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Making Me the Investment?

There are lots of different ways of “investing in you”:

o Education: Is the key to all you want to do and be in life. You can’t do a whole lot if you don’t know how! Choosing an area you want to learn more about requires some contemplation and soul searching. Figure out what you are passionate about and then go after it. There are a wide variety of ways to become educated and everyone knows school is a very valuable tool to get you there. But there is also self learning. Reading is an excellent tool. The internet is as well. You must have the drive to seek the knowledge.

o Relaxation: Our bodies are temples and as such, we need to take care of them. Living and working in a stressful environment day in and day out will take a toll on your body. The major effected area being our brain. Exposed to an overload of stress basically kills our brain cells in the area we need most for memory and learning. A certain amount of stress is a good thing; it forces our brains to be challenged and therefore enhances our creativity. But the overload is what does the most damage. Learning relaxation techniques is imperative to our wellbeing and gives us the best investment into our minds and bodies.

o Creatively: Some people like music, some art, some dance, some drama, and others everything in the world around us. People watching is very popular. This type of investment makes you appreciate the world around us and different types of people and personalities.

o Skill sets: Learning the things that give us the ability to perform our tasks in a competent way so as to bring value to our jobs and ourselves. There are different types of skills.

1. The ones we learn to do various jobs with. They are learned skills that will never be forgotten and can be used anywhere. Things like organization, paying attention to detail and the ability to analyze what works and what doesn’t.

2. Then there are skills that we have learned to be able to perform a certain type of job. Nurses learn how to take care of wounds, do assessments, the different types of medications to be used, etc. Computer technicians learn about programming, information r/t computers, repairing them, etc. Heating and air servicemen learn about heat volumes, compressors, refrigeration, equipment used to perform their tasks efficiently, etc.

3. We each have our own little unique ways of living, of addressing people, of going about our daily lives. “Patience is a virtue” but it is also a skill! “Brainstorming” is a popular term but it is also a skill! How we get along with others is a skill. Our coping mechanisms are also skills. Things that pertain to how we carry ourselves and interact with different types of people and situations on different levels are also our skills!

So, as you can see, there is a wide range of ways of investing in yourself obviously depending on what you are seeking from your life. So, investigate what makes you happy, healthy and whole and learn about it. You will live a very different life if you pursue your passions and invest in yourself!

Grow Your Business During This Recession

Success Strategies For Business Executives In Recessions

When Times Get Tough, the Tough Get Going” – Anonymous

As the pundits debate if we are in a recession or in a depression, companies are looking forward to see what they can do to get back in to growth mode. We looked back at the learning from the past recessions, and have come up with a list of things that have worked well in the past and are likely to work well again in the current environment.

1. Improve cash flow. This is by far the most important thing to do for companies looking to survive and prosper in recessions. As simple as this may sound, increasing sales is not the only way to improve cash flow. We are constantly amazed by how lax businessmen and organizations become in good times and how much room there is for improvement. Some simple and effective ways to improve cash flow include:

- ensure accurate book keeping and audit for abuse and theft
- collect accounts receivable early and delay accounts payable without incurring penalties
- clear out underperforming or unused assets and slow moving or stale inventory
- delay capital purchases and look to coincide purchases with vendor sales
- review payroll and other large expenses and look for cutbacks as appropriate
- negotiate favorable rates and payment terms from suppliers or switch suppliers (easy targets include rent, insurance, workers comp, and telephone system)
- purchase essential items in bulk to save shipping costs and get price breaks
- charge customers upfront fees/payments where possible

2. Maintain a good cash position. Since no one really knows when a recession ends and the next growth cycle starts, it is imperative that companies maintain a good cash position through the down cycle. Cash cushion is critical for a company and also puts the company in a strong position vis-à-vis suppliers and bankers.

3. Consider an active acquisition strategy. During a recession, there will be a lot of good opportunities to expend cash to invest in undervalued assets or businesses that provide strong cash flow. Retain a competent advisor to develop and implement a cohesive acquisition plan.

4. Understand how customers determine value in tough times. Tailor product offerings to more closely reflect the changed customer needs. The key is to provide more value to the customers without sacrificing margins. Look for creative product and service bundling opportunities and keep on constant lookout for ways to retain existing customers. Keep in mind that attracting new customers is several times more expensive than retaining existing customers.

5. Fine tune marketing campaigns. Recessionary time is typically not the best time to cut marketing spending but is the time to use the marketing budget more wisely to increase return and create a stronger brand. Look for competition that is unable to address client needs and go after their customers. Customer acquisition costs are much lower for you if your competitor is going out of business. Target some of the marketing dollars to go after customers of companies that are going out of business. For the stronger companies, recessions are the best time to gain market share.

6. Negotiate long term supplier deals at below market rates. Can you get an extraordinary lease on a prime property because someone else went out of business and the landlord is desperate to get a tenant? Can you negotiate a favorable long term advertising rate? Recessions are the best times to lock in long term supplier deals. Good deals are nearly impossible to get when the market is hot.

7. Build or improve your distribution/sales channels. In tough times, distributors and sales people are hungry for business. Current channels may be more receptive to your needs. Some desirable channels that were not open to your company before may open up. You may be able to negotiate more favorable terms from your existing distribution channel or get a stronger channel to replace your current channel more cost effectively.

8. Stay away from general cuts across the board. Cuts, if needed, should be in areas that do not create value or business areas that are not part of the core business. Look to divest or outsource non-core operations and invest in areas that are the future growth areas of the company.

9. Build employee loyalty. Employees will remember you for sticking with them through the tough times. Operate the business by emphasizing core values and leading by example. When tough decisions need to be made, solicit employee feedback. Use slow times to invest in employee training and developing compelling marketing and sales strategies and tactics. Communicate profusely and make sure the morale stays high.

10. Have a clear vision of where the company needs to be when the recession is over. Managing your business is a lot about allocation of resources and prioritizing where to prune and where to grow. Having a clear vision helps make tough choices that need to be made along the way.

Work out a solid plan. Implement it. Grow your business during this recession!

Keeping Your Business Alive During the Recession

The economy is in awful condition and there is no avoiding the dire forecasts and stagnant performance data issued by the news channels. Some of the biggest names in the global economy have come tumbling down from previously-untouchable thrones. Yet, this does not mean that small business owners need to take the fall along with the others. With some foresight and ingenuity, you can beat the recession…and even turn it to your favor!

Pay Attention to What Is and Isn’t Working

To remain afloat in these times of recession, and to be able to swim against the current-that is, grow at a time when others are shrinking-you can’t lose your cool. You need to take stock of exactly what is working and what is not working in your business, and react accordingly.

  • Don’t mimic what the major corporations are doing. It’s not only that they have exhibited wildly flawed practices; as a small business owner, you have much more wiggle room in the way you run your operation. Your contracts are probably not as inflexible, and your ability to pick and choose merchandise means that you can shorten your reaction time.

Know How and When to Streamline

Cut the extra weight that is holding you down now at the beginning of a recession, and don’t wait for it to corrode things more central, and therefore crucial, to your business plan.

  • Sadly, employees that under-perform or have excessively demanding pay pretensions need to be taken out of the picture-or, at least cut down a size.
  • If you’re a retailer, check your data: stop buying junk that’s not selling.
  • Put some effort into researching how to optimize your supply chain, and consider looking abroad for alternate sources if your local provider has dried up. Though it may seem a bit harsh, globalization is not going to be stopped, and you’d be wise to embrace this trend all the sooner.

Making Your Business Stand Out in the Crowd

These are no ordinary times, and your business model shouldn’t be the same old ordinary routine you ran all the way through the ’90s and early ’00s. Once all of the current turmoil blows over, the rewards will go to the businesses that figured out innovative ways to respond to the challenges that beset them.

  • Exploit the web, and discover what business alliances you can develop-either at a minimal cost or, yes, even for free-that will produce a symbiotic relationship in your favor. Community outreach programs can work like a charm in this regard: social solidarity tends to increase in times of recession, so using this venue to get your name out will be that much more effective.
  • Making the investment in sponsoring a community group during hard times will win you an enormous debt of gratitude from the community, and will be the equivalent of a giant seal of approval on your brand name.

Take the Blows That You Are Dealt

The sign of a genuine entrepreneur is being able to swallow hard, and convert short term losses into long term lessons. The key to small business survival is minimizing damages, and that means that you can’t let one bad investment or business move ruin your entire operation.

  • Don’t let a few setbacks spell doom for your small business.
  • Talk to other small business owners in your field, and consider setting up a cooperative to wade through the worst of the downturn.
  • If you are having cash flow problems, discuss with your providers ways to modify payment schedules-this is not a great time to commit yourself to 100% up front payments for all your purchases.

Gaze Upon the Horizon

Running a small business in a down economy will be a tall order, and though your creativity may mean you’ll achieve a greater degree of prosperity than your larger, aching competitors, you’ll undoubtedly take your fair share of hits. If you make the proper choices, however, and discover what direction your market is heading in, you’ll be that much more likely to come out of the recession at the top of your game.

  • A recession is a perfect time to do research on customer preferences, marketing strategies, cost-efficiency, and last-generation technologies that can help your business.
  • Invest in a Point of Sale system, launch an email marketing campaign, reassess your stock purchases, and don’t assume that just because something worked in the past that it’ll keep working in the future!