REINVENT YOUR BUSINESS? – 12 POINTS TO CONSIDER

Posted on: March 24th, 2012 by
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By Bill Kaufmann, President, My Greener Future

You’ve successfully started your business and are on your way.  Is it time to take a breather?  That depends.  Here are some points to consider as you determine how far and fast you want to get to your ultimate goal.  By the way, what is your ultimate goal?

1. DEFINE YOUR ULTIMATE GOAL What is your exist strategy?  When?  Sell to the highest bidder?  Keep going to see how far?  Pass it to the next generation?  Each goal has a different strategy!

2. HOLD…  SLOW…  OR GO Assess where you are now to your goal.  Are you tapped out?  How about new products/services/markets?  Cost for the next step?  Worth it? Acceleration potential?

3. PERFORMANCE ASSESSMENT Conduct an objective appraisal.  Are you effective and efficient in your marketing?  Operations?  Products/services?  Results?  Return on investment?

4. INVESTMENTS NEEDED TO ACCELERATE Do you have the cash to fund your next steps?  Keep up with inflation? Add new markets? Expand staff? Beat the competition? Get new customers?

5. ASSESS PRODUCT/SERVICE LINES What will produce the greatest revenue growth?  Most profit?  Highest potential?  Income bread & butter?  Which lines to drop?  Which lines to expand?

6. YOUR CUSTOMER’S WANTS AND NEEDS Do you have a simple marketing plan?  Have you surveyed your customers?  How will you expand your customer base?  Get new customers?

7. “OUTCOMPETE” YOUR COMPETITION Have you done a competitive analysis?  How do you counter, block or better them?  Where are they vulnerable?  How do you exploit your advantages?

8. PREPARE FOR THE NEXT STEP Have you done a risk assessment?  What could stop you cold? How are you using digital marketing? What are your most critical elements?  How do you use them?

9. STRATEGY AND TIME-LINE What are short and long term objectives?  Bench-marks to gauge progress?  What about “best practices”?  What’s your time-line?  Contingency plans?

10. UPGRADING STAFF AND SKILLS What are the current skill sets of staff?  Who trains them for      the new expectations? What do they need? How many of what kind of staff? What about turnover?

11. TRANSFORMATION MANAGEMENT Updating systems and procedures?  Process review? Do you have a change management plan? Is there a change of regulations?  Install supervisors? 

12. OK, GREAT…..  I’M SUCCESSFUL.  NOW WHAT DO I DO?? Other than helping your business grow and expand, keep updating and upgrading your plans and strategies.  You are never finished!!

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 2

Posted on: March 19th, 2012 by
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By Bill Kaufmann, President of My Greener Future

Job interviews are difficult, even when you are prepared.  Some candidates have difficulty with the same questions but in different settings. The following questions tend to be the trickiest.  Study them and prepare alternative responses that put you in the most favorable light.

1.  WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS OR OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THIS COMPANY? – The interviewer is looking for your insights, which could be a trap. Are you making judgments based on little or no data or solid information based on your research of issues within company?  Tread carefully.

2. DISCUSS YOUR PROFESSIONAL DISAPPOINTMENTS IN OTHER ROLES/COMPANIES – Be ready with a story or two around promises or expectations that didn’t happen. How you handled it and what your learned is the key here.  Don’t put down other people as the “bad guys”.

3. WHAT QUALITIES DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A BOSS? – Stay away from trite comments like, “a leader” or “likes people”.  Tend more toward qualities like, “To get the highest level of performance a boss needs to engage with me on strategy, then let me get the results, while being available when I need help” or a similar set of guidelines.  You are describing how you work best under supervision.
4. ARE YOU OPEN TO CRITICISMS? HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH IT? – Pre-knowledge of the company’s work environment would be helpful.  The interviewer is looking for your attitude toward pressure and how well you respond to it.  Criticism of work products is different from external competitive forces as against personal criticism.  Each is handled differently:  People versus things.

5. TELL ME ABOUT PROBLEMS YOU’VE ENCOUNTERED WITH SUPERVISORS– Rather than a laundry list of traits from bad supervisors, consider examples of how a situation became your problem due to a supervisor not handling it properly. This is a tricky question, as you don’t want to lash out about bad bosses, but rather indicate how you worked it through. Saying, “I’ve been lucky to have had good bosses, but there were times when I’ve had to add support in a sticky situation”.
6., WHY DO YOU WANT TO LEAVE YOUR COMPANY?  WHY WERE YOU TERMINATED? You need to be carefully honest.  Never lie, but you need a credible story.  You should be able to explain away most issues.  Leaving a company is not a crime when it follows a rationale that is well thought out and articulated.  Be careful of contradictions like, “…the company is growing, I’ve had good bosses, but the opportunities were limited”.  It doesn’t quite compute without a reason!

And the final curveball question that can kill an interview that has gone very well so far:

7.  WHAT DO WE NEED TO KNOW THAT HASN’T BEEN ASKED?  WHAT ARE WE MISSING? A real curveball question unless you’re prepared.  Caught unaware, most will answer in the negative because it’s almost an accusatory question like, “What haven’t you told us?”.  However, don’t be put off balance.  Have a list of items already in mind.  Don’t’ say, “Nothing, We covered everything” as you both know that isn’t true.  If you can cite activities that parallel the interests of the company, so much the better, like community support activities.

Good luck.  With preparation around these tricky questions you should be an outstanding candidate!

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


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