Displaying articles for: 11-21-2010 - 11-27-2010
While it may be tempting to cut your training budget, especially in a recession or hard economic times, doing so may be detrimental to your business according to a recent post on the TalenTrust blog. The post began by quoting management guru Jack Welch who once said that “An organization’s ability to learn and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”
TalenTrust then pointed out that the opportunity for career growth and advancement is consistently one of the top three reasons people choose to stay with their current employer and the lack of it is the primary reason for employees to leave. In other words, there are many benefits to establishing and maintaining a robust training program as such a program can:
- Ensure that people can do their jobs effectively.
- Increase employee motivation.
- Increase efficiencies in processes and systems.
- Inspire innovation in strategies and products.
- Cross-train between departments and across regions (a safety net when you lose staff).
- Lower risk management (in areas like sexual harassment and diversity).
- Increase productivity.
- Improve customer relationships.
- Help maintain a competitive advantage.
Moreover, TalenTrust pointed out that training and development is actually at the heart of succession planning because it’s the process where you identify, assess as well as develop your staff to ensure that they are ready to take on key roles in the organisation.
At the end of the post, TalenTrust pointed out that you can actually save money and increase your profitability by investing in continuous training and development for your employees – even in a bad economy. Moreover and by simply reallocating your resources and by adapting the delivery of training to meet your current economic circumstances or challenges (rather than just slashing your training and development budget), you will create a much more sustainable long-term business.
Is it time to upgrade to a new PC and a new operating system? Intel IT began an enterprise-wide deployment of Microsoft Windows 7* on PCs with Intel® vPro™ technology in early 2010. We conducted an extensive three-month evaluation that showed the OS meets the key requirements of Intel’s business groups, giving us the ability to improve employee productivity, deliver IT cost efficiencies, and improve manageability and security. Download the full report from the Intel IT Galaxy UK website.
In today’s uncertain economy, many big and small businesses alike have had to rethink their marketing budgets. However, it is now more important than ever to have your products or services to appear in media publications that are read by your target audience.
Hence, a recent article by lornasixsmith for Bloggertone is well worth reading as she outlined six steps that Garrendenny Lane, her small company which sells interior design consultancy services plus designer fabrics and wallpapers, did to effectively build up their PR on a budget. Lorna began her article by noting that while she was happy with the results her online publicity campaign was generating, she realised that she had to further tweak it as well as improve the online image of her business. She did this in five easy steps:
- Find your uniqueness. Lorna wrote that you need to find your so-called USP or unique selling point. And if you find it difficult to come up with something, Lorna suggested taking a look at what other businesses are doing plus do some brain storming. In her case, she negotiated and obtained exclusivity with two up and coming designers known for high quality products and the fact that she got an exclusive deal with them became the focus of a press release.
- Use online press release distribution. Lorna suggested using services like Media Contact, Przone or Irish Press Releases or to simply send the press releases directly to the editors or journalists who write or work for your preferred publications. In her case, she featured one of her exclusive lines in her press release and this led to extensive media coverage.
- Track media contacts. Lorna noted that she keeps track of her media contacts and whenever she has a new product or an exclusive deal, she emails them. In her case, she has three journalists who regularly feature her products and she always makes sure to send them a thank you note when they do so.
- Align online and offline marketing. Lorna wrote that both your offline and online marketing efforts should complement each other. In other words, when you are mentioned in an offline publication, scan it onto your blog, website, Twitter or Facebook page. In turn, you may actually end up being contacted again after your offline mentions are seen again online.
- Be patient. Lorna pointed out that you should not expect miraculous results from just one media mention. In her opinion, PR is about keeping up a profile and building up a business in people’s minds. Hence, you will need to keep working at it.
At the end of her article, Lorna noted that she actually has no PR or marketing experience but she has had to work hard at it because her budget for marketing and advertising was virtually zero. So, if she can make it work, then so can you.
All entrepreneurs and small business owners have made their share of mistakes or have learned certain lessons or business fundamentals the hard way. Hence, a recent article by Tim Berry, the President and founder of Palo Alto Software and the founder of bplans.com, is well worth reading as he wrote about five business fundamentals that he learned the hard way.
Tim began his article by noting that it has been 27 years since he was last an employee and 22 years since he started running his own business. And although he has a “fancy business degree,” he still learned these following five mistakes the hard way:
- Your employees can’t also be your friends. Tim pointed out that many small business owners want their employees to also be their friends and that they hire people who they like. However, Tim makes it clear that people you pay aren’t really your friends while running a business requires management, the meeting of goals, accountability and feedback. Moreover, he noted that you can’t be both equal and effective with your employees.
- Profits aren’t cash (or cashflow). Tim wrote that profits are merely an accounting concept and that having a sale does not automatically mean that you have the money. Moreover, the costs that were associated with a sale may have already been incurred some months ago while profits completely ignore debt repayments or the purchases of assets. Hence, Tim wrote that it’s still possible to go broke while being profitable.
- Good liars are rare but dangerous. Tim noted that it’s easy to spot most liars as lying usually trips up most normal people. However, he quoted an investor with a firm that recently ran into trouble as saying, “when people answer straight direct questions with straight direct lies, they can get away with it.”
- You have to live with mistakes. Tim pointed out that if you can’t handle making a mistake, then you are probably not cut out to be a small business owner or an entrepreneur as you are going to make mistakes and you will need to quickly recognise them and take appropriate action.
- You can’t do everything, so at least try do the right things. Tim wrote that as a small business owner or an entrepreneur, everything you do will rule out something else that you can’t do. In other words, trying to do everything does not work as you eventually end up not being able to do the important things that you should be doing.
Tim’s entire article is well worth reading as it will help you to avoid some of the same mistakes that he learned the hard way.
Mateen Greenway, an HP Fellow based in London and the chief technologist for the EMEA Defence, Security, Government & Healthcare industry, has recently noted on the Next Big Thing blog how he had read an interesting article (“Starting up is cheap. Success is expensive”) for The Register by Matt Asay. In the article, Asay had argued that while IT startup costs for new businesses today are very cheap, significant investment is still required to build a new business that can handle scale. Moreover, Asay backed up his idea with the following facts and statements:
It's undoubtedly true that startup costs have gone down. Ironically, this comes at the very time that venture capitalists are sitting on mega-funds that must disburse ever greater investments. According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers Money Tree survey, the average seed deal size has actually climbed to $5.4m, up from $4.0m in the fourth quarter of 2009. Across all stages of investment, National Venture Capital Association data suggest that average investments are roughly constant since 2007. If startup costs are lower, apparently VCs and startups didn't get the memo.
Mateen then pointed out in his post that while access to cloud business services is a great way for a new business to quickly and cheaply get started without having to make large capital investments, a new company will still need to invest money in developing a unique business value as these are the areas of a business that will differentiate a company and must be protected.
Asay also concluded his article by writing that:
In sum, we seem to be entering an age when it's dirt cheap to start a company, but still expensive to scale one. Sure, it's cheaper in the short term to outsource your data center to Amazon or Microsoft, but ultimately the Facebooks of the world aren't going to outsource their crown jewels to a third party.
Meanwhile, Mateen noted the problems faced by large companies and governments alike when they attempt to adopt and gain the benefits of cloud computing technologies and while the cost savings are attractive, the lack of strong service levels will probably mean that they turn out to be appropriate solutions only for non-core activities. Mateen also added that many companies have difficulty in deciding just what is core to their business in the first place.
Both Mateen’s post and Asay’s article are both well worth reading by would-be entrepreneurs and existing small business owners alike.