Posts tagged ‘entrepreneurial’

February 11, 2010

Alicia Marie will be Coaching Women at the American Express OPEN Women’s Business Summit featuring Make Mine a Million $ Business in Conjunction with Count Me In Organization

The American Express OPEN Women’s Business Summit will attract upwards of 500 women business owners at all level of business development to this day and a half event. The content is structured so that the emerging, established and growth-oriented entrepreneur will all have access to relevant and timely content and resources. 

Alicia Marie will be coaching these women at this event as they pitch their business in a chance to win the coveted Make Mine a Million $ Business award.

The American Express OPEN Women’s Business Summit will convene on February 17-18, 2010 at the JW Marriott in Houston, TX. The theme of the Summit will be The New Rules for Doing Business for Women Entrepreneurs and will include a multi-tracked conference that offers the following:

  • The Make Mine a Million $ Business competition
  • Critical advice for growth in today’s changing economy
  • Tips on leveraging social media to grow your bottom line
  • Thoughtful leadership, rich discussions and opportunities to connect with fellow women business owners, via the New Rules content track
  • Identification of new markets, with a focus on government contracting market rich with opportunity
  • Contact with an inspiring community of successful women business owners
  • Speakers and resources from our partnering women’s organizations

Due to an overwhelming response, this event has reached capacity and registration is now closed. Please visit the Count Me In website for updates on upcoming Make Mine a Million $ Business events.

September 10, 2009

What You Pay Attention To Grows

We have all taken a beaten from the media this last year. All the negative news about the economy and the recession can be overwhelming. I even had one anxious client say, “It feels like the world is coming to an end.”

Take a moment to think of something that happened in your past that seemed very bad at the time, but now in retrospect you see what a blessing it was.

I absolutely know that the challenges we are facing economically now will look like a blessing in retrospect. Businesses will get stronger and leaner. Families will come together. Governments will change. People will remember what faith is. Programs and non-profits will emerge as well as all the positive change we cannot yet see.

I invite all of you to step into hope and give up the worry and concern. How effective can you be when you are worried? How productive are you when you are anxious? How creative are you when you are upset?

Of course, I believe that positive thinking is important for many reasons. If only for your peace of mind, I invite you to stay focused on what is right, what is working and what is good in your business and in your life. What you pay attention to grows and thrives!

August 27, 2009

Leadership Institute

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WHAT: M3 Race Leadership Institute
Nurture and Enhance the power of community to successfully grow your business and yourself.

WHEN: Thursday, September 24th thru Saturday, September 26th, 2009

WHERE: Office Depot headquarters in Boca Raton, Florida.

We at Count Me In believe that entrepreneurship equals leadership, and so do our partners at Office Depot. Leadership takes vision and discipline, creativity and tenacity, risk-taking, earth-shaking, courage, confidence and commitment. It also takes a strong community– this one. Our Leadership Institute will help you successfully grow your business and yourself.

Featured Workshop: Select, Hire & Retain Top Talent – Alicia Marie Fruin

Want To Create Your Dream Team? Now you can! In this workshop you will:
• Craft a strategic plan to build your team
• Learn how to profile roles and write accurate job descriptions
• Design targeted job ads that attract the right people
• Develop the skills to recognize and retain top talent
• Get great interviewing tips and a FREE CD of materials you can use in your business.

Here’s what you’ll experience:

* Two tracks of powerful workshops taught by experts in their fields
* Elevator Business Pitch Updates
* Vendor Matching by WBENC connecting your product or service with corporations, universities, hospitals or government agencies interested in doing business with you. (Separate registration required– Click here to register)
* Panels, speakers and some creative surprises
* Plus lots of time to share with and learn from each other, one of the hallmarks of the Count Me In community
* Shuttle service between hotel and Office Depot available
* Valet Parking at Office Depot

Click here to register!

July 16, 2009

Happiness Is Positive Cash Flow!

“Cash flow, not profits, is the lifeblood of your business. Project it, monitor it, and manage it well before serious trouble starts to brew.”

In today’s uncertain economy with ever rising interest rates, many small businesses with limited financial training are having problems staying alive, let alone prospering. In fact, 63% of new businesses don’t survive six years– and most work-at-home people fail within 6 months!

The primary reason is bad cash management. Too many self-employed people neglect their cash flow until it is too late to recover. So the big question is: How will you manage your cash flow effectively? If you are not sure, then you are on shaky ground.

Let’s break down these tips one at a time.

Fast Collection

In your business, you should collect money as fast as you can. To do so, try these four things:

• Try to speed up customer orders by having them e-mail their orders to you straight from your website.
• Send out your invoices the same day goods are shipped, not a week or two later.
• Indicate on your invoice when payment is due, and specify the penalty interest for late payment. Enforce late fees.

Deposit Money Fast!

This seems only obvious, but it’s extremely important.

Always deposit checks the same day they are received. Don’t hold checks until the next day because you lose one day’s float. Key point: you can lose three days of float by not depositing Friday’s checks until Monday.

• Compare pricing for merchant credit card services; run credit cards as soon as payment due.
• Obtain availability of 0 to 2 days on deposited checks. Don’t let your bank give you the customer availability of 1 to 5 days. Be persistent. Ask the bank for its “availability schedule” and scan it to be sure you’re receiving fast availability of two days or less.
• Each bank has its own availability schedule. This is used to assign check availability to consumers, business (commercial accounts), and large corporate accounts. Availability is the number of days until you can use the money deposited by check as cash. For example, a $1,000 check deposited today and assigned a one-day availability can be withdrawn as cash tomorrow.
• Don’t deposit checks in a bank’s Automated Teller Machine or use the Night Depository since you have no evidence that you actually deposited the checks you said you did. Remember, you only receive a receipt that shows the time and dollar amount on the deposit at the ATM, and you get no receipt at the Night Depositor.
• Ask your bank about its deadline for receiving availability on deposited checks. Some banks may require a deposit of an encoded check by 2 p.m., even though the bank is open to 5 p.m. Make sure you make this deadline, otherwise you lose one day’s float.
• Before using a bank’s ATM for check deposits, find out the bank’s availability deadline. Some banks have a 12 noon cut-off time which means that any checks deposited later are considered to be deposited the next day! In that case, you lose an entire day’s float, even though you did your bit to get the checks cashed.

Have a Super Tight Accounts Receivable Policy

Many people think it is no big deal to neglect accounts receivable until bills are collectible. This is bad cash flow policy. Here are seven excellent tips for handling accounts receivable:

• Check the financial health of a new customer before offering them credit. One way of doing this is by using a rating service, such as Dun & Bradstreet (1-800-234-3867).
• Ask a new customer for five business references and don’t neglect to call them.
• Don’t offer too generous discounts, such as 3% for payment in 10 days. A better rate is 1.5% cash discount. It costs you less.
• Charge a “late fee” of 2% per month to customers who pay late and charge back customers who take discounts after the discount periods.
• Follow up on late payers with phone calls and letters. These may seem a bit extreme, but the first letter should go out the very day the amount is one day late! After 30 days late, start this sequence:
     o send out a letter from your attorney
     o turn over the account to a collection agency
     o use a collection attorney
• Don’t send out new merchandise if bills remain unpaid. Remember that bad debts hurt your bottom line! Be vigilant and try to get at least periodic payments from slow payers.
• Instruct your bank to automatically deposit “returned checks.” Ask your bank if they offer Return Item box service. If they do, then use it to redeposit your check and charge back the bank return item free to your customer.

These seven steps are tough and unrelenting, but they may make the difference between a positive cash flow month and a sluggish month for your business.

Disburse Your Money Slowly

Just the opposite of collecting at the earliest possible moment, you should never pay a day sooner than you have to, unless you get a discount for doing so. A lot of people believe in staying ahead of bills and paying them as early as possible, but that’s just poor cash management. You want to keep your money in your hands as long as you can. Here are five suggestions to slow down your disbursements:

• Pay your invoices on the last day they’re due, not before.
• Try to mail your payment on Thursday or Friday to pick up a few extra days mail float over the weekend.
• Use business credit cards for travel, lodging, meals, and small expenses for yourself and your employees. With credit cards you typically don’t have to make payment until 25 days after receiving the statement. Use this float by investing the money. In total, you can typically keep your money invested for 45 days from date of purchase.
• Don’t issue advances to employees. Have them use their personal credit cards or business cards, if you provide them.
• Now, many small businesses neglect to reconcile their monthly bank statements or assume that the bank never makes a mistake. Banks do make mistakes, and you must stay on top of your disbursement to control your cash flow. If you are one of those people who simply can’t stand to balance you check book, you can use a bank’s standard account reconcilement services for a low monthly price — $50 to $100 base charge and 5 to 7 cents a check.

No Extra Money in Your Bank Account

Many businesses make the mistake of keeping too much money in their bank accounts to pay for bank services. This money could be used more effectively elsewhere — such as to pay off a loan or to invest at a more competitive rate. Many businesses have no idea how much money to leave in the bank or what alternatives they have to compensate the bank. Take some time to find out what your minimum balance needs to be.

Get an Account Analysis Statement

How do you know how much money (bankers refer to this as “balances”) to leave in your checking account to pay for bank’s services? That’s a question that more business owners should be asking themselves.

• First, get a price list which shows how much your bank charges for services like account maintenance, checks deposited, checks paid, stop payments and wire transfers.
• Ask the bank to send you a monthly “Account Analysis Statement.” The analysis statement contains the average balance levels for the month — both the ledger and the available balance — as well as a listing of services used, their transaction volumes and cost. This statement should be obtained in addition to the regular monthly bank statement.
• Look at the account analysis to see whether you are overcompensating the bank. Then pull out any excess funds and invest them in a high-yielding money market mutual fund, for example.

A word of advice: Smaller banks may not know what you are talking about when you ask for an account analysis. Larger banks often offer such a statement, but you have to ask for it. And don’t let them charge you for this kind of statement since it is only an invoice.

Inventory is Not Cash

Every item you have sitting on your shelf should eventually be transformed into cash in your bank account, and the sooner the better. As long as it’s inventory, it’s basically dead weight. If it is not moving, you’re not having cash flow.

Here are six recommendations to minimize the cost of your inventory:

• Attempt to forecast as accurately as you can the day, week and month what you expect to sell. There is software for this.
• If you are dealing in more than one item, determine which item accounts for 80% of your sales. Then minimize ordering other items that are selling poorly or infrequently.
• Determine how fast you can get inventory, once you order it. Try to order as late as you can. Some firms can use “just-in-time” inventory which enables them to receive their order the day they need it.
• Determine your economic order quantity and don’t order too much inventory just to save a few pennies.
• Shop around and make sure you are getting competitive prices.
• Develop a policy for determining obsolete inventory, and how you can get rid of it. The best way to get rid of dead inventory is to sell it whatever you can get for it, even if that’s only 10 percent of what you paid for it. At least it will generate cash flow.

Don’t Forget Continuity Sales

Once of the most exceptional ways of controlling and improving cash flow well into the future is by employing something called continuity of sales or services.

Continuity sales are simply a contract to purchase products or services on an installment basis for a fixed period of time.

The best example of a continuity sale is a magazine subscription. 12, 24, or 36 issues delivered each month for X amount of dollars. The bigger the subscription, they better deal you get. The publisher gets more money up front, and the customer gets a better deal in the long run. Continuity can apply to anything.

Let’s say you own a dry cleaning business. How about an annual deal to clean 5 shirts or blouses per week for set amount of money? Get people to pay your for the entire week up front for a lot of fast cash flow. You’ll trade a discount for getting business, but you’ll ensure a steady cash flow for months to come. Continuity works with just about any kind of product or service you are offering, from dry cleaning to our personal consulting service.

You can structure payments for continuity sales on almost any basis, but it’s best by far to go for complete payment up front. After all, the discount is based on a customer’s commitment, and they’ll be a lot more committed with their money on the line.

July 9, 2009

Halfway through the Leading Change program… Hear what participants have to say!

“The Leading Change series has helped me to better understand the importance of self care, self expression, and clear intentions in being an effective leader to others. Through a progressive series of coaching conversations, theoretical models, and development exercises, I have created breakthroughs in leadership that have re-energized me and moved me closer to fulfilling my purpose in life.”

Karina Miller – Human Resources Specialist

“I highly recommend the Leading Change program for anyone ready to take that next step of personal growth as a leader. The synergy of working with a group of highly-talented, committed individuals in a safe environment has been life-changing. Leading Change should be on every leader’s calendar for this year.”

Pam O’Bryant, Manager

 

“I have so much energy now that I have identified and freed myself up emotionally!”

Lois Pearson, Business Owner

 

“The Leading Change program has changed my life in a profound way. It is an intense program asking students to be courageous and to dig deep to look at their fear and then transform that fear into power. I thought since I had been through years of intense counseling and many other coaching programs that I knew my motivators. It turns out I was close but then with Alicia’s probing and kind of proding, she brought me to be very clear on the specific fear that was holding me back so I could come to the other side of fear: standing in your power; standing in leadership.

Coming into focus with my fear and being very specific about how it feels and how it has affected my life has allowed me to step back and notice others fear and to have compassion and love toward them as they too identify and notice behaviors that stem from fear. This has allowed me to choose to remain in my own center, notice their fear and how it shows up for them and not be affected by their fear. I can notice and choose my own behaviors that now are generated from a place of love and power versus being generated by fear.

Alicia is a talented, fun, spiritually and practically grounded coach and mentor. While guiding me in the deepest way with honor and respect she also teaches me to laugh at my human-ness and play with new experiences. She is one of the most gifted coaches I have ever had the honor to work with.”

Ann Marie Archer, Business Owner

 

New Leading Change program starts July 24th. Click here for more information or call us at (512) 989-2230.

May 5, 2009

May Coaching Tip

Powerful Questioning is at the core of effective coaching. With one caveat– understand that asking a question that is appropriate to the emotional state, learning style, timing and situation is as important as the actual question. This takes effective listening, skill and practice.

Elements of a great question:

  • They are clear and direct.
  • They are non-judgmental.
  • They are transparent– no motive.
  • They are real and have the best interest of the employee in mind.
  • They are inquisitive and keep the employee thinking and in curiosity.
  • They are based in the present and keep the employee in the ‘here and now’ versus the ‘why’.

Why ask questions instead of give directions?

  • Your answers are old answers and they work for you, not the person you are coaching.
  • If you ask questions, people will self-discover and take responsibility for their results. People really do like their own ideas better!
March 12, 2009

Leading Change Program: How to cope with our own fear and lead others through change

The natural cycle of life’s ups and downs creates growth or personal fears and blockages. Which of these dominates depends a lot on how we view change. Is it exciting or is it frightening?

 

Who is watching? Your employees, your family, your community? If you are a leader then you are modeling how to navigate our current economic crisis. Will you step up and face your fear so we can all grow and thrive? We call fear by a lot of names: overwhelm, anxiety, frustration, pride, anger. We rarely say, “I am afraid.” The leading change program is for leaders who are grappling with their own fears while also leading others.

 

I wrote this intro below so you would understand that this program is confronting, rigorous and deeply powerful. It requires courage and self awareness. I believe it has the power to completely alter who you are as a leader and a human being.

We will work on:

 

  • Understanding fear and how to be facile with it
  • Real power
  • Integrity
  • Language
  • Communication
  • Being a visionary
  • Understanding your core values and honoring the values of others

 

We know change is part of life yet we go to great lengths to make our world predictable, safe, comfortable, controllable and definable. In general, we don’t understand our fear and how we as human beings operate with it. When we have a lot of fear, we go about setting up a world that does not stimulate our particular fear(s). We use our mind to devise ways to avoid having our fear stimulated. Fear is afraid of itself and does not want to be felt. You can do one of two things with fear. You can recognize it for what it is and stop acting on it. Or you can try to keep the world from stimulating your fear.

 

We all do it. Yet we don’t talk about it. You know, try to figure out how things are supposed to be and then go about trying to make it that way. How did we come up with the idea that life is not okay as it is? If change is natural maybe life is too.

 

As a coach, I have noticed that our attempts to protect ourselves from our problems create more problems. If you keep attempting to arrange people, places, and events so that they do not disturb your fear, life will feel heavy because you are controlling and fighting with everything. Most of us try to get to peace this way. Most of us try to get to joy this way. What if there is another way?

 

This program starts in April, is 5 months – 15 sessions and is a “Pay what you can program”.  Please respond to coaching@profitconsultingco.com if you are interested and I will send an application. Only 8 leaders will be accepted and I will accept applications through March 27.

February 25, 2009

Coaching Tips for Managers: Coaching is a Repeating Relationship Cycle

Step 1: Valuing

Valuing the employee assigns worth and importance to that person and must be present to begin the relating process.

 

Step 2: Hearing
Hearing the employee goes beyond the obvious auditory hearing and even beyond the use of listening skills. It is translating what is said into what is meant. It is hearing with compassion.

 

Step 3: Understanding
Understanding the employee is a choice made by you to place importance on and know the significance of what has been heard by you and ultimately meant by the coach-ee.

 

Step 4: Reacting
Reacting is an inevitable, natural and unfiltered internal response to what is understood by you about the client. Your reactions must however, into appropriate and accepting responses. As Stephen Covey would say, “There is a gap between reacting and responding.”  That gap is accepting.

 

Step 5: Accepting
Accepting is the choice to receive a person gladly, without disapproval, blinding judgment or compromise of our own personal integrity. It does not mean to endorse, buy into or agree with whatever is being received.

 

Step 6: Responding
Responding is the external relating step. All the others are internal, but filter the actual responses made to the client. 

 

Step 7: Honoring
Honoring the employee by showing that person respect through every step of the relating cycle and the entire coaching process is the filter through which all relating activities and phases must be screened. Honoring confers distinction on a client, and shows your desire to give credit to them.


Relationship Building is a continuous cycle.

February 12, 2009

“Being Positively Practical in Your Business”

With the current economy and market changes I certainly feel it is important to keep a positive attitude, be positive and focus on what’s working versus what isn’t working. I know without a doubt that this helps me stay productive, peaceful and creative which makes me better at what I do daily. I have started exercising more, praying more, meditating and reading more uplifting books just to stay in a happy centered place.

 

As a business coach I am recently seeing a trend with several of my small business clients who always, always maintain an admirably positive attitude. Uncharacteristically, I am seeing avoidance, procrastination and a kind of refusal to look at their business situation; however I must remark that they are maintaining a positive attitude.

 

One client voiced, “If I just don’t look at it, I am not afraid.” Who wants to be afraid?  I understand this all too well. After Christmas vacation I took a hard look at revenue projections and realized I had to cut employee hours. Honestly, I should have looked three weeks earlier but instead of looking at my numbers I looked at my vision board and hoped for more business instead of looking at my financials or my new strategies for earning revenue.

 

It reminds me of the three monkeys; see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. A positive attitude may be easier when we are not looking, listening or talking about the economy or loss of revenue but is it practical and is it empowering? Is it really the healthiest way to deal with the business challenges we face and what about our own well being?

 

Its human nature I guess to avoid looking at what’s changing, an understandable phase for any and all of us to move through but not a good place to hangout and get stuck. As business owners, if we don’t look at the reality of what is happening we can’t powerfully make our next move. We can’t anticipate and head off potential crisis and we can’t make the adjustments needed to stay in business and even potentially thrive.

 

Here are some questions to ask yourself and your team:

 

What are your financials telling you? How will we strategically cut operating costs? Will we reduce your ability to compete effectively if we do?

Will we reduce the quality of our product with these cuts?

Will we reduce the clients’ experience with our company?

Will we reduce the goodwill we have worked so hard to build?

How are our employees feeling? What layoffs are coming, if any? How will we prepare them? How can we all pull together? How will we have to change our business development plan? Has our market dried up? Do we need new markets, services or products? What habits will I have to change or adjust? What business practices will change? How will our marketing messages change?

 

Of course, none of us want to be in “fear,” maybe that’s a phase as well, just another emotion to move through? I find I have much more energy, peace and power when I am practically looking at what is happening in the world and in my business. After all when you are awake and paying attention you don’t miss any of the miracles either!

February 9, 2009

Does your staff cooperate or collaborate with you?

As small business owners we move fast, change course and shift gears daily. Operating a small business demands that we have the ability to be flexible and change as needed. What about our employees? How flexible do they need to be? How informed? How engaged in the success of the business? How do we know they are aligned with us and the business vision?

Sometimes we overlook informing, including, asking or collaborating with our employees. We are often satisfied with cooperation from our employees, unaware of what is possible if we instead were in collaboration with our employees.

“A leader is someone who steps back from the entire system and tries to build a more collaborative, more innovative system that will work over the long term.” –Robert Reich

Here are some great ways to start collaborating with your staff:

Know the vision for the business, share the vision often.
Include them often in the planning for the business referencing the vision
Work on not just in the business with them.
Tie in daily tasks or monthly projects with the overall business vision.
Create and measure goals against the vision with your staff.
Report in on goals with your staff and/or have them report in on their goals.
Start asking great questions of staff instead of telling staff what to do.
Start asking your staff for solutions that you are really trying to solve, take their advice sometimes. Let them know you did.
Let them set the agenda and run the meeting.
Create and post a visual organization chart that shows future roles (do not include names).
Have very clear roles and responsibilities for each staff member.
Change your language to “we”. Speak about business in terms of we, not I or my. For example instead of saying “I need this on my desk by tonight” say “ We need this one and have a deadline of 5pm today can you get it done?”
Do evaluations of job performance in a timely way.
Have raises, bonuses and incentives based on company performance as well as the individual.
Become a great manager. Read books and go to seminars as well as get feedback from your employees on how you could do better.

What are the potential costs of no collaboration?

If the employee is not in tune with the business goals they will have difficulty prioritizing and focusing on what is important.
If the employee does not know what is going on, they will make up stories, causing unnecessary miscommunication and hard feelings.
If they only have half the information they may feel insecure thinking that the company is failing or their job is in jeopardy.
When we don’t allow and ask for their opinions and suggestions, we miss the perspective our staff may be able to contribute. We also inadvertently send the message that what they think doesn’t matter. Poor performance is directly linked to employees feeling powerless to affect change in the business or in their current role.
Employees will not stay in step with the vision for the business, they will be “I” focused instead of “we” focused .They will not be able to see where their job role fits into the business vision.
We will likely lose touch with what is important to our employees, will not know how to incentivize and morale will deteriorate.