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Tips for Start a Small Business

start small businessSteps in Starting a Small Business

Ideas

As someone rightly said, “a big business starts with a small idea”, which means that you must have great ideas that can fetch a lot of profit. The idea of course should be free of any illegalities. It should give you an opportunity to serve the people and cater to their needs. Also it should be commercially viable and practical. Once your vision and aim is clear along with the start up idea, you are ready to move on to the next step.

Research

Market research is one of the most crucial steps in starting a business. You must have a thorough knowledge of the sector you are planning to enter in. You also must know about the competition and the challenges you will have to face. In short, you must have the complete knowledge about the industry. This will help you start with proper precautions and will also help you taste the success a little earlier.

Plan

A business plan is very important where you need to pen down every detail of the business including the details of capital investment, type of business, money transactions, marketing strategies, advertising strategies, etc. It will help you understand the proposed amount of money required in executing your plan. It is also essential when you go asking for grants and finance to the investors, lenders, or finance companies.

Finance

Once you have a plan ready, you also have to arrange for the required finance. You have to decide if you want to start a business in partnership, proprietorship, a corporation, or a public holding company, etc., and accordingly have to go and visit the lenders. You can also seek loans or government grants. You can use your savings or apply for a bank loan. It is suggested to consult your financial adviser before you take any such major decision. But whatever way you choose, you have to submit your business plan to the lenders or associates.

Legalities

Once you arrange for the finance, you must invest in the location or area where you wish to start a business and complete all the legal formalities associated with it. If it needs a license or permit, then acquire it before you start. You may have to register for local and state taxes to obtain tax identification, compensation for the workers, employee responsibilities, unemployment or disability insurance, etc. You also have to register your business with a state authority for your identity. These steps will help you determine the legal framework of your business that would help you avoid any legal problems in the future.

Get Started

With the right advertising and marketing strategy, you are sure to start on a positive note. Make sure that you are providing your clients or customers with satisfying services. You can also ask customers to give their feedback so you can improve upon it. Always maintain the quality of your goods and service that would help you retain the customers. In addition, have some interesting offers for the first few days to attract more customers. Once you establish the name and trust among customers, your business will certainly flourish.

Tips for Effective Financial Management

financial managementFinancial management means putting together the economic resources at hand to make efficient use of them and taking decisions that can successfully culminate in acquiring more assets for the family or business. With effective utilization of funds, you can even attract finance to meet the short-term and long-term requirements of the family or firm. The whole process is intense and deals with the selection of specific or a combination of assets to deal with the monetary issue, if any. The overall aim is to reduce the size of the problem and ensure fiscal growth of the enterprise or family funds.

Financial Management Analysis

This analysis deals with the calculated and predicted cash inflow and outgoings. The analysis is directed towards the study of the effect of existent funds on managerial objectives. It handles everything, right from procuring the funds to effective utilization of the same. Dedicated analysis handles procurement of funds from multiple sources, and since the funds are from different sources, they naturally need to be addressed, considering the difference with regards to the potential risk and control.

Tips

This management practice involves the optimum use of funds issued via equity, especially in the case of a business. This source is the best from the risk point of view since there is no involvement of any repayment. Management of business funds should ideally capitalize on equity capital, in spite of it being the most expensive source of funds. Furthermore, it should also involve calculation of risk, cost and control, and maintenance of the cost of funds at minimum. This is done with the intent of establishing a proper balance between the involved risk and optimized control.

Tapping Foreign Investments
In today’s competitive business world, mobilization of funds is very important. The implications play a very significant role in the overall growth of the venture. Financial management involves the raising of funds through the domestic and foreign market. When considering overseas solutions, direct and foreign institutional investments are major resources to tap, in order to raise the required funds. This whole mechanism designed for effective procurement of funds has to be periodically reviewed and modified, understanding the changing requirements of foreign investors.

Utilization of Funds
The ultimate goal cannot be addressed or achieved without first designing a strategy to ensure the proper utilization of funds. This helps to evade situations in which the funds remain idle or lack of profitable utilization of funds in hand. When availing of funds for the business, it is important to understand the involved cost and risk factors. Wastage of funds will only result in the business objectives not being met and ultimately, loss. The funds existent within the business should be critically reviewed from time to time and employed properly and profitably.

Scope and Extent
It has become imperative to address sound financial management in all types of organizations to guarantee efficient use of all resources. Research reveals that many firms liquidate because of mismanagement of funds and not, as it is commonly believed, because of obsolete technology or the lack of skilled labor. It is, in general, designed and customized according to different client needs to optimize output from the assessed fund input. In a situation where resources seem scarce and the demand for funds is high, its proper utilization is an absolute necessity.

How to Marketing Strategy

marketing strategyThere are two types of players in every market that are responsible for keeping the market lively and attractive – Market leader and Market follower. The market leader is the player to introduce new ideas and dimensions while, market follower adopts what has been introduced or is already prevailing in the market. One of the distinguishing factors between the two players is the customer base.

In the taxi industry, customer base tends to be a crucial factor in deciding where the company is standing and how strongly it can affect industry trends. Effective marketing strategy can make a huge difference when it comes to maintaining or increasing customer base because the aim of marketing is to cater attention of more and more potential customers so that they can hire the services and play their part in lifting the company. There are some marketing strategies that do not seem to be important but their impact is commendable in increasing customer base. Let’s have a look at some of them:

Minimize Customer Defection

According to marketing experts, taxi companies can acquire customers with less marketing efforts but when it comes to retaining them, things get harder because customers start to expect more and it is difficult for the company to satisfy their needs. Due to this reason, the rate of defection increases that ultimately affects company’s reputation as well as their profitability. So, in order to minimize this rate, the taxi company has to formulate such strategies that can keep customers happy and satisfied with the services and entice them to hire the company again and again.

Strengthen Customer Relationship

For a taxi company, customer involvement is necessary because if the company doesn’t have knowledge about their preferences and expectations, there is no chance of increasing customer base. The best marketing strategy to increase customer involvement and their loyalty is to welcome their feedback and respond accordingly.

Generate Sales Leads

To generate sales leads, the taxi company needs to identify the target market and analyze what could be the best possible means to approach their target audience. For instance, they cannot apply internet-based marketing techniques on newspaper readers nor business associates can be influenced through sending blind invitations on social media platforms. Approaching target market with the suitable marketing strategies is the best way to generate fruitful sales leads.

Reward the Active Customers

If a taxi company has a pool of customers that is actively hiring and engaging with their brand, it’s good to reward them with something they have never expected. This way, the company is not only able to retain the existing customers but new customers will also start to take interest in the business, thus increasing the company’s customer base.

Highlight Customers

This marketing strategy involves featuring what the existing customers have said about the taxi company and how they are highlighting their services. Giving them respect and featuring their thoughts is a reliable way to increase customer base because this way, new customers can build their trust on the company that would lead them to hiring their services.

 

Tips for Start a Business Shop

If you are planning to venture into a new business, but find it risky to invest in a retail space before testing the product in the market, a pop-up store will come to your rescue. Not only this, but it will also enable you to test different markets at separate locations. Such shops have become extremely popular in the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. Whether you are starting your own coffee shop, clothes outlet, bakery, Halloween store, etc., pop-up shops will cater to your need for a temporary location. You can either rent individual shop spaces, a small area in the premises of an existing shop, garage area, community and church hall, or even set up a temporary structure in a shopping mall or boat. Today, setting up pop-up shops in shipping containers has also become very popular with several businesses. Many established brands and startups are going the pop-up way to reach out to their customers in a better and direct way. In order to gain optimally from this kind of business, it is important that you know how to correctly initiate it.

Conduct Research
Before you zero in on an area for hosting your pop-up shop, conduct online and offline research about it. Find out if the area has housed other such stores earlier. Speak to other businessmen, and seek their guidance to understand and anticipate customer response. Take a walk in the area to understand if your target customers will pass your pop-up shop. Remember that according to the same Reuters report mentioned above, there is a national retail vacancy of about 10%. This enables the landlords to offer the property for a shorter duration and at a cheaper lease rate to the retailers. Hence, ensure that you get a better bargain by negotiating the rate, and don’t settle for something that will prove too expensive for you. Try to have a cost-benefit analysis before starting up.

Have a Business Plan
Whether you are a small player or a big one, it is essential that you have a business plan in place before you start the actual business. Ensure that you note every detail about your products, finance sourcing, rent payment, overheads, employee salaries, vendors, etc., in the business plan. As you will keep moving your business from one place to another, ensure that you include the transporting cost in it as well. You will also have to consider the duration for leasing the place. Generally, there is a phone number of the pop-up shop, which the company disconnects when it moves on to another location. You can also get a toll-free number for customer inquiries.

Scout for the Right Location
Your sale is directly proportional to the prospective customer composition in the area where your pop-up shop will be located. About 2,000 square feet is a size preferred by many as it enables you to accommodate all the goods and have a good display. Hence, ensure that the place is located near a railway station, commercial area, or mall so that it will have maximum foot traffic. Find an area which will be suitable for the type of goods or services you are offering. For example, if you are selling designer footwear, getting a place on a high street or in a shopping mall will prove beneficial. Also, do not get a space that will be too small or big for your business. Customers will not feel like entering a place that is too crammed up, and you may have to shell out a lot of money for a place that is too big for your business. Ensure that there is a considerable amount of space for the customers to move around and check out the products. Also, the place has electrical sockets and fittings. Most of the time, shop owners will charge you on a daily or weekly basis. The rent will vary based on the area of the space, location, amenities offered, duration of lease, etc. Ensure that you get a place which you will be able to afford easily.

Attractive Display and Interiors
As your shop is temporary, you must take efforts to give it maximum exposure to book a great deal of profit within a short span. The display of the shop should be elegantly and wisely done. It should be able to hold the attention of prospective clients. It is advisable that you map out the display before placing the goods. As it is a temporary shop, don’t spend too much on the interiors. Instead, use inexpensive objects like mannequins, room dividers, tables, crates, shelves, etc., to display your products. If you have a big budget, you can rope in a display designer. Ensure that the pop-up shop is well-lit and does not give a creepy look and feel. It is highly advisable that you have a theme in place which will help decorate your store accordingly. Don’t forget to incorporate strong visual displays based on various themes of Halloween, Valentines Day, Christmas, Fourth of July, etc., in order to impress the shoppers.

Promote Your Shop
Unless, you call for attention, people are not going to notice your temporary pop-up shop. Hence, it is vital that you make a promotional splash. It is important that you start speaking about your shop before it starts. Roll out a press release giving details of your shop, its address, offerings, timings, schemes, etc. Ensure that the press release is carried by local newspapers, magazines, and online websites. Try to draw attention by getting a local celebrity for the launch. Invite a large number of prospective customers, bloggers, journalists, etc., for the launch. Ask them to drop their cards and hand them your visiting cards. Use social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter to reach out to a large number of people. Display your store photos on Instagram, Pinterest, Flickr, etc. You may also ask one of your employees to carry a signboard outside the shop. Don’t forget the good old methods of word-of-mouth promotion, distributing flyers, and putting up posters.

Payment Management
Most of the time, if you are having a long-term pop-up, your rent will include the insurance and service charges. However, any fittings and repairs to the place may incur additional expense in case of a short-term lease. You will have to get a cash register or till for accepting cash payments. Other than that, you can also accept payments through debit and credit cards. Getting a credit card machine can prove to be very expensive; hence, search for alternative options to accept payment. You can also utilize online wallets like PayPal, Google Wallet, Amazon Payments, etc., which offer payment through a secure mode. Also, there are other websites that offer similar services for minimal charges. You can also utilize mobile payment devices and apps for receiving the amount.

Tax and Legal Formalities
Ensure that your lease agreement gives you the freedom to utilize the property as you want without much restrictions. If you rent out a facility for a shorter duration, the owner may prefer to allot you a license to occupy the space rather than a full-fledged lease. This may restrict your control over the property and limit the usage of space. Also, your agreement may come with a ‘keep-open clause’ which will require you to trade continuously from the premises during the period of lease, in order to secure the landlord’s rental income. This is observed mostly if you are leasing out a pop-up in a commercial mall, so discuss it with your landlord. Even though it is a temporary setup, it does not mean that you will be exempted from taxes. You will have to check with a tax consultant about the tax payment for your shop. Also, if you will hire employees, you may have to get the Employee Identification Number. If you are offering food or drinks, you may need a permit. Also, you will have to abide by all the health care and hygiene rules and regulations.

Insurance Policies
Though your rented property may be covered by the owner, you may still need to take a liability insurance for injuries to people while they were in your shop. You may also need to get a flexible shop insurance policy which will cover your business for a short duration. You may also have to insure your products while transporting them from one venue to the other. Seek the help of a professional insurance agent to find out about the insurance options available for your shop.

Tips Management Styles and Techniques

A leader or a manager should be very careful, while choosing the business management styles and techniques for an organization. This is because the success of an organization depends upon the kind of management styles and the management skills which the managers exhibit. Some management styles are people oriented, while others are project or work oriented. Here are the three management styles which are primarily used by the managers in today’s organizations.

Management Styles

Teamwork Style

Here, tasks are accomplished by constituting teams first, and then dividing the tasks among the teams. It is commonly observed that tasks are accomplished more efficiently through teams. That is why most organizations follow this style of management. The different team members bring their knowledge to the table while accomplishing various tasks, and hence, tasks can be done more quickly in teams rather than by individuals on their own. In order to function properly, there should be proper workplace communication between the various team members and also between the manager and the team members. “Team spirit” is a prerequisite for the success of this style of management.

Directing Style

In this style of management, the manager communicates the “goals, expectations, and standards” to the employees very clearly in the beginning itself. The manager is in direct control of the situation literally, i.e., he dictates to the employees what tasks have to be done, how they have to be done, and the deadline for those tasks. The manager has all the decision-making powers and seldom asks the employees for a feedback. This management style is considered slightly impersonal, but sometimes, such situations arise in organizations, such as meeting a deadline or when the number of employees is too huge, that only top-down management approach or directing style of management can bring desired results.

Participatory Style

Participatory style of management is based on the principle of “faith”. Under this style of management, the leadership and management places full faith in the abilities of the employees. The tasks are given directly to the employees and are well-explained to them in advance. Their inputs on the tasks are also given due importance. The employees know how their work is fitting into the organization’s big goals. When their inputs are sought and they are also made aware how important they are to the health of the organization, their motivation levels become very high and they perform better. This style is usually seen in smaller organizations with lesser number of employees.

Management Techniques

Management techniques are those management concepts or strategies, which are followed to run an organization efficiently and profitably. Management techniques, whether pertaining to employees, the customers of the organization or the partners, in case of partnerships, should be chosen only after evaluating the needs of all three. An example of a management technique pertaining to employees is the use of incentives, so as to motivate them, or to provide them with training in order to update their skills. Management techniques pertaining to customers are usually aimed at keeping them happy and satisfied so that they keep on coming back. An example of this, could be the various discount offers that are given to the customers on special occasions, such as Christmas. Whatever management techniques are chosen by organizations, the main thing to consider is that they should fulfill the needs of the organization and also, of the employees, customers and the partners.

Tips for Travel Business

We invite all our clients and busy people to take their business pleasure. There’s always a trick and a way if we have the will to unwind, relax, and do business while at the white sand shores. With the latest technology we have, you can do real-time multi-tasking work while on vacation. Technology is everywhere now such as converged communication, we can always make our time precious, productive, and meaningful.

Enrolled Agents are tax professionals licensed by the federal government to represent taxpayers and assist them with tax planning and tax return preparation. Dorothy is also a member of the National Association of Enrolled Agents. Let me quote her words about “Deducting your combined biz/vacation travel.” Time with family is precious.

That’s why more and more business travelers are adding on vacation to their trips and inviting family to join them. Sometimes it’s easy to mix business and pleasure – especially with the trend toward booking business conferences at resort areas like Orlando or Las Vegas. With a little advance planning, you can get Uncle Sam to foot part of the bill – legally.

The Internal Revenue Service lets you deduct 100 percent of your transportation costs for travel within the United States – as long as the primary reason for the trip is business. If your trip is primarily for pleasure, only expenses directly related to business are deductible. So the trick is to make business the principal purpose of your trip. Then you can mix in a few vacation days and still fully deduct transportation costs, including: airfare (for yourself only), getting to and from the airport, tips for baggage handlers, cabs from your hotel to your business meetings and back.

Of course, you don’t have to fly to get tax write-offs. The same rules apply when you travel by rail or car. Pack the family into the car for the joint business/vacation destination, and you can deduct the total cost of driving back and forth, even though others are in the car. When you share your hotel room with family members, you may deduct the cost of what you would have paid for a single, rather than double, room. Just be sure to ask the hotel to note the single rate on your bill.

Plus, you can write off all your daily out-of-pocket expenses – lodging, hotel tips, and 50 percent of meals, seminar and convention fees, cab fare, etc. – for business days at your destination. Your out-of- pocket expenses for personal days are not deductible. There is a really easy way to gain maximum tax deductions and take some extra days off too. It’s the Saturday night stay-over exception.

If staying over a Saturday night would substantially reduce your airfare – and thus the overall cost of your business trip – the IRS will cut you a break. In effect, the IRS lets you count the extra days as business days because staying over actually saves money. Remember, your trip must still be primarily for business and you can only deduct 50 percent of your meal expenses.

Tips Marketing For Businesses on a Budget

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand we live in a social networking world.

Businesses of all sizes have quickly caught on to the importance of having a presence at websites like MySpace and Facebook for a number of reasons. From the sheer volume of traffic these sites attract to the demographic diversity of their users, smart marketing professionals consider social networking a significant part of their branding efforts.

Contrary to popular belief, having a substantial presence at a site like MySpace, for example, doesn’t necessarily require a substantial budget. As a matter of fact, there are a number of easy-to-follow marketing tips businesses can follow to have a commanding MySpace presence, for pennies on the dollar.

1. Create a MySpace Layout that showcases your business.

A clean and attractive MySpace layout that includes your company name and a description of your products and services is essential in marketing yourself to the MySpace crowd.

When you consider that one of the most popularly searched phrases on the Internet today is “MySpace Layouts”, you’ll understand just how important this tip is. Aside from the popularity of social networking itself, the second fastest growing trend is customization, or the art of being able to decorate your profile with cool layouts, backgrounds, pictures, graphics and video and music applications that convey your likes and dislikes and, in essence, your overall personality to the friends who visit your page.

It’s no different if you’re a business. Posting a layout to your MySpace page, one that clearly conveys who you are and what you do, speaks volumes to the people visiting your profile – people who may very well become your customers.

Look online to find websites that offer custom layouts and incorporate your company’s information and graphics into the elements of your layout design, including backgrounds, extended network banners and boxes within the layout such as contact tables. Whatever you do, keep it simple. Cluttered and confusing layouts lose their branding effectiveness.

2. Add MySpace friends who fit the demographic profile of your customers.

MySpace has a nifty feature that allows you to browse for friends by age, gender and relationship status. Use this tool to locate friend prospects that fit the demographic profile of your target customers and reach out to those prospects with friend requests. When you add friends who you believe will be most interested in learning of and receiving information about your products and services, you increase your chances of gaining new customers through targeted marketing.

Be sure to communicate important company news such as discounts and special deals or the launch of new products and services to your MySpace friends as often as you can, in a reasonable manner. Keep in mind MySpace has safeguards in place to prevent spamming.

3. Work your MySpace profile.

Having a MySpace profile that features your business is one thing, “working” that profile so it works for your business is something completely different.

Assign someone within your company to manage your profile on a daily basis. It’s important that they add friends, post comments, post bulletins, write blog articles and send and receive messages. Don’t assume that by creating a MySpace profile, millions of people will find you. The art of social networking is just that – networking socially within a site like MySpace by reaching out, making friends and interacting with those friends as often as possible.

Also, aside from foul language or inappropriate content, don’t be afraid to allow people to post public comments about your organization on your MySpace page. A big draw for social networking is the ability to be real, to speak your mind and say how you feel. If you allow only positive comments about your business to be posted, you lose credibility. But if you allow people to speak their minds, you gain credibility while learning a lot about your customers – and your business – in the process.

4. Let your MySpace friends become your own marketing army.

Posting a business layout at your MySpace page is a great idea. An even better idea is offering layouts that feature your business for free download to other MySpace users who want to customize their profiles. As a result, MySpace users get to customize their pages with cool designs featuring your business and in turn, you get an entire army of marketers who brand your organization to their friends…and friends of their friends…and so on.

Certain MySpace customization websites like SpaceGravy.com, for example, now offer a service where they will create layouts and other designs, such as backgrounds, extended network banners, contact tables, graphics, glitter graphics and flash widgets, that feature a particular business, product or service (in this case, up-and-coming bands). These designs, showcased prominently throughout SpaceGravy.com, are available for free download to any MySpace, MyYearBook, Xanga, Friendster or Virb user.

Not only do participating bands get excellent marketing exposure at SpaceGravy.com, they get excellent marketing exposure from the various social networking users who customize their profiles with the band’s layouts. Aside from bands, virtually any type of small or large business can take advantage of this service.

Bottom line – by offering free MySpace designs that feature your business, your MySpace friends, and MySpace users in general, become your very own marketing army.

5. Use MySpace Ads.

MySpace Ads, similar to Google AdSense, allows you to promote your business by targeting your advertising to MySpace users for a fraction of the cost of traditional online advertising.

MySpace Ads is an online advertising program available through MySpace that allows you to create ads featuring your business, target those ads to a specific group of MySpace users you choose based on demographics information, spend only the money you want based on your budget, and then closely monitor the performance of your campaign with detailed reporting provided through your MySpace Ads account.

Depending on the size and specifications, you can use your own ads or use MySpace’s pre-made ad templates and you never pay more than the budget you originally determine at the outset of the campaign, according to the company.

Businesses on a budget should consider MySpace Ads as an affordable online advertising alternative.

How to Business Schools Don’t Mention

Summary

Outstanding staff performance is most desirable. To obtain it, you need to do lots of little things well each day. But you won’t learn about those little things in business schools. Here’s a list of nine to help you.

  •  Employees And Managers Perceive Things Differently

As the old song says, “Little Things Mean A Lot”. Never forget this. A minor change to some routine or schedule will be seen as a huge disruption. Act on it. Sit down with the aggrieved employee and sort it out.

  •  Go With Harold Arlen And Johnny Mercer

In 1944 Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer had a huge hit with “Accentuate The Positive”. Learn from them. Refer constantly to what employees do well. Always let them know when you value and appreciate their work. Whenever you must point out an error point out something that’s done well too. If you concentrate on mistakes, you’ll get more mistakes.

  •  Stress What You Want, Not What You Don’t

I recently heard a “cry for help” from a manager who had an “absence problem”. She was constantly frustrated by employees taking unauthorized absences. Her solution was to establish an “absence policy”: a policy to cover something she didn’t want to happen. Surely her efforts should have been directed at creating enthusiastic and committed employees. Wouldn’t it be preferable to “put systems in place that make it impossible for employees to fail?”

  •  Make Employees Responsible For On Job Performance

Do not have staff who specialize in “checking up”. Matters such as customer service, quality and expense control are the responsibility of every employee. If you use specialists to “check up” on those things, you’re telling your employees that they shouldn’t bother as the specialists will find errors.

  •  It’s What You Do, Not Say

“I’ve told ’em a million times” is a common complaint of managers. May I remind you that employees take far more notice of what you do than what you say. That’s the reality. If your desk is a mess, don’t expect your employees’ desks to be any different. If you make a habit of “long lunches”, don’t expect employees not to. They’ll do what you do, not what you say. Your job is to make it relatively simple for employees to give you what you say you want.

  •  Emphasize Performance Not Behaviour

To quote performance guru, Tom Gilbert, “Performance is what you leave behind. Behaviour is what you take with you”. We know that Michael Jordan was a great basketballer – and a just above average baseballer – because of his performance in those sports. Don’t let employees’ behaviour ruin your judgement of employee performance. This is a common management error.

  •  Keep Interference To A Minimum

Employees want clear direction. They want to know exactly what performance you expect and how it’ll be measured. Set the standards, establish the systems, provide the resources and set the deadlines. Then get out of the way and let them “get on with it”. Be available to help if asked. Constant interference tells your employees that you really don’t expect them to do well.

  •  Encourage Effective Teamwork

Recognize that while we employ individuals, they’ll only be fully effective as team members. Look for ways to help employees co-operate effectively with each other. You will not achieve this by helping them to “get on well” together. “Getting on well” is an outcome of effective team performance not a prerequisite for it. You’ll create great teamwork by clarifying roles and goals of teams and individuals.

Best Event Marketing Strategies

If you are willing to know some of the best event marketing methods, you might search up the internet and know the entire ifs and buts of event marketing and management, but it’s better to understand the experiences first. When it comes to marketing tips for events, you don’t need to follow the old rules that are no longer applied but should go out to search for better experiences to work for your event. As we all know, with the grace of social media, marketing and promotional side of event is already taken good care of, making it much more easy and convenient to circulate the information to all. You need to keep a check that your event should reach to the right people at the right time so as to make sure you have utmost registration and participation.

So in case you are about to plan your next event, here are some rules and guidelines that can work wonders for you:

  • Try to think a step ahead of everyone. The best marketing strategy that all the event management companies should do is to plan ahead. If you are not having a year to get started, a few months of planning can also make a huge difference. You can make an effective use of this time and make the best editorial and promotion for your event.
  • You need to establish your social standing to the public. If you want to stand out with the event, you need to make sure to have enough audience in your event. Not only the audience that are going to turn up at your event, you need to make sure it generates enough testimonials, videos, subscribers so that the world can be an audience for you.
  • You can blog about it because content speaks more than anything and creating a blog regarding the focus of the event will attract traffic and generate new registrations. The blog basically presents a focus on the event and discusses the purpose, educational aspects and main objective behind that event.
  • Make sure to limelight all the associates and the sponsors of the event. It makes a great impression on the audience as well as the sponsors of the event if you put the spotlight on them and make people aware of their contribution. This can ensure long term contract with the sponsors and can make effective links.
  • Experiential marketing focuses more on ads and circulate them on social media for better publicity and advertisement. We have social media like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn that present reasonable ways to get in touch with targeted audience. Experiential marketing companies are expert in these methods.

If you follow the tips for perfect event marketing, it equals to a job that’s done perfectly. If you are not certain about where to begin and how to coordinate things at the same time, you need to get some expert guidance and get in touch with the event marketing companies for guaranteed success. You just need to have faith on these tips and the courage to follow them well.

 

How to Business Management Services

Keeping customers happy at all times is the key to business success. Your reputation depends on how happy your customers are; so the quality of the products and services is essential. There are various ways to achieve this, and it can be done by offering great deals and rewarding loyal customers, as well as having a helpful and convenient customer service line. Other tactics can include resolving queries, such as refunds and returns, as well as offering help and advice for breakages and repairs when a product stops working. This may involve keeping spare parts at hand to send them to the customer for any repairs needed.

Spare parts management is an important aspect considered by many businesses, as they need to ensure that the right spare part and resources are available to the customers in the correct place and at the correct time, when required. Spare parts are additional parts that are sometimes needed for a functional object, for example, a car, a boat or an engine, which may be used to repair damage caused.

Spare parts are not always available, due to additional costs that the business may face for stocking these. Customers might not need these parts and storage can be expensive, as keeping an inventory of such parts also incurs extra fees. Parts may also not be available when they are needed from such a supplier. Companies do need to keep spare parts at hand as and when customers require them, otherwise their satisfaction level could drop, and the customer may need to wait a long time to fix their item. Businesses should, therefore, plan in advance and keep a relevant amount of spare part stock in storage for when it is required. Storage costs will also need to be factored in, so that companies can still maintain a decent profit margin at the same time.

There are many ways to keep your customers happy, which is vital to encourage repeat business and keep them loyal to your brand. Keep your business up to date and provide the latest news and deals to your existing customers to keep them interested and encourage repeat business. Offer a loyalty reward scheme to make customers feel valued and appreciated. At the same time, you should try to attract new consumers. It will enable your business to grow year on year and allow you to take over a larger market share above any of your competitors.

The world of business is constantly changing, and competition is fierce. Keeping up with the latest consumer trends and meeting these needs is essential to staying fresh and innovative. Implementing a robust marketing plan is vital to business success and growth. This may include both traditional methods such as flyering, posters and door to door leaflet distribution, as well as some newer techniques. For example, email marketing, mobile ads and social media campaigns have become the latest promotional strategies in the world of business. These can also be combined with billboards, television commercials and radio ads should your budget allow for this.

How Long Does It Take to Recover from Bankruptcy

The first step, of course, is to take the hard decision of filing for bankruptcy. Although filing is a difficult step to take, the real impact of bankruptcy is felt after the filing process is complete, and the slow and challenging period of recovery starts. But once you are done with the required legal procedures and get discharged of all debts legally, you have a chance to make a fresh start with a clean slate.

Recovering from Bankruptcy

The impact of bankruptcy can follow you up to a maximum period of 10 years. This is because your credit reports can show your bankruptcy status for a maximum of 10 years. But there is a possibility of recovering from bankruptcy much earlier than that by taking good measures to rebuild your credit and improving your credit score. The recovery process can begin as soon as you get discharged of bankruptcy from the court and you have a chance to start afresh. After that happens, your skills and your determination to recover from bankruptcy will be the key factors to decide how long you take to recover completely from bankruptcy. The better your credit scores are, and the more the time gap is since the day of your discharge, the better are your chances of obtaining money from the creditors to start your new business ventures.

Legally speaking, the two types of bankruptcy that you can file for are Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
The credit reports show your bankruptcy status up to a period of 10 years after the discharge. Chapter 7 is the more common type of bankruptcy filed. It involves liquidation of the borrower’s non-exempt property to pay off the debts to his creditors, after which the court may discharge the borrower of all his debts. The court procedures usually take around 70-75 days.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
The credit reports show the bankruptcy status up to 7 years after the discharge. If a person does not want to put his valuable assets like house or car under risk, he can file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, if he fulfills the required eligibility criteria. In this type of bankruptcy, the borrower makes an offer to pay off the debt over a period of 5 years, by submitting a payment schedule to the court. The court procedures usually take around 40-50 days.

Measures to Recover From Bankruptcy

For a quick and safe recovery from bankruptcy, you would need to take sound financial decisions that enable you to improve your credit score at a fast pace. Here are some measures that you can take to recover from bankruptcy:

➤ Check your Credit Reports
After filing for bankruptcy and getting discharged from your debts, obtain your credit reports from the credit report agencies, and make sure all the information mentioned is correct and up-to-date. In case of any discrepancies, get it rectified immediately to avoid any inconvenience in the future.

➤ Timely Bill Payments
Timely payment is of utmost importance if you want to get out of your bankruptcy troubles. Your record of bill payments amounts to 35% of your credit scores. So pay all your bills before or on time, and set your credit score high.

➤ Plan and Improvise
Sit back and plan your expenses, and make changes in your spending habits. Make a list of expenses that are essential like food, shelter, insurance, and child care, and do away with whatever you can. Plan your expenditure for the month in advance based on your income and savings.

➤ Build Financial Security
Make short term and long term financial goals for yourself. Have good control over your expenditure, and avoid spending on things that are not essential. You may also plan to open an emergency savings fund for yourself. To keep your earnings consistent, take up another job and use that money for your emergency savings fund.

➤ Getting New Credit
Apply for a secured credit card by depositing the required money, and make sure to use only a small amount of your credit limit. Ensure timely payment of your credit card bills. This would further improve your credit score and create a good impression on your potential lenders. You would need a credit score of at least 600 or more to better your chances of acquiring credit from the lenders at a good rate of interest.

Tips Marketing for a Small Business

For those who are blessed enough to have already a business positioned in a place where wildlife is visible, it’s a brilliant incentive for clients. Everyone likes to watch wild animals going about their day to day life. The majority of us are excitedly looking forward to the chance to view as wildlife eat. Observing an infant wild animal is an even more incredible pleasure.

As with any important decision that you experienced, where you choose to locate your company is vital to you in the real world and online business dealings. There is no escaping it, the area you want is critical for the premises of your business, it’s so important that choosing just the right spot can certainly help your business be a whole lot more profitable. Keep in mind that it can easily mean gaining particular niche market business coming your way, from clients who are searching for the exact products you’re offering.

Research an area adequately in advance of making your selection. Don’t choose an area that presently features a company with the same primary product as your own. For example, For those who have a donut store, you can expect to make money across the street from a Burger store. It would not be advisable to locate another burger store. That would lower the profits of both stores which will create a pointless competition.

Takeaway food dining establishments are many in some places and are ripe for setting up a gym. Those that live and quite often work in these areas, most likely eat there often too. It seems rational to think then, that these particular individuals would embrace a gym to work off the excessive calorie consumption.

When far too many of the same types of business all opening up to each other, try to find methods to distinguish your business from the rest. Figure out what allows you to be one of a kind, diverse and better. Then simply spread the word about it.

Choosing what type of business you want to have can be a very tiresome task but just keep hunting for ways to offer quality and you will discover something that is perfect for you.

Also in case you are presently running a business the same principles still apply. Search for a strategy to make sure your clients lives become better as well as more stress-free in comparison with your competitors. Believe me on this, considering that over time you will be handsomely rewarded.

The most product sales can be accomplished when the client’s wishes are not just thought of, but also fulfilled. Having the ability to enjoy getting your requirements met is the best solution for a good deal.

Bankruptcy Alternatives Information

In case of unpayable debts, it is essential for a company to explore other options, instead of just filing for bankruptcy. This is important, so that one can avoid the demerits of bankruptcy and explore possible opportunities for debt settlement. It is crucial to understand every debt case separately, as complexities of each settlement process may vary significantly. The cost of bankruptcy is very high, therefore, let us take a look at some alternatives that may help you avoid it.

Debt Consolidated Loans
One of the most effective ways to play safe and reduce chances of bankruptcy is debt consolidation. In this procedure, all your debts are combined together under one category to make the repayment process more simple and less stressful. You’ll be expected to pay only a fixed amount of installment at the end of every month. Hence, slowly and gradually you’ll be able to get rid of the debt. Some of the demerits associated with this alternative is that, it is a time-consuming process. Moreover, getting consolidated loans may not be an easy process, as it requires one to have a very good credit score.

Debt Settlement Programs
There are many debt settlement companies that can help you in reducing the owed debt to consumers. However, you have to carefully choose a firm that is authentic, and doesn’t demand a huge sum of money for helping you in the process. Generally, this is one of the best alternatives for businesses going bankrupt, as large corporate houses have resources and funds to approach big debt settlement firms.

Individual Voluntary Agreement
Through this program, an individual voluntary agreement can be signed with each of your creditors, that will help you pay your debts within a specific time period (generally 6 to 7 years), and through some fixed monthly installments. It is certainly a better alternative for individuals who’re dealing with personal debts.

Budgeting
Budgeting stands out as one of the slowest, but considerably effective process to manage debt. It is undoubtedly one of the most important things that needs to be acted on while making plans for repayment. Most tend to avoid budgeting because there are always other more severe problems around to take care of. But they fail to understand that money management leads to efficiency, which in turn promotes growth.

Consumer Credit Counseling Services (CCCS)
There are several companies that provide effective debt management tips. In the United States, the two main authorities, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) and the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Agencies (AICCA) provide effective credit counseling.

Use Your Negotiation Skills
It is one of the simplest ways to avoid bankruptcy and have debt relief. Although your creditors may not be easy to deal with, you can openly talk to them and request for some time for repayment. You can also inform your creditors about your budget plans, and other ways through which you’re trying to improve your situation.

Ask for Help
If you’re really close to some of your friends or relatives who are financial strong, you can ask for their help. However, ensure that you have a plan to repay their money within a stipulated amount of time, as you wouldn’t want to spoil your relationship with them.

Tips for Choose the Best Digital Marketing Agency

Advice
It is advisable that you get a local agency for the job which will be based near your business location. This will save you a lot of time and effort in traveling to the agency. Communication will also be quick and easy instead of giving instructions and adding confusion on phone or email.

In today’s age of Internet, it has become crucial that you choose a competent digital marketing agency to leverage inbound marketing. It is important that you list down your goals and key result areas for the agency to work upon. You should shortlist a few good agencies and then call them over for a one-on-one consultation. Conduct a comparison of your marketing goals and budget, against the capabilities and offerings of the digital marketing agency. Only then will you be able to select an agency that will best suit your needs, and will result in lead generation. In most cases, you will look for hiring a firm to provide you social media marketing, SEO, SEM, mobile marketing, creating a blog, etc. As these agencies levy heavy charges, choosing a good digital marketing agency which will provide value for money becomes all the more important.

Get Recommendations

Firsthand information is any day better than relying only on the promotional content on the agency’s website. Ask your friends and colleagues from a similar field for recommendations of digital marketing agencies. They will not only make you aware about the strengths of these agencies, but will also tell you about their weaknesses. You can also ask groups on LinkedIn for references of good agencies.

Experience

It is important that they have a considerable amount of experience in catering to the needs of your business. Look for the digital strategy they have implemented for a company that belongs to an industry similar to yours. For example, if you are a manufacturing company, hiring an agency with vast experience in FMCG will be of little use. Also, look at the quality of their work before finalizing the agency.

Capability of People

Ensure that your work is in capable hands. Look at the experience and qualifications of people in the firm. Ensure that they follow world-class procedures and have hired experts in a particular field to look after your work. If you find that the content expert is also heading the SEO and social media team, it should raise a red flag.

Cost

The charges of the service provided will become a crucial factor in deciding which agency will work best for you. You can hire a firm which will provide maximum services for a certain amount. In most cases, you will have to hire the agency on retainership basis and will have to give them retainer fees. Also, do not forget to ask for an itemized invoice for each service they provide. Decide how much fees they will charge for incorporating changes in the work. Try to negotiate the fees. However, remember that a low amount of fees will not guarantee quality work. So, even if a good agency is slightly costlier, go for it.

Up-to-date with Trends

Ensure that the agency you hire is abreast with the latest trends in the digital marketing industry and has the required expertise to incorporate them for you. Do some research on the relevant current trends and question them when they come for a one-on-one meeting. If they look clueless about the innovative trends or do not have substantial expertise in it, think once again about hiring them.

Offerings

Study the package of services the agencies are offering. Know what all they plan to cover. In most cases, they will provide the website design, online marketing, email and mobile web solutions, social media marketing, SEO, SEM, copy and content writing, etc. Try to hire an agency that will provide complete digital marketing solutions and will be a full-service provider. Understand how the agency plans to combine inbound and outbound marketing for maximizing the impact of marketing.

Study Their Marketing

One of the excellent ways to judge an agency is to actually check how they have implemented their marketing. Study their website, blog, and social media pages. Check if they have an impressive and user-friendly website. See how they engage with the followers on their social media pages, how frequently they post, and what kind of content they put up on their pages. Ensure that their blog is updated and has a considerable number of followers. See what are the creative strategies and innovative marketing tools they have employed for reaching out to their target audience through digital media.

Reputation of the Company

Try to find out about the reputation of the digital marketing firm you are going to hire. Do not hire someone who is relatively new in the business. Try to seek the help of seasoned and established players. You can also have a look at league tables to get a comparison of many digital marketing agencies. This will tell you about the general public opinion of the firm.

Measurable Return On Investment (ROI)

Hire an agency that understands that you are hiring them to get the best ROI. One of the wrong ways to judge this is by calculating the number of followers they will get you for your Facebook page, Twitter page, or blog. You must find an agency that will implement the use of digital marketing analytics to measure the response and keep a track on what is working and what is not. This will enable you to take corrective action ASAP and focus more on strategies that will help you maximize your ROI.

Realistic Implementation

While interviewing them, don’t get overtly impressed by the elaborate Internet marketing strategies they put forward. Understand if it is practical for your product and whether you will be able to tap into your target market. Also, look at the cost factor. Remember to hire an agency that understands your goals and provides viable solutions that can be implemented practically to get results.

Portfolio

It is important that the people send you links to their previous campaigns or carry their online portfolio when they come to meet you. If they send over links of their work, you will be able to go through it and base your questions on them. It is important that the portfolio mentions the strategy, target market, implementation, the positive impact, and returns on the project. This will help you judge the agency in a better way.

Testimonials

Do not forget to read the testimonials written by the other clients of the agency. This will also help you to understand the quality of work and service they offer. However, in most cases, the agency will ask them to write testimonials. Hence, this won’t be a vital yardstick to judge the agency, but it will certainly give you an idea about the level and type of clients they deal with.

Read Online Reviews

One of the most credible ways to know about the agency’s standing in the market is to check their BBB rating. In most cases, an established agency will be registered on BBB and you will also be able to read any kind of complaints about them. Also, try to read the reviews of communication and marketing professionals who have worked with them. These reviews are often found on various professional discussion forums.

Ask Them the Right Questions

When you are interviewing the representatives from these firms, it is important that you ask them the right questions. Tell them about your digital marketing goals. Then ask them how they plan to increase the footfall, website traffic, leads, etc. Understand how they will go about implementing social media to garner the necessary publicity and target market engagement. Know how they will implement SEO for all your websites. Understand the kind of allied services they offer like copywriting, design, graphics, etc. Also, know about the turnaround time for work and incorporation of changes.

Sales Forecasting Methods

Sales are very important for any kind of business. An organization uses several sales management and sales techniques to sell their product to the customers. If there are no sales, then the organization cannot survive, be it a product based organization or a customer based organization. But what is sales forecasting?

Sales forecasting is predicting the sales for a particular organization for a particular time period. This is done on the basis of the past and present performance of the organization along with the market conditions. Various statistics, charts and past customer demands are some of the tools that help in forecasting sales. There are certain assumptions too that are taken into consideration while making a sales forecast. A thorough market research helps in forecasting a more realistic figure.

Importance of Sales Forecasting

Every organization needs to think of capital budgeting for a particular year. Capital budgeting is planning where the money of the organization will be invested, and what assets will the organization acquire in a particular year. Sales forecasting helps in this process, and enables the management in arriving at a rough figure of how much of profit can be expected in that year, and how much of that money can be invested by the organization.

It also helps an organization in self assessment. It tells about the various other marketing strategies that can be followed to increase the sales of the organization. The evaluation of the sales in the past and the present, also helps one understand the rank of the organization in competition with the others in similar business.

Any problem in the organizational policies, ways the things are handled in the organization as well as the sales and marketing approach followed by the organization can all be found out during the forecasts and these problems can be attended to before they go out of hand.

New business growth strategies can be devised and implemented with the help of the forecast figures. There can be subsequent increase in the earnings of the organization as a result of good sales forecast. These and several other are the benefits of a forecast and hence, it is vital that you conduct a forecast each year for you organization. Now that you know the importance of sales forecasting, without further ado, let me introduce you to some of the methods for the same.

There are two types of methods, qualitative and quantitative. The techniques mentioned below are the quantitative ways of forecasting sales. These include the use of several complicated algorithms and calculations. There are two approaches which are used in forecasting.

Time Series Approach
Here, as the name suggests, time is taken into consideration. Meaning, the sales of the previous years are considered to make the sales forecast for the current year. The forecast is made based on the past sales that the organization has made and based on that data, a figure for the future is arrived at.

The marketing plans and the advertising followed, and those that are currently being followed can help in arriving at a close to accurate figure. Also, this is one of the popular ways of sales forecasting. One of the sales forecasting models used is the moving average model, which takes into account some changes that can happen in the market at different time periods, which may affect the sales of the organization.

Explanatory Approach
This approach uses certain data to estimate the sales for the year. Working capital and other such statistical data are needed in this approach. This method may involve several complex techniques which will help the organization to arrive at a more accurate figure. This approach would take into consideration the current trends in the market, as well as the ups and downs according to various seasons. The advantage of this method over the earlier method, is that this method takes into account the various changes in the trends in the market, and hence, the figure that you arrive at, may be more realistic.

Whichever from the aforementioned forecasting methods you choose, there are certain things that you need to consider. There should be a reasonable amount of accuracy in the forecast, as you will plan your business your financing based on the forecast. The methods followed should be easy to understand so that the person who is forecasting is comfortable using it.

Internal Controls in Accounting

Internal control is an accounting and auditing term, used primarily to denote the systems designed to help the organization achieve its goals and objectives, by making sure the various structural components of the organization such as hierarchy, management information systems, human resources and the flow of information remains functioning according to established protocol. Another important function of internal control is to minimize the incidence of fraud and mismanagement and to protect the property of the organization, both physical (goods, machinery) and intangible (goodwill, brand name).

Accounting is a system of record keeping and data reporting, however, this data must be checked and re-checked before it can become part of the books of accounts, as they reflect the financial position of the organization to both, the management and the investors. Internal controls ensure that any deviation or error in the information flow is immediately identified and suitable steps taken for its rectification.

Internal control has been defined by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) as a process, effected by an entity’s board of directors, management and other personnel. This process is designed to provide reasonable assurance regarding the achievement of objectives in effectiveness and efficiency of operations, reliability of financial reporting, and compliance with applicable laws and regulations. The definition further explains internal control as:

➤ Internal control is a process. It is a means to an end, not an end in itself.
➤ Internal control is not merely documented by policy manuals and forms. Rather, it is put in by people at every level of an organization.
➤ Internal control can provide only reasonable assurance, not absolute assurance, to an entity’s management and board.
➤ Internal control is geared to the achievement of objectives in one or more separate but overlapping categories.

There are many statutory requirements that have to be fulfilled by companies worldwide. Accounting standards and controls are some of the essential compliances that not only help the companies manage their finances well, but also help them to keep track of liabilities, duties and taxes. The laws regarding internal controls in public corporations are especially stringent due to the fact that public money and the common man’s interest is to be safeguarded with the help of such controls.

Need for Internal Controls

Internal controls of an organization are subject to annual audit, conducted by authorized and certified chartered accountants. The following is a small list of factors that explains the need and audit of such controls.

Maintaining Records
It is extremely essential for any company to keep track of all accounting records and financial statements that are transacted and authenticated by the company in one financial year. This kind of control ensures that the public finances are not misused.

Tax Management
Internal controls are also required to ensure timely payment of liabilities and taxes. These controls are required to uphold the reputation and credit rating of the company. Tax calculations change with every transaction the company makes, in such a case these internal accounting controls are the surest way to maintain order in the books of the company.

Fraud Prevention
As will be discussed later in this article, fraud prevention is an important function of internal controls in any organization. This is in light of the many corporate fraud cases that have come to light in recent times and have caused billions of dollars in losses and the collapse of several Wall Street heavyweights.

Internal Controls and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, 2002

Enacted by the 107th United States Congress in 2002 the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), named after US Senator Paul Sarbanes and US Representative Michael G. Oxley, is a landmark Act which attempts to ensure safety of investors by making it mandatory for all US public companies and accounting firms to abide by certain standards specified in the Act, whereby the accuracy of financial information will be certified for the benefits or investors and auditors. The Act was passed as a result of the massive fraud and embezzlement cases that came to light after the collapse of industry giants such as Enron and WorldCom. These cases resulted in staggering losses to the shareholders and there was a call for stricter control on the reporting of financial data. There are two key aspects of this law which are important to the functioning of internal controls in any organization.

Sarbanes-Oxley Act Section 302

This section of the Act deals with the disclosure controls operating in an organization. Disclosure controls are procedures to be followed when the company declares its financial results, and also to certify the accuracy of the disclosed data. Section 302 puts forth a set of procedures to be followed for financial disclosure and requires a certification by the management that it has followed all necessary internal controls during accounting and the subsequent financial reporting, also that the data so disclosed is correct in all aspects. It ensures responsibility on part of the management of an organization this way. The section has two components, civil and criminal and has various provisions for the reporting of financial data.

Sarbanes-Oxley Act Section 404

Possibly the most important section of the Act, the Section 404 specifies guidelines for the management regarding Internal Control on Financial Reporting (ICFR). The aim of this section is to ensure the standards for ICFR are met by the management and the audit team in charge of preparing the financial statements. An Internal Control Report is the cornerstone of this section as this is the document that the management must prepare for the organization’s annual Exchange Act report. The report is an assessment of the effectiveness of the internal controls of the company and whether they have been functioning in accordance with SOX guidelines. The internal control report is an exhaustive coverage of the various control procedures such as the evaluation of fraud risk and assessing controls involved in the transactions of the organization.

Elements of Internal Controls

There are several elements or policies that are implemented by companies in order to ensure effective internal control:

➤ Segregation of Duties
There are several functions that are always going on in the accounts department of a company, which have to be monitored with the help of internal controls. Segregation of duties is an excellent policy where two different people handle the accounts and physical operation of assets. This policy also involves a series of cross checks and tallies. The double entry system is a very crucial instrument for such a process.

➤ Transactional Authorization
All the transactions are authorized such as the purchase of raw materials, pricing of goods, salary payment to employees and so on. It means that, during sale and purchase, employees need to follow a particular upper and lower limit policy, regarding prices. Moreover, the transactions must be authorized by an officer who has the right to do so, only then will the internal controls matter, otherwise the transaction will be treated as an invalid one.

➤ Documentation and Records
There are several different documentation and records that are stored in the company’s computer systems with the help of accounting software. These systems basically ensure a simple functionality, easier cross checks, and reliable audits. With the implementation of modern accounting methods, which are essentially electronic in nature, internal controls too have to be structured to include this new method of financial reporting. There are several productivity software used by organizations today which log data and maintain detailed records of all transactions that go through the system.

➤ Independent Checks
Internal or external auditors of the company can conduct audits and surprise checks within the organization, in order to ensure that the internal controls are effectively working.
Many directors, owners and managers of companies make public statements regarding the follow-up of internal controls. Public statements also carry the control checklist, that is used by the employees and auditors. It must be noted that internal controls have become a statutory compliance, and directives are issued by the government from time to time for their implementation.

➤ Real-time Controls
Under this the physical controls used for the prevention of theft and mismanagement are covered. These may be the usage of locks, warehouses, gates and other barriers which prevent physical damage or intrusion onto property.

➤ IT Controls
Such controls have gained prominence since the heavy dependency on information systems for business transactions and covers the whole gamut of data protection, from passwords and authorized access, to the management of personnel handling sensitive data and protection of important codes used in production processes.

➤ Fraud Prevention
One of the most important aspects of internal controls in any organization, fraud prevention and its detection is covered extensively under the previously mentioned Sarbanes-Oxley Act. It sets guidelines for organizations to carry out independent assessments of their fraud prevention controls. They can do this by simulating break-ins, thefts and financial manipulation and checking if the existing controls have the ability to detect them in time.

➤ Improvement in Controls
like any other process internal controls in an organization can also be improved by regular monitoring and evaluation. This happens in various ways, one of the most common is the cost-reduction strategies employed by a company to price its products cheaper.

Tips Service Businesses

The amount of SEO content writers available can overwhelm businesses looking for a good writing service to improve their search engine ratings for their website. Business owners are looking for ways to increase traffic to their website, and having good SEO content is the way to go. Many writers claim to be good at writing SEO content, but they do not know anything about it. There are several tips business owners need to keep in mind when they choose a writing company for SEO writing.

Do Not Go Cheap

Since there are thousands of SEO content writers on the internet who claim to write quality articles, you need to look at the price. A good rule of thumb when choosing a good writing service is to look at the price they charge. If they claim they write excellent SEO articles for $3.00, chances are, they are beginning SEO writers or they write poor quality content. Writing content that increases traffic to your website can cost a lot, but you need to know that quality SEO writing will pay itself back in a short time. More traffic to your website means more potential sales.

Ask for Samples

Small business owners often have a limited budget to create a quality website that has good SEO content to boost traffic. When you are looking for good writers, you need to ask for samples of the content they did for previous customers. This shows you they are good writers, and they have good grammar and writing skills. Small business owners need to stay away from those who do not provide writing samples for you to view. You can ask them to write a sample for you to see if their writing is up to your standards for your website.

Do Not Use Freelance Writers

Even though freelance writers are cheap, most of the time you will not like their quality of writing. You get what you pay for. If you spend a couple of dollars per article, you will get poor quality writing. This is often the case. Hiring quality writers cost more, but you will get a return on your investment shortly after you launch your website. Your website is more visible with quality SEO content, and this increases the number of people who click on your website. You will get more sales when you hire a quality writer. Investing in a good writer who knows everything about SEO is worth the money.

Tips Business For Newbies

1. Love What You Do

It’s a good idea to select an area which you already have an interest in, for a number of reasons. You already have some knowledge and expertise in this area which is invaluable and you won’t necessarily be starting from scratch. If you chose an area which is already of interest to you it won’t necessarily feel like work, especially when the going gets tough. No matter which area you chose you will undoubtedly have rough patches, when this happens you are much more likely to persevere because you have an attachment, a vested interest and a passion. If you have no interest you’ll be much more likely to throw in the towel at the first sign of trouble.

2. Prepare a Business Plan

A business plan is not just something which you need to prepare to show to banks for a loan or to investors. A business plan is necessary and useful as it also serves as a guide to operate by. It’s a great way to set goals, measure progress and achievements and keeps you on track with spending. Keep yourself organised and create a folder on your computer where keep your business plan and other relevant documents that you’ll be using regularly, such as an invoice template or your sales documents.

3. Set Realistic Expectations

Don’t expect miracles over night. Searching the internet you’ll find thousands of people claiming to have generated millions over night with one scam or another. Genuine business ventures take time, care and persistent. There is no such thing as easy money or money for nothing, cliche but true, if it were that easy everyone would be doing it. Know that there will be obstacles and difficulties to overcome from the start.

4. Just Do It

The best way to gain knowledge and learn, is by doing. You can read all the books, take all the courses, study and research for years but until you take that first step you’ll never actually know. It’s like learning to drive, you have an instructor by your side in every single lesson with their safety pedals as a back up. You learn all the technicalities of driving but the real learning only starts when you venture out onto the road by yourself. Nothing and no one can prepare you for every eventuality. Research and educate yourself in your chosen field by all means but there will never be a right time to jump in. Even if you take a very small step into your venture, the sooner you get started the sooner you’ll be on your way.

5. Ask yourself Why

Work out why you want to go into business for yourself. You need to have a good list of all the why’s before you get started. This exercise can also be used as your goal indicator. If you’re looking to have more time for yourself for instance, your business venture could take up to a year if not more before you can get a little time for yourself and your family and if that is your main focus you may get disheartened as you begin to build your business, when you realise your free time is not only limited but you have a lot less of it. Starting a new business is not your typical 9-5, it’s more of a start when you wake, finish when your head hits the pillow. If you prepare yourself for this, it won’t be such a shock to the system.

6. Budget and Finance

Looking to set up a business with very little start-up costs isn’t too difficult in this day and age especially on the internet. You may be looking at setting up an online business and the costs of a website are little and nothing but once you have your website, whether you’re selling products or providing a service you need to advertise and whilst your initial outlay may be minimal you have to be prepared to continue this for the life of your business. Will you require help to run things? Do you have marketing skills? Learning about marketing is going to be a fundamental part of your business growth, you can hire someone but if this puts a strain on your budget you may want to look into learning a few key tips yourself.

7. Building your Network

Networking is crucial in business whether online or in person. Every contact is either a potential customer, or may be someone who has advice or inspiration for you. You’ll be surprised by the amount of successful business owners and entrepreneurs who are ready to impart valuable advice and tips and can point you in the right direction for all sorts of services. There are a whole treasure trove of supportive business owners online, you can read blogs, ask questions in forums etc and its all for free.

8. Learning to Adapt

Ensure that you set a realistic budget for everything from your internet connection down to stock or billable hours. Every single penny counts. There’s no point in spending thousands on advertising if you’re not seeing a return, you may have to go back to the planning stages. This is all part of your learning, so test out strategies and don’t be afraid to adapt to the climate. There are all sorts of things that can impact a businesses growth and income and if your business is not responsive to the market or technology for instance this may cost you dearly.

9. Focus

It’s very easy to be side-tracked, there are so many ideas and new ventures out there, so focusing on the goals you first laid out in your business plan are crucial. Focus on one task at a time. You can always make notes for ideas and projects you’d like to take up in the future but remain focused, otherwise you may fall foul of procrastination, looking at lots of different ideas and at the end of the day find you haven’t achieved anything or actually done any work.

10. Believe in yourself

Self-Belief goes a long way, this is not whimsical advice this is fact, if you don’t believe in yourself and your product or service then you cannot expect anyone else to. It may seem difficult especially when starting out but you have to learn to believe in yourself, this will impact every aspect of your business, from creating your Business plan right down to networking. If you don’t believe what you’re doing this will show in everything you do.

Product Managers Struggle To Discover

How important is honesty to a product manager? You would think that this would be a big deal to most of us, right? The thinking goes that if we’re not straight with our customers, they they’ll stop trusting us and they’ll go somewhere else to get the products that they need to solve their problems. However, what would you do if you found out that this wasn’t true? What if you discovered that your customers wanted you to lie to them?

The Problem With Concert Ticket Prices

Welcome to the 21st Century! If you are planning on going to see a live concert, then you are going to need to get your hands on some concert tickets. The way that we do this today is everyone goes online and goes shopping for the best price possible for the event that they want to see. The company that has always dominated the online selling of concert tickets is called StubHub. StubHub, which is owned by eBay, is a key player in the US$6B annual market for concert tickets.

Awhile back the StubHub product managers did exactly what they were supposed to do: they took a survey of their customers. They were looking to find out what part of the ticket ordering process caused them the most grief. It turns out that just about everyone said that they hated the fact that the tickets were priced at a low price until you reached the end of the online buying process and all of sudden how much you were paying shot up as additional fees were tacked on.

Based on what they were hearing their customers tell them, the StubHub product managers decided to make some changes to their product development definition. Under a program that they decided to call “all in”, they changed the prices for tickets that were listed on their website to reflect the final price that someone would end up paying for the ticket. However, when they did this, all of sudden to online shoppers it looked like StubHub’s ticket prices were higher than their competitors. StubHub’s share of the online ticket sales market started to decline. Over time it went from 60% – 70% of the market down to roughly 50%. Clearly something was wrong here and this was not going to look good on anyone’s product manager resume.

StubHub’s Next Steps

The idea behind the “all in” pricing program was a great idea. Since customers had identified separate service charges as being their top annoyance, the natural action for a product manager was to make that problem go away. By showing customer what they would really be paying at all times the customer should be happy, right? In this case, that did not turn out to be the case.

It was pretty clear pretty quickly that StubHub had made a mistake when their customers started shopping at other sites. StubHub had thought that because of their dominant market position, when they created a price that included all charges, everyone else in the market would be forced to do so also. When this happened customers who were shopping for tickets would see roughly the same ticket prices from all vendors. Much to the dismay of the StubHub product managers, this did not happen.

This has left StubHub in a difficult position. Thy tried to do the right thing by presenting their customers with the actual amount that they were going to end up paying. However, their customers have reacted angrily to this honesty and are now shopping at other vendors who are lying to the customers about how much they are going to end up paying for tickets. The StubHub product managers feel that they have no choice: they are going to have to go back to the old way of doing business. They are going to leave a checkbox option on their shopper’s screen that will allow them to see real ticket prices; however, the default is that customers will see lower prices until checkout time where they’ll see their cost shoot up by about 17%.

What All Of This Means For You

As product managers we spend a lot of our time trying to get to better understand our customers just like our product manager job description tells us to do. What we want to know is what parts of our product offering they like and where we can make improvements that will make our products more attractive.

Over at StubHub they sell concert tickets online. Their product managers surveyed their customers and discovered that they didn’t like it when extra charges were tacked on to their concert ticket purchases when they were making a purchase. StubHub created an “all in” program that showed their customers the true price of what they were planning on buying. However, it turns out that once customers saw these higher prices they fled to other websites that listed lower prices and then increased prices during the checkout process. When StubHub’s market share started dropping there was only one thing for the product managers to do: go back to the old way of doing business. Sometimes your customer doesn’t want to know how much they’ll be paying.