Year-End Assessment:

Posted by Carl Gould on January 20, 2016
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Did You Meet Your Business Goals This Year in 2015?

The New Year is upon us!  While we are all eager to start making resolutions for our business in 2016, we now need to STOP and look back how our company did this past year. Did it meet the goals that were established 12 months ago?  Now is the perfect time to assess results so you can set next year up for even more success.

Did you accomplish a goal for each section of your business:

SALES:

  • What percentage of your service, retail, and client count goals did you accomplish? List them:
  • What did you do to achieve the results you have?
  • What did you not do enough of? Why?
  • What lessons can you learn from this?
  • Based on the above answers, what actions can you take to help you achieve your sales goals for 2016?

MARKETING

  • What percentage of your marketing goals did you achieve?
  • What promotions were successful? Why?
  • What promotions were not as successful? Why?
  • Based on the above answers what goal can you replicate for 2016?
  • What practices and/or actions can you eliminate?

FINANCE:

  • What were your budgetary goals for the year? Did you meet them?
  • What helped you to achieve your financial goals?
  • What action hindered your financial progress?
  • Based on the above answers what goal can you replicate for 2016?
  • What impact will this have on the business?

OPERATIONS:

  • What new systems did you implement this past year that helped you run your business more efficiently?
  • How did this help you?
  • What is missing operationally (technology, tracking, software, staff, etc.) that if you added it, would help you run your business more efficiently this year?

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:

  • Write a list of everything you are proud to have accomplished professionally this past year.
  • From the above list, what are you most proud of professionally? Why?
  • How does this make you feel?
  • How will this help you moving forward?

Carl Gould is a business strategist, and growth expert. He has written 5 books in the area of creating business success, and is the co-host of the weekly radio program, ‘Quit and Get Rich’ (www.gteamradio.com). Carl and his team of experts advise companies and organizations to grow to the next level. What is the next level for you?

SALES:

? What percentage of your service, retail, client count goals did you accomplish? List them:

? What did you do to achieve the results you have?

? What did you not do enough of? Why?

? What lessons can you learn from this?

? Based on the above answers, what actions can you take to help you achieve your sales goals for 2016?

MARKETING

? What percentage of your marketing goals did you achieve?

? What promotions were successful? Why?

? What promotions were not as successful? Why?

? Based on the above answers what goal can you replicate for 2016?

? What practices and/or actions can you eliminate?

FINANCE:

? What were your budgetary goals for the year? Did you meet them?

? What helped you to achieve your financial goals?

? What action hindered your financial progress?

? Based on the above answers what goal can you replicate for 2016?

? What impact will this have on the business?

OPERATIONS:

? What new systems did you implement this past year that helped you run your business more efficiently?

? How did this help you?

? What is missing operationally (technology, tracking, software, staff, etc.) that if you added it, would help you run your business more efficiently this year?

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT:

? Write a list of everything you are proud to have accomplished professionally this past year.

? From the above list, what are you most proud of professionally? Why?

? How does this make you feel?

? How will this help you moving forward?

Carl Gould is a business strategist, and growth expert. He has written 5 books in the area of creating business success, and is the co-host of the weekly radio program, ‘Quit and Get Rich’ (www.gteamradio.com). Carl and his team of experts advise companies and organizations to grow to the next level. What is the next level for you?

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Strategies That Fit Emerging Markets

Posted by Carl Gould on December 09, 2015
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CEO’s and top management teams of large corporations, particularly in North America, Europe, and Japan, acknowledge that globalization is the most critical challenge they face today.

An emerging market is a country that has some characteristics of a developed market, but does not meet standards to be a developed market. This includes countries that may be developed markets in the future or were in the past.

What are the Emerging markets in 2015?

Global market research agency, GfK, has released part of its 2015 forecasts for sales of technology devices, showing that the stable global forecast hides multi-billion dollar changes at country level. According to a recent GfK report, the Top 10 growth markets in 2015 will all be emerging economies.

China’s slowing. Russia’s flailing. Is any emerging market worth putting your money in? We’ve found seven of them. In an article written by, Ian Bremmer in a FORTUNE article, he mentioned

Here are the lucky seven:

  1. 1. India
  2. Indonesia
  3. Malaysia
  4. Mexico
  5. 5. Colombia
  6. 6. Poland
  7. 7. Kenya

(Bloomberg) — In its 2015 Annual Guide, Bloomberg Markets spoke with six investors and strategists on what they’re expecting from various sectors of the financial markets next year.

1. Don’t Bet the Farm on China

Frances Hudson’s investment horizon stretches to decades. One reason, says the global thematic strategist at Edinburgh-based Standard Life Investments Ltd., is that demographics and other long-term drivers of securities markets are easier to predict with accuracy than factors that affect markets during shorter periods.

For example, many market watchers expect that China’s growth will lead to an increase in global demand for food commodities, Hudson says. The thesis is that the world “needs more food to satisfy growing middle-class appetites for meat—which I think is wrong,” she says.

2. Put Half Your Money in Emerging Markets

Eighty-five percent of the people in the world live in emerging markets, Jerome Booth says. They account for more than 50 percent of global gross domestic product, more than 50 percent of energy consumption and more than 50 percent of industrial production. So the emerging markets are not an asset class, he maintains: “It is the bulk of humanity, the bulk of economic activity on the planet.” They’re collectively huge and individually multifaceted, he says, and should be treated as such by investors.

3. Beware of Regulatory Risks

Sonia Kowal, the president of Zevin Asset Management LLC, says her firm’s focus on environmental, social and governance factors has helped reduce risk in client portfolios. Analyzing ESG factors, she says, can help flag companies likely to fall under regulatory scrutiny for polluting, for example.

Managers and analysts at Boston-based Zevin begin with companies’ self-reported ESG data, but that’s just a starting point. “It also has to be counterbalanced with an external view,” she says. To do that, her team checks news stories and consults with nongovernmental organizations.

4. Make a Run at Frontier Markets

Heidi Richardson is preparing for an ascent in Kenya. Richardson is training for the Kilimanjaro Marathon, and as a global investment strategist at BlackRock Inc., she also expects stocks to climb in the east African nation. “For longer-term investors, I like the frontier markets very much,” San Francisco–based Richardson says, singling out Argentina, Kuwait and Nigeria as well as Kenya. “Those are the truly emerging of the emerging markets.”

5. Count on Another Strong Year for the Dollar

The U.S. dollar’s world-beating rally has only just begun, Sue Trinh says. The senior currency strategist at Royal Bank of Canada says the greenback’s surge in 2014 was driven mostly by investors exiting bullish bets on other currencies, including the euro, yen and Australian dollar. The second leg of the U.S. dollar’s gain will come when the Federal Reserve begins its tightening of monetary policy, she says. “That’s going to be the only game in town, really, with the rate hikes that we expect from June onwards,” says Hong Kong–based Trinh. The dollar climbed against all its major counterparts in 2014, and the Fed’s actions in 2015 will continue to ripple through currency markets, Trinh says.

6. Prepare for a Big Drop in U.S. Stocks

The surge in market volatility that saw $5.5 trillion in global equity value wiped out from September to October in 2014 is just a harbinger of things to come, Gerald Buetow says. Stock valuations are still too rich and are artificially supported by central bank stimulus in the U.S. and Europe, says Buetow, chief investment officer at Innealta Capital.

Article by:  Jon Asmundsson Rocky Swift

Related Topics:

Top trends facing the world in 2015

Carl Gould is a business strategist, and growth expert. He has written 5 books in the area of creating business success, and is the co-host of the weekly radio program, ‘Quit and Get Rich’ (www.gteamradio.com). Carl and his team of experts advise companies and organizations to grow to the next level. What is the next level for you?

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The Franchise Expo

Posted by the7stages on October 29, 2015
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What’s the difference between Strategy and Tactics?

Posted by the7stages on October 14, 2015
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Many small business owners and operators do not spend much time planning for their business success. 

Examples:
To illustrate, here’s some specific examples across different industries of how strategic goals can be communicated with clear tactical elements, in a linear and logical order:

  • Strategy: Be the market share leader in terms of sales in the mid-market in our industry. Tactics: Offer lower cost solutions than enterprise competitors without sacrificing white-glove service for first 3 years of customer contracts.
  • Strategy: Connect with customers while in our store and increase sales. Tactics: Offer location based mobile apps on top three platforms, and provide top 5 needed use cases based on customer desire and usage patterns.

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”—Sun Tzu

Strategy Sets the Stage In real world business usage, the term Strategy actually is the thinking process required to plan a change, course of action, or organization. Strategy defines, or outlines, the desired goals and why you should go about achieving them.

Strategic Planning Process to understand the differences better, here are some notable points to consider, with respect to strategic planning. When doing strategic planning, you need to determine, specifically, what outcome you want to achieve (These are your Objectives) and how you will measure the results.

In Summary To sum up, strategic planning relates to issues pertinent to the mission of your small business—the purpose of its existence. The responsibility for strategic planning rests with you (and your partners and investors, if any). No one else is ever going to do that work for you, or without your involvement!

5 Major Differences Between Tactical and Strategic Intelligence

Carl Gould is a business strategist, and growth expert. He has written 5 books in the area of creating business success, and is the co-host of the weekly radio program, ‘Quit and Get Rich’ (www.gteamradio.com). Carl and his team of experts advise companies and organizations to grow to the next level. What is the next level for you?


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Apps that make international business travel easier

Posted by the7stages on September 09, 2015
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Business travel is already a hassle, but international expeditions add an entirely new layer of  frustration.

Six main apps to always look for are:

  1. Exchange rates
  2. Translation
  3. Public Transit
  4. International Clock
  5. Seamless airport transportation
  6. International etiquette

Fortunately, apps for business travel are making it easier for professionals to stay at the top of their game in the international office. For international business travelers, mobile technology is a saving grace. There are plenty of apps that help travelers and fresh faced backpackers get around, but which apps should professionals working abroad have in their arsenal?


XE Currency: It’s safe to say that you likely won’t see prices in US Dollars when traveling internationally. With conversion rates for more than 180 countries, this app will come in handy no matter where you’re headed. Why we love it: It’s easy to use and updates frequently so you’ll always have access to the latest conversion rates – and avoid overpaying for that mid-morning latte.

Expensify: Whether you run your own business or travel for your employer, it’s important to keep track of your expenses. This useful app keeps track of them in one place and allows you to categorize expense reports separately. You can also scan receipts right from your phone and add information about cash transactions. Why we love it: It even has a tool to automatically convert currency after uploading a receipt.

Business Behavior – The International Guide: Every country has different policies when it comes to etiquette, and it can be hard to keep track of the customs when you’re jetting around the globe. The app itself is free and provides universal rules for over 40 countries as well as a complete guide to Japan. Each additional guide is $0.99, but is worth the splurge. Why we love it: The guides cover information such as dress codes, dining, how to act during business meetings, protocols on gift giving and more.

Skype: While most of us already have Skype on our phones, it remains the most popular calling app and with good reason. This app allows you to make international video calls and phone calls for free when connected to Wi-Fi.  In addition, Skype is constantly improving the messaging feature to make it easy to chat with all of your long distance contacts and keep in touch with your colleagues back home. Why we love it: With the latest updates, you can have a video conference with multiple users at once for no additional charge.

Hipmunk: This is still our go to app for trip planning because it allows you to quickly search for flights based on the things that matter to you.  The app doesn’t automatically sort by the cheapest flight; rather, it allows you to filter by things like number of stops, airline or flight duration. In addition to flights, you can search for hotels using “heatmaps” which allow you to choose a location based on restaurants or nightlife in the area.  Why we love it: The information is easy to read and organize, and the rates you find on the app are often offered at a discount.

Google Translate: Conducting business can be difficult if you’re unfamiliar with the local language. The latest version of Google Translate has automatic language detection while in conversation mode, allowing the app to recognize the language being spoken and translate in real time. Why we love it: In Camera Mode, you can take a photo and have the text instantly translated.

Smart Traveler: This official app of the U.S. State Department offers immediate access to country information, including U.S. embassy locations and detailed maps. It also provides you with the State Department’s latest travel alerts and warnings. Why we love it: You can enroll in the STEP program directly from your phone, which allows the State Department to better locate you in case of an emergency. Need assistance during any travel emergency? On Call members can call us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

New apps are released every day, so before you travel make sure you research cultural differences and prepare to manage your business while overseas.

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Does size matter? The advantage of being a small firm in an emerging market

Posted by the7stages on August 19, 2015
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The international economy encourages a wider distribution of goods between continents. An emerging market is an economy that has not yet developed at the same level as those in the first world.

CEO’s and top management teams of large corporations, particularly in North America, Europe, and Japan, acknowledge that globalization is the most critical challenge they face today. Most companies have stuck to the strategies they’ve traditionally deployed, which emphasize standardized approaches to new markets while sometimes experimenting with a few local twists. As a result, many multinational corporations are struggling to develop successful strategies in emerging markets. Many small businesses invest time and capital to take advantage of business opportunities in emerging markets in countries across the world.

The people who live in an emerging market, however, still have plenty of labor to offer and a need for the goods you sell, resulting in some big advantages for companies that establish outposts in these countries.

Deloitte, a worldwide financial firm, notes that companies in emerging economies must expand capacity and capability. As large companies build power plants, roads and dams, small businesses step in to provide the locals with the goods and services they need. As the region’s economy develops, the small businesses that open up shop earlier may have a better chance at building lasting relationships with customers.

The greatest success in emerging markets doesn’t come from simply establishing a sales office and selling their existing products and services. Instead, it are the special requirements of customers in each emerging market and the designed offerings to meet their needs at market appropriate prices that are key success factors. Another key ingredient in success is to establish company-owned production, service, distribution, R&D and other operations in emerging markets to become closer to customers and part of the local business community.

Executives see the greatest opportunities and strategies in the following:

  • Opportunities remain in the BRIC (minus Russia). Among 10 leading emerging markets, executives surveyed were most likely to expect revenue increases of 25 percent or more over the next three years in Brazil, India and China.
  • Bigger is better. According to respondents whose companies had revenues of $5 billion or greater—those larger companies were more likely to have exceeded their sales revenue goals in emerging markets over the last three years, while small companies (less than $500 million in revenue) were the least likely to have done so.
  • Go local. Companies that had company-owned operations in at least five of six major emerging markets were much more likely to have exceeded their revenue goals. In addition, some successful strategies were using local sales/service centers, employing company-owned sales and distribution and employing a company-owned supply chain. Local operations may provide advantages such as greater knowledge of customer needs and buying habits, greater brand awareness in the market and more experience in navigating government approvals and procedures.
  • Know your customer. Designing products specifically for customers in the local market and offering a different value proposition were considered as among the most successful strategies. When it came to challenges identified by survey participants, one of the top challenges in five of the six emerging markets studied was to provide products/services that meet customer needs at prices they can afford.

Small and mid-sized companies enter foreign markets with less overhead, flatter hierarchies and a more entrepreneurial approach to the market, says Ken Esch, a partner in Price Waterhouse Coopers’ private company services practice in Chicago. “They are more agile than larger firms,” he says. “They have the flexibility to try new products quickly, and if they don’t work, they can move on to something else.” Indeed, smaller firms must leverage these strengths as the race to set up shop in foreign markets heats up. According to a 2011 Price Waterhouse Coopers survey of 236 executives in the US, 51% of private companies plan on expanding overseas in the next one to two years, and 48% already have a global presence. Among these firms, 74% are focused on fast-growing emerging markets.

“There is a tremendous amount of commerce that is taking place among emerging markets,” said Broadman. “In 1970, South-South trade was about seven percent of world trade. Today, it is 20 percent of world trade.”

Additional readings: Competing with Giants: Survival Strategies for Local Companies in Emerging Markets

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Ways Companies Can Encourage Smart Risk Taking

Posted by the7stages on July 14, 2015
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There are two main types of risk. There’s the classic “let’s just go for it” risk that entrepreneurs take to build a new business (many of which fail). And then there’s constant risk, where entrepreneurs make small process changes but don’t bet the company on it.

Companies that haven’t embedded either form of risk into their core processes are likely dead. The world is changing too fast without constantly updating processes to stay relevant for long. Just ask Blockbuster.

Mark Zuckerberg agreed, noting, “The biggest risk is not taking any risk.” Constant experimentation and process iteration are now the only ways to reduce risk.

There’s the classic “let’s just go for it” risk that entrepreneurs take to build a new business (many of which fail). And then there’s constant risk, where entrepreneurs make small process changes but don’t bet the company on it. Companies that haven’t embedded either form of risk into their core processes are likely dead. The world is changing too fast without constantly updating processes to stay relevant for long. Just ask Blockbuster. Mark Zuckerberg agreed, noting, the biggest risk is not taking any risk. Constant experimentation and process iteration are now the only ways to reduce risk. Just take look at fast-growing companies like Airbnb and Uber.

  • Risk-taking is not just for leaders. All employees must be willing to take risks to advance the company. Not just the executive team — everyone. Our business requires it. We have more than 30 offices around the world, and each is fully responsible for the development and delivery of trips in its region. Everyone must be ready to lead at a moment’s notice, from anywhere in the world, and that’s only possible if everyone has daily practice taking risks. Risk-taking builds character and employee confidence – a win-win for any company.
  • Risk-taking requires support. Risk-taking doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and it can be hard for employees to embrace it. Managers can help by specifying what risk-taking looks like in their workplace. Employees should be expected to speak up, ask tough questions of leadership, move forward with decisions without always knowing the outcome, and accept new assignments gladly. At the same time, managers must identify and reward such behaviors. They must teach them. For us, this happens in the office, on team off-sites, and at our annual companywide training, which incorporates risk-taking exercises from Outward Bound and other experiential learning programs. In other companies, risk-taking might look different. For example, employees might be expected to speak in public, lead a cross-departmental team, or go after three new accounts a week. The behaviors may be different, but the support is the same: identify, teach, and reward.
  • Risk-taking must be embedded in a larger corporate culture. Of course, employees can’t just go off half-cocked, doing any risky thing they please. Risk-taking must be guided by the company’s vision and mission, and bounded by the company’s values. A company’s mission, vision, and values are its greatest assets, but they are worthless if you don’t cultivate them. Leadership must refer to them constantly, and employees must be held accountable to them in performance reviews. When the corporate culture is completely clear, risk-taking will always support the goals of the company.
  • Risk-taking means you will make mistakes. Every risk-taking organization will make mistakes once in a while. We’ve made lots of them. In the 1990s, we invested $11 million in a computer system that didn’t work for us. Around the same time, we divested financial operations on our overseas offices and got robbed – several times. Mistakes and losses are part of the risk landscape. To succeed as a risk-taking business, you must do two things at a minimum: You must create a safe environment for employees to make mistakes, and, when a risky decision is on the table, you must always be ready with a fast exit plan.

Carl Gould is a business strategist, and growth expert. He has written 5 books in the area of creating business success, and is the co-host of the weekly radio program, ‘Quit and Get Rich’ (www.gteamradio.com). Carl and his team of experts advise companies and organizations to grow to the next level. What is the next level for you?

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Business Etiquette

Posted by the7stages on June 09, 2015
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Unprofessional behavior could lose your business.

As times change, so do social norms for personal and professional behavior, but that doesn’t mean basic etiquette doesn’t matter. Performance and quality are important, too, of course, but not exclusively. We sometimes forget that business is about people.

Allan Berger, principal with Berger Business Advisors, a business development consultancy, said “There is no shortage of competent and reliable people in the business world and manners can make the difference. Wouldn’t you rather collaborate with, work for or buy from someone who has high standards of professional behavior?”

The word “etiquette” gets a bad rap. For one thing, it sounds stodgy and pretentious. And rules that are socially or morally prescribed seem intrusive to our sense of individuality and freedom.

Office etiquette can be tricky in these days of in-house exercising, informal digital communication and open-plan workspaces. For help on figuring out how to behave properly, a new book by Vicky Oliver, a career consultant, offers tips on everything from cubicle conduct to e-mail etiquette. 301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions also covers 21st-century table manners (they’re not that different from in the olden days) and what to do when seated between two bores at a business dinner (divide your time between them).

1. Send a Thank You Note

I work at a paper company that manufactures stationery and I’m shocked at how infrequently people send thank you notes after interviewing with me. If you’re not sending a follow-up thank you note to Crane, you’re not sending it anywhere.

2. Know the Names

It’s just as important to know your peers or employees as it is to develop relationships with clients, vendors or management. Reach out to people in your company, regardless of their roles, and acknowledge what they do.

3. Observe the ‘Elevator Rule’

When meeting with clients or potential business partners off-site, don’t discuss your impressions of the meeting with your colleagues until the elevator has reached the bottom floor and you’re walking out of the building. That’s true even if you’re the only ones in the elevator.

4. Focus on the Face, Not the Screen

It’s hard not to be distracted these days. We have a plethora of devices to keep us occupied; emails and phone calls come through at all hours; and we all think we have to multitask to feel efficient and productive.

5. Don’t Judge

We all have our vices—and we all have room for improvement. One of the most important parts of modern-day etiquette is not to criticize others.

6. Call or e-mail before you arrive.

Instead of making a beeline for your colleague’s cubicle, get in touch in advance, and ask what would be a convenient time for you to drop by.

7. Don’t leave voicemail messages when you know the person is out.

Midnight is not a good time to leave a voicemail or send a note. If you get a brainstorm in the middle of the night, write an e-mail and put it in your draft folder. Hit “Send” at 9 the next morning.

8. If you’re the boss, don’t send demanding e-mails on the weekend.

Unless your team is on a shotgun deadline, compose your instructions over the weekend, but don’t send them until Monday morning.

9. If you get a weekend e-mail from the boss, you may take a day to reply.

You can’t ignore a boss’s weekend request completely, but you can wait 24 hours before responding. It’s fine to set a boundary around your personal time.

10. Don’t wear headphones in the elevator or hallway.

“Wearing earplugs is like putting a Do Not Disturb sign on you,” Oliver says. It sends the message that you want to be left alone, an unfriendly gesture at best.

11. Don’t check e-mail in the lobby or elevator.

“That’s acting like you’re in an isolation tank,” Oliver points out. Elevators and hallways are great places to connect socially with colleagues. Use the opportunity.

12. Don’t touch your colleagues’ food in the office fridge.

Boundaries are important in today’s intense office environment. That includes respecting the fact that you didn’t buy that container of yogurt, no matter how hungry you are.

13. Dress one notch up from office casual.

Mark Zuckerberg may sport T-shirts, but you should wear a shirt with a collar.

14. Use humor to recover from a faux pas.

Did you say or do something that violates etiquette rules? Poke fun at yourself. Send an e-mail after the fact that’s part apology, part self-deprecating joke.

There could be many more tips like:

1. When in doubt, introduce others.

2. A handshake is still the professional standard.

3. Always say “Please” and “Thank you.”

4. Don’t interrupt.

5. Watch your language.

6. Double check before you hit send.

7. Don’t walk into someone’s office unannounced.

8. Don’t gossip.

9. Don’t eavesdrop.

10. Acknowledge others.

11. Avoid the “Big Two.”

12. Be on time.

13. No phone during meetings.

14. Don’t be a business card pusher.

15. Show genuine interest.

Additional Readings:

15 Business Etiquette Rules Every Professional Needs To Know
Skills – Workplace Etiquette – Columbia University

14 Tips on Business Etiquette: Setting a professional tone with co-workers, clients and customers

Carl Gould is a business strategist, and growth expert. He has written 5 books in the area of creating business success, and is the co-host of the weekly radio program, ‘Quit and Get Rich’ (www.gteamradio.com). Carl and his team of experts advise companies and organizations to grow to the next level. What is the next level for you?

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Things to Consider before expanding your business

Posted by the7stages on May 13, 2015
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Never in the history of the world has the entrepreneurial spirit-the spirit of adventure-been more alive or in a more favorable position to reach out to the world for business. The economy is improving.

When you’ve got a thriving business, one of the toughest decisions to make is when to open that second location. Do you open one close by? Do you try to break into a new market? When is the right time to expand, and how much preparation does it take?

For many companies, expanding globally is essential to achieve success. But determining the best strategy can be difficult and depending on your goals and level of resources, it may change.

So, what is the main question here: What should go into the decision to expand?

The answer starts with your strategic plan. Are you building a company with the aim of selling within five years, or one that you hope will continue growing for the next 50? The shorter the time frame, the more you’ll need to focus on putting out a great product in lieu of diversifying or investigating new markets.

However, by establishing a set of guidelines, selecting the right export markets doesn’t have to be painful. To make your job easier, consider some of our guidelines below:

· Study Economic Indicators

Rank your potential country markets by how much of your product they import from the U.S. Then rank each by their total demand (domestic production plus world imports) for the previous three years. From this you can determine market size, its rate of growth, and U.S. market share.

If total demand for your product is increasing, review the country’s growth rate and per capita income. If indicators are positive, it’s likely that demand will continue to rise.

· Be Competitive and Adapt

Identify each selected market’s trade barriers. If excessive, they may out-price your product. Know your competitors, their products, prices, distribution methods, consumers, and after-sale service. If intense competition exists, consider smaller markets that may be unattractive for multinationals, but big enough for you.

Sensitivity to foreign cultures is not only polite — it’s good business. Study a culture’s wants and needs. If your product design is not suitable, adapt.

· Know Your Risks

Importers with soft currencies or insufficient reserves may find it difficult to pay you. Understand the risks, buy insurance or choose other markets. If you accept foreign currency, guard against fluctuations. Keep abreast of political risk. Civil unrest or policy changes may harm your interests.

· Investigate Infrastructure Needs

If your product requires a skilled support staff, make sure it’s available in your target market. If not, you may be forced to provide costly support from back home. The lack of physical infrastructure may also curtail exports. The inability to quickly deliver perishables due to inoperable roads or inaccessibility to refrigerated storage can be a deterrent.

· Research Legal Issues

Many countries claim to enforce intellectual property laws, but don’t. Investigate how piracy is handled. If protection isn’t a priority, you may want to avoid this market.

In some countries, the accused is presumed guilty until proven innocent, and judges may unfairly favor domestic sales agents or consumers. Assess each country’s legal practices and investigate safety and environmental regulations.

· Welcome Advice and Use It

By acquiring majority interest in a foreign firm, you can dictate policy — but don’t. Respect and value the input provided by existing managers. A sound acquisition strategy asks what management thinks of proposed changes and incorporates the input.

· Accurately Weigh Your Own Factors

Do your homework. Establish the factors you feel will best help you determine the markets to pursue and seriously weigh them. Success is best achieved if you calculate all the costs of doing business and understand the ramifications of each decision. If not, your efforts may turn into losses.

Two additional tasks to consider are:

1. Documented Systems and Processes

Every business needs to be created in a way that doesn’t require the owner or founder to be there every day. Your systems and processes must be documented so that a qualified person can deliver your product or service predictably without your direct input.

2. The Culture Question

Expanding companies often make the mistake of attempting to replicate the home office culture. First you need to take the time to understand if your business’s culture will replicate and if culture is an important component of your success. If so, how do you make it work somewhere else? While planning a quarterly event for all office locations may make sense, what makes up that event for an office in California may be very different from what a location in the South requires.

Bear in mind that successfully integrating with another company or expanding into new territory can take more than a year. It’s expensive, messy and more work than anyone expects, which leads me to my last piece of advice: Don’t forget to run your current business.

Related:

20 Factors to Consider Before Going Global
Consider Before Expanding Overseas
Connecting Entrepreneurs to the Global Marketplace

Carl Gould is a business strategist, and growth expert. He has written 5 books in the area of creating business success, and is the co-host of the weekly radio program, ‘Quit and Get Rich’ (www.gteamradio.com). Carl and his team of experts advise companies and organizations to grow to the next level. What is the next level for you?

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How to Overcome Fear of Risk

Posted by the7stages on April 14, 2015
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How to Overcome Fear of Risk

It’s time to break the culture of fear and learn to welcome change.

Calculated risk is at the heart of every business decision; it’s what drives companies toward success. But many businesses stagnate because management is afraid to take the necessary risks to grow and prosper. What are the signs that your business is acting on a fear of change, and what can company leaders do to move forward?

When you become fearful and hesitant, your brain is focusing on loss aversion, meaning that it’s trying to protect you from harm. It’s an adaptive strategy that kept our ancestors from getting killed.

Related: How to Overcome Your Fears and Move Your Business Forward

Here are three tips to help you do that:

1. Don’t weigh the pros and cons. When you’re taking a risk, a bit of research and a gut reaction is all you really need to make a good decision. Wading in a swamp of pros and cons will only activate fear. “The more you go into an analytical mode, the more you activate the part of the brain that makes you fearful and demotivated,” Mehta says.

If your gut tells you to say yes, then prevent fear from taking over by simply diving in and adapting as you go. That doesn’t mean you should be reckless, but the sooner you start to take action, the less likely you are to get scared.

2. Set many small goals. To get comfortable with risk, start small by setting a series of manageable goals that you can accomplish in a short period of time. Include some that are a little scary, but the main purpose here is to experience success repeatedly.

Those early successes will motivate you to seek out bigger risks. “Every time we achieve success, our brains release dopamine, which motivates us to go back and tackle the next success,” Mehta says. If you approach a big risk at that point, you’ll be primed to take action and less likely to get bogged down in fear of potential losses.

3. Surround yourself with risk-takers. A big part of comfort with risk is exposure. If you have people in your social circle, or especially in your family, who have been willing to take risks, then you will be much more likely to do the same. “There’s a huge social aspect to entrepreneurship,” Mehta says.

Risk-takers will be more likely to encourage you to take chances, and they will also be living examples of what it takes to risk and fail and risk again. “If you look at the biography of a famous person, it all depends on where in the biography you stop,” Mehta says. “Success comes by way of many, many failures.”

2. Have a well thought out plan. We begin to worry and over analyze situations when we don’t have detailed and well thought out plans for our life. Set extremely clear goals with a detailed plan on how to achieve those goals. After you have a well detailed plan, take action. Taking action towards meaningful goals helps to relieve stress and gives you a huge sense of enjoyment. Fear creeps in and paralyzes us when we don’t take the time to plan our lives.

3. Do one thing every day that scares you. Living in our comfort zone is not the best way to live. Not doing the things that frighten you will increase the likelihood that your fears will become bigger – and taking over your life. It can even be something small that you choose to do, but do something daily that scares you. Step out of your comfort zone and work on becoming comfortable with the uncomfortable. When you form the habit of doing something daily that scares you, your courage grows little by little. Soon enough, the barriers that once were holding you back vanish and your potential maximizes tremendously.

Related: Four Ways Entrepreneurs Can Overcome Fear Of Risk

So, how do you erase these fears?

How can you keep your business fears from getting the best of you?

Here are 5 tactics that will help you keep your fears in business at a minimum:

  1. 1. Build a reserve. A reserve means you have more than enough of what you need. Whether it’s a shortage of cash or clients that has triggered fear in your business generating an excess in that particular area of concern immediately calms the nerves.

  1. 2. Set goals that are crystal clear. If I were to ask about your goals today, would you be able to give me an immediate response including the details? If you hesitate or need time to consider your response, your goals could benefit from some polishing to make them unambiguous to you.

  1. 3. Hang out with others to avoid isolation. This is especially important if you’re working from a home-office. Admittedly, I love the notion of the short commute in my bunny slippers when working from my home-office but even as long as I’ve been in business, it can get awfully quiet. Rubbing up against the world – whether it’s online or offline – keeps you sharp, sparks your creativity, and dulls any fears in business.

  1. 4. Focus on your strengths. If you spend a great deal of your time focusing on your inadequacies, you’re not alone. No wonder your business fears knock the wind out of your sails! Although it may seem that your shortcomings far outweigh your strengths, your strengths are much sharper and can easily cut through the thistles in your path. Lead with your strengths every day.

  1. 5. Appreciate what you have and who you are. Studies have demonstrated that appreciation is the quickest way to attracting what you really want which invariably the opposite of what you fear in your business. Spend the first and last 5 minutes of your day mentally listing all you appreciate about yourself and your life.

Carl Gould is a business strategist, and growth expert. He has written 5 books in the area of creating business success, and is the co-host of the weekly radio program, ‘Quit and Get Rich’ (www.gteamradio.com). Carl and his team of experts advise companies and organizations to grow to the next level. What is the next level for you?

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