Monday, December 27, 2010

The urgent need for Telecommuting

Since this past week we've seen massive flooding caused by rains in California, which then turned into Winter Blizzards across the United States.  Most of the New York City region has been paralized due to the blizzard that pulmeted the region with approximately 30 inches of snow, and winds gushing to 55 mph.  Public Transit haulted, roads have been impassable, and airlines and railways closed.  Everything came to dead stop.  Everything but companies who are ahead of their peers and telecommute!

Why is it in times of evolution, the majority of companies INSIST that they see their employees faces in person every morning at 9:00 AM?  Simply put, management is egotistical.  There is NO REASON why most office workers (unless they deal face to face with the public from  their desk) need to be commuting into work.

Most Management is aware of and utilizing contact management software that not only organizes an employee's contact database but also generates reports on the efficiency level of managing those contacts.  Case in point is SalesForce.  It's highly adaptable to a company's needs.  It can integrate with a sales dialer, keep an individual employee's contact database, generate leads, templates, call reports which can be broken down into time spent on each call, breaks the employee took, etc. 

Computer tracking software is currently being utilized by many companies. The software can review every website that is visited, and see what is done while on the website. It can capture and review all instant messages delivered by both sides. It can track every email sent and received, including web-based emails.  It can capture every single keystroke typed, including usernames and passwords.  It can get the exact time and date everything is typed. It will also see everything an employee does on MySpace and Facebook and see every picture posted, every file downloaded, and will quickly find what they are searching for on google, yahoo, aol, etc.

These different type of software provide the necessary flexibility for companies to not need as many managers for employees, while continuiing to have a tighter grasp on an employee's productivity and time management.  Most employees are completely unaware of how much "Big Brother" is watching. 

Despite these recent software advances that most companies have set in motion, few if any allow telecomuting. Most company management believe that if they are not visually seeing their employees work, employees will not value their employment or position. I equate it to the start-up funding scenario. Employers want to know how much "skin"  an employee have "in the game".  In other words, "as an employee, if you value my company, you'll come into my headquarters and spend your money commuting to me, and giving up 8 hours daily of your life to me, because I am worth that much.  I have the beautiful corner office, you work on the floor with all the other busy beavers." Ego.

JetBlue is an United States airline company that continuously posts profits for it's investors.  JetBlue is a low cost airline that offers its passengers nice amenities like DirectTV movies, and Satellite radio.  One of JetBlue's cost cutting overhead features lies in its Customer Service department.  JetBlue's Customer Services department is entirely telecommuted.  Every Customer Service rep works from the comfort of their own home. This greatly reduces JetBlue's overhead costs.  In this day and age when so many airlines are showing losses on their balance sheets, JetBlue is again producing profits! This example shows how innovative corporate minds work to produce more profits for their investors and why telecommuting works.

Telecommuting offers companies the ability to significantly lower their overhead costs, increase employee productivity, and raise profits.  It is a complete win-win opportunity.  It is not for every business. There are some retail establishments, personal care businesses, and some government operations must be handled in person. But the majority of businesses worldwide can take advantage of software capabilities that would enhance their bottom line. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

How most businesses should start to avoid failure

The art of entrepenuership requires real creativity.  This is not just in whatever business venture you choose to start, but in every aspect, including how to live your life while you grow your business.  In my last blog I spoke about using creative self funding solutions.  This entails a few different methods.  All these methods require that you at a minimum gather between $10,000.00 and $20,000.00 on your own.  There's really no way around it, in this day and age, you can't sell a dream and expect everyone to jump on to your bandwagon.  You have to gather funds. We're going to refer to this as the "initial deposit on your future business" or IDFB. There are costs that you need to foot - no one else.  We'll go into depth on this in another blog topic, but you must be prepared to pay for business related costs. 

These factors have to be adhered to:
  1. The best way to gather your initial capital is to work for someone else - in other words - have that dreaded job.  It's important.  You need to self sustain your living costs while saving money for your business venture. 
  2. Important:  You need to lower your cost of living expenses to save for your business.  Think logically:  Given current economic conditions - whose job is secure?? Primarily the President/CEO/Business Owner of the company you're working for - not yours. 
  3. Never give up your dream of owning your own business.  Keep your eye on the ball.  Whatever difficulties you are living in at the moment, remind yourself that they are short-term. Your goal is to make your business venture happen.  Don't let nay-sayers dissuade you.
Let's work on getting your IDFB.  There are various methods to raise your capital. 
  • You can work and with your earnings save the money.
  • You can gather friends and/or family and make them your partners/investors. (show good faith by depositing their money in a bank account, and give them the bank and account number information)
  • Take the money from your 401K.
  • If you're eligible to get a refund on your tax return, take that refund and add it to your IDFB. 
There's one thing that I will always advise NOT doing, and that's getting into debt initially to start your business.  Saving is essential to proper entrepeneurial ethics. It looks great on your Business Plan.  We'll address the need for a Business Plan in another topic.  If you need to get more capital to fund your business - NO ONE, I repeat, NO ONE will give you money if they haven't seen that you've sacrificed your own money for your business. 

Why is $10,000 to $20,000 the magic number you need to have?  Because you have to save 10% of what you will need in total to start your business. Most small businesses need $100K to $200K to start.  If you're business plan calls for more than that, you need to gather 10% to start.

Once you've attained your IDFB, then we can talk about how you can effectively make that money grow to self-fund your business.  There are very reputible businesses in the United States that will allow you to invest in their growth and get excellent returns.  We're going to explore in more detail, each one of those business opportunities you can profit from.  Keep tuned for our next blog.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Creative Opportunities to self fund your business AND not lose your shirt

We've all heard the old adage:  It takes money to make money.  Then there's the average rule of thumb that states that a business needs to be functioning for at least 3 years to fully support itself and grow.  In the meantime, an entrepeneur needs to be able to either:
a) Have enough funds available to support the business for the first 3 years until the business starts producing
b) Get enough financing to get the business through the first 3 years before it produces

What if your business doesn't produce in the first 3 years? What if you need more years to produce? What if your estimates were wrong and you need more money than you originally thought?  What if you lose all the money you've put into it?  Worse yet - what if you obtained a loan to finance your business venture?

Going the traditional route to start a business doesn't suit every entrepeneur.  The traditional route involves saving money, applying for a loan, and hoping that all of creation will be on your side as you grow your business.  On the upside, if you have previous business experience, you are more likely to prevail.  Newbie entrepeneurs have to tread very carefully to not mis-spend the loan funds.  You must have extremely good credit, and cash reserves to hold you over for the first two to three years of business to help ensure your success.

This scenario does not apply to the majority of entrepeneurs these days.  Creative procedures need to prevail here.  As a budding entrepenuer, it is imperative that other routes of raising capital be found.  Here's where thinking "outside the box" comes into place.

Music Concerts have always been a great form of entertainment.  However, the larger concert producers have hit a snag in this economy.  Bigger isn't always better.  Live Nation is a huge conglomerate in the music business.  With big arenas no longer filling up to a satisfactory capacity, LiveNation's profits have dropped for the 3rd quarter of 2010 (  AEG Live owns and operates all of their facilities and swallows up contractually their artists.  The average human being believes they cannot invest to profit from music concerts - or can they?

There are investment opportunities with smaller music concerts.  There are legitimate smaller concert promoters that organize and promote musical acts and smaller venues.  It is possible to invest with these promoters in their concert acts.  The amount can be as small as $10K to 100K, depending on several factors which include the cost of the act, and the venue.  The value is the short time you need to invest and the return on investment.  You can invest for as short a time as 3 months to 6 months and get excellent returns.

Oil and Gas has ALWAYS been a lucrative investment.  To get the most return on your investment you need to invest early on in the company - before the stock splits, and before they go public.  Getting in on the ground floor is key.  There are legitimate Oil and Gas ventures that during their nascent phase will offer what is referred to in the industry as "mailbox money" returns.  This means that for your initial investment, which can be as low as $16K (depending on the company), you will receive monthly checks as long as the oil and gas wells produce - that could virtually be as long as 50 years. 

Short term/high yield unconventional investing can work.  Just as long term investment in a market that is sure to be around for decades. Doing your homework and knowing who the leaders are is an absolute must. Using these investments while you are raising the money to start your business operations can save you from having loads of financial headaches down the line. These are a few of the great ways you can self-fund your business venture and NOT lose your shirt. 

Tune in next week while we further explore business start-up self funding. 

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Importance of the business environment

Entrepreneurship is no joke.  It's akin to being a single parent with all the weight of the world on your shoulders.  Hiring employees certainly helps.  But we have to face it, our responsibility is not their responsibility.  In the hierarchy of business you should think along the lines of family structure. You - the Owner/President/CEO - are the Parent.  Your employee is your Child. Why use this strategy?  Because it works. 

Companies who do not relinquish the "I am your Master - You are my Slave" concept are doomed to fail.  Yes this is a tough economy, and people will take on any job including from companies using this condescending structure.   But in the short run, employees will leave.  Not to mention that companies employing this tactic usually have a high employee turn-over rate. The savvy investor will look at this as a huge financial risk. 

Companies who are ingrained in the old corporate whipping structure will not retain good employees nor create employee loyalty. Their management creates a fear-based environment. Every day an employee endures this hell denigrates their attitude towards their employer.  This in turn will slow the pace of the work, primarily because of the fear of possibly doing their work wrong, and eliminates the idea of job security in their mindset. 

What does this do for The Company?  It slows progress.  Uses up corporate dollars foolishly by training employees who will not stay long, and retards business operations because every time a trained employee leaves who has not been able to fulfill their duties to their full potential, a new employee who has to be trained must take their place.

Savvy investors should look carefully at a company's employee turnover rate.  If a company has a high employee turnover rate, the company's bottom line is affected negatively.  Corporate dollars are being mis-managed.  Not to mention that there usually are corporate egos to blame. A high attrition rate is directly related to a monetary leak in the company.  This makes The Company a bad investment.

There is no benefit to The Company.

So, to the Mindful Business Owner/President/CEO, it is imperative that you relate to your employees as you would to your family.  Obviously not as intimately, but as considering of their value.  Companies that have taken on the "family structure" and placed value on their employees flourish.  Potential employees clamour to get an interview.  Current employees value their position and are loyal.  Employees view this type of company as "looking after their needs".  A few such companies are Johnson & Johnson, and PaeTec Communications.  Johnson & Johnson is an established public entity in the corporate world. PaeTec Communications is a privately held telecommunications provider.  Both hold their employees and the family structure in high regard.  Both flourish and provide outstanding quality to their customers.  Both value their employees.  See the pattern?

So to the egotistical, hard nosed, demanding, rigid management of the corporate whipping structure - change is inevitable or your certain corporate demise is looming in the very near future.