Archive for August, 2010

Good presentation tips

Posted in Management / Leadership with tags , , , , on August 28, 2010 by virtualcitypa

There are four aspects of a good presentation that we should all be aware of: 1) The purpose of the presentation is chrystal clear 2) The message is concise 3) Well prepared 4) Vivid message delivery

Understand what you want to achieve.

Before you start working on your talk or presentation, it’s vital that you really understand what you want to say, who you want to tell and why they might want to hear it. To do this, ask yourself: Who? What? How? When? Where? Why?

When it comes to wording your message, less is more. You’re giving your audience headlines. They don’t need to and are usually not expecting to become experts on the subject as a result of hearing your talk.

If you’re using slides, limit the content of each one to a few bullet points, or one statement or a very simple diagram

Be prepared

Preparation is underrated. In fact, it is one of the most important factors in determining your communication successes.

Of course, not all communications can be scheduled. In this case, preparation may mean having a good, thorough understanding of the office goings-on, enabling you to communicate with the knowledge you need to be effective, both through verbal and written communications.

Unforgettable delivery

Your delivery of your speech or presentation will make or break it, no matter how well you’ve prepared and crafted your clear, concise message. Some useful tips for keeping your presentation vivid include:

  • Use examples to bring your points to life
  • Keep your body language up-beat – don’t stay stuck behind a rostrum
  • Don’t talk to fast. Less is more here too. Pauses are effective.
  • Use a variety of tones of voice
  • Use visual aids.

We thank MindTools.com for this insight to effective presentations

http://www.mindtools.com/CommSkll/PublicSpeaking.htm

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Top 5 mistakes when hiring in a recession

Posted in Human Resources with tags , , , on August 26, 2010 by virtualcitypa

While hiring during normal economic periods is itself fraught with big time peril, hiring during a recession can have its own set of unique challenges. Here are the top five recruiting mistakes made by companies during tough economic times:

1.  Thinking Great Candidates Grow On Trees

Recruiters I’ve talked with on RecruitingBlogs.com say they are having a harder time filling the reqs they have open. How can this be? Unemployment is high! Generally speaking, most of those top tier candidates that clients are asking for are still working and are not so willing to move now with so much uncertainty. Like most things in life, quantity isn’t a sure sign that you’ll get the quality you need.

2.  Under-Estimating Your Staffing Needs

One of the classic moves is under-staffing when times are tough. When you are launching a product though and you forecast five employees and your manager cuts it to three, think about the situation you are putting these new employees in. They’ll be doing the work of five employees and that added stress can lead to increased turnover. Turnover can cost a lot of money too.

3. Hiring Now Only To Later Lay Them Off

The opposite problem of number two: you hire someone and then lay them off three months later because of something unanticipated. There isn’t anything worse than this (especially if they had a job before!) When you make the decision to open up the req, plan worst case scenario and that you have to keep them on board for a year or more. Still confident? Open it up. Have questions? Re-investigate until you can be confident.

4.  Under-Compensating Because You Can

In a depressed market, you may feel the urge to underpay a new employee because you can. While I am a fully fledged capitalist, I should mention that there is a real risk to this strategy. Let’s assume that you under-compensate a new employee by 25%. Not a problem now but down the road when the market is back and compensation is on the rise, are you going to be ready to up the pay significantly (by 25% or not)? If you’re not, beware. You may be buying a deal on a very short term employee. And don’t forget holiday bonuses either, although here are some recession-proof ideas for you.

5.   Not Replacing A Necessary Employee

When times are tough and you have a hiring freeze going on, it may be tempting to not replace Bob from accounting who is retiring at the end of the year. Just redistribute the work and hope for the best. If Bob is a necessary puzzle piece though, you must replace him not only because you can (you were paying that salary before) but because it will help the other employees who are in the department (who may have taken over extra work as the down turn began).

In short, hiring in a recession isn’t about guessing and it isn’t about treating people like sub-humans because they are desperate for a job. On the contrary it is all about getting your hires right the first time and treating them with respect. This attitude will pay dividends once the recession is over and we’re all back to business as usual.

You can also find Lance on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/thelance

http://standoutjobs.com/site/blog/top-five-hiring-mistakes-in-recession/

Price setting

Posted in Business start up, Finance with tags , , , on August 21, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Finding the right balance of offering a service at a price that is right for you and the customer is not always easy to find when you are just getting started. However, over time, an equilibrium will be reached where you realise your niche where clients are either happy to pay a nominal premium for a quality service or otherwise.

smallbusiness.co.uk has some useful hints to review whilst you are setting your strategy:

1. Analyse the position your product holds in the market.

Are your target customers those who are looking for reliability? Has your product already achieved an established image in the eyes of the market? Do buyers view it as good quality, prompt service, stylish, say?

2. Analyse your product.

Are you planning modifications or alterations which could alter its reputation or relative position in the marketplace?

3. Analyse the competition.

How do their products rate against yours? What is the relative price structure in the market?

4. Decide your pricing strategy.

Where in the price range are you going to pitch your price? Is it going to be average for the market, 5% less than the average, 5% above the average or a premium price, 25% above the average?

5. Choose some specific prices.

Estimate volume of sales, profit margin and costs to forecast the level of profits for each price.

6. Choose your price.

7. Are you be able to test market the price in a small area of your market?

This would allow you to gauge customer reactions.

http://www.smallbusiness.co.uk/channels/sales-and-marketing/finding-customers/guides-and-tips/20707/guide-to-setting-prices.thtml

Planning

Posted in Business start up, Management / Leadership, Time Management with tags , , on August 21, 2010 by virtualcitypa

A good plan will:

  • State the current situation
  • Have a clear aim
  • Use the resources available
  • Detail the tasks to be carried out, whose responsibility they are, and their priorities and deadlines.
  • Detail control mechanisms that will alert you to difficulties in achieving the plan.
  • Identify risks, and plan for contingencies. This allows you to make a rapid and effective response to crises, perhaps at a time when you are at low ebb or are confused following a setback.
  • Consider transitional arrangements – how will you keep things going while you implement the plan?

The six phases of planning are as follows:

  • Analysis of Opportunities
  • Identifying the Aim of Your Plan
  • Exploring Options
  • Selecting the Best Option
  • Detailed Planning
  • Evaluation of the Plan and its Impact

MindTools.com was the source of this valuable reference article

http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newPPM_05.htm

Differentiate or Die in a Downturn

Posted in Business start up, Marketing with tags , , , , on August 13, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Differentiate your businessWhen money gets tighter, people get pickier. Which means, if want to continue to not only survive, but thrive, you’re going to need to dig a bit more deeply into the differentiation well and publicly showcase why you are the woman, man or business that people should be handing their money over to.

Perfect example. Walking down the block looking for a place to grab lunch with my wife on a weekday, we passed 7 or 8 restaurants and every single one was close to being empty. Then we poked our heads into the local pub. We’d never been there before. And, it was packed.

Not because people were drinking their troubles away. They were all sitting and eating. And, 75% were moms in their 30s and 40s. Whaaa?

It wasn’t long until we figured out what was going on. This little pub had figured out a way to shine, while all the restaurants around them stumbled. Along with their standard menu, we were each given a long, 6 inch wide piece of paper and a red pen.

On the paper were about 50 different options for chopped salad mix-ins. We each sat choosing our salad items and, a few minutes later, two giant finely-chopped salads arrived at our table. We dove in, couldn’t finish either and reveled about how we never about this hidden salad gem before. But, clearly others had.

Since then, this little grill has become our go-to place for taking out, ordering in and the occasional dinner with friends, family style.

Because … they get it.

People are looking for value more than at any other time in decades. And, if you can’t strongly differentiate yourself, you and your business become fungible … replaceable … interchangeable.

And, that’s an awful place to be in a down economy.

So, how will you differentiate and showcase your unique value in 2009?

* * * * *

Jonathan Fields, hedge-fund lawyer turned lifestyle entrepreneurAbout the Author: Jonathan Fields is a former hedge-fund lawyer turned serial lifestyle entrepreneur, copywriter, Internet and direct marketer, speaker and writer. You can find him blogging on entrepreneurship and lifestyles at Awake At The Wheel, crafting high-impact copy for clients at Vibe Creative or training people to become entrepreneurs and career renegades at Career Renegade. His next book, also called Career Renegade, is due out from Random House/Broadway Books In January 2009.

Franchising – 5 reasons why its worth considering

Posted in Business start up with tags , , , on August 12, 2010 by virtualcitypa

1. Proven Model

When you purchase a franchise, the thing that you are really purchasing is a business model. You are purchasing the rights to use someone else’s idea. This someone (the franchisor) has put their idea into an organised, easy to follow operations manual. In other words, you are replicating the franchisor’s business. The obvious advantage is that you don’t have to “invent” anything of your own to start a business. It’s already been invented.

2.  Formal Training

Once you have written a check for the Franchise Fee, and signed the franchise agreement, you are officially a franchisee. It is now on the franchisor to teach you their system, in a formal fashion. Training can last from three days all the way up to two weeks. It depends on how complex the franchise concept is.

You’ll be trained on the use of their computers and software, their operational procedures, marketing and advertising, human resources, and sales. Some franchisors even have online training modules set up, so that you actually can start training from home, a few weeks before you head to their corporate headquarters.

3.  Marketing systems

Marketing techniques employed by franchisors, are usually top notch. That is because part of the franchise development process includes testing. Some franchise offerings end up using direct mail marketing to get customers, while some may find that radio advertising proves to be the most effective way to find and retain customers.

The point is this: You are not the one who has to try out nine or ten different marketing ideas in order to find the one that works the best.  It has been done for you already. In most cases, the franchisor knows what works. They just have to show you how to implement it.

4.  Technology

The franchisor needs to have great technology. Twice. First of all, the franchisor must make things as efficient as possible for it’s franchisees, so they can concentrate on business growth and development, not payroll, and scheduling. Most franchisors have software programs of their own for their franchisees, who pay for them as part of their initial investment.

The franchisor must also have top notch software for their own internal operations. Things like franchisee sales figures, royalty payments, email marketing metrics and website statistics are all measured, so that management can stay on top of things, and keep the system growing.

5. The Franchisee Network

This may be the best part of the franchise business model. As you learn more and more about the franchise offering that you are interested in, you will find that the franchise director or salesperson can only go so far in dispensing pertinent information about the franchise opportunity. It will be time for you to reach out and talk to the network of franchise owners who are in the business that you may want to get into yourself.

You should call 10-15 franchisees of the franchise concept you are interested in. You will be able to get a lot of your questions answered, but it gets better. Undoubtedly, you will find some commonality with a couple of them. These are the franchisees that have given you permission to call them back if you happen to have more questions before you make your decision. Hold on to these names and numbers. These will be the folks you call after you become a franchisee. You could be calling them to get some much needed advice during those challenging start-up months.

These people will usually go out of their way to help you. They probably had similar help during their own start-up phase, and are more than willing to give it back. Sometimes, close friendships even emerge. After all, they probably went into a business of their own for some of the same reasons that you are thinking of doing so. Talk about a natural bond.

Joel Libava on 2008 franchise trends About the Author: Joel Libava is President and Life Changer of Franchise Selection Specialists. He blogs at The Franchise King Blog.

Effective Market Research tips: 10 Steps Towards Designing a Questionnaire

Posted in Business start up, Marketing with tags , , , on August 10, 2010 by virtualcitypa

Market research is all about reducing your business risks through the smart use of information. It is often cited that ‘knowledge is power’, and through market research you will have the power to discover new business opportunities, closely monitor your competitors, effectively develop products and services, and target your customers in the most cost-efficient way.

However in order to get useful results you need to make sure you are asking the right questions to the right people and in the right way. The following tips are designed to help you avoid some of the common pitfalls when designing a market research questionnaire.

1. What are you trying to find out?
– A good questionnaire is designed so that your results will tell you what you want to find out.
– Start by writing down what you are trying to do in a few clear sentences, and design your questionnaire around this.

2. How are you going to use the information?
– There is no point conducting research if the results aren’t going to be used – make sure you know why you are asking the questions in the first place.
– Make sure you cover everything you will need when it come to analysing the answers. e.g. maybe you want to compare answers given by men and women. You can only do this if you’ve remembered to record the gender of each respondent on each questionnaire.

3. Telephone, Postal, Web, Face-to-Face?
– There are many methods used to ask questions, and each has its good and bad points. For example, postal surveys can be cheap but responses can be low and can take a long time to receive, face-to-face can be expensive but will generate the fullest responses, web surveys can be cost-effective but hit and miss on response rates, and telephone can be costly, but will often generate high response rates, give fast turnaround and will allow for probing.

4. Qualitative or Quantitative?
– Do you want to focus on the number e.g. 87% of respondents thought this, or are you more interested in interpreting feedback from respondents to bring out common themes?
– The method used will generally be determined by the subject matter you are researching and the types of respondents you will be contacting.

5. Keep it short. In fact, quite often the shorter the better.
– We are all busy, and as a general rule people are less likely to answer a long questionnaire than a short one.
– If you are going to be asking your customers to answer your questionnaire in-store, make sure the interview is no longer than 10 minutes maximum (this will be about 10 to 15 questions).
– If your questionnaire is too long, try to remove some questions. Read each question and ask, “How am I going to use this information?” If you don’t know, don’t include it!

6. Use simple and direct language.
– The questions must be clearly understood by the respondent. The wording of a question should be simple and to the point. Do not use uncommon words or long sentences.

7. Start with something general.
– Respondents will be put-off and may even refuse to complete your questionnaire if you ask questions that are too personal at the start (e.g. questions about financial matters, age, even whether or not they are married).

8. Place the most important questions in the first half of the questionnaire.
– Respondents sometimes only complete part of a questionnaire. By putting the most important items near the beginning, the partially completed questionnaires will still contain important information.

9. Leave enough space to record the answers.
– If you are going to include questions which may require a long answer e.g. ask someone why they do a particular thing, then make sure you leave enough room to write in the possible answers. It sounds obvious, but it’s so often overlooked!

10. Test your questionnaire on your colleagues.
– No matter how much time and effort you put into designing your questionnaire, there is no substitute for testing it. Complete some interviews with your colleagues BEFORE you ask the real respondents. This will allow you to time your questionnaire, make any final changes, and get feedback from your colleagues.

Juliet Mumford

http://www.intelligentinsight.co.uk

(00 44) 1536 373182