Factors That Make Shopping Online a Good Idea

Shopping being an essential one for everyone can be fun and easy for some, while some would consider it a chore and irritating. Online shopping is the perfect solution for the home bound and for those who find shopping a difficult task. Online shopping has proved to be a boon for those who live in rural areas too. Whether you’re buying directly from a business online retailer, an individual online shopping site, or an Internet auction site, shopping online can be fun, simple, time saving and economical.

More about Shopping Online…

Since the development of the Internet, all hard-to-obtain, hard-to-do things have become quite simple that anyone can get anything from wherever they are, all by using a your PC. The Internet not only gives you an ocean of information you required, at the same time expands your shopping options like never before! Now, with only a few clicks of a mouse, you can go online to buy just about anything you need or want.

Festival shopping can be a real stress for most of you, and with Christmas just around the corner, it’s time for you to think about the gifts you have planned to buy. Secure online shopping gives you a little less shopping stress and saves more time, especially during Christmas and other festival season when the crowd packs the streets. Shop your things without venturing into the crowded shopping areas and wrestling your way between shoppers. Most important of all, you need not hurry or worry about finding a parking lot for your car. A simple online search can lead you to the right product at the right price, fast.

If you are looking for great online shopping suggestions or you want to find Australia’s best online shopping websites please read on…

Online shopping benefits…

  • Online shopping offers unbelievable convenience to the shoppers.
  • Online shopping allows people to browse through a variety of retailers, items and categories without leaving their home, compare prices with greater ease and order as many items as they can afford.
  • It provides round the clock service that allows you to shop at your leisure, regardless of your time. Unlike direct shopping where you can shop only during the showroom’s working time, online shopping allows you to buy things any time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year.
  • Compared to physically going to a shopping mall to shop, online shopping can reduce overhead costs in a variety of ways that inturn reduces the prices to an unbelievable amount.
  • Online retailers too offer many attractive sales promotions. “Festival/seasonal offers”, “Discount sales”, “Buy one and get one free”, and “Buy now” could be few of them. Bargains can be numerous online.
  • Online shopping renders you great help if you wish to gift your daughter who is staying in another country, you can make her day special by sending her a jewellery set by shopping online.
  • With a click on your mouse, you can buy anything from flowers to fly tickets. Groceries, clothing, jewellery, gifts, wine, art, pet supplies, pharmaceuticals, sports goods and equipment, toddlers and kids essentials are some of the others you can get online.
  • The transaction you do is purely safe and your credit card data is encrypted.

Use the checklist below to help make your online shopping experience a safe one

  • Be clear with your needs & budget: With copious online retailers in the Internet, supplying anything you wanted are sure to confuse you while deciding on the one you are looking for. So it is important to be clear with your needs and preferences along with your budget to make your shopping easy.
  • Decide with your paying format: Be clear with your payment format, whether using your credit, debit or charge card before shopping, for making your shopping safe. It is always advisable to save and get your transaction records printed.
  • Check out the terms & conditions: Do read the terms and conditions of the site from which you have decide to shop, to be clear with the delivery, refund policies and warranty. It is a good idea to search and shop from retailers within your country, if you want fast deliveries and low shipping fees.
  • Know your online retailer: Make sure you shop from secure and safe online shopping sites.

We hope this info helps you to shop safely and wisely online. Online shopping is the most practical, economical and fun method of shopping that is perfect for everyone. It saves on your time. Browse through different products without going to the market, compare the prices of products offered by online stores and make the best deal for yourself and your loved ones.

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Businesses Pursuing New Product Development

With the aftermath of globalization, companies are carefully thinking about the best ways to extend their product and service offering. Thus, product development strategy is critical for their success. Yet, many companies are in defensive mode and merely want to maintain the position in the market place.

However, staying in a holding position is a definite way for companies to be left behind. Innovative thinking that allows for product/service growth is a too sure way for sustainable success. In today’s discussion, we will explore the importance of product development for the growth of businesses, especially in a competitive market.

Launching into new product offerings is not easy. According to one market research, approximately 75% of consumer-packaged goods and retail products fail to earn even $7.5 million during their first year. Harvard Business School Professor, Clayton Christensen, who is the world’s foremost authority on disruptive innovation, suggests that the failure rate of new products may actually be as high as 95%. Product failure rates relate to the number of products that are launched commercially but fail.

Geoffrey A. Moore, the author of Crossing the Chasm, maintains the challenges of product deployment: “… the less successful product is often arguably superior. No content to slink off the stage without some revenge, this sullen and resentful crew casts about among themselves to find a scapegoat, and whom do they light upon? With unfailing consistency and unerring accuracy, all fingers point to-the vice president of marketing. It is marketing’s fault!” Thus, new product development is a risky proposition to senior executives making these critical positions as well as the organization as a whole.

Businesses that want sustainable growth must develop new product and services often and consistently. Philip Kotler and Kevin Keller, authors of Marketing Management, “In an economy of rapid change, continuous innovation is a necessity. Highly innovative firms are able to identify and quickly seize new market opportunities.”

In taking any actions on new product development, businesses should think strategically about their product development. Alexander Chernev, the author of Strategic Marketing Management, further argues that managing growth is the most preferred route to profitability compared to just cutting cost.

He outlines four key issues in managing growth, which include: (a) gaining and defending a market position, (b) managing sales growth, (c) new product development, and (d) product-line management. Chernev maintains, “New products and services are the keys to sustainable growth; they enable companies to gain and sustain their market position by taking advantage of the changes in the market to create superior customer value.”

With that said, new product development meaning having the ability to take a product or service idea and convert it into a tangible offering that customers want. The following are the steps that more products undergo for market consumption: (a) idea generation, (b) concept development, (c) business analysis, (d) product development, (e) market testing, and (f) business deployment.

The Ansoff Matrix is a strategic tool for product development, consisting of market penetration, market development, product development, and diversification. In market penetration strategy, organizations seek to grow using its existing product offerings in existing markets. With this strategy in mind, organizations try to increase market share. In a market development strategy, companies try to expand into new markets like new buyers using their existing offerings. In product development strategy, businesses seek to create new products and services targeted at its existing buyers.

In a diversification strategy, an organization tries to grow its market share by introducing new product offerings while at the same time entering a new market. Diversification is the most-risky approach due to simultaneous making new changes (new product, new market). Kotler and Keller further maintain the difficulty of sustainable product success: “It is increasingly difficult to identify blockbuster products that will transform a market, but continuous innovation can force competitors to play catch-up.” The concept sounds easy. However, it is riddled with problems.

Without a doubt, many companies know that product development is a risky business. Although many consumers will proudly proclaim the success of many innovative products like Apple and Google, these same buyers are not aware of the numerous product launch failures in this country. In our discussion, I demonstrated the importance of product development for the growth of businesses, especially in a competitive market. Failures often lead to innovation.

American great inventor, Thomas Edison, had his own share of failures, but learned how to innovate because of them: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Likewise, today’s businesses can also achieve success if they understand how to deploy their products and services to the marketplace strategically. Although there is enormous danger in failure, there is also the opportunity of unforeseen growth. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

© 2017 by DD Green

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7 Thoughts From Scripture for Struggling Christian Business Owners

I have seen a lot of articles that list scriptures for Christian business owners, but rarely do they have practical wisdom that goes with them. Yes, scripture can speak for itself, but when we are struggling Bible verses seem to get glossed over by our stressed out mind.

I want to share with you seven Bible verses with seven thoughts and seven insights. I know when I am going through a tough time, it helps me to ‘hear’ from someone who understands what I am going through. It makes the Bible come to life when someone shares it from a perspective of a Christian entrepreneur.

Worries are like butterflies, they need to be released.

It is easy to worry. There are so many things to think about it can be overwhelming. Take heart… and mind. When we look at the way we try to handle our problems, we often leave God out of the solution. He cares about all the things you go through and is there to help when we ask Him. We must learn to release our worries to God so that He can work wondrous things for us.

Philippians 4:6-7 “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Humility lets us bring others into our struggles.

Sometimes when we get caught up in tough times we try to take on everything ourselves. We must learn to delegate and let others help us. We must bring others in to pray for us and with us. We are leaders in our business, but more than that, we are part of a faith community. God wants us to help us with our anxieties and He may have placed people in your life to do just that. We must remember that God cares for us.

1 Peter 5:6-7 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

Our reaction to our struggles defines our success.

We don’t like to go through hard times, but when we do our reaction to those tough times can make or break us. When we redefine our struggles in light of what God is doing and has done in our lives, we find God’s power working even in the tough times.

James 1: 2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Perspectives help us define our problems.

When we go through tough times, we get caught up thinking about all the bad things that could happen. I have an elderly lady at my church tell me, “Quit sowing worries.” If you look at your troubles in light of all the things that others are going through, your problems may seem a lot less. Across the world people are starving, being beheaded for their faith and their homes are being destroyed by bombs. How does your problem look compared to those?

Psalm 46: 1-3 “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and mountains quake and with their surging.”

We can praise God even when times are tough.

David went through some horrible trials. His boss tried to kill him. His best friends betrayed him. His kids killed each other. Yet, through all of these things, he always took time to worship. He looked to God in the good and the bad. There are so many Psalms that start out talking about how bad thing are only to end by focusing his attention back to praising God for all he has.

Psalm 37: 3-6 “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this; He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.”

Action trumps worry almost every time.

Worrying is what happens when we are not taking action. Christian business owners are people of action. Instead of worrying about the things you cannot change, take action on the things you can. Action will lead to better results than thinking and worrying about your struggles. Take time to write out your problems, get them out of your head and plan a strategy to take care of business.

Matthew 6:25-27 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?”

You have a purpose

If there is one thing you will see over and over again on this webpage, it is the fact that you have a purpose. You are a Christian. You were created to be an entrepreneur. God placed a desire in your life to help other and you are a Christian business owner who can make a difference in the world. Go and do what God has called you to do.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

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How To Evaluate A Business Idea For Developing An Enterprise

Why Do You Need A Business Plan?

Planning is a process that never ends for all businesses. It is extremely important in the early stages of any venture when the entrepreneur will need to prepare a preliminary business plan.

There are different types of plans that may be part of any business operation. These include but not limited to Financial plans, Marketing plan, Human Resource plan, Production plans, Sales plans etc. Plans may be short term or long term or may be strategic or operational. Whatever the type of plan or the function, plans have one important purpose; to provide guidance and structure to management in a rapidly changing market environment.

A business plan on the other hand is a written document prepared by the entrepreneur that describes all the relevant external and internal elements involved in starting a new venture. It is often an integration of functional plans such as marketing, finance, manufacturing and human resources. It also addresses both short term and long term decision making for the first three years of operation. Thus, the business plan, or road map, answers the strategic questions of where am I now? Where am I going? And how will I get there? Potential investors, suppliers and even customers will request or require a business plan.

How I Prepared My Preliminary Project Proposal

In my case, I followed the following break downs keeping each section as brief as possible.

1. Background: in this section, I established the context of the project by giving an account of the problem it is trying to address.

2. State of the art: I gave an overview of existing and emerging technology in the field, including an account of rival technologies and a comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of the various options.

3. Proposal: I wrote an overview of the proposed project and the approach, i.e. the activities which I will be undertaken to achieve the project objectives. Clearly establish the research element or novelty component in the proposal.

4. Consortium: an overview of the proposed manpower and establish the required ability to carry out the project successfully (e.g. skills, competencies, etc.)

5. Objectives and Deliverables: Identify (1) the objectives and (2) the deliverables of the proposed project.

6. Competitiveness: if applicable, establish the competitiveness or advantages of the proposed solution compared to other solutions, whether these already exist or are still being researched.

7. Cost: give an overview of the project cost (including start-up cost and working capital requirements).

8. Impact: this section should include:

i. Markets and Uses: identify possible uses and markets for the deliverables of the project.

ii. Benefits and Beneficiaries: identify the beneficiaries of the project’s results (e.g. the project participants, the general public, third parties) and the manner in which they will benefit.

iii. Roadmap: give an indication regarding what further steps, effort, costs and timeframes are necessary before tangible benefits can be realized from the deliverables or results of the project (unless these are realized within the lifetime of the project).

iv. Spillover Benefits: identify any secondary benefits of the project (e.g. facilitating participation in funding programmes, improving Malta’s ranking, strengthening Malta’s reputation in a particular area, etc.)

Preparing a Detailed Business Plan

Stages of writing a business plan are: After deciding to go into business, before starting the business and when updating is required.

Business plans can be written for retail business, wholesale business, service business, manufacturing and any other type of business.

A business plan is written by doing the following:

Identifying all the questions that could be asked about the business.

Determining what further information needs to be gathered to answer all the questions.

Obtaining all the necessary information.

Comparing various alternatives

Making a decision on each question.

A business plan should:

Have a good appearance

Provide an index

Provide a summary

Number each copy

Be signed to show who is submitting it.

Depend on the nature of the business.

A business plan should be organized to carry a cover page, table of contents, executive summary, business description, Marketing plan, organizational plan, operational plan, financial plan and appendices.

Outline of a typical business plan is as below;

1. Title: Feasibility study Report on______________________

Commissioned by_________________________

2. Project consultants

3. Table of contents:

Executive Summary

The Report

Project Background

Objective of study

Project description and

Loan advancement

Promoter

Location

Market and marketing plan

Potential customers

Competition

Pricing

Sales Tactics

Advertising and Promotion

Distribution.

Technical Feasibility and management plan:

Factory

Machinery

Overhead charges

Packaging materials

Raw materials Manpower and Labour costs.

Financial Projection/Feasibility:

Overview on capital requirement

Financial plan

Projected cash flow

Projected profit and loss account

Projected balance sheet

Break-even analysis

Source and application of funds

Organization Plan:

Form of ownership

Identification of partners/Principal shareholders

Authority of Principals.

Management team background

Roles and responsibilities of members of organization

Assessment of Risk:

Evaluate weakness of business

New technologies

Contingency plans.

Schedules:

12 months projected sales

12 months projected purchase

Fixed Assets and depreciation schedule

Profitability index.

Thanks for reading

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Painting Business – 13 Point Checklist of Essential Tools Most Needed to Start a Painting Business

If you are considering starting a commercial or residential painting business you will only need some basic low-cost tools to start with. You can buy other tools as more jobs come along and with your down payments. Here is a list of the most essential painting business tools needed to get you started.

1.) Quality Cage Frame – Also known as a paint roller. Wooster and Purdy both have strong, commercial-use cage frames sold at most professional paint stores.

2.) Extension Pole – Get yourself a good medium-size fiberglass extension pole for rolling out walls and ceilings.

3.) Wall-Sander – I always sand walls and ceilings before I roll them out. It cleans up cobwebs and anything else that needs to be knocked down to make the walls and ceilings smooth.

4.) Roller Bucket – I use Wooster’s roller bucket. It is tall, square and has a lid. It is made out of durable plastic and balances a lot better than a paint tray and washes out easy. It’s a must have.

5.) Cut-in Bucket – I like to put some paint in a small plastic bucket for cutting in. There are small 1-gallon buckets of drywall compound that when empty make a great cut-bucket plus they have a lid. They will last for years.

6.) Step Ladder – A regular wooden 5-foot step ladder works perfect for most homes. If I need a 6-foot ladder I have an aluminum one for that. Most of the time all I need is my 5-footer and I am only 5’6″ so there you go.

7.) 16′ Extension Ladder – Great for stairwells or ranch-style exterior jobs. I use my 16-foot extension ladder more than any other size. I also have 20′ and a 24′ extension ladders, but i couldn’t get by without my little 16-footer.8.) Drop Cloths – I like using the runner type the most. They are inexpensive, light to carry and can be moved around the room easily. I also have 9 x 12’s on hand.

9.) Fluorescent Light – Interior painting without a fluorescent light is nearly impossible, especially on a cloudy day. Fluorescent light is a nice white light that is great for painting and shows up the colors in their true form.

10.) Tool Bucket – An empty 5-gallon bucket makes a great tool bucket. I keep my pliers, a hammer, razor-blade knives, a caulk gun, etc., in my tool bucket.

11.) Small Fan – I bought a $30 blower type fan made by Stanley Tools from Walmart. It dries out walls and ceilings quickly so you can get back to work cutting in and moving around the room without it being wet.

12.) Drywall compound – I hate Spackle. It flashes under paint jobs. I use the Sheetrock brand of 90-minute quick-dry drywall compound found at Lowes or other hardware stores for around $11 a bag. It will last me all year long. It is the powder formula and is easy to mix up right on the job with water and a small cut bucket. This way you don’t have to carry a heavy 5-gallon pale around with you that can also freeze during the wintertime and can get lots of chunks in it over time.

13.) Caulk Gun – I use painters caulk all the time to fill small gaps between woodwork, trim and walls. Most paint stores have it on hand. I use the 35-year interior/exterior type.

So there you have it. If you are considering starting your own painting business and want to know how much it will cost to get started this list will help you. I would guess off hand that everything on the list totals around $300. If you already have a step ladder and even a small extension ladder, this will cut the start up cost down considerably.

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Grow Your Avon Business – 21 Tips For Fast Success

Are you interested in growing your Avon business? Becoming an Avon representative is super-easy and there are many resources to help you grow your business and meet your personal goals.

  1. Use Avon products yourself. One of the best ways to sell a product is to know everything about it. Your regular discount and demos allow you to save money and try the products yourself first.
  2. Ask your customers for product reviews. When you pass out orders, ask your customer to let you know how the products perform. This is a great way for you to learn about products so that you can offer more information to other customers.
  3. Share your products. If you work in an office, make sure you have hand lotion to share with your co-workers. I have gotten several orders just by letting others try the lotion sitting on my desk. Another Avon rep keeps extra tubes of hand cream for on-the-spot sales.
  4. Educate yourself with training. Make the most of your business by taking Avon’s online training courses. Every new representative should start here first as courses include everything from money management, to launching your business, to entering orders. Most of the classes are 30 minutes and have downloadable text sheets. You get a certificate after completion of each and special recognition for completing certain courses.
  5. Become an eRepresentative. Curious about becoming an eRep? Customers can order online and have product shipped direct to their home. There is usually a free or discounted shipping code on the website. I tell my customers that if they don’t see one, to let me know and I will get them one! Once you become an erep, you also have access to other customer management tools. You can set up an email marketing campaign to let customers know about new products or campaigns. My customers love the “little reminder” because they often include free or discount codes. 
  6. Use your network. Share your excitement about your new business and people will be excited with you. Most of your friends already are familiar with Avon products and so they will be your easiest customers. Everyone is a member of some organization or workplace. You have an extended network of soccer moms, hairdressers, delivery people, doctor’s office workers, etc.
  7. Wear Avon jewelry. I get so many compliments when I wear a new Avon necklace. Most jewelry comes in sets, like a necklace and bracelet. They are designed to compliment fashion or seasonal colors. I have had a few tell me they were not sure if a necklace would match their outfit, but with the no-hassle return guarantee they were not afraid to return it if it did not. Oh, and I haven’t had any jewelry returns, yet!
  8. Invest in great-looking business cards. Make sure your business cards look professional, even if you buy from a discount supplier. Include a customer reward program on the reverse side. I have mine printed with a “buy in five campaigns, get 20% off your sixth campaign order” coupon on the back.
  9. Share your business cards. Leave one with the tip for your waiter, hang them in the community bulletin board area at the grocery store, give to the checkout clerk at the mall, etc.
  10. Personalize your business cards. When I hand out my business cards, I write a free shipping code offer that is good on my website. I also mention the Avon Opportunity: do you want to earn extra money by becoming an Avon Representative?
  11. Order plenty of brochures. Brochures are really your “store.” They are designed well, colorful, and cheap. The photos are very clear and often show how the makeup looks on a real person. In every campaign brochure, Avon includes their famous scratch-and-sniff perfume circles.
  12. Keep brochures handy. I keep the latest campaign brochure in my purse, as well as an outlet sale flyer. I always preview the campaign brochure so I can target market: for example, I may say, have you seen the new Avon line of mineral makeup? There is a buy 1, get 1 half-price deal on page 32 for Smooth Mineral Makeup. Wow!
  13. Buy stickers for the backs of brochures. My stickers match my business cards and large print makes them easy to read. Stickers include my name, phone number, email address, and website address. Brochures, stickers and business cards are powerful sales tools!
  14. Don’t forget special offers. Everyone loves a bargain! Use your imagination to come up with catchy ideas. How about free wrapping for Mother’s Day? Birthday and anniversary reminders? BOGO – buy one get one? Recommend a friend and get 10% off your next order? Print out Avon Bucks and include in their bag when you hand out orders.
  15. Always upsell. This is a key sales tip that really works. Say your customer buys a certain fragrance; draw her attention to the lotion. Got an order for a necklace? Point out the ring on the same page. Did your customer choose a skincare product for aging skin? Make sure she knows about the eyelift cream.
  16. Attend sales meetings. Your district manager or DM will hold sales meetings every few months where you will get an opportunity to meet other representatives, see and try new products, share your successes, and discuss sales techniques. These meetings are encouraging and fun make sure you attend.
  17. Make samples and demos work for you. Attach a sample on the page of the newest brochure where the item is listed with a paper clip. Encourage your customers to try the product. Buy a demo and either use it yourself or give to a faithful customer to try.
  18. Holiday and special days. Remind your customer that holidays and special occasions tend to sneak up on us, and you have great gifts for just about anyone.
  19. Don’t forget the male customer. We tend to forget about the guys – but they have daughters home from college, wives who love to great makeup, and mothers who love to be treated to a thinking-of-you-mom gift. Avon has some great products especially for men. Check out the after-shave conditioners and the foot care line. Don’t forget about Bug Guard for camping, hunting, and working in the yard.
  20. Use the no-hassle Return Policy to close the deal. Avon promises, “If you’re not happy with any purchase, just return it for an exchange or your money back. No questions. No fuss. No problems.” Even if the makeup is opened, if the customer is unhappy Avon will give a no-stress return. You will take back the item and use e-Z Returns for a credit. No-hassle for reps, too!
  21. Grow your team. Be ready to share your success when someone asks about the Avon Opportunity. Some of your customers may tell you they are interested in earning extra money. Avon is so successful because of people like you and me who love the products and work on growing their business.

Focus on what attracted you to Avon and build strategies to communicate that to your customers. Were you already a customer who loved the skincare products? Your testimony can be a great asset to your business. Are you excited about the earning potential? Share how you met a financial target. Avon offers training, great products, customer service, and a support network to help you meet your goals. Becoming an Avon representative is a personal growth opportunity that is also lots of fun!  

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10 Reasons Why You Should Manage Your Business Ethically

Why are ethics in business so important? Isn’t it enough to comply with the letter of the law and the rules of society? What’s in it for the business enterprise?

These are all interesting questions. Many business owners feel that maximizing profits is the chief obligation of the firm. Other owners feel that operating a business in a transparent, ethical manner is also important. Both business management and business ethics are about making the right decisions. Does one have to exist to the exclusion of the other?

I think not, and here are the reasons why managing a business ethically is important:

1. It sends the right message to customers and clients. With all the choices available nowadays, who wants to do business with a shady, ethically-challenged company?

2. It sets the right example for the firm’s employees. The temptation to cut corners or behave illegally, immorally, or unethically is reduced if employees are familiar with the firm’s code of ethical conduct and the certainty of its enforcement.

3. It can make the firm a desirable place to work. Recruiting, and then keeping, high-quality employees is far less costly than managing a turnstile where people come and go in bulk quantities.

4. It establishes a prism through which a company views not just normal business dealings, but the handling of extraordinary events or crises. When all options have been considered, asking “What is the right thing to do?” ultimately becomes the basis for action.

5. It provides a clearer focus for the firm. That clear focus is found not just in the tactical day-to-day operations, but in the firm’s strategic planning, as well.

6. It helps protect the interests of the firm. Ethical behavior doesn’t always insulate a firm from lawsuits, bad publicity, or other such negative and costly conditions, but it can certainly reduce the probabilities or mitigate the damage.

7. It helps protect the interests of everyone with whom the firm comes into contact. Will suppliers become more reliable if they know they will get paid on time? Will regulatory agencies be more helpful and accommodating? Will clients be more trusting? There is an obvious higher likelihood of the foregoing answers becoming “Yes” with a company who is seen as highly ethical, than with one who is not.

8. It promotes mutual respect and integrity. This can happen both within the company and from those whom the company deals with.

9. It promotes accountability. This can occur not just within the ranks of the employees, but with the top executives and owners, as well.

10. It can yield a reputation in the marketplace that can be beneficial and sustaining. Isn’t this a desirable condition for any company? If it isn’t, it certainly should be.

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The 7 Principles of Business Integrity

If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t

have integrity, nothing else matters. — Alan K. Simpson

If I were to ask you what attribute is the most influential

in regard to the success of a business, would you know

immediately which one is the most important? Based on my

many years as a business owner and entrepreneur, I have

discovered that at the very top of the list is the

distinguishing quality of integrity. Without integrity at

the helm of a company, a business is usually short-lived. In

fact, when business integrity is present throughout the

deepest layers of a company and not just at its surface, it

becomes the heart and soul of the company’s culture and can

mean the difference between a company that succeeds and a

company that falters.

The Internet’s Immeasurable Impact on the Marketplace!

The importance of integrity has always existed among the

business community, but in recent times has been shown as

falling short. It is the Internet’s immeasurable impact on

the global marketplace that is now making the expression of

integrity, reliability and credibility extremely important.

Furthermore, the consequence of global competition means

that customers will simply not consider a company that shows

any less than the highest level of integrity. Since there is

a wealth of competitive companies easily available and

accessible via the Internet, there is in fact no need to

accept anything less than the best.

Where Does Integrity Start?

In an effort to build upon a foundation of integrity, the

first requirement would be to establish excellent rapport

with clients. Based on many years of study, the best and

most practiced method for achieving rapport is by way of

Relationship Marketing. Just as it sounds, Relationship

Marketing is founded on the single and most critical

characteristic, known as “Integrity.” However, achieving

true integrity with clients often leaves many an

entrepreneur bewildered, grasping for techniques and

strategies that guarantee their futures. But integrity is

not something that can be grasped and then simply used.

Integrity in its essence must be so ingrained within the

nature of an individual, its company and the team members,

that it remains steadfast no matter what. Without question,

others sense it and find it very attractive.

The True Nature of Integrity!

Now you are probably asking yourself, what is the true

nature of integrity? There are in fact some very basic

principles that surround the qualities of business

integrity. At its core, integrity begins with a company

leader who understands the qualities of integrity which then

filters down throughout the company into every department

and every member’s approach and attitude.

In recent research performed by the Institute of Business

Ethics- an organization which is among the world’s leaders

in promoting corporate ethical best practices, it was found

that companies displaying a “clear commitment to ethical

conduct” almost invariably outperform companies that do not

display ethical conduct. The Director of the Institute of

Business Ethics, Philippa Foster Black, stated: “Not only is

ethical behavior in the business world the right and

principled thing to do, but it has been proven that ethical

behavior pays off in financial returns.” These findings

deserve to be considered as an important tool for companies

striving for long-term prospects and growth.

The following 7 Principles of Business Integrity are the

basics of integrity and a good starting off place to

consider. By integrating each of these principles within a

company environment, the result will be nothing short of a

major rebirth of the enterprise.

Principle #1: Recognize that customers/clients want to do business

with a company they can trust; when trust is at the core

of a company, it is easy to recognize. Trust defined is

assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or

truth of a business.

Principle #2: For continuous improvement of a company, the leader

of an organization must be willing to open up to ideas

for betterment. Ask for opinions and feedback from

both customers and team members and your company

will continue to grow.

Principle #3: Regardless of the circumstances, do everything in your

power to gain the trust of past customer’s and clients,

particularly if something has gone awry. Do what you

can to reclaim any lost business by honoring all

commitments and obligations.

Principle #4: Re-evaluate all print materials including small business advertising, brochures and other business documents

making sure they are clear, precise and professional;

most important make sure they do not misrepresent or

misinterpret.

Principle #5: Remain involved in community-related issues and

activities thereby demonstrating that your business is a

responsible community contributor. In other words, stay

involved.

Principle #6: Take a hands-on approach in regard to accounting and

record keeping, not only as a means of gaining a better

feel for the progress of your company, but as a resource

for any “questionable ” activities; gaining control of

accounting and record keeping allows you to end any

dubious activities promptly.

Principle #7: Treat others with the utmost of respect. Regardless of

differences, positions, titles, ages, or other types of

distinctions, always treat others with professional

respect and courtesy.

While it is most certainly an integral and positive step for

a small business to recognize the significance of integrity

as a tool for achieving its desired outcomes, that is only

the beginning. What must truly be recognized for true

success is that while certain precise universal principles

lead to business integrity, it is in the overall mindset of

the company and the unfailing implementation of these key

elements that an enterprise is truly defined. A small

business that instills a deep-seated theme of integrity

within its strategies and policies will not only be evident

among customers, associates and partners, but its overall

influence cannot help but to result in a profitable,

successful company. By recognizing the value of integrity,

and following each of the aforementioned 7 principles for

achieving integrity, your success cannot be far off.

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Small Business Marketing Strategy – A Blink Lesson Part 5

This is Article five of six in a series of lessons for small business marketers from Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink.

Wow, what a great chapter for marketers Chapter Five in Blink is. This quote on p. 160 outlines the thoughts a great marketer (Louis Cheskin) had on packaging: “Cheskin was convinced that when people give an assessment of something they might buy in a supermarket or a department store, without realizing it, they transfer sensations or impressions that they have about the packaging of the product to the product itself. To put it another way, Cheskin believed that most of us don’t make a distinction–on an unconscious level–between the package and the product. The product is the package and the product combined.”

A key concept in this chapter is that experts are often more reliable at identifying what will work–or won’t–in the marketplace than market research based on consumer surveys. For small business marketers, then, this chapter is a must-read. You know full-well you rarely have the money for consumer surveys.

Gladwell explores the New Coke debacle and the incompleteness of the market research that led up to it. Although this is a well-known marketing mistake, Gladwell supplies his typical journalistic behind-the-scenes story, and clues us in on why the marketing information that Coke marketers used to base their decision on was flawed to begin with.

Even more fascinating is his exploration of the musician named Kenna, a person music experts agree should be a smash, but can’t get Top 40 airtime on radio because market research can’t capture the same information the experts see in a Blink.

Why? Because as Gladwell points out, the “…first impressions of experts are different…more esoteric and complex.” (p. 179). Kenna’s music is different and hard to put a specific label on, so the music market research can’t adequately measure him.

Gladwell also relates the story of the Aeron chair–a new product with a completely innovative look that even experts said would fail. But with this chair, which looked so different, people didn’t know how they themselves felt about it; Gladwell says consumers “misinterpreted their own feelings” (p. 173). Market research indicated the chair would fail, but it didn’t, because it was a great product.

What’s this chapter mean for the small business owner? Two lessons.

For one, we need to understand the limits of market research. This method is not fool-proof nor will it guarantee market success or prevent market failure.

Second, the small business owner should learn to recognize in just what areas she is expert and in what subjects she is not. In areas where you know you are an expert–where your years of experience have taught you well and you can now realize something in a blink about your industry or your industry as it relates to your customers-well on those topics it’s a safe bet that you really are an expert.

However, a key pitfall is to then think you are expert in all areas of your business. You aren’t, and even your customers aren’t. They are super-savvy purchasers, but they, too, are not always aware of why they do what they do…so, where possible, study what they do, and then find out ways to alter that behavior in your favor.

Remember: Brand (who you are) + Package (your Face to the Customer) + People (customers and employees) = Marketing Success.

© 2006 Marketing Hawks

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Shopping Guide – How To Buy the Perfect Engagement Ring

Are you looking for just the right piece at your local jewelry store to surprise your partner? Engagement ring shopping is one of the most specialized experiences in the world, and one that almost all of us go through at some point. Buying the perfect diamond engagement rings is no easy task, especially given how individual the shopping experience can be. Don’t worry – there are plenty of resources out there to help guide you through the process, and plenty of professional jewelers in stores that you can consult for help narrowing down the right piece. Wedding pieces can be some of the most stressful and intimidating pieces to select, but they are also the single most common category of fine jewelry sold in the world, so there are plenty of people who have been in your position before. Here are some things to keep in mind while making that big purchase to ensure that everything goes smoothly and that you have an incredible piece of timeless jewelry that is as resilient and beautiful as your union.

There are many kinds of bridal diamond rings and designs that exist on the market, all with promises of traditional design values, modern values, etc. What style works for you and your partner? Have you decided whether or not you are going to buy the ring directly or in pieces? For full customization, buying loose diamonds with separate bands can help really create a unique jewelry piece that gives you the freedom to be much more selective about the completion of the finished piece. However, with so many pieces already available in store, the perfect ring could be staring at you already when you walk into the store. Consider which method would be the best for you and your partner.

Diamond jewelry, in general, is valued by the 4 C’s of diamonds – color, cut, clarity and carat weight. Having a working understanding of these concepts before you go into the store at all will help you figure out what questions to ask the jeweler as you narrow down your choices. A larger diamond is not necessarily a better diamond, after all. Keep this in mind when you see traditionally stunning diamond solitaire gold rings. While they are beautiful, make sure you have all the information on the quality of the ring and jewel itself before committing to any purchases.

Remember that this ring is an investment in your future with your soon-to-be spouse, as well as the piece itself, which will – if properly taken care of – last the length of your marriage. Be prudent about the materials, including potentially investing in a band made with allergy resistant metals if you or your soon-to-be spouse have a family history of metal allergies. Lastly, keep in mind that you and your partner absolutely have a varied taste – the right diamond bridal jewelry piece will be a perfect union of your separate aesthetic desires, representative of your new union and life as a couple.

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