What’s in a name – a lot!

Not using a meaningful business name is a lost and wasted marketing opportunity.
When starting a business you should decide on a company name that reflects what the company has to offer. I do not like names like Jones LLP or Smith & Doe because they can be anything from a lawyer to a dentist, shoemaker or hairdresser.
I do like Smith & Doe Realtors or Jones Shoemakers because at a glance, you know what they offer. The same should apply to your product name, the “Eazeee Floor Cleaner,” “Speedy Car Cleaner,” not “Wipe It;” because does it say what it wipes?
The worst example of poor advertising was a sign I saw recently that said “Sleepezze.” What was it selling or offering? Was it a bed, a pillow, or maybe sleep medication? I will let you guess which it was. All I know is that they wasted their advertising money.
Using a meaningful product, or company name, is capitalizing on the business and gives you a permanent marketing opportunity every time the name of the company and its products are seen.
Always use every opportunity to state exactly, in brief positive descriptive words, what you have to offer, as you may only get a microsecond for someone to see what you sell.

Business failure can be turned into a success!

Too many people think that if they fail in their business pursuits, they are bad business people. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Making mistakes can be good. While this sounds strange, it’s true.
One thing I learned from my business experiences is that everyone makes mistakes in business. If someone says he hasn’t, he either has a bad memory or is a liar.
Since mistakes are usually costly and painful, they are the best way to learn right from wrong. You will always remember what you did to produce an undesirable result and will take the proper measures to never repeat it. If you look at it as part of the learning curve, a misstep is not a big deal. Knowing, recognizing and admitting what you did wrong are crucial steps to prevent you from making any in the foreseeable future.
Mistakes will add strength to your character and make you more cautious, and inquisitive. You will become more street smart, and successful. Don’t be upset if you mess it up, just look at it as something you can correct and then move on.
I failed several times in business, I never was put off by my mistakes. Quite the opposite, they made me more determined to succeed.
The lessons I learned from my mistakes gave me the right perspective, understanding and mentality to achieve business success.
In my book I highlight the mistakes I made, there are good lessons to be learned from these.

How did stress come into our lives?

The word ‘stress’ has become an overused excuse for people’s failure. A word used to shield mistakes and hide normal human vulnerability.
Is stress real or a figment of our imagination? To me, stress is a self-induced state caused by a self-inflicted word. It is used as an excuse for failure or not satisfactorily completing a task.
When a person uses the word ‘stress’ they expect forgiveness and understanding simply because of this word.
Does it mean that on other days, performance, productivity, and attitude will be far higher because this word is not used?
If you consider your job or personal life as stressful, then you are in the wrong job or doing the wrong things.
30, 40, 50 years ago this word was not in the vocabulary, but there was still pressure on people to provide for their families. The word stress is debilitating not only to the person saying it, but others around that person as it seems to offer comfort in defeat, especially since they know others are doing the same.
According to Wikipedia, Stress is a term that is commonly used today but has become increasingly difficult to define. It shares, to some extent, common meanings in both the biological and psychological sciences. Stress typically describes a negative concept that can have an impact on one’s mental and physical well-being, but it is unclear what exactly defines stress and whether or not stress is a cause, an effect, or the process connecting the two. With organisms as complex as humans, stress can take on entirely concrete or abstract meanings with highly subjective qualities, satisfying definitions of both cause and effect in ways that can be both tangible and intangible.
Perhaps the solution to stress is to just stop using the word and work through difficult situations. You may be amazed how positive thoughts can make all the difference. Why not try it? Think positively and get results through effort not words. As they say, actions speak louder than words.
Perhaps the world can become stress-free by simply not using this word!

Don’t run your business in the dark

If you do not produce a monthly Profit and Loss statement, you are running your business in the dark.
One of the most important indications of a business’s success, or failure, can only be determined from a monthly P&L. If you fail to produce one every month, how will you know if you are making money?
The common excuse used for not having up-to-date financial information is, “I cannot afford an accountant.” My answer to this is, for $25 to $30 an hour, you should be able to afford one once or twice a week. If not, you are probably losing money or not making much of it.
People who tell me they are doing well and do not produce a P&L statement are just kidding themselves.
Let me reiterate, without a proper, detailed monthly P&L Statement, you are operating your business in the dark. To run a business successfully, you need light, and lots of it.
A detailed P&L is a breakdown of income and expenditure that will show your monthly sales and what you have spent to get your sales income, such as your overheads and general running costs.
From this information, you will be able to see sales trends, such as: higher sales in one month and lower in another. This will lead you to investigate if it was because of a holiday period, school holidays, hot or cold weather.
Why did sales drop or increase when they did? If you study and investigate these sales trends, you should find out why your sales were different each month.
Once you have the answer, you can then direct your advertising and marketing to peak periods and reduce them when the sales are low. You can also devise promotional activities when times are good and even when they are bad to help improve sales.
Likewise, your expenses can be looked at carefully to see if you can reduce them at bad times, which will produce increased net profit.
Going through the list of expenses each month will also enable you to look at ways of reducing costs by reorganizing some of the things you do.
One of the reasons why businesses do not make a “true net profit” is they often forget to include one vital cost: their own salary. You must always add in the salary you think you should earn, even if you defer it initially. At least, this will take into account what you want to earn once the business is successful.
If you forget to add in your salary, you will need to make substantial increases to your sales price later, which will cause you problems. Don’t forget to include yourself as part of the overhead, so when the business starts to do well, you will be able to earn a decent salary.
No matter the size, every business needs financial information. If you study it, you will undoubtedly know more about your business.

Sales or Profit – Vanity vs Sanity

Sales or Profit – Vanity vs Sanity
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard “my business is doing well; my sales have increased 40%.” Big deal! What I prefer to hear is, “my net profits have increased 40%.”
Any businessman knows (or at least, they should) sales don’t paint the complete picture of how a business is doing, and it can often be deceiving no matter the direction. The focus really should be on ‘net profit’ since it reflects if you truly make money.
Business is all about increasing your net profit, not a gross profit and large sales. No matter how much your sales and market share increase, it’s rather pointless if it doesn’t make you money. I often say, “larger sales are pure Vanity; net profits are Sanity.” It’s your choice to decide which road you desire.
A boss who runs a business without considering the net profit will soon be left behind with large bills, which he is unable to pay.
I had an example of this with a client who ran his business on pure Vanity.
I suggested that he reduced his sales by 30%, eliminating the large multinational companies who always paid late and wanted everything at a lower price. These customers were basically bullies and my client had a big ego and wanted to boast that he supplied the big names in industry!
I said if he followed my advice and reduced sales by eliminating these large companies he would turn a small $3000 net profit into a much bigger amount. However, the task at hand was to get through to him that reducing sales didn’t mean reducing profits; in fact, it would result in the complete opposite.
After much deliberation, he finally sided with Sanity. With this move, even though sales were reduced by $750,000, the net profit increased by 33% to $100,000.
As you can see, you should not be driven solely by sales. Yes, you need sales to generate business, but always consider the value of the sales and look carefully at the net return the sales provide.
If you do this, clearly you are not driven by Vanity but by Sanity. Congratulations!

One word can make your business fail

One word can make your business fail
It is amazing to think that there is one word that can lead to business disaster: Complacency.
To me, complacency is the Cancer of business, and it is usually terminal.
Too often, people who have built a successful business come to crossroads in business. They decide everything is going well and, in turn, lose focus of the business by playing golf, working half days during the week or taking longer holidays.
In theory, this seems OK, but what is the downside to this behavior? Yes, you want to enjoy the benefits of your success, but you have to make sure that you do not pay a high price for this.
To take time away from a business that you have successful created is OK but only if you have trained other people to fill your shoes. I don’t mean staff who can manage under your direction, but people who will make decisions the way that you would. You have to make sure you have continuity so there will be no discrepancy in their future decision-making process.
Continuity is essential, unless you want a change of ideas in your business to bring it to a different level.
I believe that there is a time when you can take time off from your business, but it has to be carefully thought out. Reasons to relinquish authority depend on the situation and/or future objectives you hope to achieve. Do you want others to take the business forward to a new level or in a different direction? Do you want to retire or sell the business? Or do you feel that you have done as much as you can, or want to do? All these reasons are indeed legitimate.
However, be aware that if the business starts to slip, the slope is very slippery. Coming back up the hill is very steep and difficult to climb.
Enjoy the rewards to your success; just be careful to make sure that the enjoyment lasts a long time.

Are Presidential Elections the latest reality show?

Being raised in London and now a resident of California, I cannot help but compare the Electoral system in the UK with the USA.

One aspect in particular is the campaign process of the Presidential election and the incredible amount of time and money wasted by candidates trying to get elected. This comment does not apply just to the potential candidates, but the election of judges, district attorneys, school boards, etc. the electoral process.

By allowing money to influence, and possibly dictate, who should win an election, means that you don’t always get the best candidate. Knowing that, it’s no surprise that this may be the richest person or the candidate who raises the most money. What’s startling is that when you hear news coverage, you’re not just given the content of the politician’s speeches or platform, but also the amount of money they raised as if this was a deciding factor!

Just because someone advertises more than another does not mean they are better suited for public office! If a voter likes the advertisement, they may vote for that person and ignore the actual content of what the candidate is offering to better the country.

Surely, it would make sense to limit promotional expenditure so that the voter can see all candidates on an equal footing and then decide who is the best person for the job, not who spends the most money and makes the best ads, right? It would make more sense if the advertising money was allocated by the Government to ensure that they all had the same amount to spend and dash donor’s expectations of influencing policy in the future.

Another issue that I find strange is that the election process for President takes two years, plus millions, if not billions of dollars. When it comes down to it, this money could be spent in many better and more productive ways to help the country. It would be more sensible if each party decided who they wanted to be their leader outright to prevent money being wasted by numerous candidates seeking election.

Politics has many strange habits perhaps the time is right for some tweaking?

Golden opportunities lost

A ‘Golden opportunity’ in any business is to receive an unsolicited inquiry, or one directly through advertising or recommendation. These opportunities do not happen very often, and it amazes me how many people screw up these inquiries. It is vitally important that with all inquiries you take action by responding quickly.

More often than not, the inquiry you receive will have been given to several other companies. The first company to respond gets a positive head start. Companies that get inquiries and take their time to respond show the customer they are not on the ball and do not have enough care and concern for their customers.

Think about it, if you make an inquiry, how do you feel when you do not get an immediate response, or, worse, you have to call the company again? I know I would lose all trust in them, especially if I had to chase them again and they say, “We have been very busy.” Too busy to look after customers, is that ever a good excuse? What this says to me is that if they are too busy, why should I even use them? If I do, there is a likelihood they will let me down.

If the response is bad, you would go to the guy who responds quickly and offers you a visit or sends you literature. He then calls the next day to see that you have the information and if you require any more help. Now, this is the guy I want to do business with!

Build your reputation on excellent service and support. Treat all inquiries with a good attitude at all times. These individuals will remember this and perhaps they will become your loyal customers in the future. This is all part of building a good business reputation.

A positive attitude, even when things get difficult, will keep you on the right course forever. Treat all inquiries as a priority and respond to them the same day. This shows enthusiasm and care for the customer.
Here’s an example of good customer relations: you go to a restaurant and receive a warm welcome when you arrive. You are immediately taken to your table or asked to sit at the bar if your table is not ready. They offer you a complimentary drink for keeping you waiting. They are giving you good service, which you will remember.

The end result is that you will tell everyone how great the service was and they will tell others and so on. That establishment will grow their business because of the good service and the goodwill they have created. First impressions count, don’t forget this.

Is it wise to borrow the maximum amount of money?

Is it wise to borrow the maximum amount of money?Have you considered borrowing the maximum amount of money allowed from a bank or financial institution? Well, let me put this politely, “DON’T”! For a number of reasons, I would always borrow the minimum amount and here’s why.

Recently, I advised a business buying a commercial property to put down as much cash as possible. To my dismay, they did not agree, preferring to hold their cash and borrow as much as possible. Was this not a strange decision? Imagine it was you who had $1 million in cash and wanted to buy a $1.5 million property. What would you do? Look at this equation.

The cash you hold may be earning about 1% net (after tax deductions) from bank interest. If you put down $500,000 and borrow $1 million you will pay, let’s say, 5% interest. Essentially, you are borrowing your own money and paying an extra 4% to use it? Does this make sense?

In addition, your cash flow is committed before you get any of it!

Now, imagine if your business has a down turn and cash income is lower than anticipated.  No doubt, this will cause difficulty in making the repayments. And what will l result from such delinquency?

Pressure from the lender, possible penalties for late payment, or worse, being forced to sell the property as the lender wants his money back.

If the worst happens, the lender will look to sale, which will allow him to reclaim his losses. And with that, you would have paid for years and have nothing left to show for it.

However, if you had put down the extra $500k, you would have the majority shareholding with a great opportunity to re-finance if needed. Also, your cash flow income would be significantly improved.

Don’t use the common excuse that if I borrow, I get a tax break on the interest! Yes, you will but only if you have profits to set them off against. Surely, this cannot be the best reason to borrow money and increase debt and reduce cash flow?

More Taxes?

Government’s economical need for increased personal and business taxes is the same as any business. They simply must have more income than the amount that goes out.

This is not rocket science, just straightforward common sense and the only way to balance the books. Many people complain about paying any tax, let alone agreeing to pay more tax, even though it would help the Country that provides the services that we need and use every day.

If you take another view of paying tax, surely every one of us would like to be the largest taxpayer in the USA simply because we would be earning more than anybody else. So paying tax is not such a bad thing!

Before harsh austerity measures are used, consider the downside. Government cuts would affect the various services we take for granted, ceasing us to function as a successful society. Do we want a road full of holes, and our children in a class of 50? No firemen, police or paramedics to respond when we are most vulnerable? These are some of the consequences. If government income does not increase, it cannot maintain the excellent services available to the public.

Every business, including governments, face difficult times and looks for ways to increase sales income and reduce running costs. But they have to make sure that any cuts they make do not affect the vital services of their business and in return affect their sales income.

They must consider what tax increases can be made that would not cause too much pain. One easy target is to add $.10 to every gallon of gas that is sold, this would produce an income of $ billions. This additional income could be used to reduce dependency on oil and help produce research for alternatives fuels much quicker. It will also help reduce the country’s incredible debt deficit.

Perhaps it is time to take away, or reduce, the tax write-offs on loan interest. I believe the tax break on mortgages cause more harm than good. It encourages people to borrow the maximum amount of money, which everybody knows will only further contribute towards the mortgage meltdown and make more home empty due to nonpayment of mortgages.

Recently, the leader of the House said how complicated the tax code was and it needed simplifying. I don’t think anybody could legitimately argue against this. Instead of the House using the usual blame game that often rears its ugly head causing proverbial stalemate, both sides should get together and give this a priority. Just think of the advantages it will offer the public and put party politics to one side!

The US debt has to be reduced because the interest payments are off the scale. It’s what I tell people I mentor. When you borrow money, your income will be accounted for before you see it. The lender comes first, no matter the circumstances.

Government is no different. They may be able to delay interest payments, but all that does is rack up more interest. The only way to attack the financial deficit is more tax with some considered cost reductions. Particularly, increased taxes on expenditure will deal with the issue more effectively and quicker. Perhaps a 1% Federal sales tax would not be too painful.