10 Mistakes

being is business is tough. The statistics show that about half of all new businesses will fail within the first five years. Of those that survive approximately one third of those remaining will fail by the 10th year. A business is a risk not only economically and operational but also in the “fine print”.

1. The failure to organize the business entity to separate the business liabilities from your personal ones. It is very important that even as a sole proprietor you create an LLC or an Inc. This business entity needs to be documented and submitted to the state before you actually open for business.

2. A well drawn up business plan is an essential road map. You may have the biggest, brightest and best new product or service, but without a guide you can get sidetracked very easily. Determine the market (and it is not everyone!), the costs and profitability potential, sufficient cash flow on your own or will you need outside capital to start. All the questions need to be answered.

3. Compliance with employee hiring practices. You not only need to find the right people, you also need to know the legal relationship between you and your staff. There are state and federal compliance regulations to follow. Are there non-competition and non-solicitation agreements? What will the impact be?

4. Protecting intellectual property and trade secrets. Many business owners lump everything together under one umbrella. It is important to take the time to distinguish the different types and determine how best to protect each one individually. Patents protect ideas or concepts, whereas trademarks protect words, designs or phrases, copyrights protect creative expression such as music, books and video (something tangible), and finally trade secrets protect a product’s commercial information (think the Coca-Cola formula). All need to be documented and filed, however a patent is a longer more detailed process and a trade secret requires that no information about the product be discussed by anyone who has access to it.

These are just a few of the many legal steps that need to be taken when starting a business. Don’t be scared to fill out the paperwork. It may take a lot of time upfront but will save you a lot more time later on. Much success!



Leave a comment

Filed under Business Plan, Office, Writing

At The Helm

Everyone has a leadership style, but a leader who has an understanding of the value of openness will have a more engaged and motivated team. Begin by creating an environment where anyone on your staff, no matter the position, sees the company’s vision and values in action every day.

Have you ever asked yourself “Do my employees trust me?”. It is usually a given that employees are trusted by the company and the people they work for, but the reverse should also be true. Trust is a critical element of an effective leader. It is in your best interest to meet each and every employee to find out about “them”. Employees are watching, judging, talking and reacting to us as leaders, but do we as leaders really know them on an individual basis?

Employees are your greatest asset. They each have a need to be valued on every level. By meeting with each person, not to assess their performance, but to get to know them you will be quite amazed as to what you learn. This personal touch can become the highlight of each day as you learn what personalities are driving your business.

For you to exemplify what your business is all about, you will need to know what or whom is driving the business from the ground on up. This can lead to some development opportunities, innovations, business practice and procedure changes as well as overall morale. Be the leader of the company’s vision and values and you will reap the rewards.



Leave a comment

Filed under Business Plan, employee, Office

Employee Engagement

When an employee goes to work they have a choices to make. Do they get involved in their work? Do they make an extra effort? How much commitment are they going to make in they company that provides them with a paycheck? Al the choices the employee makes drive your business.

In a recent Gallup poll it was found that approximately 74% of employees are disengaged or have “quit” participating in their job. That leaves you with only 26% of overall employees providing acceptable return on a companies investment in them. These investments include salary, vacation pay, sick leave, department or company bonuses, profit sharing or 401(K) contributions. A financial example is a $50,000 employee who is disengaged returns only about $25,000 return on compensation!

How engaged are your employees? Anyone on your staff who is not fully engaged in your business can be debilitating to your bottom line. First off you will see a higher turnover of key employees. About 22% of new hires will leave within the first year which is an investment you don’t get any real return on which, in turn, you now have replacement and training costs at approximately 150%-400% of the first year’s salary! There is also the loss of productivity and creativity leading to lower innovation and problem-solving ideas coming to fruition.

Your choice, as the business owner, is to diagnose the lack of engagement in your employee/employees and create a path for moving forward. A one-on-one conversation will usually identify the roadblocks. Once identified find common ground to build a game plan around re-engaging the staff. The boulder starts rolling from one staff person to another and eventually you will hear the bottom line sing.



Leave a comment

Filed under Business Plan, employee, Office

Engaging The Y Generation

The millennials are gaining momentum in the workplace, coming in with different agendas, technology skills and expectations. As an older employer, how do you confront the changes without changing the integrity of your business?

Those employees born between 1982-200 are considered the Y Generation. These individuals strive to be part of a team that is led by a flat management system rather than a large organization with lots of hierarchy. Your focus, then, should be to create a culture where the ambitions of the employee are welcome and maximized. A collaborative effort between management and associate can reap more growth with the influx of new ideas.

With millenials being tech savvy, there is a lot of opportunity for a company to expand through social media and other mobile functions. However, technology can become a liability if proper policies are not in place for their use. Many millenials spend hours a day texting, tweeting and browsing, which can interfere with their productivity.

While no business plan or policy can cover every aspect of an employees work day, there should be some guidelines to follow. The millenials need some structure or they could possibly cost you more money in the end. Stipulate that the company owns all electronic data on the employer issued phone, tablet and computer and that if the employee leaves your service all information will be wiped clean to prevent usage outside of the original employment.  Consider non-compete agreements with the employee, depending upon what industry you are in.

There is no doubt that millenials will help bring about significant change to your business. The only question is  are you prepared for the change or will you sit back and lose opportunities?

pschultemarketing@gmail.com, www.luxurysweetsonline.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Business Plan, Office, Social Media

Do You Have A Map?

As a business owner, you have a general idea of where you want to go, but do you actually have a clear plan? Is there a strategic road map that you are following? Any objectives and the action steps needed to get there? There are about 5 steps to any road map, keeping it simple and easy to use.

1. Identify Your Goals. Before you start your journey, confirm where you are going and who is going to be responsible for getting you there on time and on budget. As an organization where do you want to be in 6 months? A Year? 5 Years? What are the resources you will be using to help accomplish your lofty goals? Who needs to be included on this trip? Answer these questions first and you now have the means to navigate the planning process, your progress and the outcomes.

2. Examine All Possibilities. This means the ups and downs of your journey. A good strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis is a great place to start. In this list are the things that set you apart from your competition, what makes you different, potential roadblocks, and identifing your tactics to get there. This is a wonderful exercise for your entire team. Brainstorming can bring about how to apply customer service, technology, production and other ways you can market your company.

3. Develop The Plan. Once you have completed your examination of all opportunities available to you start putting together your document. Narrow your focus and determine what parts will best help you reach your goal. List big ideas, small ideas, budget constraints, inspirations to your staff, and any likely problems that may arise. Be sure to measure your options against your original goal. Are they supportive and is your team excited to start the journey? Remember to keep it simple, about 1-2 pages.

4. Map It Out. By mapping and diagramming, you now have a useful tool to keep everyone on track. Because you have created deadlines this will help you stay on top of what goals you are striving for. A visual reminder will illustrate all your strategies, tactics and responsibilities and make everyone accountable for reaching your destination. Include a way to indicate which steps have been completed and the results that were achieved.

5. Take Action. Have a system in place to support your team on this adventure. Keep things moving in the right direction. Have monthly meetings to review what has been completed, what to do next and where you may need to shift priorities. Track the results on all successes and failures to learn and improve as you move forward.

Follow these steps, with your goals in the forefront and you are well on your way to getting the results you want.

pschultemarketing@gmail.com, www.luxurysweetsonline.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Business Plan, Marketing, selling

Keep It Fresh, Keep It Loyal

With so many options for consumers, how do you stand out? How can you attract the self-absorbed, finicky, and technology dependent people? These consumers have little to no loyalty towards any business or product. You do this by keeping your shop fresh and interesting.

If you are a cafe, offer free Wi-fi. This is a no brainer with so many connections available in any city. Make sure the customer has to ask you for a code. This allows you to interact with the buyer and add one more point of contact. Besides making a purchase, the customer will notice how friendly you and your staff are and refer you to their friends.

Consider your hours of operation. Do you open at 9 and close at 5? This does not help your cause when so many people have 9-5 jobs. What are other businesses in your area doing for hours? Follow their lead and tweak it as you go.

Change your selections. Go through your inventory and get rid of the slow movers and bring in some fresh products. This could be a “one-time” buy, so there is a sense of urgency for the consumer, or this could be customer suggestions. Just be open to change.

Remember it is the little things that count. A single gesture of good will can make all the difference in retaining your customers. Hand out samples, no matter what type of business you are. A lot of your vendors have give-aways you can ask for. If you get people hooked then you will add more inventory of their products. It is a win-win for all of you.

It’s all about connecting. Know what the trends are and what consumers are looking for. How ever you can squeeze one more thing into your business plan . .. . do it!

pschultemarketing@gmail.com, www.luxurysweetsonline.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Business Plan, Marketing, selling

What Is Your EQ?

As a business you reach people on many different levels. So what is your EQ? An EQ is the emotional quotient a customer places on a product or service that they go back to time and time again. What are you emotional about and relate that to your business.

A brand can appeal to a person’s emotions because it is scarce (fear of being left out). You sell these items by listing them as a limited time only purchase or a don’t miss opportunity. Emotional because the item has an expiration to the offer. This works really well in your direct marketing campaign as an exclusive, a bonus, or a discount. The cool factor also generates emotional responses because the buyer feels they are ahead of everyone else in owning the item. Popularity by association is created at an early age.

To create an emotional attachment to your product or service you can use testimonials and endorsements by those customers who are seen by their peers as cool or ahead of the curve. To maintain that coolness you, as a business, have to continually innovate products or services by proving you are at the forefront in your industry. Be an “intelligence brand” by showing customers how your products or services can save them time, improve productivity, improve their health, save money and avoid trouble.Consumers will feel emotional about you because of all the mentioned qualities you offer.

Protect your customers by tapping into their fears and insecurities. This will boost the power of your brand. Think of all the cosmetics ads you see regarding anti-aging. Women fear aging so now you have tapped into that fear by offering up products that could help. Home security companies tap into the fear of losing your property. Estate planning, weight loss, insurance are all brands that play on the emotional quotient of the consumer.

Now that you have an idea of what an EQ is, how will you use that to your advantage? Reach out through your website, your marketing materials, and your community involvement. Be consistent in your message and stand out from the competition.

pschultemarketing@gmail.com, www.luxurysweetsonline.com

Leave a comment

Filed under Marketing, selling