• How to Create an Unbeatable Business Structure

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    As I go through this article I’ll show you what I see in large organizations that have caused many customer service problems and also show you what they should have done to avoid those problems. More importantly I’ll show you what you can do now to avoid falling into the same traps.

    AN IMPORTANT CONCEPT.

    I use something called “Event-Driven” concepts in order to obtain many benefits for an organization. Basically “Event-Driven” means focusing on whomever or whatever is your customer. Let me start with a basic premise: All systems we encounter, be they human, computer or in nature, have a fundamental characteristic in common – they’re all “Stimulus-Response mechanisms”. For example: A storm (the Event), produces rain (the Stimulus), which produces erosion (the Response). Over time, the response can be something as significant as the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

    Every organization simply selects a set of Events that it wishes to respond to from the external world; e.g. A customer wants to place an Order or Request your services. Each external need to which the organization responds is called an “Event”. Now, it’s the “Event” happening outside your business that initiated the action that your business takes. For example when a customer wants to buy a product of service from your organization the Stimulus Request may go through a whole bunch of people tasks (even different departments), and/or a bunch of computer programs (even different computer systems). It may be recorded and retrieved in and out of manual files or even computer databases and so on before it becomes an Event Response out of the whole organization. The total set of individual processes, their data and files make up what I call an “Event-Driven Reaction or Partition” – one initiated by the customer. Note the best context within which to view an Event-Driven Reaction is from a whole business point of view rather than from any one person/department or computer program/ system context. Taking this view will also give us the most benefits to the organization.

    Using my example above what appears to be very obvious in this all-too-typical large organization structure is our Event response has been sliced-up (partitioned) for very different reasons than around a customer’s need. In fact the predominant partitioning/structure seems to be based on human skills and computer software package reasons rather than customer focused Event-Driven reasons; the resultant structure even being controlled by a classical military hierarchy, in other words formed from industrial-age and earlier reasons. In an efficient, customer-focused business we must not perpetuate this “fragmented” structure.

  • Top Business Ideas for a Changing World

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    There certainly are a lot of really good business opportunities around and that trend will most likely continue after the current economic crisis settles down a bit. But even when that happens I would suggest that having your own business will always remain more attractive than the idea of working for a boss and good self employment ideas will always be sought after. This has nothing to do with the economic climate but in my opinion it is much more related changes in people’s personal attitude to life. Following are some points on what has caused the changes.

    As the baby boomers where growing up and started raising their families, traditional rules and regulations of behaviour went largely by the board. That had some upsides as well as some downsides. The UP side was that it gave people more freedom and taught them to think for themselves and make up their own minds about work and other personal relationships. This was quite a change from being told what to do by simply following a dedicated path that was almost set out from the date of birth. The place where you were born would often dictate what the employment venues available to you would be.

    The advance of freedom of movement as seen from the start of the baby boomer period has given people many more options and being tied down to the one job for life has become rare instead of the norm. In the early stages of this change people moved from full time permanent positions to contract work. This started specifically in the IT industry but gradually became well accepted in almost any other industry.

    The next step was to move away from any boss/staff relationship by looking at small business opportunities and self employment ideas. This of course was very much encouraged by the advent of well know entrepreneurs who made it big through bringing new and novel things to the public at large. The names that spring to mind immediately of course are people Like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. But in addition to these gurus there are many more people who have built very successful businesses of their own. The internet of course has been a major place for looking for the best business opportunities. Buying and selling on eBay may have started as a hobby for many people but by now there are a lot of people of all ages all around the world who make a very nice living doing just that.

    So how far will true top business ideas stretch in a world where many people would like to start on their own business and traditional job relationships are diminishing by the day?

    That in itself is a very good question to which there is no one single answer. Once upon a time you could run with your self employment ideas and make a good go of it because there wasn’t much competition and hence real business knowledge was not something that you needed to worry about too much. Because of the competition in today’s market place however it has become much more important to be sure of what you want to do with your self employment ideas before you really get going. A certain amount of business education is no longer a luxury that you don’t need to worry about. There generally is no need to get a fully fledged business degree but a small business course that teaches the basics in an easy to understand manner is essential.

  • Business Planning and Visioning

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    I like to think of business planning and visioning a little bit like a road map to success. The process involves a series of exercises that are designed to help you decide how to get your business from the idea stage, to the point where you break even, and start making a profit, and beyond.

    There are many ways to go about business planning and visioning, and, contrary to popular belief, your business plan does not have to be written in any kind of formal language – unless you plan to use it to apply for financing.

    The simplest way to get started on your business plan, is to sit down with a piece of paper and a pen, and start jotting down whatever ideas you have that relate to the business you’d like to run.

    Once you’ve assembled a healthy amount of information on what your business will be about, it’s time to begin the process of creating a structured business plan, but again, this need not be a difficult or technical process. It is simply a means of organising your thoughts about your business into a logical and easy to follow document that will grow with your business, and help you to decide what your next step will be along the way.

    Typically, a business plan is made up of several different sections. These include the executive summary, a general description of your business, your products or services, a marketing plan, an operations plan, a section on the management and organisation of your new business, your personal financial statement, start up and operational expenses, a financial plan and any appendices you may want to add to the document.

    If all that sounds like a lot of technical mumbo jumbo that you are never going to be able to finish, do not worry. Business planning and visioning is not supposed to be a task that you dread, or that makes you want to run away! Take it one step at a time, and take your time to write down everything you believe will be relevant to the start up and running of your business.

  • Small Business Loan – How Important Is Accepting Credit/Debit Cards?

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    Credit cards, just about everybody today uses them and those who don’t (because of less than perfect credit) will usually have a debit card. In other words, more people today use “plastic” instead of “paper money or checks” than ever before. So what does this mean to you, the merchant? It means as far as you doing business – there is literally no option except that you HAVE to accept credit cards as payment, whether you like it or not.

    In most small businesses “plastic” accounts for as much as 75% of their business so if they did not take credit cards they probably would not stay in business long. While true that many entrepreneurs and business owners don’t like the processing fees associated with taking credit cards, they really don’t have a choice. In fact there are petitions in Congress to regulate or stop the overcharges associated with Interchange fees, also known as “swipe fees”. Even with that, businesses still must take credit cards as payment.

    The fact is credit card processing is essential for all businesses for a number of reasons. For instance:

    The ease of use and simplicity for customers makes it advisable for all companies to accept credit and debit cards. When there is a dispute that could result from a lost or misplaced check then that issue can be resolved with the credit card statement or through the credit card issuer.

    Payment processing by credit cards is faster and easier. There is no delay and the business providing products/services receives the payment instantly.

    Paying for goods/services when placing orders by phones involves ease for the customer and additional business for the merchants without the need for face-to-face transaction or being present to give cash or checks. Business can and is being transacted globally and can be conducted by the consumer from anywhere in the world.

    Processing can be provided via a virtual terminal for the credit card payments to be made enabling companies operating via the Internet to receive payments from customers around the world instantly.

  • Common Mistakes That Start-Up Businesses Make

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    No business plan

    Lack of preparation always leads to failure. Create a realistic and achievable business plan. It would be best to consult an online business mentor before creating a business plan as they will be able to guide you as you think through all the issues involved. Advice from a trusted internet business expert will also help you identify the areas in which you need some further training in order to succeed.

    Lack of Market Research

    In reality, not all customers will buy a particular product no matter how enticing its advertising campaign appears to be. Customer targeting is important in any marketing campaign. Knowing your target audience and segmenting them will help you to tailor your message to the needs of your market.

    Insufficient Capital

    Many new business owners neglect the importance of having sufficient capital to stay in business. If you want to survive during the first few months of your business, when realistically you will not have a high level of income, it is necessary to set aside enough cash to meet all your operational and living expenses.

    Excessive Spending

    Many budding entrepreneurs make the mistake of spending when money starts to come in. They are tempted to buy luxurious cars, expensive houses, naturally excited that finally they have “achieved the dream”. However there are no guarantees that income levels will continue improving regularly, and so this is not the time to take risks. Every experienced business owner understands that business building costs can be quite expensive, so early success should be considered a financial foundation for building towards greater success. It’s important to spend modestly as you build a sustainable business.

    Hiring the wrong people

    Your employees should be chosen because you recognize that they have skills or strengths that will help your business move forward. There is no fool-proof process for hiring the right people, especially when you have a limited budget. Start by recognizing your personal strengths and weaknesses in business. What skills and strengths does your business ideally need to move forward successfully? List these, then put them in order of importance. This will indicate to you the skills and personality traits you need to be looking for in your employers.

    Poor Management

    This element ranks high among the reasons for the failure of many small online businesses. It may cover anything from the lack of ability to manage people, financial aspects, marketing or customer management. Many governments offer free support for small business, so seek this assistance in your local area.