Sunday, December 20, 2009

How Do I Stop My Business From Failing

Why is my business failing? Thousands of businessmen and women have asked the same question at one time or another, especially during the early days of their businesses. To be sure, the marketplace is a high-tech jungle where only the fittest survives.

The bottom line reason your business is failing is that you are not selling enough of your product (goods or services) to cover your operating expenses and make a profit. But the problem is not with the product, it is with the elements that make the product what it is. What are those elements?

  • Do you have the right product for your target customers? Obviously if you don't they will not buy it, at least not in the quantity that will make you a profit. Choose a product that already has a demand, but emphasize a unique benefit of the product that your competitors are not. It should be a product that is consumable, so that your customers will come back to buy more.
  • Is your product quality and durability comparable to your competitors? The quality of your product is the primary element to which all the other elements are anchored. If you do everything right but have a bad product you will not have repeat customers. Majority of your customers will be one-time customers, and the bad news about your business will spread like a virus.
  • Is your product easy to use or consume? Customers are irritated when they spend their hard-earn money on an item, but cannot get it to work. Next time when they go out shopping they will choose an item that they won't need the brain of a biochemist to get it to work. Choose products that are customer friendly.
  • Is the price of your product competitive? If a customer can buy your product at half the price from your competitor two block down the street, why would he buy your product? Look around and do some comparison shopping to check on your competitors prices and adjust your price accordingly.
  • What is the platform from which you sell your product? Do you sell your product on the Internet or in a brick and mortar store? If you sell on the Internet, is your website or blog pleasant to the eyes, easy to read and navigate? Being mindful that if a visitor to your website is not able to solve a problem he encounters on your website in 3 seconds you've lost him.
  • If you sell in a brick and mortar store, does the layout of the store give customers easy access to your product? Are the price tags conveniently displayed to avoid having the customer to ask for the price of each item? Are your salespeople informed about the product enough to answer customers questions? Your aim is to give your customers a pleasant experience in the store to make them want to come back again.
  • Once you set up your website with quality content and products, nobody will know that you exist until you advertise it. How much it will cost to do so will depend on the type of ad, and the competition in your line of business. You may choose to submit your website to the major search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN or Bing, and wait for months to have your website pages indexed, or buy 'pay per click' (PPC) ads that will send visitors to your website within 24 hours of signing up.
  • You will need to know about keywords and their placement on your website. When a visitor goes to the Internet for information, s/he types in a word or phrase. The search engine checks through its indexed web pages for websites and blogs with keywords or key-phrases that match the visitor's query, and present them in order of relevance. Search engines are scrupulous in their selection, because if they provide the wrong information they will lose the visitor, and that is bad business.
  • Advertising a brick and mortar store normally involves running ads in the local newspapers or on TV. Since this can be expensive, you may want to set up a website or blog and encourage your customers to go there for discount prices and information about your product.
  • When you attract customers to your website or store, and they buy your products, the next step is turn them into repeat customers. Ask for their names and email or postal addresses. Because this information is valuable to your customers, offer something for it. Give them a discount or a coupon in exchange for their personal information.
You can stop your business from failing by selling more of your product to satisfied customers who will buy from you again and again because you sell the right product, high quality product, easy to use and at competitive price; because they know where to find you from the weekly information you provide them by email, letters, on your website or blog about new products, discounts and coupons. Shall we get to work now?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

If You are Not Networking You Are Losing Thousands Of Potential Customers

Let me say from the onset that networking is not multilevel marketing (MLM) or a pyramid scheme. Having said that networking is the building of business relationships. Note that the primary focus is on building relationships.
  • Sales and business connections are often developed from the relationships we have with other people, and networking provides the opportunity to meet people and expand your contact list.
  • Choosing the right group to join or event to attend is crucial, otherwise you will meet people who have very little or no interest in what you have to say. Focus on the quality of your contacts not on quantity. Getting two quality contacts who will answer your phone calls or read your letters are better than having ten who will not.
  • The first impression your contact gets about you could be what cement the relationship or take it apart. A firm handshake, a pleasant facial expression, a demonstration of interest in your contact, and attentiveness to his/her name and line of business will convince your contact that you are not only there to sell some product, and quickly move onto your next victim.
  • Your first meeting with a contact should be about understanding his problems, needs and concerns and collecting contact information. Clearly state what you do in 15 seconds and in 30 seconds what you have done to help people with similar problems. Don't use the initial meeting to promote your credentials. Your contact is not interested in your credentials, not yet, but in how your solution can solve his problem.
  • The follow up after a networking event is where many small business owners come short. Send a handwritten card to the people you met the next day, referring to the networking event where you met. Within two weeks send them letters arranging to meet for lunch or coffee to learn more about their businesses and how you can help.
  • If a month goes by with no communication between your contacts and you, they may forget about you, and potential customers may be lost. You may talk to your contacts by phone, but you will get better results by using a letter, newsletter or articles in your blog to demonstrate your expertise or the value of your product by sending them useful ideas and suggestions they can use immediately.
  • The average person is estimated to know about 250 people. This means each person you meet has the potential to connect you with over 60,000 people. The more people you meet, and the quality of your relationship with them will take your name and products to places where alone you could never have reached.
  • This reach will allow you to become a powerful resource for your contacts. The quality and regularity of the ideas and suggestions you send to them will keep your product on their minds, and be the first person they come to when they need help.
  • Your contact list will further expand when you follow up on referrals that others give you. Contacts who give you referrals have confidence in your expertise, reliability or the quality of your product. They have found your solution to their problems helpful, and would like to share with their family and friends what they have found. Be sure to follow up on your referrals.
  • Social medias like facebook, twitter, myspace and linkedIn are providing networking opportunities for millions of business people on the Internet. But you will agree that eventually you have to meet your contact in person and shake his/her hand before you feel comfortable enough to sign that $100,000 contract.
  • If you are not networking, you are losing thousands of potential customers who have money to spend and need your service or product, but do not know that you exist. Go to events where you will meet large number of people. Initiate conversation with people you meet. Ask to be introduced to people you don't know. Express genuine interest in your conversations. Give out your business cards, and follow up on your contacts.
The primary purpose of networking is the building of business relationships; the buying and selling of goods and services are its byproducts. Only when you have developed those relationships will you get their byproducts in increase sales.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Did Nature Program Man/Woman To Eat Specific Foods

Did nature have a diet program for humankind? Boyd and Konner in their 1985 report agreed that such a diet program may have existed, at least by implication, when they wrote, “From about 24 –25 million years ago fruits appear to have been the main dietary constituent for hominids”. 
  • For more than 20 million years, as far as the records can show, prehistoric men and women ate mainly fruits to maintain their health, growth, activity and reproduction. The large variety of fruits and the ease of reaching them provided our prehistoric ancestors the required protein and essential amino acids to maintain life. The question is, what transformed man into a meat eater?
  • Human anatomy and physiology are poorly adapted to the processing of a meat diet. The gastric juices of humans have less active antiseptic and germicidal properties, thus eating raw meat would have caused prehistoric man severe abdominal discomfort, and was the reason they ate mainly roots, barriers, fruits, nuts and grains.
  • Since raw meat had to be cooked to denature the protein, melt the fat and break down the fibrous tissues to make it palatable, easily chewable and digestible, was the reason man did not eat a significant amount of meat until he was able to harness the use of fire about 500,000 years ago. Before then man was almost entirely a herbivore.
  • The jump from being a herbivore to a carnivore might have been forced upon man by climatic changes, or a natural disaster that destroyed the forest along with the fruit bearing trees. A large fire could have done that leaving in its wake charred animals. With their main food source destroyed, prehistoric man ate the charred animals, and found them palatable. Thereafter, they increasingly included meat in their diet.
  • Natural carnivores like lions and tigers are anatomically and physiologically adapted to processing a meat diet. They have short intestinal canals, strong secretions of hydrochloric acid to quickly digest and expel the waste products of the meat they consume before putrefaction - the catalyst for degenerative diseases - can occur.
  • The intestinal track of humans is 4 times longer than that of a lion or tiger. While the natural carnivore’s intestinal track is smooth to dissolve meat quickly and pass it out of their bodies, man’s intestinal track is corrugated to keep food as long as possible in the intestines until all nutrients are extracted from it.
  • Because man’s intestinal track is poorly adapted to processing meat, it takes too long for the waste product of meat to pass out of the intestines allowing putrefaction to occur. This causes toxemia, and the onset of degenerative diseases like obesity, gallstones, colon cancer, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, gout, tooth decay, piles, peptic ulcers and hardening of the arteries.
  • In spite of the known health risk, having eaten a diet including animal flesh for more than half a million years and enjoyed it, it is understandable why man is not in a hurry to return to a totally vegetarian diet; not to mention the deficiencies of iron, vitamins B12 and D that tend to result from a vegetarian diet.
  • Meanwhile, the human anatomy had changed in response to eating animal flesh. Our jaws and teeth have become smaller, and our stomachs have shrunk. These changes have made us less adapted to living entirely on fruits, vegetables, roots and nuts; and suggests that we will continue to eat animal flesh in the foreseeable future, in order to more easily extract the protein and essential amino acids necessary to maintain life.
  • In addition to animal protein, we are consuming increasing amounts of salt, sugar and saturated fat. The consequences of the consumption of this high calorie diet are all around us. The rates of obesity are rising in the general population. The percentage of children who are overweight has doubled in the last 20 years. The percentage of adolescents who are obese has tripled in the last 20 years.
  • We have a war on our hands, and it’s a war against ‘calories’. A calorie is a unit of energy. A food with 250 calories means that your body will derive that much energy from eating or drinking it. The body needs calories for energy, but if you eat more calories than you can burn by your daily activity, the excess calories are converted to fat that causes overweight and obesity.
  • Certain thyroid problems and genetic factors are involved in weight gain and obesity, but their effects are magnified by the quantity and type of foods we eat. Work with your nutritionist on healthy food choices, small to medium food portion size, and new ways of preparing food.
Effective weight control is a function of vigorous physical exercise, and the amount of daily calories intake. Check your daily recommended calories intake and take the necessary steps to maintain a healthy weight. The control of calories intake by our food choices may well be Nature’s diet program for humankind.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Planning For Success In A Small Business

Planning is the ingredient that makes success possible. Not planning is analogous to attempting to catch a fish by throwing a spear into a river. In this case, success will depend on hope, and certainly, the vast majority of humankind will be dead if for our dinners we depended on catching fishes with spears.
  • On the other hand, the desire to be successful while we are still alive makes planning all the more important. It gives us a road map to where we want to go, and makes clear what is possible and what is not, helping us optimize our resources toward goals that make success possible.
  • Planning involves setting up clear direction for a system, then guiding the system to follow the direction to achieve its purpose. By merely going through the motion of planning does not lead to success, until strategies are developed to achieve goals that show progress toward attaining the purpose of the system.
  • The system to be guided by planning could be a business, a department, a production process, a family, or the condition of life. Whatever it is, the system should have four principal elements. It should have inputs, processes, outputs and outcomes.
  • The inputs include raw materials, technologies, money and labor. These inputs go through specific processes that coordinate them to achieve the goals set for the system. The outputs are the physical results produced by the processes, such as goods and services. Improvement in the quality of life of customers and employees brought by the use of the goods and services represents the outcomes or values of the system.
  • Once the system is selected, planning begins with working back through the system to guide it. Starting with the outputs and outcomes, the planners will set up the processes by which identifiable results and values can be attained. They will also arrange for inputs or resources to carry out the processes. The inputs are usually presented in the form of a budget.
  • Goals will be set for each element in the system. These goals will be specific so that no question arises as to which element each is assigned. The goals will be measurable so that progress toward planned results within the system can be evaluated. They will be attainable as well as realistic, and the time frame within which goals are to be accomplished will be clearly stated.
  • Planners will develop strategies to optimize the processes by which to achieve the goals within the system, and objectives selected to be time sensitive and show progress toward the goals to which they relate. Responsibility for achieving these objectives will be given to persons with the experience and skills to carry them out.
  • What strategies are chosen will depend on the extent to which the business can afford them, how practical they are in achieving the goals of the system, and how efficient resources within the business are used, building on its strengths and taking advantage of its opportunities.
  • Planners should not lose sight of the purpose of the planning process. This is important because all plans run into some difficulties during implementation. Parts of the plan may need rethinking to bring in new information in response to changes on the ground; therefore, the plan should be flexible and adaptable to unforeseen changes.
  • Additionally, there may be internal or external resistance to the plan that renders its implementation too costly, or lead to irreparable damage to the reputation of the business. In both cases, a rethinking of the purpose and values of the plan will bring to light information that was overlooked or given less weight in the planning process.
  • The final plan will be written into a document, and distributed to all employees responsible for its implementation. Where the plan is successful, management should acknowledge and celebrate it, so that employees will see the fruit of their efforts, and be appropriately rewarded. 
Knowing the purpose of your business plan will ask, what are the processes by which to achieve it? How will you get the money to finance the processes? What are your strategies to achieve the goals set for the system? Are your objectives timely and show progress toward your goals. Are the elements in the system properly coordinated to achieve the purpose and values of your business? If your answers are ‘yes’ you are on the road to success.