The 10 Rules of Cash Flow 101

From Philip Campbell, CPA

Cash flow is the lifeblood of all businesses. Learn the Cash Flow 101 Rules to free yourself from money worries. The statistics on small business failure are alarming. Michael Gerber, author of “The E-Myth: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What To Do About It”, says that 40% of businesses fail in their first year. 80% fail within their first five years. Why? A main reason is they run out of cash. Don’t let this happen to your small business. Use the basic rules of Cash Flow 101 to help you take control of your cash flow so you can create the business you have always dreamed of. 1. Never Run Out of Cash. Running out of cash is the definition of failure in business. Make the commitment to do what it takes so it does not happen to you. 2. Cash Is King. It’s important to recognize that the basics of cash flow 101 are what keeps your business alive. Manage it with the care and attention it deserves. It’s very unforgiving if you don’t. Remember, cash is king, because no cash means no business. 3. Know the Cash Balance Now. What is your cash balance right now? It’s absolutely critical that you know exactly what your cash balance is. Even the most experienced person will fail if they are making business decisions using inaccurate or incomplete cash balances. This is fundamental cash flow 101. That’s the reason why business failures are not limited to amateurs or people new to the business world. 4. Do Today’s Work Today. The key to keeping an accurate cash balance in your accounting system is to do today’s work today. When you do this, you will have the numbers you need – when you need them. 5. Do the Work or Get Someone Else. Here is a simple rule to follow to make sure you have an accurate cash balance on your books. You do the work or have someone else do it. 6. Don’t Manage From the Bank Balance. The bank balance and the cash balance are two different forms of cash. Rarely will the two ever be the same. Don’t make the mistake of confusing them. It’s futile and frustrating to attempt to manage your cash flow using the bank balance. It’s a prescription for failure. You reconcile your bank balance. You don’t manage from it. 7. Know Your Six Months Cash Balance. What do you expect your cash balance to be six months from now? This one question will transform the way you manage your business and help you pass cash flow 101. This question really gets to the heart of whether you are managing your business or whether your business is managing you. 8. Cash Flow Problems Don’t Just Happen. You would be amazed at the number of small businesses that fail because the owner did not see a cash flow problem in time to do something about it. The key is to always be able to answer the question – what do I expect my cash balance to be six months from now? 9. Have Cash Flow Projections. Cash flow projections are the key to making wise and profitable business decisions. They give you the answer to the all-important question from Rule # 7. It’s impossible to run your business properly without them. 10. Take Care of Customers. Eliminate your cash flow worries so you are free to do what you do best-taking care of clients and making more money. Use these cash flow 101 rules to free yourself from cash flow worries. That way you can focus all your time and talents where you can make the most difference in your business. No more wasted time worrying about what’s going on with your cash flow. Instead, you can focus your unique talents and abilities each day on ways to grow your business and make more income each year. That is a recipe for success and wealth creation.

Avoiding Pain

The desire to avoid pain is greater than the desire to attain pleasure. This is why most people give into their fears and never do what it takes to make it big. The perceived pain of leaving their comfort zone is greater than the pleasure of being wealthy. Excuses are then produced and the mind will find a way to justify them with logic.

use this to make your own way

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Young adults: Avoid these privacy red flags

By Jason Alderman

Young adults applying for college or preparing to enter the workforce are sometimes shocked to find out that that certain behaviors that were either tolerated or ignored when they were younger now fall under closer scrutiny and could actually hurt their advancement possibilities. Among the biggest culprits are oversharing sensitive personal information in public forums and getting extreme tattoos or body art that may not yet be fully acceptable in certain work environments.

Red flags. It should be common knowledge that many employers perform online profile searches of job or internship candidates. They’ll scour public postings on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube looking for inappropriate content like racy photos or videos, racist remarks or evidence of illegal activities that would rule inappropriate candidates.

But many people don’t realize that colleges, insurance companies, law enforcement and government agencies sometimes do the same. Thus, an underage student hoping to boost his cool factor by posting photos that show him engaging in drinking games could be disqualified for college admission or even have his scholarship revoked.

Privacy settings. According to projections by Consumer Reports, roughly 13 million Facebook users have never set, or didn’t know about, the site’s privacy tools, and 28 percent share all, or almost all, of their wall posts with more than just their friends. It pays to thoroughly read the privacy policies of all sites where you’ve registered, including social networks, your bank, retailers, blogs and news sites where you’ve made comments, etc.

Email is forever. Deleting an email from your computer doesn’t mean it no longer exists. Chances are your email provider – or employer, if sent from work – will retain a record for years to come. Plus, recipients won’t necessarily delete the email and may in fact forward it to others.

Haunting photos. Just like emails, photos posted online can live forever. That includes pictures of you that someone else posted and tagged with your name. My rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see it, don’t do it, say it or film it. Also, don’t post photos of your kids that might embarrass them or hurt their professional reputation down the road.

Resume lies. It can be tempting to embellish the truth on your resume or during a job interview, but as recent headlines about disgraced executives being fired have shown, these lies can come back to haunt you. Employers can easily determine if the degree or past job titles you’re claiming are legitimate. Another no-brainer: If your resume is posted online on Monster.com or LinkedIn, make sure there aren’t major inconsistencies with the one you submit to prospective employers.

Tattoos. One-fifth of adults have at least one tattoo – the percentages are higher among younger adults. A few years ago, job candidates wouldn’t get past the first interview sporting tattoos; today, depending on the industry and type of customer contact involved, many employers will look the other way.

However, some employers do enforce strict no-tattoo policies which, if based on sound business reasons, are legal. Fortunately, my own kids aren’t old enough for body art to be a consideration, but when they are, I’ll give them the same advice I’d give any young adult: Think about the long-term consequences of your actions.

Jason Alderman directs Visa’s financial education programs. To Follow Jason Alderman on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/PracticalMoney.

What is this thing called brand?

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What is a brand? It is the prevailing idea, or feeling associated with a product, company or in this case a person. Branding differentiates you from everyone else in the market. It articulates what you are all about and how that would be of value to other people.

You need to ask the following questions in determining and articulating your personal brand.

1.What is the prevailing major idea of your life?

This is the basis of your brand, the core idea. What you are all about. Steve Pavlina defines his brand as providing personal development for smart people, specifically exploring and distilling knowledge on various parts of life into core principles and ideas. Chris Guillebeau explores unconventional ways of living and solving problems while travelling the world. Jay Z’s personal brand has evolved from street hustler/ganster to hiphop maturity and global business man. Steve Jobs centres around innovation, creativity and coolness. My personal brand? Well my core idea is the intersection of youth and popular culture, design communication and life paradigm shifts. I hope to create things that speak in the language of popular culture effectively changing the way people think and live, creating a better world for humanity.

Your brand can be highly specific or it can be loosely broad. But if it is broad, connect the pieces together under a theme.

2.What channels will you communicate your brand through?

How will you get your message across to your audience? Will you be centred around the internet and cyberspace. Or will your brand expression be predominantly in tangible products, goods and services. This is entirely up to you. We have seen a great proliferation of bloggers who communicate their ideas via the internet – websites, blogs, social networking media, and with the creation of intangible assets like ebooks, seminars, and so on. Others create organisations that provide a service or seek to change the world in some way. Some people design, dance, create music, write poetry, etc. Others build businesses.

3.Who is your audience?

Who will listen to you? What is your target market. Which group of people will receive the most value from what you have to offer. Focus on these people. Do not try to cater to everyone, it is one of the fastest ways to failure in any endeavour. Focus on your right people. Those who are attracted and interested in what you have to offer. Analyse them, interact with them, figure out their needs and fulfil them. For instance, Chris Guillebeau writes for people, artists, creatives, travellers who want to live an unconventional life, profiles them and provides resources and ideas for them. Mark McGuinness speaks to creatives and helps them make a living from their craft.

4.Why should your audience listen to you?

What sets you apart from everyone else, what value do you bring to the table. Why should your audience listen to yo? Why should they come back time and time again?

5.Nurture your audience

Now that you have your audience, and have determined why they should listen to you in the first place, take care of them. Nurture your audience, keep on creating value for them. Provide only those services that will actually be of value to your clan, your tribe, your band of merry men. Give them a reason to be loyal to you.

6.Grow your network
No dream worth pursuing is ever pursued alone. You will need to interact with many other people, within your field and outside of it. Ideas are transferable across niches and categories. We need various skill sets and personalities to create whole functioning systems and products. Connect with people, especially the best in the fields. Get mentors, collaborate, partner with people and learn from one another. With the internet these days, it is easier to connect and work with people from all over the globe.

7.Put the time in
Create the product. You have to put the time in to write the articles, make the art, write the poem, build the organisation. Whatever it is that you bring to the table, you have to create it. Ideas are no substitute for action and tangible products.

WIGS Are Important to your Brand

Widly Improtant Goals Putting the Caller First

By on February 26th, 2010 |

Organizations that thrive and grow are the ones that live by the principles of high performance and put a strong focus on their mission and values, coupled with superb business execution.  In any great organization, it is the people that make the difference – no organization can succeed until individuals within it succeed.  That brings me to the topic of establishing measurable goals that correlate directly to customer satisfaction.  If your goals are tied directly to your end-customer’s satisfaction, by achieving your goals you achieve a higher level of customer satisfaction.  In today’s call center environment, there are numerous metrics and goals created against those metrics but realistically, are they all of equal importance?  One of the most fundamental principles of organizational activity is that human beings are genetically “hard-wired” to do one thing at a time with excellence, not 10 to 20 things all at once. The first discipline to singling out what is most important in your business is to focus only on your wildly important goals (WIGs), goals that put the Caller FirstSM.

There’s no better place to illustrate how this notion is honored than at the airport. Right now there could be more than 100 airplanes either approaching, landing, taking off or moving around.  All of the planes are very, very important to an air traffic controller – especially if you happen to be in one of them.  However, if you are in the control tower and you have a plane landing in front of you, landing that plane safely is the single most important objective you have at the moment.  That is not to say that the other 20 planes in the air and on the ground are not important, they are all very important and lives are always at risk, however, focus has to be put on what is wildly important at that particular moment in time.  This is the premise supporting the foundations of WIGs.

So how do you determine what is wildly important in your call center?  Put all focus on the customer and/or the caller.  At Angel.com, we call this the Caller FirstSM methodology to put the caller first with every call, enabling callers to get the information they need quickly and helping businesses of all kinds realize improved service levels and optimize business efficiency.  Using this approach, call center managers should develop departmental goals that are most important to their customer or end caller.  At a previous software company where I managed a global Technical Support organization for a Fortune 500 company, I ascertained that a customer’s primary concerns were the following:

  • Getting through to agents that are always available and accessible – no waiting (Angel systems/staffing/workflow)
  • Talking with educated, knowledgeable & helpful support reps (internal training & employee development)
  • Seeing thorough & well documented support tickets, roadmaps, reports & documents (quality measures)
  • Getting through to agents that are happy & proud to work there; great attitudes (motivation/recognition)
  • Sure there are many others that could be included but the goal here is not to dilute the list with goals of lesser significance but to single out goals that focus on putting the Caller FirstSM.

So, taking a step back, there has to be a strategy in place to execute all of this. FranklinCovey, Inc. developed The 4 Disciplines of Execution® — unleashing the power of your entire workforce by creating a high degree of alignment in your organization and focusing your people’s daily energies into delivering results that really matter to the strategic direction of your organization. Just as important as it is to get your team moving in the right direction, you have to make sure they’re all headed in the same direction.  The 4 Disciplines of Execution gave me a set of tools and processes to bring my support organization into alignment with the objectives I listed above. In summary, after I created my Wildly Important Goals, my objective was to:

  1. Put all of our focus on my Wildly Important Goals (display them all over the center; createawareness)
  2. Act on the lead measures to make these goals happen (processes, workflows, etc.)
  3. Keep a compelling scorecard (measure weekly, report/display improvement)
  4. Hold agents accountable (everyone is a contributor, build these into their performanceobjectives)

Imagine the power of an entire organization that is focused — 100% of the time — on the things that drive your department, your division…your organization.  It is very powerful.  The 4 Disciplines of Execution are all about producing results.  For me, this immediately translated into higher levels of customer satisfaction because I was focusing on the customer, the end caller.  By applying the Angel.com Caller FirstSM methodology as your focal point, you are showing your customers that you care about them and their success, which ultimately will translate into business success for you.  This was extremely successful for me and can be for you also, just focus on what is important by always putting your callers first.

 

Angel, a subsidiary of MicroStrategy (NASD: MSTR), is a leading provider of on-demand customer engagement solutions. For over a decade our solutions have enabled organizations to improve the customer experience while improving efficiency and the bottom-line. www.angel.com

 

Personal Branding: The Seven Deadly Sins

By: Oscar Del Santo

Since the dawn of the new millennium, Personal Branding has been going from strength to strength and is currently being touted as one of the ‘make or break’ factors for career success. Need recent proof to substantiate this claim? How about the inclusion of this blog on the Forbes ‘Top 75 Websites for your Career‘ only last week?

And yet personal branding is not without its (serious) pitfalls. I venture to claim that only a committed and informed minority of those who decide to take it seriously and put it to the test in their careers and their lives end up fully benefiting from it. And this is more often than not the result of them committing one of the seven ‘deadly sins’ listed below which must be avoided at all costs.

1) Dishonesty. Building a ‘fake’ brand that doesn’t accurately reflect on your values, your style and your character is the first (and possibly worst) of personal branding deadly sins. Contrary to popular opinion, a personal brand is not an artificial creation but ideally a truthful reflection of the constellation of elements that define who you are and what you want to achieve. Any compromises you make on the honesty front are a sure recipe for disaster.

2) De-motivation. In order to achieve any worthy goal, a personal brand must galvanize all of your talents and skills, generate enthusiasm and become a self-motivating success story. Problems will sooner or later arise and challenges will inevitably cross your path: unless you are energized by a brand with which you are passionately identified, you will lack the commitment to make it happen and your drive will ultimately flounder.

3) Inconsistency. Ideally your brand must drive one clear and consistent message home to your target audience. Mixed messages confuse people and make them wonder whether you have worked out in your mind what your goals are and how to achieve them. If consistency communicates strength and character, inconsistency irradiates weakness.

4) Isolationism. Even if personal branding may initially appear an intensely individual and even intimate process, the fact is that our personal brands do not exist and/or operate in a vacuum and need the support and endorsement of others in order to succeed. Networking is vital and coming out of your shell and building bridges towards others a must.

5) Self-aggrandizement. If you turn personal branding into a big ego trip, others will be turned off and desert you quicker than you may think. Keeping your ego in check, and adhering to an honest appraisal of your strengths and weaknesses animated by a fair and balanced yet self-critical spirit is one of the bases of lasting personal branding success.

6) Statism. Just like the person behind it, a brand is a living thing; and like every living thing, it must change and evolve and cannot afford to become static for too long before events overrun it and it ceases to attract the right people and opportunities. Be fluid my friend…

7) Over-ambition. Ambition comes in healthy and unhealthy doses. Those intent on achieving goals well above their current station in life who haven’t gotten the knowledge, skills or experience to realistically make it happen should concentrate on acquiring those first before postulating themselves as the next success story. Modern psychology insists that talent is largely a myth and that there was never a virtuoso without thousands of hours of committed practice and a sensible and gradual program to that effect. Wanna become the next Tiger Woods? Work on your swing first and seek to win a local competition before you join the PGA tour in your quest for your first major title.

With honesty, motivation, consistency, friendliness, humility, liveliness and healthy ambition as your personal branding trademarks, I am convinced that your climb to personal branding heaven will be not only smoother and more fun but significantly quicker as you avoid many unnecessary detours. See you at the top!

Author:
Jacob Share, a job search expert, is the creator of JobMob, one of the biggest blogs in the world about finding jobs. Follow him on Twitter for job search tips and humor.

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build your business almost effortlessly?

Have you ever wondered if there was a way to build your business almost effortlessly? Actually use your brand to attract leads and prospects to you, credit card in hand, ready to join?

One thing that we’ve learned here at Brand You Inc is that people don’t join business opportunities, they join you as the business leader.

We  just found a great free video series that will help you do just that and we’d like to share with you and know what you think.  In this video series Mike Dillard explains how you can actually become the brand leader that others want to join.

You will also learn how actually get paid to prospect and build your brand just like all the big dogs do.

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Check it out.  Come back and let us know what you thought of the video.

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10 Success Principles We Often Forget

Sometimes we find ourselves running in place, struggling to get ahead simply because we forget to address some of the basic success principles that govern our potential to make progress. So here’s a quick reminder:

1. You are the only person responsible for your success. The best part of your life will start on the day you decide your life is your own – no one to lean on, rely on, or blame. You are in full control of your future. Believe with all your heart that you will do what you were made to do. It may be tough at times, but refuse to follow some preordained path. Make your own rules and have your own game plan. There is no happiness and success to be found by playing it safe and settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living. Read The 4-Hour Workweek.

2. You don’t have to invent the wheel. Actually, to be successful you don’t have to invent anything at all. Coming up with a new invention or idea is one way to achieve massive success, but it isn’t necessary. And it can be the most challenging roads to success there is. You see many people have found lots of success just by taking something that already existed and simply putting their own twist on it (their unique selling proposition). Think about Apple for instance. As Steve Jobs once said, “Good artists copy, great artist steal. Creativity is connecting things.” Connecting things means seeking inspiration from great ideas that already exist and adding your own useful twist. Read The Millionaire Messenger.

3. There is no progress without action. What is not started today is never finished tomorrow. Some of the greatest ideas never made it. Why? Because the genius behind the idea failed to take action. Just remember, no action always results in a 100% failure rate. So get into action now, and begin to move in the right direction. Once you get started every step afterwards gets easier and easier. Until eventually, what had once been invisible, starts to become visible, and what once felt unattainable, starts to become a reality.

4. Persistence always wins. As Winston Churchill once said, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” It may take more than one swing to compose an efficient hit, so make sure not to give up on strike #1. And remember, a river cuts through rocks not because of its power at a given moment, but because of its persistence over time.

5. Focus is everything. When you are too busy looking behind and around you, people are passing you. If you never focus clearly on something, you will never be 100% efficient at anything. Multi-tasking might seem to make you efficient at getting multiple tasks done at once, but it usually reduces your efficiency in dealing with each individual task.

6. Failure is necessary. Don’t wake up at seventy-five years of age sighing over what you should have tried, but didn’t because you were afraid to fail. Just do it, and be willing to fail and learn along the way. Very few people get it right the first time. In fact, most people fail to get it right the first 5 times. If what you did today didn’t turn out as you hoped, tomorrow is a new opportunity to do it differently. Interpret each failure as a lesson on the road to success.

7. Positivity fuels productivity. Thoughts are like the steering wheel that moves our life in the right direction. Success comes from positive energy. You can choose to get caught up in the negativity surrounding you, or you can decide to do something positive about your situation. You always have a choice. Remember, happiness is an element of success, and the happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything, they use positive energy to make the best of what they have.

8. You must believe you can. You must find the place inside yourself where anything is possible. It starts with a dream. Add confidence, and it becomes a belief. Add commitment, and it becomes a goal in sight. Add action, and it becomes a part of your life. Add determination and time, and your dream becomes a reality.

9. Helping others is a big part of being successful. Successful people constantly come up with new ideas, new projects, and new and innovative ways of helping others. This means that your aims and objectives just benefit you, but also help benefit others as well. Bottom line: Your long-term success is directly tied to how well you serve your community. Read Maximum Achievement.

10. Success is a journey of countless baby steps. It’s a constant process of growth. If you want to be successful, you must continue to hold yourself to a higher standard than anyone else, and strive to improve. Oftentimes a person or organization will be successful, but then drop off. A person may become lazy, and an organization may succumb to weaknesses or competition. Sustained success means continually improving even if others may not see a need for it. Remember, the great thing in the world is not so much where we stand at any given time, as in what direction we are moving.