Small Business Information You Need to Know

Are you thinking about starting up a small business sometime in the near future? There are a few things that you will want to know before you open your doors for the customers to come in. If you try to start a business large or small without first having all of the facts about that business you may not be as successful as you hoped you would be. You will want to take the time to make sure that everything is in order before you put your small business plan into effect.

One of the first things that you will want to make sure that you have is a small business license. Every business large or small has to have a license to operate in the county that they are located in. You will have to go to the court house in your county and inquire about purchasing a business license before you can actually call yourself a business. You will have to give them your business name and pay the required fee.

Next, you will want to make sure that you have a small business bank account so that you can keep all of your business finances in order. You do not want to get your business revenue mixed up with the grocery money from your personal account and it can be a big mess to straighten everything out if you go too long without establishing a separate account for your small business. It will also be helpful for you to start building a business relationship with the people at your bank so that you will have an easier time getting approved for loans when you need them.

Another thing that you will want to know about before you start your business is online marketing. By taking the time to sit down and learn some basic information about internet marketing you will be able to reach out to customers from across the world that want to do business with you. These are customers that you would not otherwise have the opportunity to do business with and are ones that will be very valuable to you once you start.

There is several other information that you will want to know about a small business before you start one up. It is not as easy and glamorous as most people try to make it out to be. You will need to do a lot of planning and make sure that you have everything that you need in order to be successful. You can make it if you have everything organized before you open your doors.

Building Your Coaching Business – Information Marketing – What to Do When You Get the Appointment

Here are some power questions that will grab your prospective client when you have your meeting.

Stop selling, and start helping. You will see your sales close ratio go up 5-10 times from where you are if you’ve been “selling” during those meetings.

Although this article is meant to show you how to follow up the Information Marketing letters we mentioned in the previous article, this approach still works for almost any sales appointment.

Just keep in mind that “you are not there to sell,” you are there “to help.” There is a clear distinction, at least as far as how the prospect perceives it.

Does that mean that you aren’t going to close, no, you will. However, you MUST be there to help him no matter where that may go. You are there to help the prospect find the answers he needs to solve the problems you are going to help him discover. You will work on HIS problems together heading for the answers. When he finds those answers, he will recognize that you were the one that guided him there. And, in most cases, there is still more work to do. He’ll want you around to help him find more and more answers, and help him implement the actions.

Since you are not here to SELL, you will not be in the TELL mode. You will be coaching him to find his most important answers to his most important problems.

Here are some questions that just might help:

Start your meeting off by asking them to explain what was the most beneficial thing they got from the article (assuming this is the follow up to that information marketing campaign). If this isn’t a follow-up to an information article campaign then just go directly into the questions that follow.

  • What are your biggest goals for your business this year?
  • What are they worth to you, if you could achieve them?
  • If you could achieve them sooner than expected, what would that do for you?
  • What has been the biggest obstacles to you pulling that off?
  • What might have delayed achieving those on time?
  • If you could solve those problems in the next week or two, what would that do for you?
  • What has it cost you for not achieving those?
  • What is it costing you every week that you don’t achieve those goals?

You want the prospect to define the value of achieving those goals in dollars and cents. What it has cost them in not achieving them. That sets a value for moving forward and a cost for not acting.

You’ll see that most will decide to move forward either at this meeting, or a meeting that follows up quickly.

If the prospect ultimately says he isn’t ready to move forward, what do you do?

Ask him when he absolutely has to have this problem resolved?

Make sure that you know what the weekly cost to him is for every week that this is delayed, because the chances are that the delay is more costly than your fee. This might be worth a discussion before leaving.

When he gives you a date, ask him if he’d like to continue receiving your articles on how to resolve his problems. He’ll be on your list, and it wouldn’t hurt to have some hints and tips about it.

When the date comes up, give him a call. There is a really big chance that he hasn’t done anything to fix the problem. In that case, show a concern that he said it was costing him $______ a week, and you have some other suggestions that might help out. Schedule another appointment to talk it over.

Remember, your fees ARE going to be less than the costs he is facing in not getting it fixed.

You are selling your value, not coaching or consulting. Be able to give a testimonial that shows how much other clients gained from your coaching.

Protect Your Business Information – Prevent Document Deterioration, Misuse and Loss With EDM

Security concerns are in the news a lot lately. The government has issued public alerts against terrorist activity. Military experts are debating how to maximize armed forces’ safety amid intensified conflict in Afghanistan. Medical experts are producing vaccine to combat Swine Flu. Each issue focuses on the need to ensure public safety. Yet most businesses – including agencies that rely on timely, accurate information to make decisions about public safety – overlook a serious risk that jeopardizes their effectiveness and ability to survive. The threat? Inadequate document security.

Businesses need secure access to accurate information to make smart decisions. Usually information is scattered: on paper (subject to deterioration, misfiling, security breaches, and loss); trapped in the minds of executives, managers and workers (subject to unintentional alteration and selective memory); and stored in electronic documents and software applications (subject to inconsistent rules, conflicting policies, and difficult to lock down). A recent 2009 AIIM report entitled Electronic Records Management – Still Playing Catch-up with Paper shows 60% of managers surveyed couldn’t be confident their records hadn’t been altered, deleted, or inappropriately accessed if they were challenged. More than 70% had no provisions for long-term electronic record archival; 31% had twenty or more content repositories that could be usefully linked (and presumably weren’t, complicating access and security). Many respondents described their electronic records as unmanaged; most lacked email management policies. It doesn’t take an expert to uncover a foul brew of document security concerns. Ignoring document security invites trouble.

Set clear policies Document security has two sides: human and technological. Management has the onerous job of weighing rules and regulations against operational needs and determining acceptable risks versus those that jeopardize their business objectives. Identifying unacceptable risk is a precursor to creating governance policy.

Communicate policies frequently – in writing Rules are futile unless they’re communicated – frequently, understandably, and in writing. Understanding what constitutes risk, acceptable behavior, and the penalties for disobedience dramatically reduces employee blunders. Convey your rules and reasoning clearly. Document your communications. You’ll reduce company risk by demonstrating intent to comply.

Well-laid plans, smart hiring decisions, and regular communications minimize risk, but they don’t guarantee document security. Where 100% document control is hindered by human limitations, web-based electronic document management (EDM) excels – governing, observing, and tracking file use, 24/7.

Emulate policies electronically Everyone hears about planned security breaches. Yet typically, compromised document security is unintentional:

People view sensitive information while searching for unrelated information. Employees inadvertently destroy original files without noticing copies or imported documents are faulty or illegible. New employees don’t know the rules and handle documents improperly. Temporarily removed or inappropriately stored documents can’t be located on demand for audits, subpoenas, or processing. Workers delete documents deemed worthless, learning afterward that retention rules changed or they were mistaken. EDM ensures security from the moment of capture, preserving file integrity throughout the business lifecycle and providing a central repository for stored information. Readability and integrity are verified upon capture. Digital storage eliminates deterioration, misfiling, or loss. Files are readable, properly stored, and secure. Customizable security determines who can retrieve, view, edit, annotate, manage, move, or delete files. Administrators can set rules for data use and walk away, knowing employees can access whatever they need.

Remove temptation and filing mistakes Companies are increasingly subject to strict regulations governing information use. EDM enforces your governance policies, letting you:

Restrict file access by creating pre-defined searches to retrieve files staff need. Restrict document viewing to specific personnel by job role and document type. Associate individual editing and annotation rights to pre-specified users and file types. Ensure only authorized persons can delete batches, files, and/or pages of documents. Assure consistent indexing Employee logic varies for document classification and search. EDM enables standardization, making filing consistent and search 100% successful.

Assign documents to batches during scanning or importing. Index documents by document type, customer ID number, and other unique identifiers. Associate related documents for a comprehensive view of information. Validate the integrity and accuracy of scanned and imported files through automated validation; request alerts when documents require intervention. Digital capture gives you control over your content.

Prevent document alteration Document alteration poses huge security risks, especially in the face of litigation and audits. ECM allays fears of inappropriately altered documents. You can:

Restrict document annotation and alteration rights to pre-designated persons. Ensure file alteration and editing rights reflect current policies. Store business-critical emails as unalterable documents. Avert inappropriate file deletion Missing and lost documents typically comprise 7.5% to 11% of all document requests, with workers spending anywhere from 20-50% of their time looking for information. MIA documents cost time and money to recreate; if they’re needed for an audit, subpoena, or industry mandate and not found, penalties can accrue.

EDM ensures documents aren’t deleted until they’re scheduled to be migrated or destroyed. By limiting user rights, you ensure against accidental and intentional purging. Automated retention assures document migration, purging, and deletion follow your rules. Regulatory changes? No problem: EDM grasps new instructions immediately, adhering to governance directives.

Adjust rules as hierarchies change Between a quarter and a third of employees change jobs or positions annually. Promoted employees suddenly need access to additional information. Demoted workers lose rights to access particular documents. Some are fired or leave, creating concerns they may take information with them, and new problems arise as knowledge must be transferred to new hires.

EDM tackles these issues with ease:

Users and feature rights are pre-designated electronically, making appropriate files accessible immediately to new employees. Administrators make documents instantly inaccessible to departing employees by deleting user rights and features, eliminating the risk of inappropriate file use. Rules and rights are easily reconfigured, ensuring new employees can access repositories and files they need without the risk of stumbling on sensitive information or overlooking policies for document access and use. Lock down email Email management eludes many managers. Critical communications about customers, partners, third-party vendors, staff, products plans, licensing information and more often are trapped in email Inboxes, inadequately archived and difficult to find.

By managing business email within EDM, you can:

Index and archive critical emails as documents of record. Restrict access to email content, while disclosing contents to authorized persons. Regulate printing, migration, and deletion of stored emails to specific users. Avoid disaster The topic of avoiding business disasters drew attention this year when the Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) recommended that companies limit how many executives can travel simultaneously on the same corporate or commercial plane. Experts recognized that a single calamity involving the loss of multiple top-tier executives constituted unacceptable risk, as it could destroy a company and result in considerable job loss. The same is true with the loss of your business-critical documents.

Document preservation is the left hand to the right hand of document security. Careful planning, quality EDM, and appropriate professional services ensure you have:

Effective backups and fault-tolerant, redundant systems that ensure you stay connected to your information. A disaster recovery plan that outlines the hierarchy of document importance to ensure business continuity and accelerate document recovery. Uninterrupted access to your business-critical information if a disaster prevents staff from working onsite. Physical data recovery in case a real disaster strikes or your system is shut down. Forge ahead If your company makes the headlines, don’t let it be because of a security breach or shutdown. Creating a document management strategy and investing in EDM means your past, present, and future documents will be in the right hands, whenever and wherever they’re needed. By leaving the arduous task of document management to EDM, you’ll have more time to focus on taking your business to the next level. Good luck!

Keep Your Business Information Quiet: Loose Lips Sink Companies

We have this idea that computer hackers are ingeniously bright people. We hear stories, true or otherwise, as to how they seem to finagle valuable information from us, using the most sophisticated social engineering techniques. In reality, they often use such tricky questions as, “I’m calling from the IT Department. We’re doing some system checks on your T-3 line. I’ll need to reprogram your current password with a new one. You’re using the one that’s all letters, right?”

And so we dutifully comply with what seems to be a reasonable and logical request from some resident authority figure who surely has our best interests in mind. Often within minutes, we will reveal confidential company or personal information, over the phone, or through an email reply to a complete stranger who talks or writes a good line.

Reading all this and reflecting on your own sense of eternal security vigilance, you’ll swear that you’d never give out a byte of confidential or important data, over the phone, across cyberspace, or even face-to-face. Your motto is: “Hang me up by my thumbs for a week and I still wouldn’t even tell you my first name.”

And all this may be true when you believe the information requester may be a wolf in sheep’s leggings, but how about when the asker-to-be is from your local or national news media? Are you still tight-lipped and careful, or do you get caught up in the glow of the First Amendment’s pad and pen, the video camera, or the microphone? It’s hard for even savvy security professionals not to spill some beans when faced with the often flattering request for information and a chance to demonstrate subject matter expertise.

But just as loose lips sink ships, the desire to provide information to the media must be measured by the impact, or more accurately, the harms a few words or figures can betray.

Several years ago, the Business section of the Orange County (Calif.) Register, featured a two-page photo spread on the history of the Southland Corporation’s reason for being: the 7-11 store. Along with a history of the Big Gulp business, the piece featured an interview with Anaheim 7-11 franchisee Herb Domeño, owner of nine stores, including the site at Katella and Harbor. For those not familiar with southern California real estate, this prime property is directly adjacent to an Enchanted Kingdom knows as Disneyland.

Back then, Mr. Domeño’s stone’s throw-to-Disneyland convenience store boasted the highest sales volume in the country – an average of $3 million per year, clearly above the national sales-per-store average of about $1.3 million per year.

Taking out our trusty calculators, we could have determined that, give or take some up or down days in the boom-boom 1990’s, Mr. Domeño’s enterprise took in about $8,000 per day.

And how did we discern this figure? It’s easy to uncover, especially when the $3 million sales amount is featured boldly in the photo caption of Mr. Domeño in his cash-cow store. (By the way, the new national sales record for one 7-11 convenience store belongs to the folks running the show in Southampton, NY.

So what has the Orange County Register just told every enterprising convenience store robber who can read? This place is full of cash and even if they aren’t cleaning up like they did before Disneyland closed a nearby parking lot to make room for its California Adventure addition, Mr. Stickup Artist has to believe it’s worth a shot.

Even if the daily revenue figure is adjusted for slow days and customers who pay with debit or credit cards, it’s still a substantial amount of cash that is either on the premises or being moved, via some safe means we hope, to the bank.

In times of organizational crisis, it’s wise to have a designated member of the executive team speak to the print or TV media. This person will have the training, experience, and savvy to say the right things, at the right times. News gatherers, on the other hand, won’t always seek out your Director of Corporate Communications (or similarly-titled representative). If they want the juicy details, any gossip, or the “inside story,” they might go to any executive or manager they can find, or worse, to an employee, who gives an opinion as if it was a fact.

In a perfect world, the security professional would also be part of the discussion and review of any press release, placed article, or editorial coming from the organization that has any security-related content. “Facts and figures” statements tossed out like: “Our security system is so sophisticated it only takes one guard per eight-hour shift to operate it,” or “Our jewelry store revenues have never been higher” might be great PR, but they can turn your business into a new target, by people or groups who never considered it as one before.

If you’re tasked with speaking to a media member about any aspect of your business operations or performance, choose your words carefully. Use the technique every politician is trained in from birth: bridging. Bridging simply requires you to “bridge over” to the question you want to answer versus the question you’re asked.

This approach works best when you’re asked the question you don’t really want to answer, i.e. Reporter: “Isn’t it true that your firm’s movement to stricter access control has created a `prison camp environment’ for your employees and customers?” Security Professional: “As you know, our approach has always been to put the safety and security needs of our people and our customers first. As such, we believe in creating the best working environment possible…”

Get the idea? You don’t answer a direct, confrontive question with a direct, assertive answer on point. You vary the response to make sure you cover your points, not theirs.
When in doubt, choose to be bland, especially with any information that hints of having a financial, proprietary, or trade-secret connection. “We’ve got a good handle on our inventory” sounds so much better than, “We’ve got a ton of expensive stuff laying around our warehouse.”

The old adage all publicity is good publicity has its exceptions. Better for people to read about your firm and have to make assumptions about your security, than to know too much detail.