with who came late or who worked overtime.

Employees will be able to track their shifts, breaks, and leave notes on their work progress.

There are many types of time tracking software, some are essentially focused on tracking working hours like ClockIn Portal that generate timesheets and can be integrated with payroll systems.

Others include a project management feature like Zoho Projects where you can share projects, assign tasks, and follow-up on tasks.

You can also use essential project management software like Basecamp or Asana that mainly focus on getting work done efficiently. Project management software allows you to assign tasks, update them with comments, set deadlines, add attachments, and eventually mark them as complete. With a straightforward tracking method of working hours and work progress, employees will feel obligated to stay focused and get things done faster.

Handle Business Mail Instantly:

While traveling, your mail is something you mustn’t forget about. Neglecting your mail for even a few days can lead to problems. Unattended mail can be important contracts from clients, documents from partners or investors, or feedback from your customers.