Manners MATTER

Manners: (Wikipedia)

Manners are the unenforced standards of conduct which demonstrate that a person is proper, caring, non-grouchy, polite, and refined. They are like laws in that they codify or set a standard for human behavior, but they are unlike laws in that there is no formal system for punishing transgressions, the main informal “punishment” being social disapproval.

Ever wonder what happened to “Manners”?  We hear a lot about proper etiquette but what about good old fashioned manners?

The other day my son said to me, “mom I held the door open for an old lady at the mall and she smiled, winked at me and then held the next door open for ME and said my turn!”  He was so shocked by her response yet I think she was shocked that someone under the age of 60 still knew how to treat someone.  In an era of technology I think many people no longer interact with others on a personal “look you in the eye” way anymore.  Our kids live through their “thumbs” and many of us rely on social media to stay connected.

I have a project for all of you.  TALK to someone you don’t know today.  When you go to the store and the cashier is wearing a name badge, tell “Sally” to have a nice day.  Recognize people.  Hold the door open for a stranger, smile, say hello.  Use PLEASE and THANK YOU as often as possible. When you treat others with respect and cordially it becomes contagious and you make other people feel good!

Here’s one for all my ground transportation buddies:

Do you have any idea how your chauffeurs drive?  Do they use their blinkers?  Merge correctly in a rotary?  Know how to manage a 4 way stop?  Let others merge in front of them?  Speed though yellow/red lights? I think you would all be very surprised if you followed one of your chauffeurs for the day.

Make this part of your chauffeur training.  MANNERS.  People notice good manners much more than bad now because we are all conditioned to expect the worst behaviors.  Make your company stand out by the way your employees treat your clients AND the general public.  It’s great PR!


Growing Your Business in 2013 Part 3

Marketing in 2013 and Social Media
I hear from many small businesses that they don’t want or don’t know how to get involved in social media.  They think it is too labor intensive, for the younger generation or expensive.  None of which are true!  Social media will soon become the new search.  Traditional advertising and marketing are becoming a thing of the past.  Who goes to the phonebook anymore to find a service provider?  Not many!  They go to their smart phone or computer and simply search online. We TIVO through commercials on TV and get irritated when our favorite shows beak to commercials every few minutes.  We want info to come to us on our terms and at our time.
Some food for thought for 2013:
  • How many of us use a service or buy a product based on a friends recommendation?
  • So how does social media affect your business?
  • What are people saying about you online?
  • Is your business being seen by your customers?
  • Are you easy to find?
  • When they find you is your website easy to navigate?
  • Is it mobile friendly (since most of us search through our cell phones).
  • Are they able to find what they are looking for quickly?
  • Are they communicating with you through the Internet?
  • Are you tracking these visits?
  • Do you know how long they spend looking through your website?  What pages are they most interested in?
  • Have you captured the visitors information somehow? (online inquiry or call to action form)
  • What are your competitors doing online?
Look at your current advertising and marketing efforts and then do a competitor analysis.  What can you do better than your competition?  Where are your potential customers?  How can you be seen by them?  What is your value proposition?  How will you convey this to your customers?

Growing Your Business in 2013 Part 2

Accountants and Controllers
Most small businesses can not afford a controller to manage their finances and they rely on an accountant that they meet with yearly to simply do their taxes.
Proper planning and oversight through out the year can save you thousands in the end.  You need an accountant or controller that can also be a strategic planner for your business.  They should be able to help you create budgets for the new year and help review all of your reporting from the previous year to see where savings can be had or more investigation is needed.  They should be on your “board of experts”.
Many business owners have no idea if they are actually making money in their business.  They see sales increases and assume that everything must be going well.  It is imperative that as a business owner you understand where your money is going and why.  You need to be able to set up budgets within your business.  You need to be able to properly plan your spending for each quarter based on projected sales.
I can not recommend highly enough taking an Accounting Fundamental class online.  It will give you the basic skills you need to be able to interpret the reports and understand what the numbers in your business mean.  Being a business owner, we all have strengths and weaknesses.  Understanding your finances and how your business runs needs to be one of your strengths.
When choosing an accountant be careful to chose one that understands your industry and knows how to properly prepare your yearly returns.  Ask for referrals from other small business owners.  Interview them.  Make sure you feel comfortable “opening the books” to them and letting them into your business.  You want them to be a strategic planner and need to be able to trust in their ability to steer you and your business in the right direction.   Check their reviews online.

Growing Your Business in 2013 Part 1

Banking Relationships in Business
 Developing a great relationship with your banker is paramount to continued growth.  A banker shares in your vision and business plan.  They become a sponsor and mentor to help you reach some of your goals.
A banker should be treated like your best customer.  They should understand your business model, growth plans, strategies, and share in your successes.  You should provide them with a comprehensive Business Plan each year and review the previous year with them as well to explain any issues that you had.

The business needs working capital.

The business needs a guidance line of credit.

The business guidance line is up for annual review

The business needs to take out additional loans for equipment

The business needs to refinance or restructure existing loans

The business is experiencing a cash flow issue and needs a short term unsecured loan.

The business needs to purchase property.

Networking with other businesses (bankers other clients)

Finding a banker who is familiar with your industry can be a challenge but they are out there and they understand the profit margins and overhead your industry operates in.  They have helped others before you and have valuable insight into some best practices.

If you can’t find a banker with industry experience, you can work with a banker and be the benchmark for others.  You need to be open and honest with your banker.  Make them part of your “Board of Experts”.

Creating a Business Plan

How many of you have ever done a formal business plan?  Do you know where to start?  Do you understand just how important a formal business plan is to running your business?  Well, would you go on a trip with the family and not plan it out ahead of time?  Book hotels, map the route, pack, etc.  Well a formal business plan is just that.  It gives you a way to meet your goals and clearly outlines your plan to others (like loan officers and others) showing them that you are a solid business with a well planned out strategy of achieving your goals.

I am now creating my business plan for JRB Management Services.  As I begin this project I want to share with you some of the basics so you can start yours too!

Business Plan Outline:

  • Executive Summary (Include a Board of Advisers if you are not incorporated.  These can be professionals that you can reach out to for help in certain areas like an attorney, accountant, PR person, etc…make sure they sign a confidentiality agreement with your business as well)
  • Analysis of your Industry, Market, and Competition
  • Products or Services you will offer
  • Marketing Plan
  • Production Plan
  • Management Team and Key Personnel
  • Financial Plan
    • Summary
  • Projected Income Statements
    • Year One
    • Year Two
    • Year Three
  • Pro-Forma Balance Sheets
    • Start Up
    • End Year One
    • End of Year Two
    • End of Year Three
  • Cash flow Projection
    • Year One
    • Year Two
    • Year Three
  • Appendices
    • All back up documentation
    • biographies of Principals

Make sure your plan has a title page that includes your logo, name of business, address, phone number, and a disclaimer at the bottom stating that all information contained within is confidential.

Once you create your plan make sure you share it with your top management and key personnel.  It will become their road map as well to meet the goals that you have set for your business.

Good luck and feel free to post any comments that might be helpful as I begin this process!!