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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Creating an Innovative Environment



I participated in the most innovative environments in my lifetime, the computer and aerospace industries. During this time we went to the moon and brought computing to the general public. Why would you want an Innovative environment for your business?

18% of companies in a new Accenture study said they're getting a competitive advantage from their innovation strategies.

Maybe you can create the next big wave? Or maybe you can make a better, less expensive product or service? Maybe you can improve your competitive advantage and make more money!

Yours is not the only mind engaged in your business. Others work for you or with you either up front or behind the scenes…they are all invested in your success.

Show your stakeholders that you think of innovation as an ongoing process. Some ideas will work and many won’t. Keep experimenting. Try multiple ideas simultaneously if you can.

Listen. Innovation is a collaborative process.

Be open to “accidents,” the unexpected connections that spark new ideas. Inspiration comes from everywhere—often from outside your own field.

Draw on your own stakeholders—they know the company’s problems and goals best. This is probably one time you don’t need outside consultants.

Be patient. Creativity can’t be hurried.

How are you handling innovation?
 

Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

What is a BLOG


 
A blog (web log) is a discussion or informational web site consisting of discrete entries called "posts". Viewers sometimes comment, link to it or send an email. The original blogs were often the product of a single individual and usually covered a single subject. "Multi-author blogs" (MABs) have developed, with posts written by a number of authors.

This Blog is brought to you by the Counselors of South Palm Beach Score. It is a MAB. We write posts in the hope that you will gain from its contents and seek additional assistance from us as well. If you are reading this you know something about blogs.

How can you use a blog to help your business? Think about retaining customers.

 
Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

How to handle Computer Viruses



If you have already dealt with them or not yet done so…they are here and looking for you and your data! WATCH OUT!

What are they? How to deal with them?

A computer virus is a computer program that can replicate itself and spread to other computers. The term is often used to refer to other types of Malware (Malicious Software). Malware, however, is the broader term and includes viruses, worms, trojan horses, spyware, adware and other malicious programs that do not have replication capabilities. Some malware is noticeable by a computer user, some is not - they just reproduce. Malware is not a bug or defect in software, it is specifically programmed to attack and disrupt, gather information or gain access to computer systems. Some may come disguised as useful software. Some may exist only to download other malware. None of this is something you want in your business computers.

Anti virus, anti malware and firewall software are among the tools used to defend against these attacks. Some malware disables the anti malware software. A Firewall is a piece of software and/or hardware that blocks hackers, viruses and worms from gaining access to a computer over the internet.

If and when you notice malware on your computers, get off your network ASAP.

Run your anti virus and/or anti malware software to identify and fix the source if possible.

Check with your IT or software supplier to determine if there are later versions of your anti malware software that may be able to identify the offending software.

If this does not repair the problem, ask the anti malware and IT supplier to work on finding an appropriate fix. They will be motivated to do so as all of their software will be susceptible.

You should shut down, reboot and run the anti malware software again, even after some anti malware software says the problem is fixed.

Don’t forget to change passwords and other login information as yours may have been sent elsewhere. Keep your anti virus, anti malware and firewalls up to date.

Run your anti virus and anti malware software regularly…at least once a week.

 

Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

What is the Target?


 
 
Marketing is warfare in that it has strategies and tactics. Some strategies may suggest that competitive advantage can be gained from collaboration, partnering, and co-operation to grow a market. No matter what the strategy, successful businesses have at least one target. Your target market(s) is the best prospect for your products and services. Defining the target gives you a better understanding of how to promote your business. It is often best to work on one target at a time and when “captured”, attack an adjacent target, one that uses the strength of your new position.

Defining your target starts with a series of questions. Take a few moments to answer the following:

  1. Who are my best customers?
  2. Where are my best customers located?
  3. How and when can I reach these customers?
  4. Who are my competitors? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  5. Why should these customers buy from me?
As with everything, the answers might change over time. So hold onto the ground you have achieved (keep the customers you already have) and refocus some resources on the next target.

How are you targeting your market(s)?

 
Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

 

 

Counselor or Mentor


 
SCORE South Palm Beach uses the term “Counselor” to define the people who work with clients. Some other SCORE chapters use the term “Mentor”. So what is the difference? Some Councilors or Mentors define themselves as “Certified” what does this mean?

The American Counseling Association conference delegates in 2010 agreed that “Counseling” is a professional relationship that empowers diverse individuals to accomplish goals. I was surprised that there was an American Counseling Association, but interested that they found it necessary to define the term. The Oxford Dictionaries defines a “Counselor” as a person trained to give guidance. That seems simple to understand.

Wikipedia defines “Mentoring” as a process that always involves communication and is relationship based. But goes on to state that the precise definition is elusive. The Oxford School of Coaching & Mentoring says “Mentoring” is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning so they may maximize their potential.

The Association of American Medical Colleges found it necessary to define the difference and added “Advising” to the mix: “Advising” they say is informational and exploratory, setting goals, evaluating obstacles and providing guidance; “Mentoring” is an ongoing relationship defined by extensive support and encouragement; “Counseling”, they say, is the most complex and involved form of helping by trained professionals to overcome problems that interfere with success.

Bottom line, call them what ever you wish, all SCORE Counselors and Mentors provide valuable assistance in running a business. Remember these are people who are experienced leaders of industry. The South Palm Beach Chapter exerts substantial energy in training.

ALL SCORE Counselors and Mentors are “Certified” by the national organization after passing a test to insure understanding of the principals.

 
Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor, Mentor and Certified as well

visit us at: www.scoresouthflorida.net

 

 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Simplified Option for Home Office Deduction in 2013


 
If you're one of the more than 3.4 million taxpayers claimed deductions for business use of a home (commonly referred to as the home office deduction), you might be interested in the new simplified option available for taxpayers starting with the 2013 return most taxpayers file early in 2014.
The new optional deduction, recently announced by the IRS, is capped at $1,500 per year based on $5 a square foot for up to 300 square feet. It is expected to reduce the paperwork and recordkeeping burden on small businesses by an estimated 1.6 million hours annually.
Currently, taxpayers claiming the home office deduction are generally required to fill out a 43-line form (Form 8829) often with complex calculations of allocated expenses, depreciation and carryovers of unused deductions. Taxpayers claiming the optional deduction will complete a significantly simplified form.
Though homeowners using the new option cannot depreciate the portion of their home used in a trade or business, they can claim allowable mortgage interest, real estate taxes and casualty losses on the home as itemized deductions on Schedule A. These deductions need not be allocated between personal and business use, as is required under the regular method. Business expenses unrelated to the home, such as advertising, supplies and wages paid to employees are still fully deductible.
Current restrictions on the home office deduction, such as the requirement that a home office must be used regularly and exclusively for business and the limit tied to the income derived from the particular business, still apply under the new option.
If you need more details about the new simplified home office deduction for tax year 2013, don't hesitate to give us a call. We're here to help


Barry Eisenberg, SCORE Counselor, email: barrye003@aol.com

 
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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Why the Phone Keeps Working During a Power Failure

I thought I would write this one as the first storm of the season hit Florida...It might help.

A recommendation has been made to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that by 2018 it should phase out traditional phone service, known as the public switched telephone network (PSTN). HOLD ON…THAT IS JUST 5 YEARS FROM NOW!

Some of the providers of PSTN say regulations require maintenance of outdated infrastructure, hinders progress and ties up money that could be better invested in new technology. Besides, they say use is on a downward trend. Some small companies question the motivation, saying it is likely an effort to allow these companies to operate in a less-regulated Internet-based telephone environment.

While it is true that use is dropping off, many people keep traditional phones in case of emergencies. If you have to plug your phone or phone system into a power plug, you will lose service when the power goes out. How will that impact your business?

With a traditional phone the only connection is the single plug (RJ11 for POTS, Plain Old Telephone Service) that brings both power (50 VDC) and signals to your phone from a telephone switching center. The wires to your phone are unique to you, unlike the shared wires that bring the 120 VAC power to your home. More often than not the phone lines are run underground and not as susceptible to storm or accident damage as are power lines. When the power goes down the phone company provides generators for its switching operations that keep the system and your traditional phone operational. Remember, if your phone requires a separate power source, as most do today, it will not operate under these conditions. This is a case where older is better.

Cell towers also use generators to deal with power outages so long as the cell towers are operational, but the mobile devices depend on batteries that need to be recharged.

Remember that wireless works only when the power is up and the batteries in mobile devices hold on as well.

Maybe in five years the technology will move on to help with this.

What exposure does your business have to power failures? Do you have a plan to deal with this? If you are operating when your competition is not…you have a competitive advantage. But think about all those others in your supply chain. Can they stop your business? Select those that won’t.

 
Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Disaster Recovery SBA Webinar


 
A friend sent me an SBA announcement of a Webinar that looks interesting, so I am posting some of the details here for you

Are You Ready to Lead Your Company Through a Crisis?

Tips Shared at Free Webinar Hosted by SBA and Agility Recovery

The ability to properly lead becomes increasingly difficult in times of disaster. So in addition to making a preparedness plan, it’s also a good idea to discover ways to take charge while staying focused on what’s important—the safety of your employees and clients, and a speedy recovery for your business

Join Agility Recovery and the U.S. Small Business Administration in a live online discussion on Tuesday, June 11 with former FEMA Administrator David R. Paulison. He’ll talk about joining FEMA in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, how he managed the leadership challenges, and will provide tips on how to become a capable manager who is prepared for any kind of disaster.
What:

“Leading With Resilience During a Disaster—A presentation led by David R. Paulison, former FEMA Administrator, followed by a Q&A session
When:

Tuesday, June 11 – 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. EDT
how:



I do not know Agility Recovery and cannot take a position on the firm or its services.

I do believe the subject matter is important for small business owners.

 

Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Keys to Exporting Success


Exporting offers many job opptys. for economists, financial specialists and technicians. The all have a role to play in foreign trade. But the art of selling and marketing remains the backbone of Int'l. Trade.

TALK TO THEM SO THEY CAN UNDERSTAND YOU.

FIRST, there is no substitute for language proficiency. It is the one thing above all that will bring success when dealing with the buyer oversees. Take a reverse example of a foreign person seeking to enter the U.S. market with imported mdse. They ALL speak English. They would no more think of doing business here like a non-swimmer would attempt to swim the English Channel if they didn't know how to speak English.

There are al half-dozen languages that constitute the argot of trade in Multinational business today. English is numero uno. Then Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese, Russian. Not necessarily in that order but all active. German is not included as English is a native tongue in Germany. Italian is limited mainly to a small sector.

Globally, Spanish is widespread. Latin Americans generally are not fluent t in English. Portuguese is like Italian - a narrow sector but important due to Brazil being such an important emerging business area. You can get along in the Middle East with English as the business community is generally trained in the west - UK, USA, etc and have acquired English as their business language. If they can understand you the battle is overcome.


KNOW THE MECHANICS OF WORLDWIDE TRADING METHODS.

This can be defined by such prosaic elements as collection instruments, , documentary rqmts., selling/buying habits that vary by country & region, logistics of how to get it there, and the all important aspects of how to handle an order from quotation to the billing cycle. Take a seminar: "ABC's of EX;ORT" from a SCORE CHAPTER 0412.

When dealing with a customer over there you MUST know the social norms & customs. Did you know if show the sole of your show to an Arab client accidentally because you crossed your legs, you have insulted that client? Do you know how low to bow in Japan?

There is help out there. Develop a relationship with your bank. They can assist you when it comes time to getting paid. Sign up an Int'l. Freight Forwarder to handle the shipment from your door to your clients place. The forwarder also can prepare all documents needed to be certain that the client overseas will have no prblm. bringing your products thru their local customs. Talk to your insurance agent to be certify you are protected against loss/theft in transit. These are all service people from whom you can learn to do business in the worldwide market place.

For more help contact Hank.Samuel2@gmail.com
Certified counselor of scoresouthfloriida.com
Chapter 412 Boca Raton FL
visit us at: www.scoresouthflorida.net


Monday, June 3, 2013

Growing a Business in Tough Times

When times are tough some businesses struggle while others grow. Some important considerations are:


  1. You are not always the expert - Know your limitations. Seek advice.
  2. Shrink or Grow – Best answer may be to grow.  
  3. Over Communicate – Good partners can provide resources.
  4. Gain Influence - Share information. Win customers with knowledge.
  5. Watch the money – Available cash to fund opportunities. Leverage borrowing.
  6. Don’t get sidetracked – Stick to your goal. Know when to change or sell.

How will you make it next time? Do you have a plan?


Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor


 

 

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Is e-commerce as easy as it looks?


 
It seems that everyone is selling on the Internet. You can find everything from unusual books to used cars, from home mortgages to hard-to-find items. And as online shopping becomes more of a habit and less of a novelty, more people will let their “mice” do the walking.

You may feel that your business belongs in this cyber-market. But remember that e-commerce is not for everybody, nor is every product or service suitable to be sold online. Like any other market, e-commerce requires research, analysis, planning and a significant investment in technology. Even then, the benefits may not always outweigh the costs.

Think carefully about the benefits. Among these could be improved competitiveness, reaching more potential purchasers, higher volumes, lower costs, different skills…etc.

With e-commerce you are not alone. You are a part of a many player operation. Among these are the customers, the sellers, the suppliers, the payment processing operation(s) as well as the technology suppliers.

 Is your company ready to take the leap into the world of e-commerce? Find out by taking this quick quiz.

1) Does your company currently have an Internet presence?

2) Do you have an IT staff and/or budget?

3) Are your product/service offerings easily bundled and priced?

4) Do you currently accept credit card payments from your customers?

5) Do you have established supply and delivery chains?

 
How did you do with your answers?

Mostly YES: You sound ready to begin developing an e-commerce strategy

Evenly Yes & No: Take a long hard reexamination of your customers, infrastructure, list of hardware/Software as well as supply chains

Mostly NO: You have some of the pieces, but need to mature systems & processes. Consult with experts you trust.

 
Steve Koenig, SCORE Counselor