Tag Archives: advice

Best Methods for Motivating Teams

Motivating Teams – Granger Whitelaw

Introduction:

Working with teams, whether as leader of a single team or manager of several, is an essential part of a manager’s remit. Teamwork is rapidly becoming the preferred practice in many organizations as traditional corporate hierarchies give way to flat, multi-skilled working methods. This section is an indispensable and practical guide to leading teams with expertise, covering subjects such as defining the skills required to complete a project, establishing trust between individuals within a team, and maximizing the performance of that team. The section is vital reading for any one involved in teamwork, whether as a novice or as an experienced team leader.

This month we will discuss:

1) Understanding How teams work

Understanding How Teams Work

Teamwork is the foundation of all successful management. Managing teams well is a major and stimulating challenge to any manager, form novice to experienced hand.

1) What Makes A Good Team?

A true team is a living, constantly changing, dynamic force in which a number of people come together to work. Team members discuss their objectives, assess ideas, make decisions, and work towards their targets together.

A) Working Together

All successful teams demonstrate the same fundamental features: strong and effective leadership; the establishment of precise objectives; making informed decisions; the ability to act quickly upon these decision; communicating freely; mastering the requisite skills and techniques to fulfill the project in hand; providing clear targets for the team to work towards; and – above all – finding the right balance of people to work together for the common good of the team.

B) Analyzing Team Tasks

Successful teams can be formed by 2 to 25 or more people, but much more important than size is shape – the pattern of working into which team member settle to perform their given tasks. There are three basic methods of performing a task:

Repetitive task and familiar work require each team member to have a fixed role, which is fulfilled independently, as on assembly lines;

Projects that require some creative input require team members to have fixed roles and working procedures, but also work in unison, as when generating new products;

Work that demands constant creative input and personal contributions requires people to work very closely as partners. This style of working is prevalent among senior management.

Working Well Together

A team of manager’s discuses a new plan that has been put forward by a member of the team. All of the team members are free to join the discussion. Later, the team leader will assess the contribution.

C) Achieving Potential

There is no limit to the potential of a good team. Given an “impossible” task, team members will reinforce each other’s confidence as they seek to turn the “impossible” into reality. The collective ability to innovate is stronger than that of individuals because the combined brainpower of a team, however small in number, exceeds that of any one person. By harnessing this power, a team can go beyond simple, useful improvements to achieve real breakthrough. For example, in one company an engineering team was asked to double machine reliability. They thought it impossible, but went on to produce a plan that pebbled performance.

Working Towards Understanding Encouraging open communication and the free flow of information within a team ensures that each member is fully aware of the talents and experience available within the group.

Note:

Remember that team members must support each other Break long-term aims into short term projects.

D) Knowing Team Goals

Once a team has been formed, the next major step is to establish its goals. There is little point in having a team that is raring to go if its members are all pursuing disparate aims. Goal may very well change over a team’s existence: for example if a new product is being launched on the market, the first priority will be for the team to concentrate on research into its competition. If the aim is to improve customer satisfaction, the first goal will be to find ways to provide a higher standard of service.

According to the circumstance, teamwork goals might include:

Increasing the rate of productivity in a manufacturing company;

Improving the quality of production;

involving all employees in decision making process to increase job satisfaction;

Looking at working systems and practices to reduce time wastage;

Working together with customers to build closer relationships so that the need of the market can be better understood.

Improving Performance

In a survey of 230 personnel executives, the American society of training and development found that teamwork led to a substantial rise in performance in key areas.

Cultural Differences

Cross-functional, multi-disciplinary, interdepartmental teams are spreading fast in the west, having been established in Japan for many years. In some British companies, managers already spend half their time working in such teams; and the democratic attitude of many North American’s has helped them to adapt well to this way of working. Continental Europeans still tend to be more comfortable with traditional hierarchical systems, but increasing competitive pressure and the need for speed-your-market are now forcing change on mangers in many industries.

Note: Allocate a clear deadline for each of your projects.

www.careerpath.cc

article source: adzines.com

Granger Whitelaw


Making Leadership, Genuine, Meaningful, and Productive

Leadership, Genuine, Meaningful and Productive

One of the best lessons I have learned is the impact and importance of leadership. It is so easy to identify dysfunctional leadership in a company (or of a governmental entity!). Many times, the common misconception is that the executives in the “ivory tower” sit around and relax, while the “workers” do all the work. Of course, happy and motivated employees are essential to a company (I still teach that in seminars that I conduct). But I have observed and learned that it is the leadership in an enterprise that makes the difference … and that is not exclusive to commerce.

I am an avid devotee of Right Action, and I believe it is the umbrella for everything worthwhile in life, in our endeavors and, in my opinion, a solemn responsibility of every human being. Power comes not from dictatorship but from respect, logic and compassion … all given by and returned to a quality leader. The substance of any situation is, of course, important … but what makes any enterprise function well, easily, profitably and with verve and passion is people working together. That is when Spirit is at its best, when respect and honor are not just words and when a truly great company shines in daylight and in darkness. For many years, I counseled and taught this very principle. I gave a seminar called “The Magic of People” in which I taught the value and wisdom of “people first.” It is the essence of leadership.

Vision is extending ideas, sometimes simple ideas, “outside the box” and creating a new, really new, thought. The person who conceived of eBay is a good example of this … they thought that the Internet had in it, as a part of its intrinsic nature, some characteristic that would fit some human need that was not yet conceived. They thought about many commonplace human endeavors and matched them up with Internet capabilities … and, yes, they came up with the activity “auction” and realized that the net was an ideal vehicle to carry that concept. This venture capitalist took the idea and translated it into action. It was a billion dollar idea!

Not to veer from the point here, it is essential for the leader to constantly be projecting, envisioning, visualizing … that is the root of entrepreneurial genius. Of course an action plan is required … but only after the leader has set the stage for the performance.

Excerpts from a new book, “Looking for a Better World.” Read more at: http://www.buybooksontheweb.com/description.asp?ISBN=0-7414-2134-8

Dr. Malkin holds a B.Sc. in Business and a Masters and Ph.D. in Religion. He has made hundreds of visits to schools with a moving and effective motivational presentation, urging teens to do their personal best. His mentoring programs have empowered many, many children. His quest for years has been to teach the power of Right Action, working towards the goal of a better world.

article source: adzines.com


6 Steps To Laying Out Your Competitive Strategy

6 Steps To Laying Out Your Competitive Strategy

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Why do so many companies languish and watch as their business turns into a zero profit zone, while others seem to thrive?” />

6 Steps To Laying Out Your Competitive Strategy

Why do so many companies languish and watch as their business turns into a zero profit zone, while others seem to thrive?

When you look at your business, whether it’s a new venture or a company with a long history, can you answer the following questions?

  • What does my company do better than anyone else?
  • What unique value do I provide to my customers?
  • How will I increase that value next year?

Companies that fail to answer these questions, and don’t believe they are of paramount importance, relegate themselves to marginal profitability at best and failure at worst. But companies that can answer these questions are able to raise the value bar for their customers and reap the benefits of success.

Of course, being able to answer 3 simple questions does not ensure success, but it is an important step in creating a strategic and focused operation which leads to a successful business. With today’s business environment being so competitive, businesses need to re-invent the rules on which they compete in order to be successful. Companies like Wal-Mart have figured this out and have redefined competition in their market by delivering a unique value to a selected customer group. By maintaining a focus and discipline, they make it difficult for other companies to compete under old competitive terms.

Simply, competitive strategy has never been more important to success in today’s business environment. It does not matter what type of business you are in or whether you are small, big or just starting out, a company can not survive without an adequate and focused strategic plan to best the competition. Yet many companies fail to execute a successful strategy; it is these companies that languish in the zero profit zone.

In simple terms, for a company to achieve success and enter the profit zone it must first decide where it will stake its claim in the marketplace and what kind of value it will offer its customers. A company needs a clear marketing thrust, a precise knowledge of its customer base, and a product or service with a niche or some competitive advantage to be successful. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs and business owners get stuck in the process of defining their competitive strategy. They often have the idea and the product, but being the technician they are not sure how to define its market. Even worse, many entrepreneurs assume or guess their target market and often glaze over a competitive strategy, usually to the detriment of the business.

So what are the steps to laying out a competitive business strategy? While there are different methods you can follow, I have laid a series of 6 basic steps to help you.

1. Financial perspective

This step may not seem to have much to do with strategy, but it is important to determine the value of success quickly. Why? Because, in simple terms if the venture can’t deliver significant returns, it may not be worth the risk, and you have to ask yourself if it is worth continuing with your business. In this scenario you complete a reverse income statement. You start by defining how much profit you want to see at the end of a certain time period, and then determine the amount of revenues needed to generate that profit and the costs to deliver that profit. Do the numbers add up and make sense? The goal here is to be objective, if the expected revenue is not sufficient to generate your required profit at the end based on an estimate of costs, don’t simply fudge the numbers and assume you can reduce costs or increase revenue. Be diligent in your assessment.

2. Understand the industry and competition

In step 2 you are going to assess your industry and the competition. This basically comes down to assessing 5 factors:

  1. Understanding who your competition is including factors such as competitor strengths and weaknesses, market position, pricing, new product development, advertising, marketing and branding. You should determine how you compare to your competitors.
  2. Assessing the threat of new entrants into the industry (which may include you) and any potential reactions from existing companies. There are basically 6 barriers to entry you can evaluate: economies of scale, product differentiation, capital requirements, cost disadvantages, access to distribution channels, government policy.
  3. Assessing the threat of substitute products (existing or future) that can place a ceiling on pricing.
  4. Assessing the bargaining power of suppliers who can increase prices, lower the quality of products or limit the quantity of supplies one can purchase. This all has an impact on profitability.
  5. Assessing the bargaining power of customers who can force down prices or demand better quality, more services and play you off versus a competitor.

3. Understand the Customer Perspective

In step 3 you assess your customer. This is a key step, get it wrong and you may not be able to recover. In fact, the customer value proposition and how it translates into growth and profitability for the company is the foundation of strategy.

Start by asking your self a couple basic questions: To achieve my vision, how must my customers look? Who are the target customers that will generate growth and a profitable mix of products/services?

Next, ask yourself what is the value proposition which defines how the company differentiates itself to attract, retain and deepen relationships with the targeted customers? There are basically 3 value propositions or disciplines that you can choose from:

  1. Cost leadership In this discipline you choose to provide the best price with the least inconvenience to your customers.
  2. Product leadership In this discipline you offer products that push the performance boundary (i.e. newer and better than competitors).
  3. Best total solution In this discipline you deliver what the customer wants, cultivate relationships and satisfy unique needs. In this case, you may not be the cheapest or the newest, but the total package you deliver to the customer cannot be matched.

In order to help you determine which of these value propositions you decide on, you may want to work through a value chain: 1. Determine your customer priorities 2. Determine the channels needed to satisfy those priorities 3. Determine the offering (products) that are best suited to flow through those channels 4. Determine the inputs (materials/knowledge etc) required to create the product 5. Determine the assets/core competencies essential to the inputs (ask yourself, in order to satisfy my customer at which processes must I excel? For example, product design, brand and market development, sales, service and operations and/or logistics).

4. Finish the business model

The business model shows how all the elements and activities of a business work together as a whole by outlining how the business generates revenue, how cash flows through the business and how the product flows through the business. By this time, you should understand the revenue capability of the business, how the industry works and your competition, who you customer is, what you are going to offer them and how you are going to offer it. By drawing a flow chart that shows how these activities are linked together you will understand how the business activities flow to generate projected profit, which you determined in step 1. This is also a good step to see if something is missing in your analysis.

5. Construct the business plan

By the time you get to this step most of your work is done. If you are looking for financing, a formalized plan will have to be completed. If you do not need financing, simply make sure the preceding tasks are documented so that they can be reviewed and changed as time progresses (strategy is an ongoing process, not a one time task).

6. Learning and growth perspective

In this last step, you ask yourself how/where the organization must learn and improve in order to become and remain successful. For example, determine the skills, capabilities and knowledge of employees needed, the technology needed and the climate and culture in which they work.

About The Author

You have permission to publish this article electronically or in print, free of charge, as long as the bylines are included. A courtesy copy of your publication would be appreciated. Send to:jeff@companyworkshop.com

article source: adzines.com


Five Crucial Components of a Business Plan

Five Crucial Components of a Business Plan

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The format of a Business Plan is something that has been developed and refined over the years and is something that should not be changed. Like a good recipe, a business plan needs to include certain ingredients to make it work.” />

Five Crucial Components of a Business Plan

The format of a Business Plan is something that has been developed and refined over the years and is something that should not be changed. Like a good recipe, a business plan needs to include certain ingredients to make it work.

When you create a business plan, don’t attempt to recreate its format. Those reviewing this type of document have expectations you must meet. If they do not see those crucial decision-making components, they’ll see no reason to proceed with their review of your business plan, no matter how great your business idea.

Executive Summary Section

Every business plan must begin with an Executive Summary section. A well-written Executive Summary is critical to the success of the rest of the document. Here is where you need to capture the attention of your audience so that they will be compelled to read on. Remember, it’s a summary, so each and every word must be carefully selected and presented.

Use the Executive Summary section of your business plan to accurately describe the nature of your business venture including the need that you plan to fill. Show the reasons why people need your product or service. Show this by including a brief analysis of the characteristics of your potential market.

Describe the organization of your business including your management team. Also, briefly describe your sales and marketing plan or approach. Finally include the numbers that those reviewing your business plan want to see the amount of capital you seek, the carefully calculated sales projections and your plan to repay the loan.

If you’ve captured your audience so far they’ll read on. Otherwise, they’ll close the document and add your business plan to the heap of other rejected ideas.

Devote the balance of your business plan to providing details of the items outlined in the Executive Summary.

The Business Section

Be sure to include the legal name, physical address and detailed description of the nature of your business. It’s important to keep the description easy to read using common terminology. Never assume that those reading your business plan have the same level of technical knowledge that you do. Describe how you plan to better serve your market than your competition is currently doing.

Market Analysis Section

An analysis of the market shows that you have done your homework. This section is basically a summary of your Marketing Plan. It needs to show the demand for your product or service, the proposed market, trends within the industry, a description of your pricing plan and packaging and a description of your company policies.

Financing Section

The Financing section must show that you are as committed to your business venture as you expect those reading your business plan to be. Show the amount of personal funds you are contributing and their source. Also include the amount of capital you need and your plan to repay this debt. Include all pertinent financial worksheets in this section: annual income projections, a break-even worksheet, projected cash flow statements and a balance sheet.

Management Section

Outline your organizational structure and management team here. Include the legal structure of your business whether it is a partnership, corporation or limited liability corporation. Include resumes and biographies of key players on your management team. Show staffing projection data for the next few years.

By now you’re probably thinking that you don’t need Business Plan just yet. Well you do, and there is business plan building software that can help you through this immense project. These software packages are easy to use and affordable. Use one today and produce a professional-quality Business Plan including all critical components tomorrow!

Copyright © 2004 Cavyl Stewart. Get more software tips, strategies and recommendations to help you create your business plan by signing up for my Exclusive 100% free, 100% original content ecourse: “How To Failure-Proof Your Business Instantly.” To sign up please visit: http://www.find-small-business-software.com/bizplan-ecourse.html

article source: adzines.com


Getting the Fundamentals Correct

Get The Fundamentals Right

Get The Fundamentals Right

By: Kevin Sinclair

To succeed in business on the Internet, or in the off-line world, requires an understanding of the fundamentals of business and using them to your advantage. In this article, I will outline what I consider the fundamentals of business success are.

Believe in Your Product or Service
First, you need to believe in your product or service. If you don’t believe in it, you will have a great deal of difficulty selling your product or service to other people. You also need to have confidence in your ability to provide and promote your product or service. An old saying sums this up best by stating: “All things are possible to he who believes”.

Aptitude for the Business
Secondly, you need to have an aptitude for the business. You will also need the motivation to acquire at the very least basic skills and experience before you start your business. If you were to set yourself up as a web designer but did not have any skills or training in this area, then you will almost certainly fail. However, if you are employed as a bookkeeper and you enjoy the job, then setting up your own bookkeeping service would be a sensible choice with a greater chance of success.

Be Responsible
Thirdly, you need to be responsible to your customers. This is achieved by only making commitments you can keep and by not engaging in misleading or dishonest advertising. If you want to build long-term success in your business, then you need to develop long-term satisfied customers. When their needs are being satisfied, customers are at their happiest.

Aim for High Quality
The next principle is that you need to have a high quality product or service. This will be your best advertisement. Inferior quality products usually generate poor customer satisfaction. A dissatisfied customer can be very dangerous for your business. Usually they tell on average about fourteen other people who will then be disinclined to buy your product or service based on the experience of that one dissatisfied person. Therefore, always aim for a top quality product or service.

Make a Profit
However, it is not enough to have a top quality product or service. You also need to have a product or service that will generate enough income to cover all your business expenses and give you a satisfactory wage. A friend of mine once said that business is only about two things: satisfying customers and making a profit. A simple statement but very true.

Sufficient Start-up Capital
You also need to have access to enough cash to set up and run your business, and enough income to meet your private expenses during the start-up phase. A major problem with many home and small businesses is that they fail to have enough money available to ensure their success. There is nothing more discouraging than having a great idea, getting it started on a shoestring, not being able to expand due to cash shortages and seeing a competitor come along and steal your market.

Start Small
Another fundamental principle of home business success is that you start small. This will enable you to minimize your overheads until you are confident of your success in the marketplace. For many of you, this would mean starting part-time while retaining your full-time income source. When you can, expand your business into a full-time venture. This is a great way of minimizing the risk of failure.

Be Well Organized
Successful businesses are well organized. They have a system for keeping track of expenditure and earnings. This level of organization in your business will help to ensure that you are providing your customers or clients with a top quality product or service. It will also ensure that you have enough information available to maximize your profitability and to satisfy your legal requirements for record keeping.

Be Prepared
Preparation is another key ingredient in your business success. This preparation will include being aware of the regulations and laws affecting small and home business. Armed with this knowledge, you should not have any nasty surprises from unintentional violations of the law.

Have a Business Plan
Finally, successful businesses have developed a comprehensive business plan. This is their road map to success. It tells them where they are going and how they are going to get there. There are a number of good resources about business planning on the Internet. Here are some:
http://www.bplans.com
http://www.businesstown.com/planning/creating.asp
http://www.bizplanit.com/vplan.htm

Conclusion
It has been said that genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. The same can be said about business success. Without having the fundamentals in place, a great business idea will usually fail. Set yourself up for success by considering each of the points raised in this article.

Author Bio
Article by Kevin Sinclair, CPA, of Personal & Business Success Resources. Visit his website at www.business.ksinclair.com.

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Identity Theft and New Ventures

Identity Theft of your Limited Company

Identity Theft of your Limited Company

The UK registry at Companies House provides a useful service for limited companies. In addition to incorporating and dissolving companies they also maintain the national register. This involves the recording and storing of data relating to all UK incorporated companies and LLP’s. Historically most records were updated by the submission of manual forms. This would include the submission of company accounts, change of address forms and forms appointing new company officers as well as many other documents. Whilst this system has served a purpose for many years it is far from secure as signatures are not checked and changes are implemented without further checks.

Identity fraud has increased over recent years, which meant that the previous system at Companies House was open to serious abuse. Companies have found their records have been updated without their knowledge. Individuals can masquerade as company officers, open bank accounts and enter into fraudulent contacts. It has been too easy for too long for businesses to be deceived and for companies to be hijacked

However, Companies House has now introduced some basic protective measures that limited companies in the UK can adopt. Firstly they have introduced ‘WebFiling’. This is an electronic online filing system. It allows companies to make changes to their company details online. Instead of posting forms to Companies House changes can now be made in minutes online. To increase security there are two simple security procedures used. A security ‘authentication code’ is issued for each company and users require a security code to access the software.

The second security improvement is that users can sign up for Companies House ‘PROOF’ service. This means that they will no longer accept manual paper forms to make changes to your company records. This stops the opportunist from simply completing forms and posting them to Companies House. Any paper forms will require further authorisation from existing officers.

Whilst these two points should reduce identity theft companies can also ‘monitor’ their companies filing. This does not literally require daily monitoring of Companies House. For a small fee of £0.50 per annum Companies House will inform you by email every time a document if filed at Companies House for your company. This includes manual and electronic filing. This means that you can double check all changes made to your company without leaving your desk.

These three simple to implement measures should help protect the future identity of your limited company. Not only will you have piece of mind but you will save your company time and money by filing online.

Author Bio
Michael Harris is a university graduate who has worked within the company formation and business advice industry for many years. The SFS Group of Companies provide same day company formation

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Corporate Seals

Company Seal that Deal – Literally!

Company Seal that Deal – Literally!

A company seal is a device commonly supplied by Company Formation Agents when registering new companies for clients. The company seal offers a way of embossing documents with the company name and number as a way of sealing the document. This seal is often used in place of signatures of the authorised representatives of the company.

In the UK, Prior to the Companies Act 1985, a company seal was legally binding on a company when a document such as a contract or share certificate was embossed by the seal. Since the Companies Act 1985 (and subsequent amendments) were introduced the company seal was no longer a legal requirement of a limited company. Instead a company can effectively seal a document with the signature of two company officers, typically a director and secretary of the company.

Although this change in law in the UK would appear to make the company seal a redundant item they are still widely used today. The company seal still has great importance in other countries and many UK companies doing business overseas will often need to seal a document to complete a contract or agreement.

How does it work
The company seal is actually an embosser as opposed to a stamp that would contain ink of some form. When the seal is pressed onto paper it creates a raised impression of the information contained within the two dies.

The company seal has two dies containing the information to be embossed on to paperwork. One die will have a raised impression and the other die will have the inverted image of this information. You simply insert a piece of paper between the two dies and press the lever, or squeeze the plier, and the two dies come together creating a raised impression on the paper of the information contained on the dies.

This embossing process is a simpler alternative to more traditional seals which involve using wax and a stamp. Wax would be heated and melted onto a document which is then impressed with the stamp containing engraved information. The engraved information would create an impression in the wax and therefore seal the document. As it is not practical to heat wax in many situations the company seal offers a simple alternative by impressing directly into paper.

If you wish to obtain a wax effect from a company seal you can use self adhesive wafers which are designed to look like wax. The wafer is simply placed on the paper before embossing, then emboss in the centre of the wafer and the raised image is more defined as would occur with a wax seal. Company seal wafers are typically supplied in red (to look like wax) or gold.

Various types of company seal
Company seals are available in two formats.

The cheapest seal is a plier type seal which has two dies, one on each side of the plier. As the plier is squeezed, with paper between the pincers, the two dies come together and emboss the paper. This plier type company seal offers an economical and portable way of sealing documents but is limited in its reach from the edge of paperwork and is unable to emboss a satisfactory image into thicker paper.

The more robust option is the lever type company seal. This seal has one die on its base and a second attached to lever above the base. Paper is inserted over the base and the lever is compressed thus embossing the paper. As the force created by the lever is much greater than the plier type seal the lever company seal can emboss thick paper and card. Lever company seals are available in various finishes so can be kept on a desk adding a professional look to your work environment.

Who uses company seals
Company seals are still widely used by limited companies in the UK to emboss the company name and number on important documents. Although not legally required they do give a professional finish to important contracts and certificates.

Professionals such as Notary Publics and solicitors also use them to seal documents they have signed with their name and often a unique logo.

Anyone can use a company seal and it does not have to contain information relevant to a company, this is just the most common use.

Where to obtain a company seal
The most common supplier of company seals in the UK are company formation agents as it goes hand in hand with company formation services. A plier type company seal containing just text (no logo) can be obtained for less than £20.

Author Bio
Steve Harris works within the company formation and business advice industry and has a wide knowledge of this sector. Simple Formations is part of the SFS Group of Companies providing Company Seals

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