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Archive for July 2013

To Be Successful at Anything, You Must Be Authentic in Everything

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Truth is a point of view, but authenticity can’t be faked. ~ Peter Guber

We now live in a society where ‘realness’ has become a requirement in every aspect of life. We demand it from our government, business leaders, community leaders, and even social media. It’s believed that you can’t be successful if people don’t feel like you’re presenting a true sense of who you really are.

Authenticity is needed today for everyone regardless of the situation. From the least to the greatest, self-awareness makes it easier to see life choices more clearly and brings our values more into focus. When we are authentic, we align our actions with our beliefs, values, strengths and weaknesses as one.

To Be Authentic You Must Conquer Two Things:

1.  Clarification of Who You Are

For most people, this is not a problem. I personally embrace authenticity, and regularly reap the benefits of it. But there are some who find it hard to be so open about who they really are. This makes it difficult for some to reach the full level of success in business and in their personal lives. In most cases, lack of authenticity is not because a person is deliberately being dishonest. Lack of authenticity can also come from not truly knowing who you authentically are; therefore unable to authentically express it. If you want to be relevant in today’s society, you must first clarify who you are and incorporate that authenticity into everything you do. To bring clarity to who you are, start asking yourself some specific questions. These honest answers will get you started on a path of defining yourself. What are your core values? What is your life vision?

 2. Consistency at Being You

Do you constantly hide behind a mask so that you will blend in? Take note; it’s perfectly fine to have an opinion and profess your personal likes and dislikes. “Be yourself” is possibly the most commonly used phrase in history and yet so many people still find it hard to do. To be yourself simply means to define yourself on your terms. To be consistently authentic you have to stop caring about how other people perceive you.  Doing specific things every day is easier to maintain than dropping things and picking them up over and over again. Consistency is not about seeing and reaching a finish line. Consistency is about doing (or being) the same with no timescale. You are authentic, irreplaceable and unique. Your authentic self supports your purpose in life. For example: Carpenters are naturally gifted to use their hands to create things. Successful public relations professionals have a naturally gift of great communication.

How can you become more consistent at being you?

  • First, Make a commitment to define your personal values.
  • Create business and personal relationships that allow you to be authentic.  (Practice makes perfect)
  • Be aware, authenticity means some people will not like or agree with you.
  • Don’t be afraid to disagree with things that do not agree with your values and beliefs.
  • Identify and embrace your weaknesses.
  • Identify and articulate your strengths.
  • Be sure that everyday your actions mirror your values and beliefs.  (Walk what you talk)

Prosperity and fulfillment flows free for those who have taken time to ‘do the work’, get real with themselves and discover what makes ‘You’ you.  Surround yourself with people who clearly now who they are and is committed to being consistent to their true self. People (family, friends, colleagues & customers) will not support what they don’t believe.

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Written by Beverly S. Davis

July 27, 2013 at 10:00 pm

How to Make the Most of A Small Marketing Budget

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By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. ~ Benjamin Franklin

When I start working with a small business’s finances I always begin with their budgets, and the budget that 90% of business owners want to tackle first is almost always their marketing budget. It makes perfect sense, marketing is what will get the word out about your new business and start driving profit.  The biggest cost for any new small businesses is competing against larger companies who have marketing budgets much larger than theirs. This does not have to be negative; any size budget can effectively be used to generate great marketing results.

The most important step to make the most of a small budget is researching and choosing the correct avenues to market through. Once you have determined your target customer, put a solid  strategy in place and start your marketing activities be sure you regularly visit your marketing activities and its results.

There are 2 types of budgets:

  1.  An Operating Budget which is a prediction of all expected revenues and expenses over a 12-month period. It projects your gross and net sales, along with your net profits or losses. An operating budget allows business owners to explore different assumptions that the business may go through in a one year period.  The focus of an operating budget is to ensure there are sufficient funds to maintain the operation of  the business, and that those funds are distributed in the most cost-efficient way.
  2. . A Cash-Flow Budget is based on actual revenue. Positive cash flow means the business generates enough money to pay all the bills through out the year. With that being said, it’s important to remember that a business ca be profitable yet have cash flow problems. This is an issue for business that purchase inventory upfront and will not  receive a profit from the sales for 30 days or more. In these cases a cash flow budget is best because it allows owners to see where revenue gaps are and to have alternate financial resources in place to keep the business running smoothly.

Step 1: Build a Strategy

To be effective you must first answer the question, “what do I want my marketing to do?”  This is what you will measure your results against.  Brainstorm a few ideas, and decide which idea will best reach your customers. Next, you are ready to build a strategy around your idea. Some questions to get you started might be:

    1. What specific theme will you focus on? (will this include print & video)
    2. How will you make your theme or message most relevant to customers?
    3. How you will measure the results of your marketing?
    4. Will you have assistance from an outside PR/Marketing agency?
    5. What social media networks can you market on (Paid & Free) to build customers?

 Step 2: Build a Budget

Developing a good marketing budget is the most important part of your marketing  plan. A solid budget allows you to make realistic choices as to what your business can do to increase revenues. Without a budge your business will be in a financial rut from the start . Leave room in your budget for last-minute changes or updates to your marketing plan. As your business grows or shrinks, it will directly affect the budgets you have in place.  Here are some steps you can take to development a marketing budget that won’t eat up your finances:

    1. Do an overhaul of your finances to determine how much revenue your business generates each month.
    2. Subtract your monthly expenses from this revenue, this is what your actual working revenue is.
    3. Determine what percentage you want to focus your marketing on. For example; if you’re doing print and email, will you split it 50/50 or will 80% go to email and 20% to print?
    4. Look at your current marketing strategy and find ways to expand on it with the least amount of funds. If  you choose new marketing avenues, be sure to use a small portion of your budget until you’re sure it’s working for your business.
    5. Always seek business to business marketing opportunities that will cost you nothing but a few hours of work services.

If you’re overspending on your marketing, then you’ll never see the additional revenue that you’re working so hard for. Remember, the only purpose of marketing is to generate more revenue. If your marketing strategy is not bringing in new revenue, you need to let go of your strategy and try something new. Talk to business owners that are not your direct competitors. Use the information they give you as a financial benchmarks for your business. Whatever marketing strategy you choose, be sure to build a budget around it that will allow you to reach your business goals.

Written by Beverly S. Davis

July 24, 2013 at 11:42 am

Women Entrepreneurs: Should You Be Working More With Men?

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Equality doesn’t exist in this universe. Either one prevails and the other follows, or both negotiate their differences and create a greater partnership.  ~Harold J. Duarte- Bernhardt

Today women entrepreneurs represent nearly 50% of all privately held businesses make in the US. There is no secret that men have a huge head start when it comes to entrepreneurship but statistics support the theory that women led businesses survive and thrive more than male run ventures. Many well-known, successful women admit to having a male mentor who played an important role in their career. This leads to the question; how can men make great mentors to women, yet women entrepreneurs are more successful?

Prior to becoming an entrepreneur I worked in corporate banking. The majority of my career I was surrounded by male colleagues, managers and customers. Now, looking back I view the experience as the perfect platform for entrepreneurship. I absorbed the different qualities that men bring to the table. Men have a different approach to business leadership, problem solving, and negotiating. I am a huge advocate of women entrepreneurs, and I strongly believe that women must support each other as much as we can. However the uprising of the women’s self help movement may sometimes facilitate lost advantages of women seeking help from, and in some cases a partnership with men. Studies prove that men and women are taught differently from childhood how to lead. Now days a lot of that teaching is changing, but if we learn and appreciate the differences women and men have in business, we would have more successful collaborations and more successful businesses.

Men vs. Women in Business

Male entrepreneurs view their businesses as a well oiled machine, while women entrepreneurs put more of their personal values into the business making it their number one priority. Women are known for their great improvisation skills. Which is a huge part of successful entrepreneurship. Women are more focused on the sustainability of the business. Women don’t have a problem with leading from behind, not making a lot of noise but orchestrating behind the scenes. By nature men have larger egos and love giving orders to others. Leadership in women comes from the ability to attract and inspire talent, not having to be the talent yourself.

Though men and women think, listen and speak differently, the result is the perfect combination to a well-rounded business structure. The law of nature speaks for itself, yen and yang work. If you’re starting a business or have a business and are considering a partner, don’t go for the obvious go for the opposite.

 

Reference: Businessweek: Men Dominate, Women Orchestrate

Written by Beverly S. Davis

July 3, 2013 at 2:53 am

5 Crucial Finance Tactics Every Small Business Should Be Doing

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Your net worth to the world is usually determined by what remains after your bad habits are subtracted from your good ones.  – Benjamin Franklin

If you’re a business owner you have a vested interest in your finances that no employee or outside consultant will ever have. As a business owner, take the responsibility for developing and executing tactics that will keep your business financially stable. Many business owners focus on growth and fail to pay attention to their business’s financial operations. How your business financially operates will determine its future growth or slow demise.

After working more than twelve years in corporate banking, I can assure you that it’s the proficient operations that keeps a successful business on top.  What the public sees everyday is the extensive advertising and marketing that big businesses spend, but what they don’t see is the daily process of how the big businesses run their operations. There are many different financial factors that every business (big or small) will face. Even if you’re a small business owner you can still execute these factors the same way big businesses do. I’ve thought of five financial  factors most small businesses face that affects their bottom line, and offered  tactics you can incorporate to get the best results.

Here’s 5 crucial finance tactics small business should incorporate in their daily operations

1. Tracking Assets

Business asset tracking is needed to establish value for accounting purposes and to help manage the allocation of resources. Accuracy is extremely important. A good tracking system allows you to locate information about any asset quickly. This will ensure proper depreciation of the asset, as well as tell you what assets need to be replaced or upgraded. If you’re using an accounting software be sure to enter purchased assets immediately to be sure the date, value and description is correct. If you do not use accounting software, create a Fixed Asset Spreadsheet of items you want to depreciate.  Each month these items will show on the Balance Sheet Report prepared for your business.

2.  Tracking Expenses

If you need to make large business expenditure, a review of the income and expenses for the last several months will help decide if the purchase can be made now or put off for later. When it’s time to do your year-end taxes, a detailed list of your expenses will make it easier to identify which tax write-offs your business qualifies for. If you’re using an accounting software be sure to enter expenses weekly or monthly. If you do not use accounting software, keep a spreadsheet log of your monthly expenses. Scan receipts and file them in a cloud based folder by category and month. Store the original hard copies in a binder for easy reference.

3.  Scheduling Invoices

Revenue is what keeps your business alive. Keeping a steady cash flow is vital to your survival. Developing a billing process is a must. Set a date (preferably at the beginning of the month) that you will send out invoices to customers. Customers who receive invoices at the same time every month are more likely to be prepared for it and pay faster. Keep in mind that once you send the invoice it important to track your billing until payment is received. You may also need a process for sending second notices and making follow-up phone calls. Using an accounting software will allow for easy distribution,  research and receiving of payments.

4. Recording Deposits

Your average business has one main source of revenue that generates deposits to the business account. Although it may derive from a variety of services or products, it all counts as income. However, there are bank deposits such as a loans or transfers that should not be counted as income. If these deposits are not recorded separately from income, your profit & lost statement will be incorrect and at   year-end you possibly could pay taxes on more money than your business actually made.

5. Paying Taxes

Be sure to keep a record of tax deadlines on your calendar, and allow sufficient time to prepare so payments are made by the due date. The IRS can levy penalties and interest for not filing quarterly tax returns on time. It’s suggested that business owners set aside a certain amount of money throughout the year to pay taxes to keep from being in a money crunch every time quarterly taxes come due.

Written by Beverly S. Davis

July 2, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Posted in Entrepreneurship

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