STARTING A BUSINESS? CONSIDER THESE 12 POINTS!

Posted on: March 17th, 2012 by
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By Bill Kaufmann, President, My Greener Future

This list is only a start in scratching the surface about a decision to start your own business.  It’s a different story if you’re considering a consulting or part-time effort from your home on weekends, rather tthan a storefront retail business with a 2-year lease and staff.  Whichever it is, you’ll still need a legal framework, tax advice, accounting support and a lot of hardware like office supplies, equipment, computers, programs, telephones, and so on.

The following 12 points are guideposts only.  Consider them carefully:

1. IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE PASSION…  STOP RIGHT NOW!!! This is the #1 condition for success.  If you don’t have the commitment, time, effort and support, don’t even start.

2. BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING, IS THERE A MARKET FOR YOUR PRODUCT/SERVICE? Research the marketplace, competition, pricing, break-even, competencies needed and time-line

3. OK…  WHAT’S IT GOING TO COST ME TO START-UP? Investment to start?  Barriers to entry? Technology?  Can you do it yourself or need paid staff?  What’s the cost to market?  Investors?

4. HOW TO BEST DESCRIBE YOUR BUSINESS TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD? What can you provide that others can’t?  How will you position yourself?  Low cost?  Quality? Service?  Other?

5. WHAT’S THE MARKET SAY ABOUT YOUR BUSINESS? What’s the potential size of the market? Growth rate?  Life cycle?  Price elasticity? Cycle or seasonal demand? Ask potential customers?

6. CHECK OUT YOUR PERSONAL PLUS’ AND MINUS’ Assess your skills and abilities.  Are you good in finance but not in marketing? Visa-versa? Strengths? Liabilities? Opportunities? Threats?

7.DO YOU HAVE A PLAN? You’ll need steps to consider at each stage.  What information do you need?  What alternatives as a back up?  Strategies?  Time-line?  Staff or competencies needed?

8. GROW THROUGH EFFECTIVE MARKETING AND EXECUTION How to develop a positive reputation?  Get testimonials?  Speaking engagements?  Ads or articles? Customer awareness?

9. GAIN BUSINESS THROUGH E-BUSINESS AND DIGITAL MARKETING Where will the leads and traffic come from? Can you create and maintain a website? Can you use LinkedIn, Facebook?

10. SO…  HOW DO I PRICE MY PRODUCT TO MAKE MONEY? Where will you position your product/service for pricing?  Is there a price constraint? What’s your capacity?  Competitors price?

11. WHEN TO HOLD ‘EM AND WHEN TO FOLD ‘EM… What are your profit goals, by when?  What will be your “cash burn”?  When will you run out of money/credit?  What is your STOP point?

12. WHEN TO GIVE UP YOUR DAY JOB? Aggressive level?: At break-even, monthly expenses are covered + income growth of 10% per quarter.  Conservatively?:  All of the above plus one-year’s salary in the bank!  What about benefits?  Retirement?  Family considerations?

This article focused on the basics of starting a business.  One of the important decisions you must make is:  What is your ultimate goal and how do your reach it.  Our next article will be on Reinventing or Accelerating a Small Business.

Call now for a free consultation and we’ll explain how we can help.  No obligation, just objective input!  Contact Bill Kaufmann, President, My Greener Future at the email: mygreenerfuture1@cox.net.  Our website is:  mygreenerfuture.com

 


ANSWERS TO TRICKY INTERVIEW QUESTONS – Part 1

Posted on: March 13th, 2012 by
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By Bill Kaufmann, President of My Greener Future

Interview questions can be tricky and sometimes difficult.  The simplest answer is usually the best answer.  Complexity can get you into a tangle of conflicting responses.  In this series, Part 1 is the easiest of tricky questions. Part 2 is the most difficult.  It’s assumed you have done the necessary research to understand the key elements of the company your interviewing.  If not, you’ve already lost the interview to other candidates who have done their homework.  Here are some initial questions.

1. TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF.  HOW WOULD YOU BEST DESCRIBE YOURSELF? Provide a crisp but positive assessment, based on the interviewer. A Human Resources Manager is looking for your ability to fit in and have the basic requirements.  The hiring manager is looking for key knowledge, skills and abilities that will get the job done, given today and tomorrow’s need for results.  Connect your assets to the position based on the role of the interviewer.

2. WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS OR ASPIRATIONS?  WHAT ARE YOUR CAREER OBJECTIVES? Are your expectations realistic and can they be accommodated?  Their interest is in your ability to grow with the company.  Saying you want to expand your responsibilities to better support and stay ahead of the needs of the company is always a good response.  In that way, everyone wins!

3. WHY DO YOU WANT TO WORK HERE?  WHY DO YOU THINK YOU’RE A GOOD FIT? First you need to search and understand the goals and strategies of the company.  Any company wants their employees to parallel their mission.  Check out the website for potential answers and look for compatibilities. The question is designed to identify similar values, style and culture.  You need to bring added value to performance so the business can grow.

4. DO YOU WORK BEST AS AN INDIVIDUAL OR AS A TEAM MEMBER? Careful here!  Of course you want to do both, but you can’t make it sound contrived.  Stating that you work best as a part of a team where you can contribute as an individual may cover the question.  If you have examples of your team contributions, how you’ve gotten results as an individual, then as a leader of a team effort, all would be good to explain.  Make sure your answer is credible and is not a smoke screen.

5. WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT US?  WHY DO YOU THINK YOU’LL SUCCEED HERE? Again, your research is a must.  Be specific about what you know about them:  Products, growth, industry position, competition, future direction, and so on. Be more general unless you know what the issues of the function/company are, and what some potential alternative solutions may be.  Sneak into your response some areas of your competence and successes of the past.

6. WHY SHOULD WE HIRE YOU OVER ALL THE OTHERS? Hopefully you can match your impressive background with the needs of the organization.  Connect new ideas and alternatives to help solve problems or add to the growth of the function/company.  Never tell them you have the answers, only that you have experiences that may prove to be helpful as alternatives to a solution.

Your primary objective is to stand out as a candidate.  These questions are poised to answer the ultimate question of why a company should hire you.  But if you are prepared, have done your research and practice your responses, you will become a candidate of choice over those who are not ready.

Part 2 will explore even more difficult and tricky questions, so tune in next Wednesday.

Take control of your destiny.  Let me help you succeed in the marketplace. Want some answers to you questions?  Contact me by Email:  Mygreenerfuture1@cox.net

Check out the website:  Mygreenerfuture.com


TRAITS OF A SUCCESSFUL SMALL BUSINESS OWNER

Posted on: March 10th, 2012 by
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By Bill Kaufmann, President, My Greener Future

What does a bit of research and experience say about successful entrepreneurs?  They have many traits in common.  Most of these characteristics are apparent at an early age. They do not suddenly show up at age 30.

Early-age traits of independence and focus:

1. You are typically passionate about what you’re doing – You get involved, dig in, and do the best you can.  You are seldom tentative or lack enthusiasm, but are selective.

2You tend to be achievement & goal orientedYou continually set goals and work at it from an early age.  There is a vision for the future with revisions and setting of new goals.

3. You are usually a self-starter, persistent and accountableThis can show up in sports, baby-sitting, paper routes, summer jobs, and so on.  You don’t give up easily.

4. You are a quick learner, ambitious and drive for success – Usually in the things that are important to you and of interest.  Not so much in those things that are not.

Later, as one matures:

5. You continue to be confident, optimistic, absorb and learn from othersYou desire to optimize opportunities, willing to invest your time with those that work. You are usually open to new possibilities, if you can see the potential /end result.

6. You know what your strengths and weaknesses areYou learn new skills that will help you achieve success.  You want to keep up with changes, like technology. You tend to be adaptable, resilient and determined, but may shy away from other things.

7. You know your business better than anyone and a lot about your
competition
You know your business inside-out and how your own business measures up against competitors and your financial goals

8. You can effectively manage your budgets and financesYou know all about your loans, interest, customers and costs.  You save for a rainy day, spend money to make money, and postpone personal expenditures sometimes at family expense.

9. You are a hard worker who seldom settles for second bestYou strive for excellence, set standards, and ensure the customer is primary. You work long hours to move the business forward in the first few years, while wearing many hats

10. You are multi-dimensional – You are knowledgeable and can do many thing well, rather than extremely strong in only one major area, like finance, but can’t sell/market

11. You enjoy your business but get help when necessaryYou have fun and enjoy what you do.  There is a sense of satisfaction in building a future.  You are not expert in everything.  You contact others when warranted, delegate to staff reluctantly, although it’s hard for you to do and sometimes a bit late. Moving from “doer” to manager is not easy for you.

If all of this sounds familiar, you fit the profile of a successful small business owner.
If you want to grow to a mid-sized business you may need outside help.

Call now for a free consultation and we’ll explain how we can help.  No obligation, just objective input!  Contact Bill Kaufmann, President, My Greener Future at the email: mygreenerfuture1@cox.net.  Our website is:  mygreenerfuture.com


WHEN DO YOU KNOW IT’S TIME TO LOOK FOR A NEW JOB? HERE’S AN APPROACH

Posted on: March 6th, 2012 by
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By Bill Kaufmann, President of My Greener Future

My personal formula for deciding when to seek another job has served me well.  It took me about 7 years to understand and articulate my career drivers.  They may serve others as well.  Here’s a start.

First, create three separate scales from 0 to 100.  Designate cut points:  A 50 rating is “Minimally Adequate”.  A 70 rating is “Acceptable”.  Anything below 50 shouts for a change and above 70 indicates you are making satisfactory progress.  The higher the rating, the greater the progress.

Second, take a look at the drivers to your career success and apply them against your scale.  In my case, there have been three drivers throughout my career.  You may have different drivers so you need to figure that out.  Later in life I added to this mix, but that’s a tale to tell at another time.

When you’ve completed your review, add all three numbers for a Total Satisfaction Index.  Let’s take each driver separately then show you how it works.

  1. Personal and professional growth As an individual: Are you growing in confidence, maturity, interpersonal relationships, experience, exposure, visibility, credibility, influence, and most other personal attributes needed for the tasks ahead?  As a professional:  Have you increased your skills and abilities, learn higher levels of complexities, engage with higher management, expand your business and functional knowledge that continue to position you on an upward trajectory?

  1. Responsibility and compensation Are you increasing your functional responsibilities while expanding your compensation?  Responsibilities can expand by additional roles, tasks or projects, inclusion in representative groups that will advance you within the organization?  Compensation is a measure of how the organization values your contribution.  It can be in performance increases above the norm, a bonus for a job well done, or stock.  Non-financial rewards are also an indicator of appreciation, like being recognized by the “big boss” in an open meeting.

  1. Freedom to perform How tightly are you supervised?  If you’ve been given the freedom to develop the strategies and execute an approved plan to achieve stated results, you are where you need to be.  If however, you’re micro-managed or spoon-fed, it’s time to ask why.  Freedom to act is extremely important as it demonstrates the confidence the company has in you.  Also, the higher in management you go, the greater the freedom of action.  A person cannot become an Olympic gold medal figure skater by practicing on a block of ice.

Take each career driver and rate your current position on the scale.  If your Total Satisfaction Index is 150 or less, you have a major problem.  A total number made up of all 70s or above, means you are making progress. Not only is the total number important, but so is the combination. You can be in the 90’s on #1 and #2 but have no freedom of action.  Determine what your best number is and in which combination.  The difficultly is when all three numbers range in the 60’s.

If your scores are not acceptable to you, talk with your boss if you can.  Explain what you need in order to achieve your greatest performance.  Your current organization knows you best and should be able to adjust easier.  If not, then you’ll know it’s time to initially research the marketplace.

Take control of your destiny.  Let me help you succeed in the marketplace. Want some answers to you questions?  Contact me by Email:  Mygreenerfuture1@cox.net

Check out the website:  Mygreenerfuture.com


AMERICA IS THE LAND OF OPPORTUNITY, EXCEPT FOR THE UNPREPARED

Posted on: March 4th, 2012 by
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By Bill Kaufmann, President of My Greener Future

I had one of those AH-HA moments the other day that led to a question.  The question is:  “Why don’t we do something about it?

Let me give you the list of precipitating facts and see if you can figure out a better answer.

  • 15% of the workforce is under/unemployed in the U.S. (some say it’s much higher)
  • More than half of U.S. employers said they were having trouble filling job openings because they couldn’t find qualified workers.
  • Silicon Valley and other technology application centers have unfilled job openings and are recruiting in other countries.
  • In the U.S., there is a major shortage of electricians, plumbers & medical technicians
  • A majority of undergraduates are liberal arts recipients with many unemployed
  • Advanced degrees in math & science by foreign-born students is significantly greater than American-born students, by a very large margin
  • There are unfilled jobs for $80,000 a year oilfield jobs workers in North Dakota
  • In past recessions, companies hired workers in anticipation of the upturn.
    Now, companies want to see the upward demand before hiring employees.
  • Companies can identify their specific needs faster than people can develop their specific skills to match the job, causing a skills mismatch
  • When companies know exactly what they need and when, they are looking for skills or experiences that comes the closest, not generic knowledge that requires training
  • A Master Plumber will earn four times the income as a waiter who has a history degree
  • Companies are looking for applicants that can improve performance or productivity, not someone who needs training to be effective two years from now

In order to develop an answer to the question, one needs to figure out the issues.
I see the issues as follows:

  • The supply of qualified people is overabundant in some fields and undersupplied in others. The compensation in fields of demand will rise when the supply is scarce.
  • Americans shy away from the hard sciences and prefer the easy courses for a degree
  • The momentum of the past (to take liberal arts programs and let the company give you the training) is not working.  The reality is to get an earlier jump on the opportunities.
  • Maybe everyone shouldn’t be a college graduate, especially in a field where there is no demand.  An educated employee at $10 an hour doesn’t make much sense.
  • Hiring too many non-U.S. born employees will become counterproductive in the long run if Americans cannot produce a qualified workforce to fill the vacancies
  • Yes, America is the land of opportunity, but maybe less so for unprepared Americans.

Let me know your thoughts.

Take control of your destiny.  Let me help you succeed in the marketplace. Want some answers to you questions?  Contact me by Email:  Mygreenerfuture1@cox.net

Check out the website:  Mygreenerfuture.com