Corporate Social Responsibility in Banks – What Does It Mean?

Over the past few years, a rising emphasis has been placed on companies and financial institutions’ Corporate Social Responsibility. But what does Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)” mean anyway? This is indeed one of the most frequently asked questions for all those dealing with CSR matters.

CSR is also known as corporate responsibility, corporate citizenship, responsible business, sustainable responsible business (SRB), or corporate social performance. Different organizations have developed different definitions and there is large common ground between them.

A simple definition refers to CSR as how companies and financial institutions take into consideration the impact on society of their operational activities. Consequently, it requires a built-in, self-regulating mechanism whereby businesses would monitor and ensure their adherence to law, ethical standards, and international norms to produce an overall positive impact on society.

It is not surprising to see that CSR is subject to considerable amount of debate and criticism. Advocates argue that businesses benefit in many ways by operating with a perception broader and longer than their own immediate, short-term profits. Opponents argue that CSR diverts from the basic economic role of business; others argue that it is nothing more than superficial window-dressing;

Largely, the banking industry in the Middle East does not realize the central importance of having a defined CSR policy. Many banks do not fully understand the worth of CSR.

There are obvious and real gains on hand for banks which have well-designed and successful CSR strategies. They can promote their profile in the community they serve, enhance local, and cross-border economic performance, and enable community development, at the same time strengthening their profitability.

CSR focuses more on how companies and financial institutions can contribute through their core business, in addition to traditional charitable donations.

CSR and Project Finance

CSR practices are often implemented in banks’ core business, which are credit and investments. Project finance is one of the methods to get capital for investment opportunities.

Banks consider how to fairly balance the risk and interests of the various participating parties, including protecting the interest of those who are directly and indirectly affected – specifically the local community that reside within or close to the area impacted by the project.

It is recommended that banks recognize their responsibility to prevent or limit social and environmental harm that may have been caused by activities financed by them; they need to adopt appropriate analysis and verification procedures.

Banks have impact on the environment directly and indirectly. Lending and investments activities have an indirect impact on the environment. Therefore, banks should be encouraged to consider environmentally-friendly purposes in their credit decisions. To this end, banks may offer incentives to credit facilities for “green” investments such as improving a buildings’ insulation or more efficient lighting systems which use alternative energy sources. The bank may apply less stringent rules in relation to collaterals or offer discounted loans to such clients for these types of investments.

There are approaches that explore how banks are linking the traditional credit risk assessment with the borrower’s environmental risk assessment. In other words a bank can assess the environmental credit risk of the borrowing customer and then factor in the results of this assessment at some stage of the creditworthy assessment process.

Community involvement

Community involvement is the basis of all accomplished CSR policy initiatives and extends far beyond the standard charitable measures. Banks should introduce innovative schemes such as:

– permanent learning programs for disadvantaged sectors of society;

– sponsorship of young entrepreneurs;

– provision of academic scholarships and research proposals;

– support environmental issues such as recycling and waste management;

– community support programs;

– health support programs;

– financial support for art and culture;

Banks may also support non-governmental organizations engaged in drug prevention measures for the youth with a mentorship and parental training programmes. Bank employees can be mentors for pupils at the senior level of the compulsory school during one school year.

Awareness and Transparency

It is essential that there should be a transparent and strong commitment to adoption of CSR practices. This can be reached through explicit reference to CSR activities adopted by banks through the following means:

– dedicating sections of Annual Reports to CSR matters;

– publishing of Sustainability Reports and/or policy statements on CSR; and web-based information.

It should be noted that corporate sustainability for banks is much more than mere charity. In this context, banks are encouraged to improve the future of the people in all communities they operate through CSR programmes, which in turn will sustain their business in the future.

In Europe, a dramatic change has been in the type of CSR reporting which has changed from simply environmental reporting to sustainability (social, environmental and economic reporting which has now become typical among top listed companies). There has been an increase in the number of companies publishing CSR information as part of their annual reports.

Banks and the Environment

Just like other business sectors, the business of banking has a direct impact on the environment through consumption of paper, energy, waste management and means of transport used. Direct environmental impact can be reduced by keeping environmental order in banks themselves, through limiting the consumption of energy and paper, ensuring good waste management and requiring suppliers’ to conform to environmental standards. A bank can minimize the impact in a systematic manner through implementing an environmental policy; it can even go further and apply for environmental certification in accordance with ISO 14001.

The ISO 14001 is a standard for environmental management systems that is applicable to any business. It aims to reduce the environmental footprint of a business and to decrease the pollution and waste a business produces.

Good examples from the banking sector include Deutsche Bank, Barclays Bank and Alpine Bank of Colorado. They have constructed a comprehensive Sustainability Management System in accordance with ISO 14001 and permitted an independent certification agency to monitor their commitment in the field of sustainability by making sure they comply with the requirements of ISO 14001 standard.

Financial Inclusion

The market in which banks operate today requires new range of products targeting new customer segments including groups who are not yet fully integrated in society, and not dealing with banks such as temporary workers, low-income families, and micro businesses operating in poor areas of the country.

This situation represents for banks a challenge in terms of designing suitable products for these distinct segments, and the opportunity to develop a new type of business beneficial to all. Some good examples of responding to the challenge would be microfinance and financial education.

Banks are encouraged to promote financial education projects involving different target groups. This is achieved in two ways. Firstly, by concluding agreements with strategic partners which are recognized by the target groups in order to inform them better on financial services and products which they will use in their daily life. Secondly, by developing contacts with the local authorities towards certain target groups. These target groups include primary schools, secondary schools, higher education, universities, and the general public world.

Some initiatives involve surveys which provide insight into the challenges and opportunities related to financial literacy in the target groups of children, teens, students and young adults. Another consists of developing new products, educational materials and events intended to stimulate financial skills and knowledge. Perhaps the best example is an educational website with fun, online exercises for children, tips and advice for parents on how to educate children financially.

Conclusion

The key factors for a successful CSR policy can be summarized as follows:

– Continuous support of senior management and all staff

– Reporting CSR – internally and externally, on a long-term basis, with regular reviews

– Include CSR as integral part of corporate strategy of the bank

The advantages for banks in adopting well-designed CSR initiatives lie in the following areas:

– Encourages sustainable behavior by customers;

– Supports development of separate business models for various segments;

– Provides real benefits for the society as a whole;

– creates higher employee motivation, and superior performance levels;

– Makes banks more aware of their potential role in society;

– Creates positive publicity and/or increased brand recognition.

Hany Abou-El-Fotouh is Director Policy & Corporate Affairs / Board Secretary, CI Capital Holding – the investment banking arm of Commercial International Bank which is the largest private bank in Egypt. He provides advice and direction to the Board and management with respect to corporate governance practices and formulates corporate policies.

 

Where To Get Money For a Franchise Idea

How often have you thumbed through a business opportunity magazine, noticed a franchise opportunity advertisement, and felt you’d really like to get in on that…if only you had the money? If you’re like most who are seeking greater opportunity and wealth, this probably happens with you more often than you care to admit, except perhaps in strictly private conversations.

When the average person sees one of these opportunities, or comes up with a similar idea of his own, the problems of start-up capital may seem formidable. But in reality, they may not be. In fact, just about anyone with a good credit record and an “insider’s sense of business” can get the capital he or she needs, whenever it’s needed. The secret is in knowing how to put together a proper proposal, and to present it to the right per son. These are the “how-to” instructions we’re going to give you in this report.

The first thing you’re going to need is a complete business plan. This is a complete and detailed description of exactly how you intend to operate the proposed business. Your business plan should detail precisely the product or products you plan to sell; how you’re going to produce or manufacture the product; your costs (inventory costs if you’re purchasing them from a supplier); who is going to sell those products for you; how they’re going to be sold; the attendant costs; when you expect to recoup your initial investment; your plans for growth or expansion; and the total dollar amount you’re going to need to make it all work according to your plan. Your business plan must be detailed – complete with projected income and expense figures – through at least the first three years of business.

Now, assuming you have your business plan all worked out, put together and ready for presentation with your request for capital, let’s talk about your capitalization proposal.

First, keep in mind that whenever you ask somebody for money, whether it’s for a small personal loan or a large amount of money to finance a business, you’re involved in a selling situation. You have to prepare a “sales presentation” just as if you were getting ready to sell an automobile or refrigerator. Within this sales presentation you must have all the facts and figures; you must anticipate the questions and the possible objections of the prospective lender with answers or explanations; and you must “package” it as impressively as you would yourself for an audience with the president of IBM or General Motors.

The more money you ask for, the more “in-the-know” will be the people you want to borrow from, and so the more detailed and organized your proposal must be. This shouldn’t cause you too much worry however, because you can hire a CPA to help you put it together properly, once you’ve got the facts and have a business plan he can work from.

Look at it this way: The more money you request for your business, the more your lenders or prospective investors are going to want to know about you, your planning, and your business. They want to be impressed with the fact that you’ve done your homework; they want to see that you’ve researched everything and documented your facts and figures; they want to be assured by your presentation that investing in your business will make money for them. It’s just that simple at the bottom line. Unless you can instill confidence in them with your business plan and loan or investment proposal, they’re just not going to give much positive thought to your request for capitalization.

So you’ll need a balance sheet describing your net worth – the worth of what you own compared to the amount of money you owe. You’ll also have to prove your stability and money-management talents relative to how successful you’ve been in paying off past obligations. If you have had credit problems in the past, get them “cleaned up”, or at least explained on your file at your local credit bureau office. Under the law, credit bureaus are required to give you all the information they have about you in their files, and it’s your right to correct any errors or enter explanations regarding negative reports on your credit. Do this without fail because prospective lenders or investors will definitely check your credit history.

So, now you have your balance sheet prepared; your credit history organized in a light that’s favorable to you; your business plan (with costs and income projected over the coming three years), you’re ready to start looking for lenders or investors.

Almost all franchisors offer help in setting up with one of their franchises. Most will go out of their way to assist you in getting the financing you need. Some will lend you the entire amount, with payments coming out of the income they expect you to make from their franchise operation. Many will carry this loan themselves, while others will carry part of it and find you a lender to finance the remainder.

Franchisors have two objectives in mind when they offer franchises to the public: They are trying to expand their operation, thus increasing their profit, and they are trying to raise capital for themselves. Generally speaking, if you have a good credit history, and if they feel you have the necessary business personality to achieve success with one of their operations, they’ll do everything within their power to get you in a franchise outlet. Keep this in mind the next time you see an advertisement for a promising franchise opportunity requiring a substantial amount of cash outlay. You don’t necessarily have to have all the money. They want you, and they’ll help you!

Many people seem to be unaware that most of today’s largest corporations started on a shoestring – on borrowed money. Many people seem to feel that unless they’ve got it all “in hand” in savings, then they’ll just have to keep plugging away until they can save up enough to take the big plunge. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Just a quick bit of research will show that 999 out of every 1,000 businesses were begun on borrowed money.

Look to your family and friends for financial help. Approach them in a business-like manner; tell them about your idea or plans, and ask them for a loan. Agree to sign a formal statement to pay them back in three, five or ten years, with interest.

When you have your proposal assembled, you might even want to think of a limited partnership or even a general partnership arrangement as a way to finance your project. In any kind of partnership, each partner shares in the profits of the company, but in a limited partnership, each person’s loss liability is limited to the amount of money he initially invested. The truth is, in this kind of a situation, you’ll be doing all the work and sharing your gain with your partners, but then it’s a fairly sure way to obtain needed financing.

Another common method of obtaining business financing is through second mortgage loans on a home or existing piece of property. Say you purchased a home ten years ago for $35,000, and today the assessed valuation is $85,000, with a mortgage of $25,000 still outstanding. A lender may consider your home to be security or collateral for a loan up to $60,000. In many instances, this is the easiest and surest way of getting the money needed for franchise or other business investment. And, it makes sense; you’ve got “net worth” available that is doing nothing but sitting there. Take this equity and invest it in a worthwhile business, and you could double or triple your net worth each year for the rest of your life.

Deciding to obtain a second mortgage on your home in order to finance a business opportunity is without doubt a major decision, but if you are sure about your investment project, and are determined to succeed, you owe it to yourself to go ahead. You could incorporate yourself, borrow money from your family through a second mortgage on your home, and protect against the loss of your home through the Federal Home stead Act. The important point here is that all business opportunities involve risk and sacrifice. It’s up to you to determine the feasibility of your success with your proposed venture, then decide on the best way possible to proceed.

In every instance where you run into reluctance on the part of a lender to lend you the money you need, explore the feasibilities of “two-name” or “co-signed” loans. You can have the franchisor sign with you, or one of your suppliers, a business associate or even a friend. Oftentimes you can borrow or rent collateral such as stocks, bonds, time certificates, business equipment or real estate, and in this way give greater confidence to the lender in you r abilities to repay the loan. Whenever you can show a contract from someone who has agreed to purchase a certain number of your products or services over a specified period of time, you have another important piece of paper that most lenders will accept as collateral. Still an other possibility might be to get a bank or a firm that has loaned you money in the past to guarantee your loan. They simply guarantee that they’ll lend you money in the future if ever the need should arise.

Going straight to you neighborhood bank, applying for a business loan and walking out with the money is just about the most unlikely of all your possibilities. Banks want to lend money, and they must lend money in order to stay in business, but most banks are notoriously conservative and extremely reluctant to lend you money unless you have a “regular income” that “guarantees” repayment. If and when you approach a bank for a business loan, you’ll need all your papers in order – your financial statement, your business plan, credit history and all the endorsements you can get relative to your succeeding with your planned enterprise. In addition, it would be a good idea to take along your accountant just to assure the banker that your plan is verifiable. In the end, you’ll find that it all boils down to whether or not the bank officer studying your application is sold on you as a good credit risk. Thus you must impress the banker – not only with your proposal, but with your appearance and personality as well. In dealing with bankers, never show an attitude of doubt or apology. Always be positive and sure of yourself. However, don’t come on so strong to them that you’re either demanding or overbearing. Just look good, know your stuff, and project an attitude of determination to succeed.

Your best bet, in attempting to get a business loan from a bank, is to deal with commercial banks. These are the banks that specialize in investment loans for going businesses, real estate construction, and even venture programs. Look in the yellow pages of your telephone or business directories; call and ask for an appointment with the manager; and then explore with him the possibilities of a loan for your project. One of the “nice things” about commercial banks is that even though they may not be able to approve a loan for your business ideas, they will almost always give you a list of names of business people who might be interested in looking over your proposal for investment purposes.

A lot of commercial banks stage investment lectures and seminars for the general public. If you find one that does, attend. You’ll meet a lot of local business people, some of whom may be able to and interested in helping you with your business plans.

When you’re looking for money to move on a business deal, it does not really matter where the money comes from, or how it all comes about. It’s important that you get the money, and at terms that are suitable to you. Thus, don’t overlook the possibilities of an advertisement for a lender or investor in your local papers. Place your ad as well in national publications reaching people looking for investments. Other avenues to seriously consider are foundations that offer grants, local dental and medical investment groups, legal investment groups, business associations, trust companies and other groups or organizations looking for tax shelters.

Basically, it isn’t a good idea to go to a finance company or other commercial lender of this type for a business loan. The most obvious reason is the high interest rates you have to pay. These companies borrow money from larger money lenders, and then turn around and lend it to you at a higher interest rate than they pay. Herein lies the means by which they make money from granting loans to you. The more it costs them to provide the money for you, the more it’s going to cost you to borrow their money. The only element in your favor when borrowing from one of these agencies is that most will generally lend you money against collateral other lenders just won’t accept. Insurance companies, pension funds, and commercial paper houses are not too out of sight with their interest rates, but they generally will not even consider talking to you unless you’re requesting $500,000 or more. They’ll also pretty much require that your business proposal be backed by the best possible plan.

Finally, the bottom line is this: You must have a well-researched and detailed business plan; you must have all your documents and projections put together in an impressive presentation; and then, you will have to be the one who does the final selling of your proposal to the investor or lender. This means your appearance, personality and attitude, because – make no mistake about it – before anyone lends you any size able amount of money, they’re going to want to take a close look at you personally before they hand over the money.

Actually, the different ways of financing a franchise opportunity are as many and varied as your own creativity. The sources of obtaining money are virtually limitless, and available to anyone with an idea.

One word of caution before you jump into any franchise purchase agreement: The price you pay to participate in a franchise operation is not always the total cost involved in getting the business off the ground. With some franchise operations, you may find other costs such as down payments on the purchase of property, building construction costs, remodeling or site improvements, equipment, fixtures, signs, advertising, and training. Virtually all franchise deals require that in addition to the purchase price or the license fee of the franchise, you’re required to give a certain percentage of your gross business income to the franchisor, plus extra payments for promotion and administrative costs. Above all else, before you get involved in a franchise, or any business venture for that matter, make sure you’ve conducted a complete and thorough investigation of the opportunity presented. If it’s a good deal, then go with it; but if you have any doubts or feel as though you’re getting in over your head, back off and look around for something not quite so ambitious, or perhaps expensive.

There are a lot of good franchise opportunities, and some not so good. It’s important that you be sure of what you’re investing in, and that you can make money with it. From there, preparing the proper business plan and the necessary financing, while not always a snap, can be done. Now’s the time to do it! We wish you outstanding success with your franchise business.

 

Discovering The Best Suited Program For Affiliate Marketing Will Take A Little Digging

Affiliate marketing online is one of the hottest home based business choices you can find. Along with some fundamental coaching, you could simply set up an affiliate online business to get going in a couple of weeks. Affiliate programs are the most effective way for you to offer somebody else’s goods or services and even earn money from it. Marketing with an affiliate program is actually the best way to sell on the web with no need of getting hip-deep with products.

All you have to do is to advertise the service or product on the web (that includes web pages, emails, discussion boards in addition to paid advertising). The organization then accounts for the product; they will process all the payments, ship the item, and even handle just about any grievances. You provide the promotion and get the commission. As an example, lets say you own an Internet site providing people with information about Jazz Songs. You could potentially insert affiliate website links to items related to Jazz Music, Compact disks, download sites, and so forth, in your Internet site. Whenever your visitors select your links they’ll navigate to the website that you are marketing and advertising. Whenever they buy, you will be paid a fee. Not bad for just offering information and facts.

You will find affiliate marketing programs pretty much everywhere these days. A good method to uncover programs you’d like to join will be by simply performing a search concerning your selected subject. Discover what precisely your competition is doing for a place to start. The particular affiliate networks including Click Bank and Commission Junction are great areas to look also. Start looking just about anywhere you shop online. Search the sites for the phrases affiliate or maybe partners. You are going to rapidly see right now there are almost no stores on the Internet nowadays who don’t have some form of affiliate marketing program. If you are planning to build a site or even a blog, you should most certainly possess affiliate links.

After you register for the chosen affiliate program, you will receive your very own Identification number. Any time you insert your website link to the actual site you happen to be advertising on your site, you will use a URL address that includes your unique identification number. Everyone which buys something by using your individual link, racks up commissions for you. These kinds of commissions are paid out determined by the actual pay out routine of the specific program.

There are a variety of products that teach you the nuances of establishing your own affiliate Internet business. While this actually is one of the greatest techniques for getting up and running online, you also have to have the right information. With the information we have offered here you can get up and running, although, if you would like to bring in the big bucks you may have to invest a little money to get one of the more superior affiliate marketing courses that you could locate online. In terms of purchasing a guide or maybe a training course to be able to understand all of the nuances of affiliate marketing online, ensure that you will not find yourself investing way too much cash. Right now there are lots of courses that you can find on the net that will show everyone exactly how to begin, nevertheless you should not be forced to pay in excess of one hundred dollars to discover the knowledge which you will want.

While a good many programs contain all the information, there are several programs on the web which go in to in-depth detail about producing money with affiliate marketing. You might need to pay a tad bit more than you wanted to, but in the long run it will be well worth it.

 

Search Engine and Social Media Marketing: Essentials for Business Owners to Know

Let’s assume for a moment that you own a business and want to go about getting people to find it online via search engines. And we’ll also assume that you want to promote awareness about your business via social media venues such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, etc. It is all-too-easy to become immersed in the sea of acronyms and conflicting information related to search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), and Social Media Marketing (SMM). Often, freelancers and self-proclaimed marketing “experts” even misuse the terms and take important concepts out of context. Add to it the fact that Google endlessly changes their algorithms that determine search engine rankings, and from one month to the next the applicability of the information changes. For the non-technical business owner whose goal it is to spend hard-earned money on a well-targeted campaign for online success, the whole mess of terminology and conflicting information can be exasperating– and perhaps even intimidating.

Let’s put it all into relatively plain language that any beginner can grasp. If a word or two eludes you, don’t worry too much. You’ll get the overall concept. Once you have the basics down pat, you can “graduate” to learning more about each topic in more detail.

Here we go:

Search Engine Optimization, called “SEO”, is a preparatory process of making your website “optimized” for the search engines to properly index the content. When we optimize content for the web, there are some “rules of thumb” that we follow, and there are some absolutes that we follow as prescribed by Google’s own “best practices” standards which Google is kind enough to publicly make available to anyone who cares to do it right. Doing it right is affectionately referred to as “white” hat SEO. Doing it wrong or with the purpose of manipulation and/or exploitation is labeled as “black” hat SEO, much as white and black were colors of hats used in old western movies to represent “good guys” and “bad guys” respectively.

PREPARING the site for proper indexing via proper SEO is the first step in effectively marketing the site. As recently as the year 2010, SEO and SEM were lumped together collectively under the term “SEO”, but since that time, the two disciplines have really come into their own respective realms of strategies, techniques, and methods. SEO is “passive” but essential to the marketing process. It’s very important that a website is optimized well, but not “OVER-optimized”, which is a term used to describe sites that are intended to manipulate search engine results.

Periodically Google makes changes to the rules that website managers (webmasters and marketing people) are to follow. Minor changes are often unnamed, but major changes are typically named to call attention to them, and to categorically address the types of changes being made so web professionals can “talk the talk” and be on the same page with respect to what types of marketing efforts are affected. Some of the Google names for their algorithm changes, for example, are “Caffeine”, “Panda”, and “Penguin”. Cute as these names sound, they each encompass a set of rules and criteria that are affected by the change. For instance, the most recent Penguin 2.0 change will impact over-optimized sites in the search engine rankings.

Optimization generally involves adjusting text and link characteristics of a website to include text position, keyword choices, site structure, page titles, keyword density, keyword dilution, and many additional considerations. That’s where the rules-of-thumb and absolutes come into play. Again, Google provides pretty clear guidance on what’s acceptable and what are considered no-no’s.

SEM is Search Engine Marketing. It’s the active process of promoting a site on the search engines. If a site is marketed without first being optimized to some extent, then the site is being promoted without being properly prepared, sort of like broadcasting a TV commercial without editing it to clean it up.

SEM comes in two basic flavors: subscribed and organic.

Subscribed SEM includes things like pay-per-click, pay-per-impressions, pay-per-placement, etc. Sites that use paid links to promote the site will take a hit with Penguin 2.0 if the links are determined to be spammy links.

Think of subscribed SEM as similar to term life insurance: you’re “covered” as long as you pay your premiums (assuming ethical link sources), but when you discontinue your monthly payments, your search engine presence from subscribed marketing sources simply goes away, just like a term policy lapses if you quit paying your premiums.

Organic SEM, on the other hand, is achieved by creation of additional, independent web content such as blogs, articles, online press releases, videos, directory submissions, landing pages (not “doorway” pages), proper page mapping, and many more elements of unique, original content. Each of the organic marketing content must also be optimized prior to employing them for marketing purposes. You can see where this can become a time-involved process.

Organic SEM is not a “busy work” effort to put a bunch of junk up on the web with keywords and links. It involves creating value-added content that is appealing and useful to people who do keyword searches for the topics you want your site to be found under, so there is dual relevance: Information for people, and keyword merit for search engines to sink their teeth into. The marketing content must be original, meaningful, and unique. The value of the organic SEM to your business is that there is a connection of links that point from one source to another, funneling traffic to your site and elevating your site’s rankings in search engines due to quality link merit as well as the resulting traffic component of the web content. Again, there are rules-of-thumb and some absolute “dos and don’ts” related to organic SEM. Think of organic SEM more like a whole-life insurance policy– There are costs to do the marketing, but over time the accumulation of the original, independent web content doesn’t go away, and the end result is often times PERMANENT (or relatively solid) staying power for your website and content-much like how in a whole life policy, the cash value eventually generates enough interest to cover the premiums.

The up-side to subscribed SEM is that it’s relatively instantaneous, though typically more expensive. The down-side is that it is short-lived for the money you spend. It goes away as fast as it started.

The up-side to organic SEM is that (if it is done properly) it is effective in producing long-term, residual results that drive a positive return on investment while saving money. The down-side is that it can take longer to get established depending on market saturation, industry type, geo-targeting, and several other factors.

BIG caution here: The SEO/SEM and SMM fields are ridden by fraud and deception. Since it’s essentially advertising, there’s no ethical guarantee that a service provider can legitimately make for specific page placement or results. If you think about it, that makes sense. There are only 10 organic spots on Google’s page 1 for a given set of keywords. So assuming that there are more than 10 companies worldwide (as well as other content that relates to your industry) that do what you do, and assuming that at least 11 of them are also paying for marketing, how can an SEO/SEM provider “guarantee” page 1 results for a particular search term? In short, they can’t– Not ethically, at least. But that doesn’t stop many of the THOUSANDS of freelancers and SEO companies out there from making “empty promises in the dark”.

Even subscribed marketing isn’t guaranteed. Someone else can potentially come along and be willing to pay more money for the spot you want. Regarding SEO and SEM, in a nutshell, it’s “buyer beware”. Everyone wants your money. Trust no one based on just their say-so. You need to be comfortable and confident in the relationship with the provider you choose, as well as the track record they’ve established with other clients. The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. Don’t make the mistake that many business owners do and make an emotional “buy” decision based on a sales pitch full of promises. Talk is cheap. Make sure whoever you are considering is able to show you meaningful results from a portfolio of other clients. Lots of people read a book and can “talk the talk”. Remember: this is YOUR business and YOUR marketing dollars… so the provider you pick needs to prove themselves to earn YOUR confidence.

Okay, end of sermon.

On to Social Media Marketing:

The old expression, “word of mouth is the best form of advertising”, has been a universal truth forever. People are much more inclined to buy based on the unsolicited or trusted advice of friends & family than they are from a paid ad intended to persuade or sway opinion. Our physical world has a parallel world online: banking, dating, shopping, etc. Think of Social Media Marketing (SMM) as word-of-mouth online. Developing an audience of fans, friends, and followers via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. allows you to build RELATIONSHIPS with clients. That means creating a following of people who become interested in the “stuff” you post as it relates to their culture and their interests. The problem comes with many social media marketing companies (or at least that’s what they label themselves as, since it’s a big money-maker) who try to use social media as a point-of-sale. If every post, every pin, and every tweet is some kind of spammy, self-promotional solicitation that pimps your business to folks, expect your social media efforts to fail miserably.

Likewise, if you measure social media success simply by the number of “likes” and “follows” you get, you’re missing the mark completely. If you don’t know any better, the marketing company can pull the wool over your eyes pretty easily by citing the quantity of likes and follows as the determining metric for your success. The number of people who “like” you has zero correlation to dollar sales. Yes, it provides an indicator, but there is no direct conversion between a “like” and a dollar… period. And the number of likes, in itself, is as meaningless as the number of total hits your website gets. It’s the QUALITY of the hits that matters, not the QUANTITY.

Unfortunately in society today, “Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll” sells these days. In terms of marketing and general search engine traffic, then, if a website owner puts out ads and content that promotes “free sex”, for example, the site linked to will undoubtedly get lots of hits. But there will be zero buyers if the site isn’t providing or selling what the seeker is looking to find. Some unscrupulous marketers can artificially generate large traffic to the site via such unethical means (though not quite so exaggerated as the example I use here for illustration purposes). Nonetheless, without looking at the analytics data such as bounce rate, time-on-site, time-on-page, keywords used, etc. the raw traffic score is meaningless on its own.

We use other (different) metrics to evaluate SMM results as they pertain to ROI, but the analytics must be examined in a relevant context in order to make management decisions as to how to engage and employ ongoing SMM marketing efforts. Otherwise it’s just “busy work”. Right along those lines, many business owners just do “busy work” posting blogs and such themselves, thinking they’re doing something good for their marketing efforts (and trying to save a buck by not paying a qualified, experienced marketing person), but unless the content is optimized and strategically applied to their indexed web presence, it amounts largely just to wasted time.

Another Big Caution here: There are a lot of freelancers who enjoy dabbling around with Facebook and Twitter, and they think that they can get away with charging businesses a lot money to make small-talk online via social media. Well… They CAN-because even though they don’t know how to apply social media within a business context, neither does the typical business owner who pays the bill. So is it fraud? Or is it simply ignorance on the part of the marketing freelancer? At the end of the day, the results are the same: the business owner is out a lot of money with no ROI. Just because someone is comfortable and well-versed with making posts and tweets via social media, it doesn’t make them qualified to do your social media marketing. If they’re a self-proclaimed “expert” who posts a lot but who can’t apply SMM to your SEM efforts, they you’re essentially paying them to enjoy their own hobby. They may have the best of intentions, and they may believe that by generating lots of “likes” and “followers” they’re achieving something, but unless it dovetails into your other marketing, they’re just spinning your wheels. Consider these points:

  • As a passenger on an airplane, recognizing a “good landing” doesn’t qualify you to be a pilot.
  • As a tax payer, recognizing that the government’s deficit spending is bad policy doesn’t make you a budget analyst.
  • As a Facebook user, creating a page and writing content that gets a lot of “likes” doesn’t make you a social media marketing expert.

The last bullet point is true for many (if not most) of the solicitations from people who label themselves as consultants and offer to do your social media campaigns, too. They may feel that they are an expert based on getting “likes” and followers for their posts, so the thought may occur to them that they can make some money doing it for other people, and so they hang a shingle on their door to advertise themselves as social media marketers. But looking at one or two data points out of context does not qualify them to do the job any more than admiring a smooth landing makes them qualified to fly a plane– or even just land it. There’s so much more involved, just as there is with being successful online.

With regards to promoting your business, most of the unqualified freelancers and consultants charge much less, so the temptation to spend your money with them is much greater. Everyone loves a bargain, right? But if the money you spend is thrown away without obtaining the anticipated results, how much of a bargain is it? It would be much better to spend more money that produces a solid, positive, and compounding return on investment. The old expression, “To make money you have to spend money” is around for a reason. Spend your money wisely. Ask a lot of questions of any provider you consider hiring. If they seem to stumble, can’t put things in context with your overall marketing, or just end up “talking in circles”, don’t even THINK about handing your business over to them. They’ll fail. You’ll fail.

Again, Buyer Beware. Challenge your provider (tactfully, of course) to establish their credentials and credibility with you before you engage in a contract that might bind you for a year.

As you can see, SEO, SEM, and SMM are all different components of your business’s effective online marketing strategy, but they’re all related and they’re all essential. Hopefully now the wording and concepts make sense, and you can pursue delving into finding a service provider who competently integrates the three in a concerted effort to add customers and sales to your financial future.

 

Three Lessons for Business People

If we consider organisations and how they prosper, what three things have we learnt over the years?

First, that people are not the most important asset in organisations. That’s right, they’re not. There is a mantra, of course, that says they are – one sees directors beaming with moral self-satisfaction as they repeat – with that rabbit in a headlight look on their faces – ‘People are our…’.

There are organisations where they are, but they are few and far between. The game is given away by the phrase Human Resource management and Human Resource Managers. People don’t want to be a Human Resource (or ‘Asset’) – they want to be people. And they want to be treated as people should be treated. One of the core principles underscoring the development of healthy self-esteem is respect. Whether we are children or adults we need to be treated with respect.

The core skill that delivers ‘respect’ is listening. As we look round the waste of top-down management styles – the ‘Fred Goodwin Effect’ (ex- and disgraced CEO of the Royal Bank of Scotland) as its latest incarnation in the UK might be called – where do we see the listening? The tragedy is that after a while people become inured to being treated badly – even get to expect and like it. An addiction to punishment sets in: the public sector is especially aware of this.

The second thing I have learnt is that leaders don’t lead. Yes, there is a lot of management going on, but although management is necessary it is not leadership. At the top level it is not management we need, but leadership. Part of the reason for this is that most people are secretly crying out to be led – and for a good reason: leadership removes uncertainty and creates stability and security, a primary human need.

Management – all operational stuff. We need a leadership that is genuinely visionary – that creates those images that inspire people to give of their best. Leaders – to be a leader – must engage people, and engagement is what people want.

Finally, the third thing I have learnt is that managers know little or nothing about the nature of the universe, and so ‘go astray’. Why wouldn’t they? Imagine being transported to the most fertile farm land in the world and told to till the ground, but you know nothing of farming. Of course you could expect disastrous results despite the fact that you can create ten thousand amazing Excel spreadsheets!

Perhaps part of the problem is the specialism of the education system: the process by which we come out ‘qualified’ but not educated.

I explained to my audience very simply that if we understood the Tao Te Ching we might understand something about the universe. First, we needed to move away from fruitless speculation on the nature of God: as the first line says, The Tao that can be spoken of is not the eternal Tao. What wisdom is there!

Second, having established not talking about the Tao – the Way – the One because to do so was itself self-defeating, we come on to the real profundity: from One comes Two, from Two comes Three, and from Three comes Ten Thousand things. What does this mean: the immortal, invisible, ineffable One produces Two – Yin and Yang – and Yin and Yang produce Three – Heaven, Earth and Humans – and these Three create all things that are. Oh my!

You can see, as you say this, people thinking – is he off his trolley? What has this to do with business? Everything. Let’s just take one point: if we understood the Two – Yin and Yang – and their ceaseless opposition, we would have known the economic downturn had to happen. The Yang of success had reached such overblown proportions that a Yin correction was inevitable – a correction, incidentally, of the same magnitude as the bubble which spawned it. So this means, if we understand the nature of the universe, the recession is far from over: we have a lot further down to go. But knowing this is reassuring, because we are no longer acting in uncertainty, but preparing for the storm.

The lessons from this are simple and come in the form of three pressing questions: first, how do we make people truly central in our organisations? How do we develop leadership at the highest levels? And how do we educate people so that they ‘see’ more?

No one said, of course, learning was easy!

If you or your organisation need groundbreaking, innovative and motivational solutions for:
Boosting employee motivation
Retaining key staff
Maximising staff performance and productivity
Building effective teams, appraisal systems and leadership
Recruiting the best people
Increasing sales

 

A Great Place To Visit For Business Or Vacation!

Tallinn, the capital of Estonia, is well known for her fully preserved medieval Old Town and a pulsating nightlife. Recently many stylish places for eating and drinking have sprung up in Tallinn, many of them offering decent quality food, and it is not hard to find a place for dancing. Those who travel out of the city will get acquainted with our beautiful countryside (for instance, Estonia is known as the land of 1000 islands), the long seashore, the picturesque Baltic German manor houses etc.
And there are not many cities whose face is designed by the 21st century rather than the 18th or 19th.

Situation

Tallinn is situated in Northern Europe in the northeastern part of the Baltic Sea region. Its unique position between the high-tech Nordic countries and Russia, which her huge natural resources as well as an enormous market, has made the city an attractive place for investors from all over the world. Foreign investments into Estonia amounted to 189.7 billion kroons as of June 2004, making Estonia the most successful country in Eastern Europe in this respect.

Distances from some European cities (by plane):

o Helsinki 82km

o Riga 280km

o St Petersburg 315km

o Stockholm 380km

o Copenhagen and Moscow 860km

o Berlin 1030km.

Tallinn Top Culture Events

The top summer event in Tallinn is the Old Town Days in the first week of June; in December the Black Nights Film Festival brings the best of the year’s European films to Tallinn, and there are a lot of other annual cultural events like Jazzkaar, Orient, NYYD, and more.

Economic Life

About half of the GDP of Estonia is produced in Tallinn (and its Suburbs) and more than half of the foreign-owned companies reside here. The economy is boosted by close relations with Finland and Sweden and a liberal economy that is favorable to foreign investments. Rapid development of the communications infrastructure has created a situation where mobile technologies and the Internet are used more widely than in some larger and wealthier EU countries (e.g. Internet banking is used by more than 10% of the population, active users of the Internet are more than 50% of the whole population, every second Estonian has a mobile phone etc,
e-government and e-tax system are working etc). The projected economic growth for this year is 5.9% The GNP per capita Estonia in 2004 was 40% of the EU average (39% in Lithuania, 34% in Latvia).

Inhabitants

Tallinn has about 400,000 inhabitants, half of whom are Estonians 40% Russians and 10% other nationalities. You probably didn’t know that there are over 120 nationalities living in Estonia. The major ethnic groups are Russians, Byelorussians, Ukrainians, Finns, Tatars, Latvians, Poles, Jews, Lithuanians, Germans and Armenians. Basically every third inhabitant of Estonia speaks some other language.

Short History

o 10th century: ancient Estonians have already established the central trading point on the coast of the Gulf of Finland.

o 1219: Northern Estonia is conquered by the Danes. led by King Waldemar 2nd, who later establishes a stone castle at Toompea -multinational town grows around it.

o 1248: Tallinn acquires town rights.

o 1219-1346: the Danish period. A network of streets is formed inside the town wall, with a guild house, churches and convents, warehouses and defense buildings.

o 1347-1561: the Livonian Order acts as the sovereign; the building of the Old Town with its principal stone buildings is completed.

o 1561-1710: the Swedish period Tallinn’s trading success has faded because of long lasting wars.

o 1710: Tallinn capitulates to the Russian Army (Great Northern War).

o 1857: An important evolution in the town’s development was caused by the loss of stronghold status and the building of a railway connection to St Petersburg. Rapid industrial development begins, resulting in the swift growth of the town.

o February 24. 1918: the Estonian Salvation Committee declares the independent democratic Republic of Estonia. The new government immediately has to organize a defense against the attacking Russian bolshevist troops and the Estonian War of Independence begins. It ends in 1920.

o 1920: Tallinn becomes the capital of the independent Republic of Estonia.

o June, 1940: Soviet troops occupy Estonia, abolishing its independence and establishing Soviet order.

o 1st August 20, 1991: the Supreme Soviet of Estonia declares re-establishment of the independence of Estonia based on legal continuity.

o August 29. 1994: the last troops of Russian army are withdrawn from Estonia. The Second World War has come to an end for Estonia.

o May 1. 2004: Estonia joins the European Union.

 

Stories and Storytelling are Good for Business

How do we convince the business world that a good story holds more power and is more memorable than hearing and/or reading a descriptive paragraph that relates to an accomplishment, a procedure, a product, etc.? This became so evident recently when I was part of a committee judging nominations for the Regional Company and/or Organization with the Best IT (Information Technology) Training Program.

There were several criteria that we were to grade. The nominees had been asked to write a 250 word paragraph for each of the seven criteria). Most of the criteria were straightforward and asked for descriptions. I could hardly wait, however, until we reached the final one: “Do you have any great Success stories?”

You can imagine my disappointment to find that only one of the nine nominees told us a story. The others blabbed on about profits and accomplishments, etc. The one with a true and moving story — about a young man who was helped by the training to get a job and a scholarship that turned his life around — won our vote. The sad part is that I know that every one of the companies or organizations have plenty of success stories. They just don’t know how to tell them. What is the solution?

First, don’t call it “storytelling.” Even though publications all over the nation — and even the world — are writing about the companies, organizations and trainers who are making use of the power of storytelling, very few of the upper echelon will react well to our telling them that they need “storytelling.” So many people have the wrong perception of what storytelling entails. They think it is a quaint event that is performed for children in schools or the local libraries.

We can tell them that the World Bank now uses storytelling for information sharing, and that a company called EduTech produces a publication called ASK for NASA that consists of employee stories. Todd Post, editor, writes, “The success we’ve had with it (ASK) has allowed us to examine our own problems holding onto knowledge. Right there in front of our noses was a successful model to emulate.” They then created What You Know, which is EduTech’s own storytelling magazine.

We have to use all of our imagination to work storytelling into meetings, marketing and every day encounters. We all know that the stories are there. I suggest taking a small notebook to work or to a company you know well (you may do some freelance work for them or know others who do) and start writing down the casual stories you hear at the water fountain, on the way to an appointment, at lunchtime and in the elevator. Start asking those who have worked a long time at the company/organization about the history — how it was when they were hired and why they have stayed there. When awards are presented, interview those who receive them — get the full story.

What great success stories does your business have? Start making use of their power and you will be amazed by how quickly the word travels.

 

Internet Marketing Ideas To Produce The Best Landing Page For Your Internet Business

As you are interested in internet marketing and making your internet business as profitable as possible then you must take a look at your landing page and what makes it work. This landing page is the most important aspect of your online business opportunity and will make the difference between you succeeding and failing. Utilising tried and test online marketing techniques should be at the forefront of your campaign and by using these techniques you will boost your online conversions and internet business opportunities.

When a web user clicks on your web link from a paid or organic search listing they should be directed straight to your landing page. This landing page should include some fundamental things in order to increase your chances of that user converting. An internet business should continually be adapting to new marketing and online techniques and a landing page is no different, utilising new media will keep the web user interested and increase their likelihood of converting through your holding page. We will now look at the last few online marketing techniques that should be incorporated into your landing page in order for your internet business opportunities to grow.

  1. Offer a free promotion, if you have a product or service that you can offer for free in exchange for the web users email address or name then this is the best way to generate a mailing list. A lot of internet marketers use this technique to generate their email list and grow their online business opportunity. If the landing page is actually selling your product then add bonuses if they buy it, by maybe offering additional products for half price. The more your offer the web visitor at your price level then the more value your create for them and your online business.
  2. Time limit and limited offers, create a sense of urgency for the product or service with an offer for a short time period. Another option is to only give the product to the first few registrants. Both of these techniques have been used successfully to generate internet business opportunities and to convert visitors into cash. These techniques create an urgency for the visitor and encourages them to buy at this point in case they miss the offer. Through research and testing you will be able to identify these time frames and what best works for your web visitors and your internet business.
  3. Payment options, the landing page should offer multiple ways in which to purchase your product. Many marketers only offer one way, but times are changing and visitors have their preferred way of buying online so offering what the web visitors need is your responsibility as an online marketer and to make your online business opportunity work. You must offer the web visitor multiple options like credit/debit card payments, bank transfer and PayPal.
  4. Testing, you may have set up an internet business, and landing page, and it may be doing ok, there is always room for improvement and this is through testing your landing page. Testing an tweaking your landing pages is the only way in which the internet business opportunities will grow and tell you what your web visitors are doing. It will teach you trends in the market, whether it be location, age demographic or seasonal.

Producing a great landing page is essential to your internet business and online marketing. Set up a basic page and test it until you get the visitors converting, it can take time, so don’t give up because there is a huge amount of money to be made online.

 

Small Business Management – De-Motivated Employees Are Bad For Business

People leave their employment for a number of different reasons and it cannot always be prevented, but if high staff turn-over is due to unhappy employees jumping ship, then it is perhaps worth considering what can be done to change the situation. A successful business knows how to keep its best staff on board long term. Contented, motivated workers are productive workers and they tend not to leave on mass from a work place in which they are happy, so when a mass exodus of your workforce does occur, it is a sure sign that you are doing something wrong.

The reasons unhappy employees usually give for leaving tend to boil down to too much of the bad stuff and/or not enough of the good stuff:

Being Underpaid.

Keep salaries competitive; if someone else will pay one of your valuable employees more to work for them, what incentive for loyalty does that employee have? Pay fairly and if you do value an employee reflect this in their salary. Also, keep wages confidential, not all staff are worth the same and allowing them to know this will create a very discontented workforce.

Being Over-worked.

Respecting that employees have lives outside of the work place will go a long way to keeping them happy; paid holiday time, compassionate leave and sick days should of course be standard, but remember also that enforced overtime or expecting weekend or bank holiday working will cause staff to feel put-upon pretty quickly; you cannot compel employees to become invested in the business, this has to come naturally if at all. Most employees will not unreasonably expect to work only the hours that they are contracted to.

Being Under-valued.

Value your workforce not just with good wages and reasonable working hours, but also with trust; micro-managing staff will cause them to feel uncomfortable and is certain to produce far from their best work. Showing your employees just how important they are to the success of the venture is more likely to ensure that they commit to your business and stick around, as well as going that extra bit further to produce results.

Going Nowhere.

Dead-end jobs often produce dead-end employees, or good ones that seek to move on to greener pastures as quickly as possible. Always promote from within as it encourages employees to see a future with your company; if they feel that they are likely to advance within your firm, it also makes them strive for better results in order to be noticed.

Job Insecurity.

Particularly in today’s worrying economic climate job security is a pretty big issue with most people; of course it is impossible to offer complete job security to anyone, but reassuring your staff that they are a priority and keeping them in the loop as much as possible helps people to feel that their jobs are as secure as they can be.

Keeping staff happy and motivated is simply about treating employees as you’d want to be treated yourself in their place and keeping them contented is the best way to keep them on board for a stable work environment.

 

Should I Contact Banks For Debt Settlement?

If you are one of the many individuals trying to cope with debt, you may want to consider debt consolidation. In recent years, there have been several of these services that have surfaced. While some of these companies are legitimate, many may not be. For this reason, some may advise that the consumer avoid settlement companies. The idea is that the individual contact the bank in an effort to settle. However, this may not always be the best avenue.

Often times, the bank will work with the individual but they may not be as flexible in terms. More times than not, the original lender will only accept the discounted amount owed if the individual can pay in a fairly quickly manner. They may only allow for short payment installments, sometimes between one and three. This does save the consumer, but many in this situation do not have the means to produce this type of cash flow. It’s not as convenient as some would believe.
In addition, some services may not only reduce interest but eliminate it entirely while the consumer is paying back the amount owed. The majority of banks will not offer this option to most individuals. You may actually be saving even more by hiring a service to negotiate on your behalf.

Debt settlement services can be a legitimate way to get finances in check. A qualified specialist works with the individual to create a repayment plan that will suit their budget. The length of time it may take to pay off balances may depend on the amount of owed and how much can be paid monthly.

Avoid being scammed. Check the companies credentials and see if they are listed with the better business bureau. You should also be able to access a “live” person to answer any questions or concerns. It is never a good idea to pay for services before you receive them. Finding a legitimate service is often all that it takes to get finances back in order.

By the way, by researching and comparing the best debt settlement services [http://www.bestdebtsettlementservices.com] in the market, you will be able to determine the one that meet your specific financial situation. Nonetheless, it is advisable going with a trusted and reputable debt counselor before making any decision, this way you will save time through specialized advise coming from a seasoned debt advisor and money by getting better results in a shorter span of time.

 

A Different Solution for Business Inventory Financing

We feel sorry for you. Your firm is not in the service industry. They are the lucky ones with respect to inventory financing – there is no inventory! Unlike your business, which produces goods and carries inventory to meet customer order needs your services firms have no storage requirements!

If your firm has an investment in inventory then financing for that asset is often, if not always, vital. Financing via bank credit lines for the inventory component of your balance sheet is always difficult, if not in some cases impossible. Most business owners and financial managers know that of your two major current assets ( receivables and inventory ) that banks prefer receivable, aka a/r financing.

So how do you finance your inventory, and what are the requirements to get such a facility in place? The reality is that every business is different and your firm will have different categories of inventory – most commonly they are raw materials, work in progress, and finished goods.

Inventory financing in Canada is most often financed under an ABL facility. What is ABL is the next question our clients always ask. The acronym stands for asset based lending, and is a specialized type of financing that is mostly carried out by non bank institutions. Facility sizes tend to range from 250k and up, as it is not really economical for all parties (you and the lender) for finance amounts much under that.

Your ability to control, report, and purchase inventory most economically are key drivers in an inventory financing decision made by your inventory financier. Your ability to monitor, stock, and produce and bill and collect are the basic requirements for an inventory financing facility. We would point out that in many cases this facility also includes a receivable component, because, as we all known, inventory flows into a receivable which flows into… dare we say it… cash!

If you are unable to finance your inventory properly you can very easily get into what can best be describe as a ‘ cash trap ‘- and that’s not a good trap to be in. Typically each one thousand dollars of inventory on hand can cost you between 150 and 250 dollars per year when you take into account some obvious and not so obvious factors such as financing costs, storage, handling, insurance, and deterioration of the inventory which by its necessity forces you to do an asset write down.

The irony is of course that you can have too much inventory or too little, it’s a balance act.

When you arrange inventory financing you want to ensure you have reasonable levels of product – so you need to focus on both financing cost and order costs.

If you have inventory financing fast efficient turns are potentially more possible and you annual carrying costs can be dramatically reduced- don’t forget that the cash you invest in inventory could be put to work elsewhere and in many cases earn, for example, at least 12% more in profits. That’s a very typical number for a manufacturer.

Financing inventory is a challenge – you want to be able to take advantage of volume discounts, but at the same time limit your investment in inventory while satisfying customer order needs. Whew! That’s a real teeter totter don’t you think?!

Speak to a trusted, credible and experienced business financing advisor who can guide you through inventory financing in a manner that supports your business and industry. Beating the inventory financing challenge is a solid financial accomplishment.

 

7 Guaranteed Steps For Business Success

Whatever business you are in, if you are going through tough times as many businesses are at the moment, then this article will be of value to you. Whether you are selling a product or service, the first thing you got to do is get excited again. Look, whether you go out on the road meeting your clients or you sell over the phone, etc, you need to really elevate your level of excitement. Look, people are totally snowed under with negativity from the press, and generally in these economic times, from every angle possible.

They are used to sales people and their friends talking negatively. Here is where you can have an edge with your business. Approach everyone you meet with massive positivity. Ok, you are going to be asked where the positivity is coming from and you merely answer that you are massively grateful for all the things you have in your life. You are massively proud of your family, for example, your children, your business, etc. People will be naturally curious and I promise you that your positivity will rub off.

People want to be around positive people who have a can do attitude. By you selling yourself in this way, you are already making a statement that you are going to be a reputable positive person in this person’s life whether they give you business or not. Attitude for me is the most important word in the English dictionary. Your attitude will determine how other people react to you. If you have a negative attitude with a prospective client, he will react negatively and depending on how long the conversation lasts for, you will actually will have made him feel that there is no work out there. Talk about a bad plan!. Your job as a business hunter is to fill your prospects up with positivity, you will get it returned and if you do the numbers, it will not be long before sales start coming in regularly.

The second point ties in with the first point in that you must feel good about yourself. A great way to change how you feel about yourself is to repeat affirmations every morning. Continuously tell yourself that you are smart, creative, a brilliant sales person etc. Our job here is to make you bullet proof. Remove the words, I should, I can’t, I will try, etc. All these phrases convey doubt and fear. Remove them and start repeating those positive affirmations daily. People want to do business with positive, confident people who know where they are going in life. Turn up to your customers in your best attire, drive an expensive car. You are an excellent human being and you deserve every bit of success you get. Let your customers see this. Immediately their sub-conscious will feel an element of class and value about you. As if to say, “This person certainly is successful so I don’t think I would be making a mistake by doing business with him”. You are the man my friend and ultimately they will agree with you and give you their business.

Thirdly you need to stand for something. The best sales people in business have immense influence over their customers. They stand for quality, integrity, honesty but they will never let themselves be undermined by a customer. When this happens, a truly successful business person will drop the client immediately. You have core values my friend and because of those values, you have attracted outstanding clients. Never let your standards drop both in how you treat your customers and how your customers treat you. If you do this, all that will end up happening is that you will start firefighting because you left the path of true success. Never give a sucker an even break. People want to do business with professionals. Always maintain your professionalism.

Another vital point in being successful in business at the moment is being committed. How committed to your business?. If you have a what if attitude, you might as well stop now because any doubt you have on whether you can build this business will be found out in these uncertain times. You will let it leak when you are having a conversation with a prospect for example and the moment when you express that you may not be in this for the long haul, your prospect will lose interest. Straight away you have lost certainty. You must commit and this must be done at the outset. If one is not truly committed, they will quit when the going gets tough. Winning in business in terms of commitment is very similar to having a successful marriage. You must commit 100% and when you do, you will be rewarded with extra courage when the going gets tough. There is so much power in your words. Never talk about lack or being non committed.

Another great point for selling especially when you are face to face with a prospect is to treat him as if he is the most important person in the world. Look, everybody now especially as we have this global crisis are only interested in themselves. They have their own problems and as far as they are concerned, everybody else’s problems are their problems. Let You be the change away from the norm here. When you are with a prospect, never talk about yourself. Only ask questions about the welfare of your prospect and his family. Expert sales people here use the peel the onion technique. What you do is question every answer your prospect comes back with. Eventually he will lead you if he permits to the real problems and dilemmas in his life and business.

If you can always be encouraging and even often solutions to him at that point, you have made a friend for life. I say this, because most people in society don´t open up to each other. When you open up to someone, you feel as if you have given them something of yourself and then if they want to help you, even better!. This method is really powerful in sales and its scientifically proven that there is an element of control involved when this peel the onion method works. So treat all your prospects as if they were the most important person in the world. Get to their pain. Find out exactly how they could do their job better and provide the solutions but you need to really listen here. You will be laughing all the way to the bank with new sales. Become the problem solver.

Another key is priorities. Although this is a business article, i think you should put business in its rightful place. For me, God comes first, my Family comes second and business comes third. I do not see the value in being successful in business without a good spiritual and family life. Business becomes easier when you strive to have a great relationship with your partner, when you strive to have great kids, etc. Its all about being committed, and the more committed you are in every area of your life, the more success you will have and the more fulfilled you will be.

Ultimately in my opinion, i have left the most important point until the end. For me its all about desire and will to win. You see, all types can have success irrespective of race, gender, qualifications, etc but when you cut these people open, you will find a common theme, you´ll find the heart of a champion. These people are comfortable with failure. Thomas Edison before he invented the Light Bulb failed 10000 times. If you asked him, he would say that those attempts were the attempts needed to produce the night bulb. He would never call them failures, they were simple work in progress. You must have mental toughness, you must be able to get through the tough times. You need to be more positive that your competition, more committed, hungrier for business, must work harder. You must invest in yourself and your business more than your competition. I’m talking about 100% commitment which is being a leader in your field. If I arrived at your business tomorrow, I would know within an hour whether a Leader is running this business or a person who has a what if attitude.

Forget about almost, what if, should, can’t, try, all these negative words. If you are looking to build something that you want to pass onto your kids, if you want to build something that you can be proud of, well then do it right. Be 110% committed. There is no other way. The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary. I hope you got value from this article and I sincerely wish that you follow your dream and become a massive success with your business. Remember, True Leaders never make excuses. All they make is money and build legacies because they have tunnel vision for their businesses. Your behavior ultimately will determine your success, not what you say. Leaders get it done, failure always have excuses. God Bless.!

 

Best Strategies For Business Growth and Merchant Funding

zIf you’re looking to encourage the growth of your restaurant business, then there are a number of strategies that can help you skyrocket your profits – but none are as effective as getting the capital you need through merchant funding. It’s amazing at the significant difference that can be done with $10,000, $50,000 or even a $100,000.

The problem is getting the restaurant funding in the first place!

Despite reports that lenders are starting to pump loans back into the economy, owners of small businesses like restaurants and cafes have yet to see these hopeful signs of economic growth. Given that lenders and banks are still withholding merchant funding, what methods remain as the best strategies for business growth?

Strategy One: Go into business with another restaurant with a similar culinary theme as your own. Going into business with a partner can significantly reduce your operating costs while effectively expanding your name and reputation. However, it can be a challenge to enter into business with another partner, so this might not be the best option for those with a unique vision or business plan.

Strategy Two: For those who have time on their plate, waiting just a couple of years to apply for a bank loan can make a difference. However, many restaurant owners don’t have the luxury of extra time, and might need immediate restaurant funding in order to produce profits that will have them sailing consistently into the black.

Strategy Three: Get a merchant cash advance! For those restaurant owners who might not otherwise qualify for traditional loans (and these days, who does?), a merchant cash advance can provide the restaurant funding needed to expand, renovate or buy equipment. Instead of paying a fixed monthly amount, repayment is based on monthly credit card sales, so you’ll never feel the strain of making a payment that exceeds your month’s profits. Merchant cash advance providers also have flexible lending criteria: all you need is up to a year of credit card sales receipts and proof that your business isn’t bankrupt or in arrears.

 

Why Pursue a Degree in the Banking and Business Concentration?

There are four good reasons why you are pursuing the banking and finance concentration at a university that you should state in your essay when applying for the scholarship offered by a university. Firstly, you should state that the university is the right university to study majoring in banking and finance seeing from the important positions, jobs or business the graduates the university has produced hold, most of their graduates hold important places in many countries who are considered to be successful leaders in the countries and who ignites the country’s future leaders.

Secondly, you are expected to acknowledge, based the information you have got, the university stands for access to an internationally recognized education which is possible and accessible to students studying in your own country, the teaching philosophy is centered upon inquiry, exploration, innovation and communication, and it provides students with an opportunity to learn from some of the best academic minds in the country and the world. You could also mention that the university is the only university that offers an internationally recognized curriculum that allows students to earn a globally recognized degree from over most world universities.

Thirdly, when you get a degree in banking and finance from the university there will be a lot of opportunity and benefits to work in the field. When you graduate from the concentration, there will be great opportunities for you to choose as your future career. You can work as a banker, finance analyst, stockbroker, security sales representative, financial analyst, investment banker, commercial banker or fund manager or entrepreneur, etc, to name but a few. You will be able to easily get work in these two very important sectors in the economy of a country like yours. There are many opportunities you can get when you are employed in any of the two sectors, they are everywhere in very country so that is why you are very interested in working in the field.

Fourthly, the banking and finance career is really challenging, it is challenging because you can have the opportunity to develop your career continually. When you work at in any established bank and business both local and international such as American Bank, City Bank, World bank, etc there will always be continual development career training to follow in order to develop yourself to be qualified in the field for obtaining a professional qualification.

Lastly, you are pursuing the degree in banking and finance is because the salary and benefits you would deserve are better than when working in other fields or sectors. Besides, when you become entrepreneurs, you would be able to help create jobs for other people to develop the economy of the country where you live.

Burning Bridges Creates Obstacles to Smooth Traveling for Business Startups

Before you give up your career and order those cards for your spanking brand-new business startup, think twice.

The fact is financial success in a new business startup may take a while. If you can transition, rather than jumping without a parachute, your bank account will thank you.

First, let’s go over the major “career paths’ you can choose to earn a living. They are:

1. Employee

2. Self-Employed

3. Business Owner

As an Employee, you are hired to perform a specific role in a company. Many jobs allow you to leave your work at work, and spend your free time with your family, without worry. You also may receive great benefits, like healthcare, retirement plans, and most importantly, paid vacation.

If you are considering stepping out of the role of Employee, you need to make sure that your dissatisfaction with your job is not job-related. What I mean by that is, just because you hate your job, it doesn’t guarantee that you hate all jobs. There are many opportunities with flex-time and relaxed work environments, where you can enjoy some of the freedom of self-employment, without the added responsibility.

If you can, it’s best to start your business while you still have your job. You can work evenings and weekends while your business gets started, and ditch the job only after your business income is greater than your salary.

So, how can you possibly make as much money part-time as you can working as an employee full time for someone else?

It’s actually fairly simple. Skip option two (Self-Employment) and move right into option three—Business Ownership.

The reason most people have to work so hard in their business is because they are Self-Employed. They are the ones producing the product or service in their business. The problem with this is that they are limited to how much time they can personally put into their business.

If your business does not operate without you doing the work, it’s very difficult to transition out of the role of Employee. And if you do, you will probably find that you work much harder when you are Self-Employed than you ever did as an employee. Not only are you doing the production work, you are also in charge of administration, marketing, finances, and even making sure there is coffee for the coffeepot.

Consider starting a business that does not rely on you to perform the work. You could sell a product by mail order, and outsource fulfillment services. Or start a service business like cleaning or lawn care, where you hire staff to perform the work.

Granted, you should ideally have a work environment that allows you to take care of your business occasionally during work hours. You could also work with a partner, so you can share the responsibility, and cover for each other when necessary.

You could also create an internet business, and automate many of your activities with technology.

Be creative. Rather than dumping your stable income, figure out a way to “test the waters” before committing full time.

In addition to keeping a steady paycheck, you also benefit by being forced to systematize your business from Day One.

One of the biggest challenges startup business owners have is transitioning out of “doing everything”. They limit their business to only being able to perform what they can get done, and end up exhausted and frustrated.

If you transition, you’ll be forced to put systems in place that allow your startup business to work without you. Your role can be limited to guiding and directing you business, which is the true role of the business owner.

 

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