What if the god of luck comes to you and you win $1 billion jackpot? What should you do?
$1 billion surely looks interesting, not just to the winner, but also to everyone. The latter is important. We don’t know who else might be interested in your money. Some of them may be good people, while the others are not.
In his book, Lottery Hack Book, Michael A Muse spoiled the secret of some famous lottery winners. Instead of claiming the prize right away, you should concern about your ticket safety. You should protect it. Keep it in a safe place that no one else knows, except you. Also, you should never sign the back of your ticket. (more…)
If you think you should stop buying lottery tickets because your books tell you not to do it, you should re-consider about this. Recently, a couple of book enthusiasts from Bristol have won the UK’s Lotto lottery jackpot. The £18 million jackpot they win has also made them the older lottery winner in UK history. (more…)
Lottery can change your life like how it has changed Richard Lustig’s life.Twenty-seven years ago, this man had no intention at all to enter a lottery. He never bought a ticket and kept his life away from it. However, today we know him as a grand winner in lottery games. He has won at least 6 grand prizes from different lotteries. Now, he believes that he is on the right path to becoming the nation’s largest Powerball lottery winner.
The good news is, he is kind enough to share his own recipe to winning those lotteries. Instead of keeping the secrets to himself, he wrote a book about “Learn How to Increase Your Chances of Winning the Lottery.” As simple as it is, this book has everything you need to know about winning the prize. So, shall we start? (more…)
Printed in Investor’s Business Daily
Small Firms: Stacking The Odds In A Crisis
Friday November 7, 2008
Gary M. Stern
It pays to be a big guy.
When losses at American International Group (NYSE:AIG – News) hit the billions, the federal government bailed it out to save the economy. When subprime mortgages tanked at Washington Mutual, regulators arranged its sale to JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM – News) to protect the financial system.
But when small businesses falter — despite contributing over 70% of GNP — they’re on their own.
“There’s no safety net for small businesses,” said Steve Bloom, an Atlanta-based counselor at SCORE, a nonprofit association that partners with the Small Business Administration. “The SBA is not in the business of making loans to small businesses; it only offers financial guarantees to participating lenders,” he said.
This means that typical small-firm owners have to rely on themselves and not governmental agencies. The good news is that they can not only survive, they can thrive by acting on their own.
One ways to do that is to generate enough capital to invest in growth, or network to find investors willing to lend the money.
But before taking action, it’s always best to know where you stand. The first thing to do is “analyze why you’re in trouble, why you’re losing customers or why customers aren’t paying you fast enough,” explained Ed Hess, co-author of “So, You Want to Start a Business? 8 Steps to Take Before Making the Leap.” Entrepreneurs must cut costs, generate cash flow, and if the system self-corrects, tap community banks for loans, he added.
Beware Ripple Effect
When access to capital from banks is cut off to most small businesses, there’s a ripple effect. Small players can’t expand or hire more employees so unemployment rises. Orders to suppliers are cut back, reducing the revenue of other businesses. When small firms can’t grow, the impact is felt in loss of jobs, revenue stagnation and supplier retrenchment.
Without access to capital, small businesses are at risk. Retail businesses without a seasonal line of credit that do much of their business between Halloween and New Year’s face hardship, says Dennis Ceru, an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship and business strategy at Babson College. Desperate for cash, some small-business owners are forced to borrow against their homes, take out expensive loans, or offer suppliers a small percentage of profits to pay faster.
This credit crunch worsens the money squeeze for many small firms. Most small businesses already have a tough time getting loans from banks, which want to see three years of rising profits, something many businesses can’t provide. “Banks are collateralized lenders only,” Bloom said.
A Baker’s Example
To survive, Dan Leader, owner of Bread Alone, a Boiceville, N.Y., wholesale and retail bakery with three outlets, raised bread prices three times and added a fuel surcharge for deliveries. In fact, he raised his prices to offset the $140,000 jump in his cost of flour in 2008.
But Leader also focused on expanding business without requiring additional capital. He spends one or two days weekly making cold calls to new customers who have multiple locations that can yield $100,000 of annual business. He made presentations about new products to major customers like Fairway’s, Whole Foods (NasdaqGS:WFMI – News) and Zabar’s, which led to a surge in orders.
Diversification is key to Bread Alone’s keeping its $7 million in annual revenue intact. One-third of its business comes from retail stores. Another third comes from wholesale orders, while the remaining third comes from mail order and Internet sales.
In case he needs to open another retail outlet, Leader maintains a strong relationship with a local bank, which loaned him $100,000 several years ago. The money was repaid. “For a small business, a close relationship with a local banker is key,” Leader said.
If a small business has some capital to invest, it can prosper during these hard times. In times of tight credit, SCORE counselors advise that owners with capital on hand turn to buying used trucks or used office equipment, for example, rather than buying new. “With foreclosures and bankruptcies, you can get things for 30 cents on the dollar via eBay and Craigslist,” Bloom said.
To obtain capital in tough times, savvy small businesses are advised to intensify networking. Join trade associations, chambers of commerce and rotary groups to tap private investors, Bloom said. Angel investors are more likely to invest in the hot tech firm, not the local hardware store, restaurant or uniform supplier.
Most small businesses fail when “they haven’t planned for the proverbial rainy days and haven’t established an emergency fund,” Ceru said. He advises that owners put aside three to six months in operating cash and salary to withstand a downturn. “Businesses have to plan for eventualities that can happen outside of their control, like a luncheonette (that finds itself) near Wall Street after 9/11,” he added.
Hess urges entrepreneurs to draft a detailed emergency plan to stay afloat. Included in the plan would be detailing which employees are critical, which 10% of employees can be cut, how severance pay will be handled, and ways to cut personal living expenses and increase cash flow.
Some businesses are taking smart steps to stay alive. One business sends out invoices that day, instead of after 30 days, and gives discounts to customers that pay within a week.
Businesses that thrive during a credit crisis and downturn “understand how to best manage their cash, minimize expenditures, and utilize their resources effectively. They lease rather than buy and hire part-time rather than full-time employees,” Ceru said. Small firms, knowing that they can’t rely on the federal government or banks in a jam, depend on their own resources to succeed.
“In tough times, entrepreneurs must adopt a survival mentality, do everything you can to focus on getting cash in, delay paying expenses and keep the essence of your business alive to survive and play another day,” Hess said.
By Edward D. Hess,
Distinguished Executive in Residence and
Adjunct Professor of Management, Goizueta Graduate School of Business
Managing a business so it continually improves and grows is hard – in fact, very hard. Prerequisites to that result are the business builder’s passion, determination and perseverance. Additionally, you must produce a product or service which meets customers’ needs at a fair price. But just as critical is the concept of leverage. A business builder must leverage himself or herself through others. It is only through the effective leveraging of yourself through your employees that you can create value. A business builder must instill his or her employees with values and standards so they will do what you want, when you want, and how you want just as if you would – many times a day – every day.
A business builder is like a football coach. A coach gets results through a team. A coach determines the game strategy, designs and teaches the team the plays, teaches each player his assignment, critiques and grades the players’ performance, and adjusts the plays based on feedback.
You, the business builder, have the same responsibilities as a coach; you set the strategy, you design the product or service to meet certain needs, you teach your employees their assignments, you measure the results, and you adjust to customer and competition feedback. This analogy breaks down when you look at the fact that football teams practice, review films and critique their performance four days a week and only play one game a week. You have to play the business game every day, six days a week. And you have to simultaneously lead, teach, critique, and adapt every day.
It is this simultaneous execution of teaching, critiquing, and adapting that is the challenge for a growing business, and the fact is that you have to do it day in and day out. Big businesses have the structure, management depth, and organization which allows them to separate the training from the execution and to separate the grading and measuring from both the training and execution. Most growing private companies do not have this luxury.
What I have learned from working with business builders and from building businesses and teams over 30 years is that many forget the following three basic principles:
- Employees will do what you measure;
- Employees will do what you measure better if you also reward it and;
- The purpose of management is to manage the details of what you measure.
The devil is in the details – what you measure. I advocate measuring behaviors which lead to results, not the end results. In my last business, I was able to double productivity by using this approach – drilling down into each step of the process until I got to the key behaviors I wanted to measure and reward. Unfortunately, most people measure financial or customer satisfaction conclusions and not specific desired employee behaviors which will lead to those results.
Identifying and measuring behaviors requires you and each employee or team to focus on the details of execution – what they will do every day to best carry out their assignments. Moreover, it gives you the opportunity through this process to teach and leverage your standards on their performance. Managing through an XQ Scorecard is the way you tell each person or team what you want them to do, how you want them to do it, and why doing it that way is important.
An XQ Scorecard can be the method by which you simultaneously teach, measure, critique, improve and reward performance on a continual basis. It allows you to maximize your managerial efficiency by making teaching, measuring and improving part of one continual and simultaneous process that can be imprinted by its repetitive use. It is a tool which allows you to measure performance often and focus on key employee performance frequently. This tool prioritizes what is important for the employees and focuses their behavior daily.
The key to using XQ is to think deeply about what behaviors you want to encourage – behaviors, not end results.
The XQ Scorecard for each employee should specifically identify the key “blocking and tackling” assignments for each player. This implies that if you do these acts, you will produce the desired results. So you must figure out what core, fundamental behaviors you want to measure and reward. By drilling down to the basic behavior level with your employees, you will teach employees what to do and why they should do it; you are linking daily behavior to the big results and you are focusing your employees on what is important for the success of your business.
Not surprisingly, there is no off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all XQ Scorecard. Most scorecards measure conclusions. Moreover, the behaviors you choose to measure will change as your employees improve and will depend upon:
- The maturity and size of your business;
- Whether you are in a high margin or low margin business; and
- What you are selling.
Using a sales person or business developer as an example, what behaviors should we measure? What are the critical foundations for sales performance? What are the behavioral building blocks? Closed sales result from need-responsive sales pitches being made by the right people to the right targets. Targeted sales pitches result from targeted sales calls being made in a way which gathers or collects (1) the key information about the customer’s needs (2) the customer’s ability and willingness to pay for the meeting of those needs and (3) the customer’s willingness to switch to either your better or cheaper product.
Targeted sales calls result from marketing research which finds the potential customers who may need your product or service. Market research depends on the value attributes of your product or service and understanding why someone will switch to your product. All through this process, we want to measure target feedback, pitch feedback, and customer feedback so we can improve our product, improve our marketing and sales productivity.
Just as importantly, we need to impose a sense of urgency.
So maybe we would measure:
- Efficiency and productivity of target market research, sales calls, and sales pitches;
- Information gathering from target marketing, sales calls, and sales pitches;
- Acting quickly; and
- Acting in a way to create positive customer response.
Taking all this into account, a suggested XQ Scorecard for a salesperson could look like this:
- Number of new qualified targets generated this week;
- Total number of calls to each target to produce sales call;
- Number of days from first call to sales call;
- Number of customer’s need forms properly filled out after sales call;
- Number of sales calls turned into sales pitches;
- Average number of days from sales call to sales pitch;
- Number of sales pitches made? Won? Lost?
- Number of sales pitch win-lose feedback forms properly filled out;
- Average number of days from sales call to delivery of product;
- Number of customer feedback interview forms properly filled out;
- Number of days from delivery of product to cash collection;
- Number of unsolicited customer thank yous;
- Number of lost target follow-ups.
What am I trying to measure? How efficiently we are working, feedback generation, and quality of target generation and sales pitches. As I sit with the employee and work through what they should do and how they should do it, we are agreeing on how to carry out the assignments, agreeing on the importance of learning from our acts and being better each day; and agreeing on a pace to measure productivity. This interactive process – the blocking and tackling of business execution – is a simultaneous teaching, measurement, and critiquing tool which can be improved upon frequently to continue the getting better and faster process.
XQ Scorecard is a tool which allows you to document and grade performance and it helps you leverage your intensity, passion, and values through your team. Only through effective team building and team execution can you build a sustainable and realizable value over time.