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The History of Business Communication

The history of business communication is, of course, closely linked with the histories of communication itself and that of business operations. When the two merge, they become a vital part of successful commerce.

Communication is the process where a concept is shared between two living things. It can occur as a gesture, sound or visually in the form of pictures or print. Some of the first forms of visual communication came in the form of pictographs. People conveyed stories, histories or instructions through a series of illustrations typically drawn on the walls of caves. The second stage of written communication appeared as crude alphabets used to create a written language. Mobility of communication also occurred at this time, with the writing being found on clay, wax and tree bark. The next leap was that of the printing press during the 15th century. Next came the magnificent technological advancement using air waves and electronic signals: radio and telephone.

At every stage of communication development, so did business practices. The advent of common alphabets and a written language mean that craftsmen could order raw materials from previously unattainable sources. Consumers living outside of town could order products from tradespeople in town without having to make the trip. Invoices could be written and paid, and purchase orders sent. One could even surmise that international business practices began around this time. Since exploration was taking place, and wonderful new things like spices and fabrics were being brought back home, sometimes now written business communication made it possible for vendors to offer their high-end customers the latest discoveries.

The printing press bought with it books, newspapers and catalogs bearing advertisements for local businesses. Businesses now had an entirely new way to draw in potential new customers. The latest advances in products could be advertised, as well as sales and new services offered. Catalogs were generally only printed by companies who could afford such a large expense, but for many families who lived in rural areas it was their only means of shopping.

Printed communication served both consumers and business owners well, but when the radio came into use at the end of the 19th century it revolutionized business communication once again. Now the products and services of every business could have been marked on the basis of mass communication. Once a household had a radio, broadcasts could reach far further than any newspaper or catalog. And it was instant. As soon as the message was spoken on the air, the word was out. When print ads were published it could sometimes take weeks or months for a response. Many entrepreneurs who saw the potential in radio became hugely successful. Their market share grows, and with it their profits.

Once radio took off, the telephone and television were not far behind. Of course, at first the telephone was not used for advertising in business, but more of a practical tool. Manufacturers could communicate with raw materials representatives, business owners could communicate with consumers and investors could …

How Many Phone Lines Does Your Business Need?

Depending on your specific company profile, the number of phone lines your business will need can vary. While you certainly don’t need one phone line per employee, you also don’t want to cut too many corners.

To help you decide how many phone lines your business will need, consider the following:

  • The majority of your employees are in the field: If you have a construction company with 50 employees and only four of them work in the office, leaving the rest at job sites, you don’t need 50 phone lines. Instead, you would be wise to purchase four lines for your office employees, plus one voicemail line and one or two lines for your fax machines. You can vary this configuration of course. If your business is very busy, consider purchasing three or four lines for faxes.
  • You have a large volume of incoming and outgoing daily calls: If you own a telemarketing company with 25 employees, each making phone calls 8 hours a day, you should consider purchasing 35 or 40 lines just for the calls your employees make. Adding another two lines for faxes is a good idea as well.

As a rule of thumb, if your business has about 15 employees you should consider purchasing one phone line for every employee who makes calls in your office. But if your business has more than 15 employees, a cheaper solution is to move to a dedicated circuit that contains 24 phone lines.

Interestingly enough, if your business is growing, you will actually need fewer phone lines per employee as the number of employees increases. While this increased number of employees will most certainly be making more calls, the probability is low that every employee will be making or receiving calls at exactly the same time. Most likely, when one employee hangs up the phone to do some work, another will be picking up the phone to make another call.

To get an understanding of your business’ phone call volume, go over your phone bill’s itemized list of calls to determine the number of calls made during peak times. A better approach is to scan your phone bill and determine whether every phone number is being used. If several of your phone numbers are set as inbound faxes or are set for your security system and are not currently being used, then you most likely have too many lines.

On the flip side though, if customers, employees or associates complain that they keep getting a busy signal when calling your business, you probably need to add some more lines.

Before rushing out and buying more phone lines, make sure to troubleshoot the bottleneck in your phone system. It could be caused by a card failure that caused you to lose ten lines in your phone system. If after troubleshooting your hardware and you find no problem, order additional lines to match the number of people affected by the shortage of lines. Perhaps the Human Resources department hired 20 more …

Five Practical Ways to Have More Money in an Economic Recession

Money is not everything and will never be.

Money won’t solve most of your problems and it can never give you all solutions, so? I want you to get it into your mind that money is just an aid not an end.

In this period when everything is sky rocketing and money circulation is tight, I am confident that we all need that extra pound, dollar or naira. Unless you are already a billionaire, or have millionaire parents, you will at one time need an extra cash to oil the engine of your life.

You will agree with me that there is somebody you know who seems to always have more money than you, and you have been wondering what is his/her secret. Now listen up let me tell you how to HAVE MORE IN LESS. This is what am applying in my life and it is working.

1. MICROMANAGE:

If you definitely want to have more, you must learn how to manage the limited resources you have. You will be surprised to see what one dollar, or hundred naira would sum up to in a long while. This is what I meant; if you spend one dollar (#350) on snacks two days a week, which will amount to 1*2 *4 (8) in a month. That will give you $8 a month, then 8*12 will give you the total for a year. That is $98 in a year which is #33600 in Nigeria. The essence of micromanaging is to cut unnecessary expenses, then channel the money to something more productive. Spend money on the needful not on your ostentation.

2. USE YOUR NETWORK:

In this era, who you know is vital. Make use of your contacts in legitimate ways. Mark the word LEGITIMATE, don’t depend on what you know only, but ask for reference from your contacts. This works well because it reduces the added charges and time on some services. When you are introduced by a good person, stress of building trust is reduced because you are banking on your referee’s already established personality and goodwill. When utilized efficiently, brings in good discount and better costumer relations.

3. GO GREEN:

Go green with your lifestyle. Recycle everything if possible, when I say recycle, I mean that you have to reuse, reduce and recycle. That is, REDUCE the quantity of what you accumulate or buy, REUSE what you have as far as they are good and functional, RECYCLE them over and over again. You can recycle your car, house, clothe and kitchen waste. Yes! Use your waste in the garden, this will save you some money too. Just go green.

4. FIND ALTERNATIVE SOURCE OF INCOME

Never depend on a single source of income. This is will aid you to reduce stress especially when that source is affected by bad economy. Find other means to make passive income, there is always means to do that like; starting a part time business, monetizing your talents, sale some things and many more. …

What Do I Need to Set Up a Successful Concrete Mold Business and Make Huge Profits?

So you may have started to look around for a way to make some additional income. You want to make good money and be your own boss.

How about starting your own decorative concrete molds business??

What do I need to get started?

Well most of these items you may already have around your house or shop. So setting up and starting your own business can be inexpensive and the profits are huge.

1. Molds

Probably one of the most important pieces needed. If you have poorly crafted and low quality molds your finished goods will look it as well. There are lots of varieties of molds in the market. Aluminum, single use plastic, rubber, fiberglass, wood, and even nature itself.

But if you want the best and most reliable molds that give you the least amount of grief, a good latex rubber mold with a fiberglass casing to support the rubber is your answer. Sure you can buy cheaper molds that you need to sit in some sand and pack around it, but you can’t always get it right. THose molds can be frustrating to use and cut into your profit because of all the fiddling around you will have to do. How do you vibrate any air bubbles out if the item is buried in your sand box? With molds that have self-supporting cases you everything is self-contained and easy to use. You can pour right in the mold, shake out the bubbles, and set the mold aside to dry.

Also when you have a quality rubber mold, it allows you to get the detail of a professional sculptor.

So quality molds produces quality garden art, which puts more money in your pocket for your effort.

2. Cement and Sand and Stone and Water

Cement – bagged Portland cement from any hardware or building supply store. Yes you can use the QuickCrete mix if you wish but then you are paying for sand and stone at retail prices. I recommend getting a white Portland cement. It may cost a bit more but produces a nicely colored item.

Sand – Dry, clean, and washed course river sand.

Stone – a pea gravel works well. It is not necessary for smaller molds but does give strength to the cement. The stone will not show in your finished item.

Water – fresh clean cold water

3. Mixer

Your mixer could be a simple wheelbarrow or small electric mixer. Most people have a wheelbarrow lying around, so by using it does not add to any startup costs. With the wheelbarrow you need to hand turn the cement/stone/sand/water mixture until you get the right consistency. With a mixer you simply add in your sand/stone/cement/water and let the mixer spin while you do other tasks. They can be purchased for around $500 and use a simple household electrical plug.

4. Tools

Shovel – for scooping your sand and stone

Bucket – for moving mixed cement and pouring in your mold

Rasp/File – for cleaning …

Bonded and Insured – What Does it Actually Mean?

You have heard it asked many times before. Maybe you have even asked it yourself, but what does bonded and insured really mean? Why do you need to ask vendors about this? Is this really important?

First, I will explain what each means. Then, I will go into detail about what is important with these terms.

There are only three types of bonds available. The first is a bail bond. This only applies to people who are trying to get out of jail, therefore it is not applicable to hiring a vendor. The second is an employee dishonesty bond, or a surety bond as they are also called. The third is a performance bond. These are frequently used by contractors to guarantee their services.

I will skip discussing the bail bond.

An employee dishonesty bond, or a surety bond is issued by an underwriter to guard against theft. These are issued in various amounts. The most common is $5,000. I will use an example of how this would work. Let’s say you hire a contractor to work on your home. In the process of their working on your home, you notice that some of your jewelry is missing. You contact the police and the bonding company. After an investigation, it is determined that the contractor took your jewelry.

The bonding company will then notify you that they will award the price of the jewelry, or the maximum amount covered by the bond. The bonding company will wait for a conviction of the person who took your jewelry. If the adjuster determines that the value of your jewelry is $6,000 and the surety bond is for $5,000, they will award you $5,000 because that is the maximum covered by the bond. There are conditions to this. The bonding company will only award the amount if the item is not recovered. And, the bonding company will only award after a court conviction takes place.

A performance bond is taken out to guarantee service or work. Again, another example. Let’s say you hire a contractor to build your dream home. The price to build your home is $250,000. A surety bond for the project could be issued to you at the cost of the contractor. This would cover you if the contractor tries to leave before the project is complete. Or if the contractor does not fulfill obligations agreed to in the contract. If you go through a bank to get your home built, they will most likely require the bond be issued to them, since they will be a greatest exposure to loss. Performance bonds can be taken out on a variety of things, but are most frequently used in the construction or contracting business.

Speaking as an owner of a janitorial company, there are things more important than a bond. There are many companies that cover theft internally. In other words, they have a policy about theft and cover the losses themselves due to the size of their companies. If theft …

Three Basic Types of Business Ownership Structures – Advantages and Disadvantages

There exist three basic types of business structures. One should know the basic forms before getting into a business situation to avoid potential problems. The three basic types of business structures are as follows:

i) Sole Proprietorship:

This type of business is owned by one person who is called a proprietor. The proprietor manages the business. Some disadvantages are as follows: the proprietor assumes all risks of the business and personal assets can be taken by creditors. One major advantage of the sole proprietorship is the owner makes all the decisions.

ii) Partnership:

a) The general partnership business structure is owned by more than one person.

One or more partners may manage the business. As to disadvantages, like the sole proprietorship, partners assume the risks for the business and their assets may be taken by creditors. Additionally, partners may disagree about the best way to run the business, which could result in a conflict. An advantage of a partnership is the owners share risks and decision making.

b) There is another form of business structure in the partnership arena, which is

called the Limited Liability Partnership (LLP). This form is different from the general partnership structure. Liability is limited to the assets of the partnership in this business form.

iii) Corporation:

a) The general corporation is owned by stockholders (or shareholders).

Usually a corporation may have many owners and they usually employ professional managers. The owner’s risk is usually limited to their personal investments and they often have very little influence on the business decisions. However, the corporation veil may be pierce if the corporation is negligent in its operation.

b) The next corporate form is the Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). This

structure is different for the general corporate form. As the name implies, liability is limited in this form as in relation to the general corporate structure.

c) Finally, there exists the non-profit corporation. These types of corporations

are normally 501(c) such as a church, community based organizations, a public high school, YMCA, and the like. The tax structures are normally different for the profit making organization as in relation to the non-profit making corporations.

Before any business decision is made it’s best to consult a professional in the area such as an attorney who specializes in the field of business formation. There are also some business consulting firms where help may be obtained. The Small Business Association also has a group of individuals available to help known as, Service Corps of Retired Executive (SCORE), or Counselors to America’s Small Business. …

How Globalization Affects a Small Business

Globalization is the process of worldwide efforts towards integrating world views, products, ideas, and other economic activity on an international scale. Developments in transportation, communications, and trade are major factors in globalization. Through this process, different aspects of a business can be spread throughout the world by outsourcing jobs and operations to other countries. The development of globalization has encouraged the reduction of tariffs, quotas, and trade regulation, allowing for a more free-trade market where money, jobs, information, and goods move across borders easily. Globalization affects and is affected by businesses and the environment. Management needs to be aware of global issues and how they will affect business overall. An Italian restaurant in Philadelphia is an example of a business that could be impacted by certain aspects of Globalization. In a culturally rich area with the ability to import goods, operations can easily be affected by economic, political, and social changes.

An example of a global issue that could impact business is tariffs. Tariffs are taxes on imports and exports. Having a current president who is not very big on free trade, tariffs are quite relevant in today’s business world. A business like an Italian restaurant relies heavily on free trade to ensure lower tariffs. For a small, private restaurant owner, it would be ideal to keep the establishment as authentic as possible for customers, which may require importing certain goods straight from Italy. If Italy were to raise tariffs, that could cause a decrease in the business’s profit margin by increasing costs of imported goods. This could result in the need to get rid of employees, which would ultimately cause a decline in production.

Exchange rates are an example of another global issue that would affect an Italian restaurant. Exchange rates let businesses determine how much of one currency can be exchanged for another. Italy’s form of currency is the euro. If the value of the euro were depreciated, it would make Italian exports cheaper, making it easier for an Italian restaurant to purchase authentic ingredients. By purchasing authentic ingredients, the restaurant would become more marketable and attract more customers.

The price of oil is another relevant factor of globalization that would negatively impact an Italian restaurant in Philadelphia. The cost of transportation fluctuates daily because of changing markets, economies, and crude oil costs. During the past few decades, oil prices have fluctuated substantially. When oil prices are on a decline, it encourages the importation of goods from foreign countries like Italy. Subsequently, if oil prices rise, this would make importing from Italy more expensive, which could cause management to seek local distributors. Overall, costs go up. Also, no longer offering authentic Italian ingredients could harm the reputation of the restaurant. Aside from importing, the increase in oil prices would be a disincentive to travel to the restaurant in Philadelphia for those who do not live in the area.

Immigration Is vital to the restaurant industry because many workers in food service are immigrants. The business community is in …

Reverse Stress Tests – The New Rules For Stress Testing After the Financial Crisis

Stress tests should be geared towards the events capable of generating most damage whether through size of loss or through loss of reputation. A stress testing programme should determine what scenarios could challenge the viability of the bank (reverse stress tests) and thereby uncover hidden risks and interactions among risks.

Commensurate with the principle of proportionality, stress tests should be geared towards the most material business areas and towards events that might be particularly damaging for the firm. This could include not only events that inflict large losses but which subsequently cause damage to the bank’s reputation.

Reverse stress tests start from a known stress test outcome (such as breaching regulatory capital ratios, illiquidity or insolvency) and then asking what events could lead to such an outcome for the bank. As part of the overall stress testing programme, it is important to include some extreme scenarios which would cause the firm to be insolvent (ie stress events which threaten the viability of the whole firm).

For a large complex firm, this is a challenging exercise requiring involvement of senior management and all material risk areas across the firm.

A reverse stress test induces firms to consider scenarios beyond normal business settings and leads to events with contagion and systemic implications. For example, a bank with a large exposure to complex structured credit products could have asked what kind of scenario would have led to widespread losses such as those observed in the financial crisis.

Given this scenario, the bank would have then analysed its hedging strategy and assessed whether this strategy would be robust in the stressed market environment characterised by a lack of market liquidity and increased counterparty credit risk.

Given the appropriate judgments, this type of stress test can reveal hidden vulnerabilities and inconsistencies in hedging strategies or other behavioural reactions.

Before the financial market turmoil, such an analysis was considered of little value by most senior management since the event had only a remote chance of happening. However, banks now express the need for examining tail events and assessing the actions to deal with them.

Some banks have expressed successes in using this kind of stress test to identify risk concentrations and vulnerabilities.

A good reverse stress test also includes enough diagnostic support to investigate the reasons for potential failure.

Areas which benefit in particular from the use of reverse stress testing are business lines where traditional risk management models indicate an exceptionally good risk / return tradeoff; new products and new markets which have not experienced severe strains; and exposures where there are no liquid two-way markets.…

A Profitable Leather Craft Business for You

If you are thinking of setting up a business why not consider leather crafts as your initial start up? It requires little investment and you can practically do it at home. All you need to do is get some leather craft kits and start with the basic and common leather things that you can easily sell.

The leather craft business is good because you would be making assorted things out of leather. These are the common things used everyday by most people like leather wallets, purses, belts, fashionable bracelets or necklaces. Most start up kits have pre-cut parts so all you have to do is sew them together as per instructions. Then you can add your personal touches like adding some adornment of glitter, beads or other pretty trimmings to make them unique.

Since you are starting with small items, you can do more of them. The idea is to work on them carefully and intricately. You can have them in different designs, colors and shapes. You can show your finished products to your friends. Usually word of mouth is a good method to spread your business around.

You can also join community fairs or handicraft exhibitions around your area. These are also good ways to advertise your products. You can also link up with a local franchise to sell your products.

Make use of the internet and make your own website about your lit. The internet is the fastest way to link to almost everywhere you want to showcase your products. Take pretty photographs and make good descriptions of your leather crafts so people would be interested in them.

As long as you make your crafts in good quality you will not fail in this business. Most people have a particular attraction to leather because of its versatility, durability and attractiveness. That alone can make your business prosper so keep those factors in mind. …

The Tea Room Business Plan – Mission, Strategy and Tactics

Since the tea room is a relatively simple small business, an elaborate mission statement is overkill. The entrepreneur should decide the reason for the business and what goals the business should accomplish.
An example of an effective mission statement is: (The Blue Ridge Tea Room is a fictional tea room):

"The Blue Ridge Tea Room will provide only the highest quality, healthy products and services to loose leaf tea drinkers in an environment that is safe, comfortable and attractive and will encourage customers to make repeat visits."

What the mission statement accomplishes is the creation of what the tea room is and the reason for starting the business. It also acts as a framework for managing the long term growth of the business.

Tea Room Tip: Keep the mission statement short and concise. Be willing to amend the mission as conditions change.

Simple but Effective Strategy

Strategy means how the tea room plans to make the most out of what is perceived as its competitive advantage. The tea room is unique because its customers come to visit in a manner similar to a restaurant. The competitive advantage lies in the perception of its customers' experience.

The best strategy therefore is the quality advantage:

O Quality tea and teaware products

O The best food products

O The most attractive decorations and ambience

O The best quality customer service

Tea Room Tip: Demand the same standard of excellence from vendors and employees as you do of yourself. Establish a business culture of excellence and enforce it.

Tactics and Goals

Tactics are the steps one takes to implement the business strategy. It involves the actual work that must be done in order to succeed. Measurement and accountability are important.

The best way to implement the strategy in terms of tactics is the "hands on" management style where the owner of the business actively overseas the daily operations of the business and actively manages the strategy.

An integral part of tactics is goal setting and working towards the achievement or completion of set goals. Goals are usually accompanied by actual deadline dates in order to measure progress.

An example of goals for a quality tea room:

O Negotiate a wholesale tea supply arrangement with a reputable tea supplier by May 1, 200X

O Sign a lease on a facility that is well located and meets all safety and health codes by June 1, 200X. Complete build out of space to meet tea room specifications within 20 days of lease signing

O Purchase or lease all required equipment by July 1, 200X

O Place an advertisement in a local newspaper announcing the Grand Opening of the tea room by August 1, 200X

In a tea room that promotes quality and customer satisfaction, an orientation to details is an important factor for success. Emphasize quality and customer satisfaction.

Tea Room Tip Have a friend or family member visit the tea room and assess the quality of the products and service. Do this periodically.

Establishing a Mission …