Is your business prepared for a disaster?

A couple of years ago the world watched as New Orleans almost became the ‘Lost City of Atlantis’. Hurricane Katrina almost completely destroyed this historic city on the Mississippi. Homes, lives, and businesses were lost in the matter of just a few days. Many of those businesses had enough warning to enable them to move vital information to secure spots. Unfortunately, many more chose to ‘stick it out’ in hopes that the storm and surge would pass by them. Most people who live along coastal waterways know there is the possibility that they will be subject to some kind of

Business Costs

When starting a new business, many have problems deciding how much money they need. They may have a figure in mind, but if they have never owned their own venture before, they may have no idea about hidden business costs. These can be small, or they can be very large and troublesome. Most figure out what they know, but far too many fail to do proper research before they take out a loan to start their own company or service. This usually means they will fail because they run out of money. Business costs can be something like Monopoly money.

Innovation in the Family Business

A danger in any business is stagnation. As our business becomes more successful, we become more comfortable with our surroundings and less motivated to change from existing practices. Family businesses are no exception: Starting out on an entrepreneurial high, family businesses are widely recognized as a major source of technological innovation and economic progress. But somewhere in the process we lose the drive, the desire to continually bring innovative practices and products to our organization. Owners may become more concerned about the risk of losing their business, than the prospect of growing it into a larger and more successful entity.

What Really Makes My Business Tick? 8 Questions Every CEO Should Ask

The US Army’s motto of “Be all you can be” served them well for years. But it applies equally well to any businesses, organizations, and even families for that matter. Many organizations see themselves as somewhat contented with the way things are, but of course it’s hard to think of anything else when there are real issues to be discussed. Still, for our businesses, we aspire for something deeper and more meaningful. In our businesses, we all have issues and challenges to overcome. But that should not keep us from striving to become not only all that we can be,

The 80 – 20 Rule – Don’t Abandon the 80

The 80/20 rule, otherwise known as “Pareto’s Principle” is going through a revival. Marketers, business analysts, and academics are all calling for an increased focus on this seemingly, set in gold, business and life ‘standard’. In simple terms, what the 80/20 rule says is that 80 percent of the work done, or sales made, or service given (depending on your industry or point of view) is performed by 20 percent of employees, customers, or clients. In other words, from a business perspective, the vast majority of your revenue, and hence profit, should be coming from a mere 20% of your

Is an Online Education Right For You? Choosing an Online Education, Part 1

Whether you know it or not, you have spent your whole life learning. You just may not have a fancy printed certificate hanging on your wall to show for it. Is now the time to make that step to get your degree? Taking that step in the past was a scary, and for many, impossible, feat. You don’t have the time to attend classes at night, you cannot afford the tuition and travel expenses, or maybe you are uncomfortable in a classroom setting. With the advent of the internet, learning online may be the key to achieving your goals and

Will rising fuel costs spur an increase in telecommuting?

The dream of working from home in your pajamas has probably been on the back of almost every ‘white collar’ worker at some point in their career. Not having to hassle with spending an hour or more in the car every day just to get to and from the office has always sounded pretty good. But that dream has never turned into a reality for most people. Even as recently as 2006 some suggested that there was more myth than reality to the idea of telecommuting and flexible work schedules (Gragg, 2006). However, as gas prices have risen past the

What is Management Consulting?

The world of management consulting at times appears to be clouded with uncertainty and confusion; it can require the patience of Job and the Wisdom of Solomon, the serenity of Gandhi and the confidence of Churchill, all at the same time. It can also be the most rewarding experience outside of family that a person can have. Seeing the impact a successful project implementation can have on an organization, even beyond the monetary rewards, makes the headaches and frustrations all worth it. The experience of being part of something that not only impacts your own life but the lives of

If it ain’t broke you may need to fix it

Normally, the old adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a well heeded thought. Unfortunately that is not always the case when it comes to technology. Recently a client brought to us a computer that was extremely old. This computer had been working for many years and was used to control equipment used in a manufacturing environment. There had been no need to monitor how this equipment was functioning, or the software it was running, because it ‘simply worked’. The problem that now surfaced was that this particular computer was failing. Simple enough to solve; or at least

10 Things You Should Know Before You Bid On a Business Product from an Online Auction

Recently I spoke with someone who had purchased a car through an online auction house. Unfortunately they found out too late that the car was not what it was supposed to be. They attempted to cancel the check, they wrote, before it was actually sent from the bank, but it was too late. Buying something on an auction site can be a thrilling adventure. You may have the opportunity to buy something at a price far below the normal cost of that item. You may also find items that are not available through normal stores and retailers. You also need

Innovation in the Family Business

A danger in any business is stagnation. As our business becomes more successful, we become more comfortable with our surroundings and less motivated to change from existing practices. Family businesses are no exception: Starting out on an entrepreneurial high, family businesses are widely recognized as a major source of technological innovation and economic progress.

But somewhere in the process we lose the drive, the desire to continually bring innovative practices and products to our organization. Owners may become more concerned about the risk of losing their business, than the prospect of growing it into a larger and more successful entity. In sports this can be compared to a coach who becomes more conservative in a game that the team is winning and instead of trying to win the game, they try and keep from losing it, usually ending up with either a very narrow win, or a loss. How can we continue to promote innovation into the lifeblood of a family business, even as the owner is aging and may be facing the prospect of turning the business over to a younger generation?

One key to this is vision. The leader in a family business must look to the future and ask themselves several questions:

* What is my vision for the future of this organization?
* Do I want this business to be a legacy to my foresight, and entrepreneurial abilities that will last for generations?
* Do I want to sell the business for the best price and leave an inheritance not tied to the business for my children and grand children?
* Do I want my business to be buried with me?

Each of these questions can spur multiple answers and will ultimately decide the current and future direction that the business takes, but the answer to the first question is really the one that will determine the future success or failure of an organization. An owner, who desires to pass their legacy on to a succeeding generation, and give them the best chance of success, will plan for the future; will prepare that company to be a success in their chosen field, and will consider all aspects of what it takes to make that company successful.

Developing a culture of innovation then becomes a key component in preparing that organization for the future. That is a lot easier said than done however, and each organization will have to find what works best for them. One factor particular to family businesses though is identifying a successor and grooming them early to take over the organization. You cannot leave this decision to the last minute. The transition from one leader to the next is difficult in any organization, but when you throw the dynamics of the family into the mix, it becomes even more precarious. Many organizations fail because the new manager (son or daughter) was not prepared for the intricacies of leadership, did not understand the business, or was simply the wrong choice for the job.

James Stephenson is an IT and Business Consultant with over 25 year of experience. He can be reached at jstephen@scc-i.com or you can visit his company’s website at http://www.scc-i.com

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