Business advice


What do you do when the workload gets too heavy?
May 25, 2008, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Business Advice | Tags: , ,

I have heard several small business owners whine about a workload and claim they couldn’t possibly market for new clients. This would put them under pressure that couldn’t handle.

You don’t ever want to find yourself in the position of turning down work. The only way to avoid it is to plan ahead.

Most all community colleges as well as universities offer opportunities for business students to work as interns during their course of studies.

Interns are just like any other potential employee, some are worth having and some aren’t. Look around your region and check out potential interns after your doors are open for awhile. Make some phone calls and set up appointments. Don’t take on this during a time when you are swamped. Do it beforehand.

Take the time to establish a phone relationship with several department heads and let them know your needs. That way, if your appointments don’t work out, the department head just might do some digging for you.

Take working with an intern seriously and do just as much screening as you would do with a permanent employee. And, who knows, if the semester works out and your business continues to grow, he/she just might be back as an employee.

If you are not lucky enough to live around any college, you may want to look to teens, either in your family or your colleagues. They can turn out to be great assistants. A side benefit is they can use their experience with you as a leg-up when they go out and look for their first real job.

It also helps to know others in your same profession. Belong to professional organizations, so you may have a chance to offer a work overload to someone who you are already familiar with.

New business owners frequently have short-term huge projects. It wouldn’t be wise to bring someone on full term if they just have to be let go a couple of months down the road.

Now that you have these keys, don’t be afraid of having too many projects come in. During my time running my own public relations firm, I used my teenagers and members of my writing groups. My best friend brought in interns every semester. It worked out well for all involved.

It simply takes planning and acknowledging that an overload is going to bang on your door as sure as the sun is going to rise tomorrow. Failing to plan for it could be tragic to your business. Don’t let it happen

For more samples of my work: www.bellbusinessreport.com

Laura Bell

writer@well.com

-30-

Advertisements


Are you thirsty?
May 18, 2008, 8:24 pm
Filed under: Blogroll, businness advice | Tags: , ,

It’s been brought to my attention that the increased scarcity of water is looming on the horizon as a massive problem.

This is a link to a list of articles on the subject: http://www.alternet.org/tags/water%20scarcity/ . Take a look at this long list and it will set you back a moment. I live in the Los Angeles area and the subject of water, do we have enough, and where can we get more is a part of the city’s history. When I hear mumblings about how this is going to be an issue again, I tend to put in the back of my mind, on the shelf of troubles that the rest of the world is going to fix.

Under this link, I found an article entitled, “”Those who control oil and water rule the world.” Think about it. If we stand back and let the major powers be the ones that deal with this issue, it will turn into a big mess. We all know how well they, the powers-that-be, deal with the ongoing scarcity of oil.

Now, if you are having doubts that a water shortage is an issue, check out the link and look at the number of articles on the subject on just this one website.

Dams are needed in California and there is a chance the Las Vegas will run out of water completely. This doesn’t include the troubles abroad with droughts and famine.

One of the biggest solutions mankind needs in the next couple of decades is a more efficient way to utilize the water we have. We also need a way to provide more and just maybe a solution to an age old problem, how to use sea water to our benefit.

All of this is time consuming and costly. The party and government that comes up with efficient solution to these problems will be controlling the strings of the rest of the world.

There are some attempts already at easing this problem. This is a link to a story about a system that deals with saving rain water: http://www.prweb.com/releases/2006/12/prweb484772.htm

We all know that the world is fascinated with getting a jump on what the next big thing is going to be. I am here to tell you that is and will continue to be water.

Keep your eyes peeled on the news coverage and any techie potential solutions. If opportunities for potential investment crop up, don’t think twice before jumping in.

This is sure to be ongoing topic for the foreseeable future. I doubt the problems with water will ever completely be resolved.

Technology for delivering water will without a doubt one of the next big things.

For samples of my work: www.bellbusinessreport.com

Laura Bell

writer@well.com

-30-



Times are even tougher for small business owners
May 14, 2008, 9:01 pm
Filed under: Blogroll, Business Advice | Tags: , ,

You have to be under a rock if you haven’t read the news about our economy’s craziness. The stories overflow to every part of the newspaper. The economic slowdown seems to be on everyone’s mind. There was a whole section of the increase of food prices and how rice has become scare in the latest Business Week.

Small business owners are feeling the crunch. So the question is: who will stay afloat and who is going to close their doors.

The major issue is simple: can you convince your customers that they need rather than want your product or service. You may also have to rethink the major markets you target. I read several magazines dealing with direct marketing. I just came across a short piece saying that many are zeroing in on teenagers. Many teens have money to spend as long as times haven’t gotten so tough their allowances have disappeared.

There are certain products that consumers want, compared to need. These purchases slowdown when customers’ money gets tight. A good example is the ads all over television for new mattresses. We all know that if push comes to shove, a lumpy mattress problem can be solved by shoving a board under it. However, running an ad with a medical endorsement going on about how new mattress improves your sleep and health can put the ball back on your side of the court.

Eating out, car washes, high grade meat, vacations and a new wardrobe are all products and services that can easily become one of the things worried consumers will decide to do without for the time being. The substitution effect will take hold. Where can they get a product or service cheaper will be high on their priority list. Sales, enticements and constant marketing tools keeping you in front of your consumer is the only chance you have to keep him/her coming back during these trying times.

Keep in mind how much teens buy. They spend a ton of cash from allowances and extras they receive during divorce. Many have the ability to shop for their own clothes these days without resorting to bringing Mom or Dad along. Toss the idea around and see if you can find a way to add them to your market.

Product mix is also a key issue during recessions. If you are only selling appliances, you might consider adding refurbished models. If you decide to go that route, make a lot of noise about it with your marketing. You also might consider adding extended warranties as a part of the deal. Adding something to your product offerings is also a very legitimate reason for getting in touch with old customers to let them know about this change.

Finally, and not least. Don’t cut back on advertising. The only companies who stem the tide during slow times are the ones who continue marketing. This doesn’t mean that you can’t find a way to trim the fat out of your marketing budget. Interns and teenagers can be good substitutes for fulltime employees for marketing tasks.

Keep your eyes on the economic measurements. They are all over the media. You couldn’t miss them if you tried; and keep a sharp eye on your competition. It will pay off in the long run.

For more samples of my work: http://www.bellbusinessreport.com

Laura Bell
writer@well.com

-30-



Do you control your money or does it control you?
May 6, 2008, 6:41 pm
Filed under: Blogroll, businness advice | Tags: , , , ,

This is a good question to ponder when the country is awaiting their economic stimulus checks with baited breath. Consumers tend to think checks are going to keep coming. If you run your life on that premise, it means that you are planning on working until the day you drop dead. If you spend your life waiting anxiously for your next check, your money controls you.

Stop presuming that checks will continue to show up in your life as they can stop for a myriad of reasons. Nowadays, even government checks can be delayed.

I know. You are shaking your head wondering how to get control when all your money disappears as you soon as you pay your bills. Getting one’s financial accounts under control is a primary goal. However, it doesn’t mean that you can’t save. Nor, does it mean that you can’t put away unexpected rewards, such as the economic stimulus check. I know several working folks who are planning to use it for a vacation or new ‘toys’ they could do without.

This type of behavior simply is saying to the universe that I will keep on working. I have absolutely no hope of ever putting my money to work. You either make a plan to put some of it to work, with more later, or you will be working until your funeral.

I know times are hard and money is stretched money is stretched to the point of snapping. My point is that you have to put money away, no matter what the circumstance. This is even more important when it comes to unexpected windfalls. You only spend that $600 on a vacation if you already have an investment plan in place.

This problem, of acting as if checks will continue is so widespread in this country that even the top-earners run up bills they will never be able to pay. They are under the illusion the good times will keep rolling forever. All you have to do to realize how nutty that idea is to look at the movie stars that have gone broke once shows were cancelled.

The lower end of the earning curve can start small. There was an interesting article in the business section of the Los Angeles Times just the other day on how one can find treasures at estate sales. Don’t shake your head until you investigate. Children start out with small stamp collections that eventually end up being passed on to the next generation. Collectibles can be a starting base for building wealth. They can be accumulated with small purchases in the beginning. Forbes used to have a section that talked about the ups and downs of the market value of various collectibles.

For the long term, one needs an investment or savings plan. Suze Orrman, the current national financial guru, continues to talk against using retirement money early. Whatever problem is bothering you currently should be dealt with other options besides taking out retirement funds. There are penalties, not to mention the loss of a nest egg for the down the road where the only sure thing may be a social security check. Once a retirement account is established, however, it can be used as collateral for a short-term loan without penalties.

Spend some time finding out how you can grow your money if you have only a small amount to play with. Online investment firms offer bank accounts which offer higher than normal interest rates. When you have enough put away, you can start trading a little at a time.

If you accumulate enough, open a CD, a certificate of deposit, and don’t crack it open, the first time something goes wrong. You can still buy United States Savings bonds and other investment bills issued by the US Treasury. Here is a link with more info:
http://www.savingsbonds.gov/indiv/research/indepth/ebonds/res_e_bonds.htm

If you feel the need to understand more about your finances, do some reading and then start a plan of action. You are losing money every day you put it off.

For more examples of my work: http://www.bellbusinessreport.com

Laura Bell
writer@well.com

-30-