Small Business Start Up Financing

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The number one question I get asked as a small business start-up coach is: Where do I get start-up cash?

I'm always glad when my clients ask me this question. If they are asking this question, it is a sure sign that they are serious about taking financial responsibility for start it.

Not All Money Is the Same

There are two types of start-up financing: debt and equity. Consider what type is right for you.

Debt Financing is the use of borrowed money to finance a business. Any money you borrow is considered debt financing.

Sources of debt financing loans are many and varied: banks, savings and loans, credit unions, commercial finance companies, and the US Small Business Administration (SBA) are the most common. Loans from family and friends are also considered debt financing, even when there is no interest attached.

Debt financing loans are relatively small and short in term and are awarded based on your guarantee of repayment from your personal assets and equity. Debt financing is often the financial strategy of choice for the start-up stage of businesses.

Equity financing is any form of financing that is based on the equity of your business. In this type of financing, the financial institution provides money in return for a share of your business's profits. This essentially means that you will be selling a portion of your company in order to receive funds.

Venture capitalist firms, business angels, and other professional equity funding firms are the standard sources for equity financing. Handled correctly, loans from friends and family could be considered a source of non-professional equity funding.

Equity financing involves stock options, and is usually a larger, longer-term investment than debt financing. Because of this, equity financing is more often considered in the growth stage of businesses.

7 Main Sources of Funding for Small Business Start-ups

1. You

Investors are more willing to invest in your start-up when they see that you have put your own money on the line. So the first place to look for money when starting up a business is your own pocket.

Personal Assets

According to the SBA, 57% of entrepreneurs dip into personal or family savings to pay for their company launch. If you decide to use your own money, don't use it all. This will protect you from eating Ramen noodles for the rest of your life, give you great experience in borrowing money, and build your business credit.

A Job

There's no reason why you can't get an outside job to fund your start-up. In fact, most people do. This will ensure that there will never be a time when you are without money coming in and will help take most of the stress and risk out of starting up.

Credit Cards

If you are going to use plastic, shop around for the lowest interest rate available.

2. Friends and Family

Money from friends and family is the most common source of non-professional funding for small business start-ups. Here, the biggest advantage is the same as the biggest disadvantage: You know these people. Unspoken needs and attachments to outcome may cause stress that would warrant steering away from this type of funding.

3. Angel Investors

An angel investor is someone who invests in a business venture, providing capital for start-up or expansion. Angels are affluent individuals, often entrepreneurs themselves, who make high-risk investments with new companies for the hope of high rates of return on their money. They are often the first investors in a company, adding value through their contacts and expertise. Unlike venture capitalists, angels typically do not pool money in a professionally-managed fund. Rather, angel investors often organize themselves in angel networks or angel groups to share research and pool investment capital.

4. Business Partners

There are two kinds of partners to consider for your business: silent and working. A silent partner is someone who contributes capital for a portion of the business, yet is generally not involved in the operation of the business. A working partner is someone who contributes not only capital for a portion of the business but also skills and labor in day-to-day operations.

5. Commercial Loans

If you are launching a new business, chances are good that there will be a commercial bank loan somewhere in your future. However, most commercial loans go to small businesses that are already showing a profitable track record. Banks finance 12% of all small business start-ups, according to a recent SBA study. Banks consider financing individuals with a solid credit history, related entrepreneurial experience, and collateral (real estate and equipment). Banks require a formal business plan. They also take into consideration whether you are investing your own money in your start-up before giving you a loan.

6. Seed Funding Firms

Seed funding firms, also called incubators, are designed to encourage entrepreneurship and nurture business ideas or new technologies to help them become attractive to venture capitalists. An incubator typically provides physical space and some or all of these services: meeting areas, office space, equipment, secretarial services, accounting services, research libraries, legal services, and technical services. Incubators involve a mix of advice, service and support to help new businesses develop and grow.

7. Venture Capital Funds

Venture capital is a type of private equity funding typically provided to new growth businesses by professional, institutionally backed outside investors. Venture capitalist firms are actual companies. However, they invest other people money and much larger amounts of it (several million dollars) than seed funding firms. This type of equity investment usually is best suited for rapidly growing companies that require a lot of capital or start-up companies with a strong business plan.

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Source by Susan L Reid

What’s Venture Capital?

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Your basic knowledge of capital, in terms of business, is that it is the seed of any negotiations. It is the fund used for you to start the wheel of money that your business would run through. You would need it to find your business a good office space, buy office supplies, hire your pioneer staff and develop your product to be offered to your market.

But capital is not an easy object to get your hands on, you can be sure of that. There are a lot of sources but these are not lax in terms of releasing their money over something they are not sure of. Of course, even if you are the one who has the means to invest you would definitely prefer a business proposition that sounds strong and is foreseeably stable.

One particular way of obtaining funds for your business is through venture capitalists. These are companies who are financially stable and who are willing to take risks over funding potentially good startup businesses. Your business, if it has enough potential of eventually growing and becoming at par with the bigger economic players, can also be considered qualified for a venture capital. In essence, venture capital falls under private equity or the securities that envelope a business that does not run on stock exchange rates.

You may consider applying for venture capital as another form of securing a loan from a bank or a lending institution. But the difference is that in securing a loan, you would have to pay in the same form as you have acquired it-usually through cash. On the contrary, when you apply for a venture capital what you give in return is a considerably controllable portion of your business. For example, you give a quarter of your business over to the company willing to invest in your venture. This means that in most of the major decisions you would be making for your business you would have to consult as well with your venture capitalist.

Venture capitalism is a complicated way of acquiring enough funds for your startup business to launch. It is but a game of the powerful and the hungry who both want to win in the rigorous cycle of business. But it is undoubtedly beneficial not only in financing your business but also in realizing its potential based on the assessment of your venture capitalist. This is needed for your small business to gain profit.

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Source by Ben Vestic

Tips for Strategic Fundraising Planners

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Fundraising may sound like a simple event with small activities aimed at attracting people to chip in for something you believe in. In reality, fundraising can be anything but simple. Any professional fundraiser would tell you how detailed and intricate the whole process is. For a fundraiser to be a success, it must come with its own strategic plan.

A strategic plan is a thorough study of the goals of the fundraiser and how to reach them. Professional fundraisers say that an unplanned fundraiser is not as effective or as sustainable as a planned fundraiser, since a plan has already covered the ups and downs, theoretically. Therefore, if a calamity does hit them, they are better prepared to withstand it and go around it to be efficient (Perry, 2007).

A strategic fundraising plan would incorporate four main points

1. Goal: The amount the organization strives to raise in the identified year

2. Mission: The organization's mission statement and how the funds go in line with the statement

3. Method: How the money will be raised

4. Timeline: Time bound goals and methods to measure effectiveness (Sargeant & Jay, 2010).

Here are a few tips for strategic fundraising planners:

Make a Strong Case

A fundraiser always has a purpose. Ensure a solid specific case statement for the people. This would describe the organization, the purpose of the campaign and how the plan of the fundraiser is in line with the mission of the organization. The fundraising plan needs to have actions that would drive the campaign to achieve specific goals from a large group of investors or money sources (Sargeant & Shang, 2010).

Choose the Right Team

A reasonable team for the fundraiser is important. Gather experienced nonprofit workers who have knowledge of the proceedings. The team will be responsible for research, looking for prospects, sending out invites, etc. (Burnett, 2007).

Have a Realistic Goal

Know that fundraising is not an easy job; it is laborious and it takes time. Keep expectations realistic so motivation isn't lost. Goals should be long term and be focused since there are a multitude of non-profit companies fighting for similar grants (Burnett, 2007).

Know the Target Audience

Most large institutional foundations are usually one-time found. This is mostly because they wish to have a larger impact and wish to help more people. Therefore, individual might need to be celebrated and met with similar enthusiasm. Second-time donations need to be highlighted, since they show the effectiveness of your organization. Search for donor prospects and know your supporter base. Focus on places where funding is most probable (Sargeant & Jay, 2004).

Be Creative

Going to deleg and simply asking for checks is the old way. Get creative. Think of ways to negotiate the deal and keep it for your benefit. Asking the donor to give small amounts in a spread out manner is a good way. Or, make a deal that a certain benchmark achieved would be the key to release of funds by the donor. This develops trust and would be more beneficial to raise funds (Perry, 2007).

Being prepared for anything you desire to do is one of the key standings for guaranteed success. Highs and lows always need to be taken into account to ensure that the road to success is not blocked. Yes, unexpected things happen and plans fail, but statistics show that a planned fundraiser captures a bigger market and has a greater sustainability than unplanned fundraisers. Moreover, employees across the organization understand the goals, keeping them motivated and organized for greater benefits. It does take time and probably even double the time of the task to make a plan. However, in the end, the results will be worth the trouble (Sargeant & Jay, 2010).

References

Burnett, J. (2007). Nonprofit marketing best practices. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Perry, G. (2007). Fired-up fundraising. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Sargeant, A. & Jay, E. (2004). Building donor loyalty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Sargeant, A. & Jay, E. (2010). Fundraising management. London: Routledge.

Sargeant, A. & Shang, J. (2010). Fundraising principles and practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

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Source by Chris Bouchard

Franchising Isn't for Every Business

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A successful franchise venture requires the right leadership behind the business and at the helm of the franchisor. There are many aspects to franchise development that in some ways seem obvious and are possibly more tangible in nature such as systems, technology, processes and franchise marketing systems, but what is lost on many entrepreneurs is the responsibilities that fall on their shoulders as this transition from an operator and "doer" to a franchisor and "teacher" happens.

Generally, these types of qualities and traits can be determined prior to franchising in order to save time, money and heartache for all involved. The importance of true self evaluation is required to make this determination as an entrepreneur considering the franchise expansion model.

For one, franchising requires intense levels of patience and the ability to coach people who haven't had experience as business owners. Some entrepreneurs have a difficult time working with people they may see as being weak or inept and are unable to see things from the new franchise owners perspective. If a business owner's skill set lacks patience and the willingness to mentor people, franchising may be the wrong path to take the business.

Next, franchising requires a certain degree of selflessness. Great franchisors are continuously looking for ways to help, support and drive profit to franchisees. Poorly performing franchisors cut corners, look for ways to gouge and have a singular mindset for their own gain. These are the franchise systems you read about where lawsuits take place and franchise brands fall apart quickly with poor management decisions driven by greed and short-sightedness.

Additionally, when you franchise a business, the returns are not short-term. Franchise development is an effective way to build a brand quickly and grow the company into new markets rapidly. Unfortunately, franchising is not very profitable for the first 1-3 years of growth due to the nature of the business and needing to reinvest in the business model, marketing and infrastructure needed to support the growth. Entrepreneurs considering franchising who either need or are driven by short term cash flow are most likely better off finding alternative growth channels.

Then, a good franchisor is someone who has a strategic mindset and has vision for where the brand and business model will go. Vision is not a trait that can be taught, you either have it or you don't and as the leader of a franchise network, you should be able to create energy around your ideas, have new strategies that are relevant and an unending commitment to your brand and what it stands for. These are reasons why franchisees not only invest in a system, but continue to invest and believe in their commitment to a franchise. If you lack the leadership and ability to convey your vision's opportunity and how it will benefit others, franchising will be a short-lived venture with frustrating results.

Do your due diligence and understand whether you are a match for the franchise growth system.

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Source by Christopher James Conner

Techniques For Entrepreneurship Development

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There is a certain way to carry out entrepreneurship. One has to follow certain fixed guidelines to develop an entrepreneurship of any choice. Designing a clear cut plan is necessary. Following are seven guidelines or techniques on the basis of which any entrepreneurship or business can be developed;

1. Focusing on the key product:

Your business revolves on the key product so focusing on your core product is the first step to create a business opportunity. A certain successful entrepreneur has stated that “Prospects buy when they trust your value is applicable to them and believe your company is stable” suggesting that an entrepreneur should focus on providing value to the customers. This suggestion is the key to the core plan. An entrepreneur of small business needs to differentiate from big business by concentrating on the core products. Specialization is the biggest asset of entrepreneurs.

2. Keeping it simple and short:

One should be able to tell what their business is in few precise and concise words(I.e the patter or pitch) lasting for 30 seconds since any prospect can understand clearly about the business without being confused.

3. Staying true to who you are:

You can reach your goals by knowing who you are and what gets you excited and not. Notably procrastination as human nature is can delay your growth plan so it’s better to not procrastinate and go for a perfect result oriented plan

4. Mapping it:

The best way to determine your service strategy is by mapping your capabilities with your target clients’ needs. Hence the customers who do not need your particular expertise are also avoided. The urge to cast a wide net is one common trait among many entrepreneurs. However a small business flourishes since it has limited service offering. Specializing in distinctive top quality service is the value in having a small business. So in many instances, a small business flourishes. Significantly, while choosing a provider, a list of decision making criteria can be made, from which, your client can choose as per your expectation. Then categorize yourself honestly or evaluate intensely as to where you would be position in each category. After this, make sure that your patter or pitch is still on target.

5. Utilizing the best marketing tools that work for you:

Implement the best marketing strategy that suits your personality and that of customers to be served. Identify the top two marketing tools that have worked for you in the past and then start adding new ideas from a fresh perspective. It’s also important to evaluate the selected marketing tools from cost basis. You have to take a decision as to which marketing tool will yield the best returns on your efforts. In one or another each tool should be result oriented or revenue productive.

6. Implementing a plan of action:

It’s essential to know whether the plan of action made is in progress or not. This can be done by establishing goals at short term say 3 months to long term of 6 months. During short term, you need to check your plan every month. If the plan is not being met you need to ask questions to yourself like did I select the appropriate tools for my target customer? Did I integrate the strategy into the plan? Or did I focus on only one of the marketing tool? Thus there should be a strategy check on a day to day basis so as to know if the plan is in progress as per your plan.

7. Exercising the plan:

The final step is to complete the daily actions and to put n extra efforts to accelerate your plan towards success. Precious time should be not wasted and used for reaching your goal soon.

These are the basic most important techniques for Entrepreneurship development.

Thanks

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Source by Kunas Patro

Business Pros and Cons

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So many people have a dream of having their own business. They focus on benefits that they could enjoy including freedom to choose schedule, pride of ownership and hopefully large profits.

Unfortunately, according to Innovation, Science and Economic Development in Canada as many as 97% of new start-ups with less than one hundred employees fail in the first year of operation. Only 85% survive for three years and 70% for five years. Approximately 7000 business bankruptcies occur in a year.

Even those who have years of university training and professional licenses can struggle if they don't have good business sense. From the outside it might look like psychologists, dentists, lawyers, physicians and accountants have it made! The truth is that their fees do not go directly into their personal savings accounts.

If you think that costs for professional services and expertise are too high, consider the following:

1. Credentials – Besides registration fees, books and living expenses during the many years of university study, many practicums and supervised practice situations are unpaid. Obtaining a degree parchment and practice license don't just represent success. They also trigger repayment of what can be many thousands of dollars in Student Loans.
2. Yearly fees – Each year I pay almost $ 3,000 to my regulatory bodies and insurance agent for licensing and professional liability coverage.
3. Facilities and Equipment – Those who begin a practice not only need to have office space but also appropriate furnishings and equipment for their trade.
4. Staffing – Look around your physician's office the next time that you have an appointment. How many families are receiving income from the doctor? Do they get paid if the doctor is on vacation or in training? How much is paid by the professional on their behalf for employee benefits?
5. Supervision – The more staff, the more time is needed for mentoring, meetings and system work.
6. Monthly expenses – Besides interest on any business loans, office rent or mortgage payments, and staff salaries, there are utility bills, office supplies, janitorial costs as well as technological costs to operate the office.
7. Professional development – Most licensing bodies require a set number of training hours each year to ensure that the professional has cutting edge skills and knowledge.
8. Accounting – Costs for Income Tax filing and government program requirements need to be completed by an expert who usually charges by the hour. Some professionals also have to wait for payments from companies or chase the check when clients don't pay cash. It doesn't take long until Accounts Receivables build up.
9. Taxes and Benefits – Unlike employees, professionals do not have paid sick leave, vacation time or sick time. If they don't work, they don't have income. They still, however, have to pay personal as well as income taxes.
10. Paperwork – Often what could be billable hours, are eaten up by paperwork, administration or other unpaid tasks.
11. Time – Do not be deceived. Starting and operating a business takes a lot of time. Most successful entrepreneurs work a lot of hours, many of which are never seen by the public. When you see someone on the golf course in the afternoon you might not realize that that same professional had been at the office until midnight the previous evening.
12. Accountability – You are the one responsible to ensure that ethical and appropriate services are provided to the public by all of the work done by you and your staff. When there is a problem, you are the one who needs to deal with it.

Over the years, I have worked in government, retail and private practice businesses and therefore know that no matter what career path you choose, there are pluses and minuses. If you are wanting to open a business, consider the above so you are not naïve and vulnerable.

When you access the services of a professional, look around and remember that the person in front of you will only be receiving a fraction of the fee that you are being charged. The rest goes to business expenses.

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Source by Linda Hancock

Lines of Credit Vs Loans – Small Business

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Loans or Lines of Credit: What's best for your business?

When you own a small business, finding the right type of financing is the key to growth. There are many options available today, but the two most common options are: business loans and business lines of credit.

Answer these questions before selecting the best way to finance your business:

  • What is the purpose of the loan?
  • How much money do you need?
  • When do you need the money?
  • How long will it take you to pay it back?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • What is your credit score?
  • What do your current finances (personal & business) look like?
  • If you need collateral, do you have any to put up for the loan?
  • Do you have a business plan?

You may want to gather some materials beforehand and make sure you have a strong business plan. Some of the items you may need to include are:

  • Executive Summary
  • Company Description
  • Industry Overview
  • Description of organization / business overview
  • Description of products and services
  • Funding Request
  • Projection of finance for next 3-5 years
  • Financial statements and assumptions
  • Credit history (business / business owner)
  • Resume of any investors or any other affiliations

You should understand the differences as well as any advantages / disadvantages of each and you should have a clear understanding of why you need to borrow money.

A Business Loan (BL) is where you borrow a substantial sum of money for specific business purposes. The sum is paid to you all at once and you are required to return it within a specific amount of time.

A SBA Guarantee is where banks and other lending institutions offer many Small Business Administration (SBA) loan programs to assist small businesses. The SBA does not make loans, it does guarantee loans made to small businesses by private and other institutions.

A Line of Credit (LOC) is like your personal line of credit, such as credit cards. This allows you to withdraw funds up to a predetermined amount and pay monthly payments and pay interest charges on the outstanding balance.

Let's look at the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of each:

1. Timing: When you apply for a loan or a line of credit, you need to know when you are going to use it. A loan is something you get when you need it, and for specific purposes. In contrast, a line of credit is usually set up before you need it and can serve multiple purposes.

2. Monthly Payments: With a loan, your monthly payments begin immediately and don't change from month to month, whether you are using all the money or not. With a line of credit, your payments only reflect the amount of money you've borrowed and you only make payments on the amount you borrowed.

3. Renewals: Business loans do not renew at the end of the terms, you must reapply. While a loan of credit is revolving, you can use it multiple times.

4. Long-term vs Short-term: Loans are usually paid off in 2 to 6 years. Lines of credit can solve short-term problems.

5. Interest Rates: With a business loan, you are likely to have higher interest rates that are fixed, whereas a line of credit may offer lower variable rates. With a line of credit, if you are late on a payment or exceed your credit limit, your interest rates will increase.

With such a wide range of financial options available to small business owners, it can be difficult to choose the right one. But, knowing the difference between two of the most common financing solutions can help paint a bigger picture to what you are really looking for. You want to make the best decisions so that you can make the money work for your business.

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Source by Christina Williams

Circular Patterns in Venture Capital and Angel Investing: Interesting Trends and Tips

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1. During the past decade, the size of seed rounds has remained stagnant and number of deals have decreased. To the untrained eye, it seems that there is more competition for seed dollars. Below the surface, however, startups are recycling founders experience. The reason why the number of deals has decreased is that teams are better prepared, are more financially savvy, have access to better-priced support, waste less time and resources, are using other forms of funding PRIOR to seed rounds, and are pivoting or deciding to get out earlier -at the pre-seed stage. (Founders will jump into exploring new opportunities).

Founding teams are recycled

2. More firms seeking seed rounds already have sales, expression of interests, and some form of market validation as a result of the circular economy of entrepreneurial mind and action. Firms that seek seed rounds are more advanced than 10 years ago. Founders are using other ways to get funded (as they should! Because seed funding is very expensive!), AND they are also recycling the experience of founding, co-founding, advising, and/or being early employees in previous firms. This is creating a circular economy of entrepreneurial experience. Not just serial entrepreneurs but a large pool of people who have experienced startup development (failed, successful, and everything in between, in so many roles!).

Supplier of funds are recycled

3. More investors are getting into each round, and seed rounds have become more collaborative. More and more small funds, angels and angel groups are co-investing. That means more eyes are evaluating deals (GOOD) but also BAD deals are getting through because the impact of each deal in the overall portfolio is lower, and the FOMO (fear of missing out) can get that signature! Think Theranos (ouch).

TIP: Nobody talks about the herd mentality and there will be some lessons to learn going forward. Because of the cycling and recycling nature of funding, early investors are able to scan deals early, with lower amounts, and, if they want to play in future rounds, they need to get in early and with others: pay to play.

Founders and funders’ recycling is also changing the exits:

4. Exits are being recycled too! Companies are being acquired, taken public, broken into pieces, resold, privatized, re-public’ed, and there are many emerging opportunities for exit. This is actually an area ripe for disruption. Welcome to the world of recycling exits.

And the funding process has become more interesting and complex.

5. As both entrepreneurs and funders become more comfortable navigating many options of funding startups or grownups, new funding options are emerging: there is better knowledge about crowdfunding, cryptocurrencies, hybrids (safes/convertible notes), and SFI-types (can we call this special funding instruments?). Capital suppliers are borrowing mechanisms from SPV, SPE, and SVI. I can’t wait to see what new options sprout of this.

All of these recycling and repurposing has an impact on ROI and capital markets

6. Cycles are longer: It takes longer to climb a larger mountain, especially if, along the way, there have been some quasi-exits, pivots, more and larger rounds. This is having an impact on the way we negotiate funding going INTO the firm, because there is light at the end of the tunnel, but the tunnel is getting much longer. Combine this with the uncertainty of how investors get OUT. Again, this is an area ripe for disruption and I can’t wait to see new options emerging. With longer cycles, the return on investment decreases, so firms are pushed into finding new and disruptive ways to excite investors and NEW investors who supposedly are more risk-averse and adventurous, but in reality are reckless.

Longer roads need more resources,

But the supply of capital does not exist in a vacuum

7. Public markets are shrinking, and investors -especially institutional investors- are navigating through a rollercoaster of political insanity. Mostly derived from the surprising interest in protecting borders than in having healthy global economies, financial and economic illiteracy is permeating the political arena where decisions are reckless and financial managers are focusing on reducing stupid (gasp) risks instead of creating and supporting new wealth.

Overall, a combination of healthy recycling of talent, capital, and technology is fueling the economy despite mistakes made by politics.

For investors the signals are clear: Get in early, support many startups, learn and collaborate.

For entrepreneurs the signals indicate: Use many forms of funding, use dynamic funding, ask investors for support (not just money), and create dynamic teams.

Oh, and for small business owners that think “small is beautiful”, now, more than ever, my famous quote of 100% of 1 is 1, but 1% of 1000 is more, is more valid than ever. Get in line, ditch the illusion of a “safe” and embrace the “growth” mindset. If we stop growing, we start dying. Small IS beautiful, it is just not sustainable.

For Government and Economic Development Agencies, the puzzle is getting more and more complex… Hang in there!

We really don’t know what we are doing, but we are doing!

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Source by Alicia Castillo

Workplace Communication – The Importance of Management and Employees Understanding Each Other

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The Importance of good WorkPlace Communication

It is an accepted truth that good workplace communication is of increasing importance in today's world.

Workplace communication between management and employees, between individual employees, and even within the management team can easily come under strain through a lack of good communication skills.

The Need for Management and Employees to Communicate

This article will concentrate on highlighting the need of proper workplace communication between members of the management team and the companies employees, although the same basic principles could easily be extended to most other areas of communication.

It is of critical importance that managers employ good workplace communication when dealing with all company employees of whatever level. Distrust of managers is very often the result of an employees unwarranted suspicion of a managers actions.

Rumors concerning dismissals, redundancies, wage freezes, and similar occurrences are never very far below the surface in any workplace, and it can only take one incident for the entire company to erupt.

A Practical Example

To take a real life example of how these things can so easily occur.

I know of one company that was having cash flow problems due to difficult trading conditions. It was decided that it was not going to be possible to give the employees a pay rise that year. It was only a few weeks later that one of the company directors arrived for work in a brand new Jaguar motor car purchased for him by the company.

The resulting antagonism, and in some cases outright hostility displayed towards that manager are easy to imagine.

The manager attempted to use all of his skills to explain the situation. He attempted to play it down and mentioned that the car had been arranged for him long before, when the trading conditions were much better for the company. He then went on to explain that although the car was an expensive Jaguar car, it was really only a Ford Mondeo with a fancy name.

These explanations of his were not able to satisfy any of his employees, and that situation is still remembered today, several years later.

Your Response?

Now I want you to think about that situation. I am not going to attempt to provide all the answers in this article. I want to encourage you to think about your workplace communication skills, and decide how you would have handled that situation, would you have used a different explanation?

The answer you decide on will depend both on your own personality, and on the employees that you have to work with.

I hope that by encouraging you to focus on your workplace communication skills for a few minutes, this article may help you to become a better manager, and one who communicates better with your company employees.

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Source by Bruce Fairclough

Team Building Tips – Take Your Team from Great to Extraordinary

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Whether you are an organization, or a professional responsible for facilitating the team building process of a team or group, the following tips are ensured to give you some new ideas on how to accelerate your team building initiatives:

1. Create a Common Vision

A common vision for all team members is essential for team building and organizational success. Spend time visioning as a team – what you want to create and where you want to go. This visioning time should also enable you to celebrate your current successes!

Ask Yourself: How clear is our vision? Do all team members hold the same vision?

2. Develop Common Goals

Ensure that your organizational/project and program goals are understood and supported by all team members. All team members need to understand how their efforts are feeding into the larger objectives.

Ask Yourself: Do all team members know what role they play in supporting our larger team/organizational goals? Is everyone clear on what those goals are?

3. Clarify Roles and Responsibilities

One of the main challenges for organizations and groups to move ahead to where they really want to be is due to a lack of clarity on individual roles and responsibilities. Clarifying these roles can help in supporting and achieving your common vision and goals.

Ask yourself: “How clear is our staff in understanding their specific roles? Their specific responsibilities? Where do roles and responsibilities overlap between individual team members? Where do roles and responsibilities overlap with other departments.

4. Ensure Management Support

Supervisors and managers play a key role in “keeping the learning alive”. Ensure that supervisors, managers and owners are following up with staff regarding what their needs are, and how team building efforts can be enhanced. Managers also play a key role in ensuring that the learning from team building initiatives is brought back to the office.

Ask yourself: What systems do we currently have in place to ensure that the learning is sustained? Can we discuss this in staff meetings? Do we have a coaching program in place?

5. Use Engaging Exercises

Team building can be fun and challenging, supporting teams to reach their highest potential. Ensure that participants are engaged and challenged through the process. Consider bringing in an experienced external facilitator to support your efforts, and even run a train-the-trainer program with your staff.

Ask Yourself: What types of activities or exercises would work best for our team members? What are the topics of relevance for them?

6. Take it out of the office

Holding team building sessions in the office can be disruptive and distracting. The lure of email, voice mail and urgent items often take precedence to a full team in-office experience. Reduce everyday distractions by holding team building sessions outside of the office.

Ask Yourself: What type of environment would our staff team benefit from? Some organizations prefer a more “corporate” formal team building session, while others embrace nature and the outdoors.

7. Create An Action Plan

Create an action plan to make the team building part of your everyday work or life. Often retreat days or team building programs have few links with everyday business or organizational objectives. Ensure that when designing the program you create links to the organization or to everyday life so that participants can “bring the learning home”. This can be done by building into the program formal action planning time, and having managers follow up during regular staff meetings. Coaching can be leveraged to keep the “learning alive” after team building events. Research whether individual, team or group coaching will work best for your organization.

Ask Yourself: What can we do to support and sustain individual and team action planning? What current systems do we have to revisit the action plans? Some examples may include staff meetings, manager check-ins, internal/external coaching.

8. Spend time learning what your team members need

Creating a group or organizational context where communication is open, and individual team members feel comfortable bringing their needs up, will make teambuilding efforts more focused and productive.

Find out exactly what team members are looking for to enhance their work and efforts before the team building event. This can be done by the facilitator and/or the team building committee, through email questionnaires, focus groups, or individual meetings

One of the most common pitfalls of team building initiatives is that it does not match the needs of the team. Ensure you invest enough time before the event itself to assess what team members really want.

Ask Yourself: What are the top three priorities for our team members? What is the best way to find this out from individual members?

9. Keep it Regular

Once a year team building programs can do a lot for boosting morale on the short-term, but ask yourself, “What would it be like if we did something more often?”. Imagine the results!

Using the same facilitator over successive programs can often give added traction to the event. Trust and understanding of the team is usually higher each successive event, when using the same facilitator.

Ask Yourself: What amount of time can we commit to team building efforts in our organization this year? What will that look like?

10. Have Fun!

Most importantly, team building initiatives should be fun and engaging for all staff members. They should be relevant and meaningful for the team. Design with the facilitator(s) what structure and topics will give your team the most leverage.

Ask Yourself: What would fun look like for us, given our organizational culture and philosophy?

Look to integrate some of these ideas and systems into your next team building initiative, whether it is a retreat, team coaching, or a workshop, to build a more extraordinary, sustained, productive team.

Copyright 2007 – Jennifer Britton. All Rights Reserved.

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Source by Jennifer Britton