OMG – Managing millenials.

27 10 2009

Millenials2

Millenials. They are the children of babyboomers. They have birth dates that range in and around 1980-2000. Politely stated, they have developed work characteristics and tendencies from doting parents, structured lives, and contact with diverse people. Directly stated, they are called the “Trophy Generation”, or “Trophy Kids,” a term that reflects the trend in competitive sports, as well as many other aspects of life, where “no one loses” and everyone gets a “Thanks for Participating” trophy – which symbolizes a perceived sense of entitlement. In reality, they are new breed of the American worker that is ready to attack everything you hold sacred: from giving orders, to your starched white shirt and tie.

Sounds like exactly your next line-up of new hires right? Yes, you are right – and this is a good thing.

I’ve read multiple articles that all use the following bullet points by Susan M. Heathfield, HR expert for About.com, to describe this so called new breed:

  • Have developed work characteristics and tendencies from doting parents, structured lives, and contact with diverse people.
  • Are used to working in teams and want to make friends with people at work.
  • Have a “can-do” attitude about tasks at work and look for feedback about their performance frequently-even daily.
  • Want a variety of tasks and expect that they will accomplish every one of them.
  • Are positive and confident, and ready to take on the world.
  • Seek leadership, and even structure, from their older and managerial co-workers, but expect that you will draw out and respect their ideas.
  • Seek a challenge and do not want to experience boredom.
  • Are used to balancing many activities such as teams, friends, and philanthropic activities.
  • Want flexibility in scheduling and a life away from work.
  • Need to see where their career is going and exactly what they need to do to get there.
  • Are waiting for their next challenge (and there had better be a next challenge).
  • Are connected all over the world by e-mail, instant messages, text messages, and the Internet (and thus can network right out of their current workplace if their needs are not met).

Now, do you feel like you need a sudden jolt of energy? Apparently you’re not alone because there are companies that are hiring consultants to teach them how to deal with this generation. Every gadget imaginable is practically an extension of their bodies. They multitask, talk, walk, listen, type, and text – all at the same time. And their priorities are simple: they come first. Positive and confident, millennials are ready to take on the world.

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Profit from cash flow management.

22 10 2009

CashFlowManagement

I admit, I’m not an accountant. But I am intrigued with the idea that the effective management of a business’ cash flow could result in higher profits. Today, everyone seems to be scraping for what little funding exists. But what about making the most with what you have?

Here’s the deal. Even if you wanted to work with more money, a bank (or other source of funding) will only lend you money if it knows that you are in control of your business – because, at the end of the day, the bank wants to be repayed. So the first step to making more with what you have is  improving the quality, accuracy and timeliness of your financial statements. There are lots of tricks to the trade, but the theory behind this is not at all brain numbing. It’s simply this, you need to be diligent and efficient in recording information on a timely basis. And managing your cash flow isn’t a task that you do once and a while. A good cash flow manager reviews his/her business’ cash flow position daily, monthly, quarterly, and yearly. It’s a mindset, not just a concept.

Let’s back up and look at the big picture. As a broad standpoint, it’s important to:

  • Accurately detail your planned monthly expenses.
  • Examine the cash flow from each line of business or client.
  • Update your monthly cash flow projections.

And yes, the above points are very broad. But the gist is that you take the steps to become financially literate. Financial literacy allows you to read the numbers, and the numbers tell you the story of the business, based on facts. For instance, if you are financially literate, you’d know the difference between profit and cash flow. (Click here for the answer.)

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National Business Women’s Week.

19 10 2009

MadelineAlbrightQuote

This week marks National Business Women’s Week (October 19 – 23), and this is truly something to celebrate. I recently wrote about the influence of women business owners in my Small Business TV post, and this week grants yet another opportunity to give credit where credit is due. According to the Business and Professional Women’s Foundation,

“National Business Women’s Week provides an opportunity to call attention to women entrepreneurs, facilitate discussions on the needs of working women, share information about successful workplace policies, and raise awareness of the resources available for working women in their communities.”

Shockingly,  it was still legal to require a woman to have a male co-signer before receiving a business loan twenty years ago. That changed with the passage of the Women’s Business Ownership Act in 1988. This Act not only made the requirement of a male signature illegal, it also created the National Women’s Business Council, the Office of Women’s Business Ownership and the network of Women’s Business Centers around the country. (Find your local SBA Women’s Business Center here.)

To further promote why we honor women business owners this week, take note of these facts:

Given this information, it’s easy to recognize the influence of women-owned businesses in our economy. And it’s well known that recessions breed entrepreneurship, which supports economic recovery. So as the number of jobs held by women v. men tips in favor of women, the definition of work and family may finally become balanced. Hooray for women starting, sustaining, and working in women-owned businesses.

Photo courtesy of Jdong’s Flickr.





Business website success strategies.

16 10 2009

Website

Websites. They can be daunting. Most businesses have their own version, built with different infrastructures and with different functionalities. And haven’t you at some point been completely frustrated with a website – either by its lack of information or its lack of functionality? As a joke between my friends, we are often aghast at how hard companies make it for consumers to give them money.

On that note, let’s talk about those all to familiar issues that we have with bad websites. Entrepreneur had a great article recently entitled, “5 Things I Hate About Your Website.” It listed the following:

  • Your contact information is not visible on your home page.
  • You only offer me a fill-in e-mail form.
  • You have no phone number.
  • Your “About Us” page doesn’t tell when your company was founded, or by whom.
  • Your “News” or “Press” page has no media contacts – or no information listed at all.

This is a great start to the discussion, but I can add a couple more myself. For instance, I’m always shocked when I receive an e-mail, after my order has been placed, to find out that there was no inventory to order in the first place. This is a basic back-end distribution functionality that should be a part of any retail website. Or when the only contact information listed is a link to upload an Office browser – I’d much prefer the actual e-mail address to copy/paste.

I’m sure I could come up with many other petty issues to discuss, but it’s a better use of time to talk about the successful strategies that make websites great. The whole point of building a website is to increase your return on investment – investment in your business and investment in your website. In theory, what strategies make it successful?

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Do you know your strengths?

14 10 2009

StrengthsFinder

I’m obsessed with business books. At a book store, if I’m not swayed by cookbooks, I’m sure to be pilfering through anything related to business, management, entrepreneurship, etc. So when I was last at the bookstore, Tom Rath’s “Strengths Finder 2.0” became the latest addition to my book pile.

I’ve read a lot about other business successes, what makes people successful, and the like. But I had never really thought about my own strengths. I think I’ve been spending the majority of my time trying to improve on what I know is not my strength. And that is pretty much the premise of the book – invest your energy in developing your strengths instead of making the correction of your deficiencies a priority. This right away sounds positive. I jumped right in.

The theory behind the book is genius. Recognize peoples’ strengths, develop them, and build successful teams by knowing each member’s strengths. I wrote about engaging employees a little bit ago, and this book further complements that theory. When a manager recognizes and focuses on an employee’s strengths, the employee’s satisfaction in their job shoots through the roof. Who wouldn’t want happy employees who utilize their strengths to contribute to the success of a business?

How do you find your strengths? Well, there is a convenient and easy-to-use website that walks you through an online personal assessment (about 30 minutes), which does not ask about your knowledge. If you bought the book, it should have a unique access code in the back to grant you access to the assessment upon registering. If not, their site walks you through the registration process otherwise. Thereafter, the site gives you a report of your top five strength themes, what they mean, and an action plan for developing them. And the book serves as a great reference guide. I found out that my strengths include the following five themes:

  • Individualization
  • Arranger
  • Relator
  • Achiever
  • Futuristic

As the book mentions, most successful people start with a dominant talent, and then adds skills, knowledge, and practice to the mix. And when they do this, the raw talent serves as a multiplier. So why wouldn’t we all want to know our dominant talents as early as possible? After all, “every human being has talents that are just waiting to be uncovered.”

Go forth, discover, and enhance your talents. After all, the assessment measures your strengths – the results are guaranteed to be positive. Enjoy the ride and take pride in knowing that going in the right direction is within your grasp.

Photo courtesy of Goal Geek.





Spotlight on Business: Celebrated Chefs

12 10 2009

Celebrated Chefs

A little over a week ago, I dined at Urbane in Seattle before heading to see Wicked at the Paramount Theater. I hadn’t actually planned on going to Urbane until passing by it earlier that day, curiously entering inside and spontaneously making a reservation. Boy am I glad I did. The food was fresh, creative, and tasty – and the restaurant also introduced me to Celebrated Chefs.

Celebrated Chefs is a program designed to raise money for non-profit organizations continuously and seamlessly. Its the brainchild of Bob Sarkie, along with the healthy support of Pete Higgins and Nicholas Hanauer. And given Mr. Sarkie’s experience with Entertainment Publications, Celebrated Chefs is the culmination of his work towards creating a smooth transaction-oriented program that supports non-profits. It practically makes all enrollees of the program continual donors, without even knowing it – and I mean that in a good way.

How does it work?

There are two ways to enroll in the Celebrated Chefs program, one of them is through their participating restaurants. The program essentially offers restaurants the opportunity to diversify their marketing and further contribute to their non-profit support. Celebrated Chefs has carefully handpicked these restaurants for being local, serving quality ingredients, and having an all around chef team of their peers. Inclusion is exclusive, price points vary, and all of these restaurants are worth trying at least once in your life.

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Spotlight on Business: LawRex.com – Connecting lawyers globally.

5 10 2009

LawRex

There is something to be said about the Internet. It has the capability to connect people globally and expand the definition of “community.” And the larger your network, the greater your opportunity to influence a broader audience or seek out support.

Lawyers in particular understand the value of networking and broadening their communities. Good lawyers get work and retain clients by using the tools at hand better than anyone else. A lawyer’s reputation is just one of these tools and it’s worth mentioning, to lawyers, the value of investing in your reputation:

A lawyer’s most important investment is the investment they make in themselves. An investment that makes certain that the public, referral sources, bloggers, conference coordinators, and the media see the lawyer as a thought leader in their field – see the lawyer as a reliable and trusted authority in the lawyer’s area of expertise.

There has never been a better time to use the Internet as a way to leverage this investment. This is where LawRex.com comes in to play. I recently found out about LawRex through Twitter and became immediately intrigued. I then discovered that what started as a bet between the founders of LawRex, siblings Joe and Isis Bous, became an online solution aimed to change the way lawyers do business.

The bet was made over the question of whether there existed an online solution for their solo practitioner friend to find and generate referrals. Afterall, isn’t it often the case that “almost everyone knows a lawyer, but no one ever seems to know the one they need.” As a result, LawRex officially launched on August 24, 2009, as a lawyer-to-lawyer referral and client management system that allows lawyers to trade the leads they can’t use for ones they can online. LawRex is a new tool for lawyers, and an increasingly important one at that.

And if you’re a business owner, LawRex can be a benefit to you as well. Likely, all business owners have sought out legal assistance in either starting-up their business or maintaining its success. Provided that these lawyers are a member of LawRex, you’re likely to receive competent help in the future – whether it is from your specific lawyer or another lawyer, accessed through LawRex, who has the specific experience to better assist you.

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