Monthly Archives: December, 2016

Merry Christmas – Yes, I Said It!

December 22nd, 2016 Posted by Behavior 0 thoughts on “Merry Christmas – Yes, I Said It!”
Candy cane

Merry Christmas

This year’s presidential race in the United States was certainly fascinating if nothing else. A hot button topic has been and continues to be “political correctness.”

In one corner, the anti-PC patrol: We’ve become too PC so I am going to say “this” to shock us out of it.

In the other corner: You can’t say something like “that.” I’m offended. You must be a (fill in the blank).

It’s all so exhausting. Wouldn’t it be nice if we went through life with a couple of primary directives:

  1. Be kind to others.
  2. Laugh at yourself and let others laugh along with you.

‘Tis the season we see all kinds of posts on Facebook saying we need to put the “Christ” back in “Christmas” or that in order to be respectful we have to say “Happy Holidays” to others – if anything at all.

Being PC certainly has its place, its merits and its abuses. But when it comes to the biggest holidays of a culture or religion’s belief system, it’s time for us all to put a cork in being PC and roll with it.

As long as the greeting or expression is backed with love and wishes for happiness, really, who can take offense to that? To say “Merry Christmas” to someone is no more an indication that the Spanish Inquisition or great purge is about to begin any more than a Hawaiian saying “Aloha” means the island is about to go rogue and, first, take over the country, then the world.

If my Jewish friends want to say “Happy Hanukkah” to me even though I am not Jewish, I’m happy to hear it. If my African American friends want to say “Happy Kwanzaa” to me even though I am Caucasian, I’m honored they think of me.

I’ve been wished a “Happy Diwali” on numerous occasions and am always thankful for it. If my Islamic friends find themselves saying “Happy Muharram” to me, I’ll smile and say “Back at ‘ya, brother.” My Buddhist friends, please feel free to wish me a “Happy Vesak.”

And to my non-secular friends, please feel free to wish me “Happy holidays” or simply “have a good one.”

I am grateful for it all.

And to all of you, with love and wishes for happiness, Merry Christmas!


How to Make Hiring and Getting Hired Easier

December 21st, 2016 Posted by Engagement 0 thoughts on “How to Make Hiring and Getting Hired Easier”

Hopeful to HiredLast week on the Business is ART podcast at the TrueChat Network, my guest was Adam Dince, author of Hopeful to Hired. Adam’s book is about how to go from being someone hoping to get a job to someone who has landed the job they want. It focuses on students and recent graduates but there are lessons to be learned for everyone, no matter the stage of their career.

Like many works that would go on to become books, or products not envisioned when a particular effort started (or faltered), Hopeful to Hired took roots as a passion project stemming from an MBA course assignment on which Adam was working, driving home two important points for all of us:

  • Inspiration may come from anywhere if we are open to it and listen for it.
  • Opportunity is all around us if we are open to it and willing to reach for it.

Want to get hired? Do these 3 things to stand out

Adam suggests 3 major to-do’s for anyone looking to start, continue or change their career paths:

  1. Build soft skills, like communication, listening – even politeness
  2. Build a professional network – this goes beyond things like LinkedIn and requires in-person networking, be it formally organized events or casual meetings over a cup of coffee
  3. Establish an online, personal brand – you don’t have to have gazillions of followers to have a personal brand, but all it takes is one prospective employer to read one highly questionable or offensive post to keep you from getting the job

Hiring managers also have to be more proactive

For me, one of the most revealing moments of the podcast was when we turned attention to hiring managers. In the past, applicants wrote letters, attached them to resumes and mailed them in via snail mail, all in a very personalized manner. It was time consuming and unforgiving. Today, it is a comparatively simple task to fill out several generic online applications a day without ever getting out of your pajamas.

Hiring managers are inundated with resumes, often all received in the same, online, standard form that the company has defined, making them less personal and difficult for one to stand out from another. HR and the hiring managers want to hire the best candidate for the job (and the future), but how can they when they aren’t even sure the best candidates have bubbled to the top – or even applied?

Just as candidates need to be more proactive in preparing for job placement, so too do hiring managers in their searches. They can’t sit around and wait for the best candidate to come through the door. They have to “get out there” and get to know the resource pool from which they will draw employees.

There are new challenges but just as many options to overcome them

It’s a new world out there, but there are a lot of things both candidate and the hiring manager can do in order to increase their odds of success.

You can listen to the podcast in its entirety by clicking here or through the TRUECHAT app (look for the episode entitled “Hopeful to Hired”). You can find Adam’s book by clicking here.

Why Business Plans Suck

December 15th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Business Plan 0 thoughts on “Why Business Plans Suck”

Trick QuestionIf you have read more than a couple of posts at the Business is ART Blog, or read my book, you know that I am a strong believer in planning for your business – and saying it usually results in eye rolls from even the otherwise smartest business owners and organizational leaders I know, with good reason.

Business Planning Sucks

Creating formal business plans and strategies for your business, whether large or small – and I am talking one owner, no employees small – takes some time and effort. How much time depends on who is doing it and what process or tools they use. Which leads me to this point…

Business Planning Tools Suck

If I hear one more question from “business planning experts” like, “Have you ever seen the Jargonsian Wheel of Six Block Charterism Planning Alive Tool?” I just might scream.

Do you know why most of these tools suck?

Because they are developed by consultants and academics (the experts) who believe the path to solid planning practices is not just paved in gold, but paved with really complex gold pavers that must be laid out very precisely in order to function properly – and, by the way, only said experts are able to lay said gold pavers.

So the vast majority of business owners and leaders don’t formally plan because it’s too complex, leading them to falsely conclude they don’t need to do it.

But the Benefits are Real

In our BNI Chapter meeting this week, I did a simple demonstration. Everyone in the room received $1.30. One side of the room called “heads” and the other called “tails.” The side that lost the coin toss had to put their $1.30 in to a collection jar.

The point – 50% of new businesses don’t make it.

Next, the losing side was asked if they did any kind of formal business planning whatsoever. Of the few that did, they got one more coin toss. Those who won the toss could take their $1.30 back out of the jar.

The point – startups have a 50% better shot at succeeding when they have formal plans.

Finally, of everyone left holding $1.30 on both sides of the room, I asked again who did any kind of formal planning. A small percentage of that remaining population raised their hands. They got to keep the full $1.30. The others had to put 30 cents in to the jar.

The point – of those businesses that make it past startup, those that have formal plans do, on average, 30% better than the others.

Trick Question

At last, I asked, “Which is greater – Zero, 1 dollar or $1.30?”

Someone replied, “Is this a trick question?”

No. It is not a trick question at all. The only trick is to have the where-with-all to do the things that increase your odds of getting $1.30 as opposed to anything less.

Enter Plan Canvas

And that is where Plan Canvas comes in. Plan Canvas is a business planning software based on my book Business is ART. It allows the user to quickly get organized and define plans, identify and track goals, objectives, initiatives and action items – in a very simplistic way.Plan Canvas

So simplistic you don’t need an expert to manage it for you. Just do it. If you can navigate Facebook you can navigate this tool.

Plan Canvas moves to beta test in early 2017 and I am actively seeking beta test users to join several others that have already signed up. It will cost nothing but a little of your time and you have everything to gain.

I Really Don’t Give a S&%!

So, have I seen the ‘Jargonsian Wheel of Six Block Charterism Planning Alive Tool’? Yes, and I really don’t give a S&%!

Contact me here if you don’t either.

You Gotta Love It – Your Business (Whatever “It” Is)

December 13th, 2016 Posted by Entrepreneur 0 thoughts on “You Gotta Love It – Your Business (Whatever “It” Is)”

restaurant businessOn last week’s episode of the Business is ART podcast on the TrueChat Network, my guest was Jeff Tsao of Fukuryu Ramen. Jeff has two restaurants – one in Melbourne, Australia and one in Columbus, Ohio. 2 businesses half-a-world apart.

One of my favorite things to say is “If you are going in to business for yourself, DON’T go in to the restaurant business!”

Let Me Explain

I should qualify that statement. What I mean to say is that I will never go in to the restaurant business – for a variety of reasons:

  • The hours are long and hard
  • When everyone else is enjoying time with their families, you are spending time away from yours
  • The employee pool tends to be more transient
  • The public is fickle
  • You have to be very detail oriented in terms of quality, food preparation, food storage and inventory control

If you have not worked in this industry before, unless you really don’t care about making money, you should not open a restaurant – at least not a single store private labeled restaurant. A franchise restaurant may be an entirely different story.

Otherwise, just because you enjoy working in the kitchen, consider yourself a foodie, and your family and friends love your cooking does not mean you can be successful running a restaurant. It is just not the same.

You Gotta Love It

If you are someone like Jeff, who literally grew up in the food industry and has culinary training, it’s a perfect fit. But even that is not enough. You have to really love it, and that is one of the main points Jeff made on the show:

Love what you do.

If you don’t love it, it makes no sense to open a business in it, whatever “it” is. For example, I hate painting. Walls, ceiling, exterior, trim – you name it – I hate painting it. Would it make sense for me to open a painting business?

Absolutely not.

Do Your Homework and Be Honest with Yourself

So if you are thinking of starting or buying a business, there is a lot of homework you have to do first. You have to be completely honest with yourself in your due diligence and in answering questions such as the following:

  • Can I tolerate the less sexy tasks that come with running a business like this?
  • How much of my time will be required and can I make that much time available?
  • Will my family be involved or kept at arms distance from the business?
  • Will I take on a partner(s) or fly solo?
  • Do I have the financial runway to get to the grand opening and beyond?

Be Flexible

But whatever you do, as Jeff and his family have learned over the years, be flexible. Change when necessary and lead change when you can. That doesn’t necessarily mean you change your vision, although it might. But you definitely need to change your strategy, plans and tactics because the world around you constantly changes.

Listen to the podcast in its entirety by clicking here. It’s absolutely free and you just might learn a thing or two.

What is Your Call to Action?

December 9th, 2016 Posted by Engagement, Inspiration 0 thoughts on “What is Your Call to Action?”
Call to Action

Photo courtesy

What is your call to action? Any effective marketing material wants you to do something. It could be to go to a store or make a call, try a sample or any number of other things.

Whatever it is, there is a call to action.

A call to action is that main thing the potential customer is supposed to do.

As a Business, There is Something You Want Your Customers to Do

Okay, there’s a good chance you want your customers to do a lot of things – pay you for most of them. But where does the sales process start for your business?

Never assume a customer knows exactly what you want them to. Even if it seems obvious. The truth is, they’re waiting for you to tell them something. The question is are you telling them?

A Call to Action Should be Easy and (Preferably) Non-Committal

The life of the everyday consumer has never been easier than it is now. They can research, call, order, schedule, and more in seconds without having to go anywhere thanks to mobile technology. While this gives you more opportunities to reach them, it also makes it harder to get them to do something.

We don’t want to see modern society can get a little too comfortable on the couch (I am literally sitting on the couch as I write this). We can also be very busy, and/or distracted – perhaps more of the latter. If you want customers to do something, you need to make it as quick and easy as possible for them.

Options can help increase your chances for a connection.

Some people don’t like to call. They’d rather email or text. On the other hand, some do want to call. It’s generally best to make both available.

You should also make the call to action non-committal. Give away a free trial or sample or e-book or something to entice them without asking anything from them except an email or phone number. For now, you just want them to take that first step. To make that first interaction. That’s what the call to action is about.

It’s like a funnel.

A funnel is widest at the top, making it easy for everything to get in, driving it all to a specific spot.

Call to Actions in All You Do

In every meeting, email, marketing piece, webpage, etc. have a call to action. It doesn’t have to be the same call to action on each piece. You won’t always be targeting the same group of people, and you won’t always be conveying the same message.

Make sure the call to action makes sense for the audience it’s in front of.

Otherwise you’re just wasting everyone’s time and losing out on business. And that should be the last thing you want to do.

Don’t Know Where to Begin?

If you’re not sure what you want your customers to be doing, you might need to solidify your vision. We can help with that. The first section of our Odds Makers course covers creating and nurturing the vision of your business.

From there, you’ll learn about strategic planning, forming KPIs, and more. These lessons are invaluable when it comes to targeting your audience.

Sign up today!

One Insane Business Practice

December 6th, 2016 Posted by Business is ART, Entrepreneur 0 thoughts on “One Insane Business Practice”
small business

BIA Podcast – You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

On last week’s episode of the Business is ART podcast on the TrueChat Network, my guest was Pat Newcomb of the Ohio SBDC at The Entrepreneurs Center in Dayton, Ohio (You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know). During the show we discussed a variety of topics that business owners may find helpful, including:

  • The importance of planning
  • Sources of inexpensive or free information and support
  • The difference between the SBDC and SCORE

(Listen to the podcast in its entirety by clicking here)

For the remainder of this post, let’s take a look at one of those topics: planning (no eye rolls and groaning, please).

With Respect to Startups Planning

If you wanted to cross the street and had a 50/50 chance of being struck by on-coming traffic, would you do it? You might if under no uncertain circumstances you’d rather give it a shot than stay where you are. That is exactly what start-up entrepreneurs face – a 50/50 shot at making it to the other side.

Now what if someone said, “Hey, I can improve your chances of getting to the other side by 50%.”

Would your response be:

  1. No thanks. 50/50 is good enough.
  2. Sweet! Tell me!

If you answered “A”, I’ll raise a glass in memory. If you answered “B”, keep reading.

With Respect to Existing Businesses Planning

If someone offered you the following choice, which would you take:

  1. $100,000
  2. $130,000

If you answered “A”, I admire your lack of greed…I guess. If you answered “B”, keep reading.

The Bottom Line

Startup businesses are twice as likely to succeed when they formally plan. Twice as likely! That’s a lot of “likelies.” Existing businesses grow on average 30% faster when they formally plan. That’s a lot of “Benjamins.” But here’s the thing. Less than 1/3 of businesses formally plan.

That’s the business equivalent of 2 out of every 3 people you meet saying “No thanks. A 50/50 shot at making it to the other side is good enough, and once I’m there, $100,000 is fine. I don’t need $130,000.”

Isn’t that a Bit Insane?

So why is this the case? Here are 3 reasons:

  1. Don’t know how plan.
  2. Planning is too complicated.
  3. Hubris.

I can’t do anything about number 3 but can help you with numbers 1 and 2. In my book Business is ART (click here) I lay out a process and templates that are devised in a simplified manner to the point anyone can do it. I then explain it even more simply in my online training entitled “Odds Makers” – 25 videos with a total runtime of 1 hour and 50 minutes where you’ll learn how to create your vision, strategy, and business plan (click here).

And this week I am please to announce that the Alpha Test version of Plan Canvas, the business planning software that will put it all together, will be complete December 15, 2016. If you would like to be part of our beta test group, please contact me.

This is one insane business practice you can afford to lose.

First Time Business Taxes – Where Do I Begin?

December 1st, 2016 Posted by Entrepreneur 0 thoughts on “First Time Business Taxes – Where Do I Begin?”

countingCongratulations on your first year of business. You’ve done things you never thought yourself capable of doing. You’ve created plans, executed strategies, worn multiple hats, and pushed yourself to the limits of sanity.

But you made it! The year is done. You can relax now, right?

Well, not exactly. Now, it’s tax season, and since you have a business, your taxes just got more complicated. This is likely uncharted territory for you, and you’re going to be learning a lot of new things.

For example…

You Shouldn’t Wait Until the End of the Year

The tax season might not officially start until the year is over, but as a business, you should be tracking your tax information throughout the year. That includes financials, expenses, potential deductions, etc. The best way to make your tax life easier is to record and document everything.

Additionally, if you’re a sole proprietor, partner, or S corp, you should be paying quarterly estimated taxes. If you don’t, you could get penalized at the end of the year.

The specifics on what to pay and how to do it is best left to a professional accountant, which brings us to the next point…

Get a Professional Tax Accountant

It’s possible you do your taxes all by yourself or with the assistance of some free software. Those days are behind you. As a business, it really pays to have a tax professional help you navigate the requirements, deduction possibilities, forms, etc.

There are literally thousands of tax laws, and making a mistake could lead to fines or worse, an audit by the IRS. If you don’t know who to use, ask around for referrals of accountants or CPAs.

Understand What You’re Doing (as Best as You Can)

Once you bring in a professional, it can be tempting to just let them do all the work while you sit back. After all, that’s what you’re paying them for, right?

While that’s true, it’s in your best interest as a business owner to understand what’s happening with your earnings. This way, you can better prepare for the next year while potentially spotting additional deduction opportunities.

Speaking of deductions…

Be Wise with Deductions

Some people go into their first year of business taxes thinking they can deduct everything. Want a new TV for your house? Deduct it! Need a new car? Just call it a “company car.”

Great ideas…if you want to be audited by the IRS.

Deductions are watched closely, and they need to be justified. Specifically, they need to be expenses regarding your business, and only for your business. Should you use something for business and personal, the general rule is to only deduct the percentage for which that object is used for your business if at all.

But don’t make that decision on your own. Consult with your tax accountant.

What Kind of Business are You?

How your taxes are done depends on what type of business you are. If you’re a sole proprietorship or partnership, then your business taxes are filed with your personal taxes. Generally, the same goes for an LLC, though you can file your taxes as a corporation, if you want.

Corporations are taxed separately, and they’re do a month earlier (in March). Of course, you can get some additional time if you really need to.

But again, consult with your tax accountant.

If Needed, File an Extension

Running behind on your tax returns? You can always file for an extension. They’re pretty much a guarantee, and they’ll give you some extra months to finalize things.

Most small business will use the personal tax extension form (IRS Tax Form 4868). If you’re a corporation though, it’s a 7004. Either way, the due date for extension applications is the same as what your taxes would otherwise be. But again, consult with your tax accountant.

That way you can put more focus on growing your business. Want to grow your business faster/better/more successfully? We can help with that. Check out our course Odds Makers to improve your planning and strategy.

And if there is one thing you should take from this post it’s this – consult with your tax accountant!

Plan Canvas is a community and a powerful software for improving your odds of business success and personal fulfillment.

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