Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The One Secret You Need To Know To Market Any Product

There are some core ingredients to marketing your product and doing that successfully. A recent definition of marketing stated: Marketing is the process of communicating the value of a product or service to customers. Marketing might sometimes be interpreted as the art of selling products, but selling is only a small fraction of marketing. As the term "Marketing" may replace "Advertising" it is the overall strategy and function of promoting a product or service to the customer. What can you do that will help you in marketing your product?

If you research you'll find as many answers to this as there are available products. I specialize in helping women entrepreneurs avoid the learning vortex and take action. But sometimes as women in business we are not sure what action to take. When it comes to marketing there is a key ingredient one secret if you will: Communication.

Work on the first aspect of this definition


Many us are expert communicators. However some of you may need some extra help. So here are a few things that you can do to become a better marketer.

Focus on some communication skills that will help clarify our message. These quick tips will help you become an amazing communicator which in turn will help you be an excellent marketer.


If all you do is speak you'll never hear what your clients needs, what they want, and how you can provide a solution to their problems. So in my slightly funny way I'm asking you to "Zip It"


Listen to a client, ask them valuable questions to help you define how your product is the perfect solution they need for their problem.

Be confident

Great communicators are confident. Uncertainty breeds inactivity. If you are unsure of your offer, or your product guess what? Your client will be unsure of their buying decision.

Be Clear

If you don't know what your offer is your client won't either. We've all made the mistake of not being crystal clear in what our brand or product is and how it can help. If we are not clear they again the client will be confused. A confused client will never become a client. So work on making your offer clear.


There is a lot happening in the world and in case you didn't notice and many are walking the earth like the Grinch in Dr Seuss. If you laugh and offer a smile it's contagious. That will make your client more at ease and enjoy doing business with you. Learn to smile.


I hope I don't have to elaborate on this point. Be honest and sincere when you communicate it will do amazing things not only for your business but your soul. It's very important.

Be prepared

If you are going to share a presentation, or do an interview prepare yourself. Ask questions before you get to the interview or before you speak with your client. Think of objections ahead of time and you'll see it will reap great rewards.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

How Workforce Mobility Can Help Your Business

According to Kelton Research, workplace mobility is increasingly being valued at both American and British companies, with 68% of IT managers providing support for personal devices and technology being used in the workplace and 63% of non-technical managers saying that allowing their staff to use their own devices make them more productive. Workplace mobility is on the rise even as businesses are required to have a new technology infrastructure, such as Citrix remote working systems, in place.

Why is this? Simple. Because workforce mobility, gives rise to the following benefits to businesses:

1. Faster response times.
Your customers will no longer have to wait until his or her contact is in the office to find out if there are new products available. The customer can expect a more immediate response ensuring higher customer satisfaction.

2. Better employee engagement.
Your employees buy and use iPhone because they love it and its features. The know it and use it. It does not make sense to force them to use a Blackberry when they find the small keypad cumbersome. As such, by letting your employees use their own preferred devices, they can be more productive and they would not feel stiff-armed by management. In fact, a survey by iPass showed that employees using their own laptops, smartphones, tablets, and other devices often put more hours - up to 240 hours more - compared to those who are not allowed to use their own preferred devices.

3. Free up your IT resources.
Workplace mobility may lessen the devices being monitored, serviced and provided by your IT departments. In short, it would reduce hardware costs as well as the support time that your IT guys would need to spend if they were to help out other employees in using your company's specified devices. Because your employees are more familiar with their own devices, they can troubleshoot it themselves rather than go to the IT guys for every little problem.

4. Lower costs.
The business can transfer operating costs to the user. Your employees are effectively paying for their own data plan, or even buying their own devices.

5. Higher employee retention.
Today's workers put a premium on workplace flexibility and prefer to be able to work wherever they want.

One of the solutions to help companies make workers more mobile is Citrix workforce mobility. Citrix workforce mobility means that businesses do not only allow their employees to work where and when they want using the devices they choose, but they also allow them to have a better user experience.

Citrix workforce mobility systems will also handle the security of your network, data and information efficiently, making sure that everything is secure and fool-proof. That means that your employees get the kind of flexibility they want, without having your IT department lose sleep from worrying about security measures and possible technical mishaps.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Business Lesson From A 13 Year Old

Actually the 13 year old in question was me - in 1974!

I guess I had an entrepreneurial streak even then. In 1974, Britain was in recession. The miners' strike had resulted in a national fuel crisis and on many evenings the electricity was shut down at about 7pm. I did my homework by candlelight.

It was also the year I had my first business - and my office was the school yard.The school's system was that every Monday morning, we would all queue up in the assembly hall and buy five pale green plastic tokens. Each token cost 12p, and so every pupil would buy 5 tokens to last the week for a total cost of 60p. We'd then exchange one of these each day in the canteen to pay for our school dinner.

The idea was that this meant the kids didn't have to carry cash on them whilst at school and would be 'committed' to eating a school dinner each day. It also meant the canteen could operate without handling any cash directly.

By Thursday or Friday however, there would always be a surplus of these plastic tokens in possession of the kids. This was because not everyone would have their lunch every day. Some would have been absent for a day or two, others chose to buy sweets or chips in the nearby town instead. So at the end of each week, I could buy dozens of these plastic tokens for about 3p each.

Come the following Monday morning, my school mates could either buy 5 tokens from me for 50p, or buy the same thing from the school for 60p. Inevitably, my supply could never meet the demand. As a result I was always by far the wealthiest kid in my class.

Looking back, there were a number of interesting aspects to this. Some I can explain, others not. The first inexplicable fact is that no-one ever copied my idea, even though all the other kids knew exactly what I was doing. They were just happy when they got to me quickly enough to buy from me on a Monday morning and could immediately pocket the 10p they were saving. I guess the lesson from this is that the majority of people don't think long term (even if by long term we mean 3 or 4 days). They just want a quick and easy deal today.

Secondly, this was a business with no investment required, no overheads and huge profit margins, which just couldn't meet the demand. Not that I worried about this, I was doing just great thank you. The lesson here is that a good business always creates happy sellers and happy buyers, and this was exactly what I was doing.

Thirdly, in hindsight I guess there was a risk for me. If the school had ever discovered what I was doing, I would probably have been expelled, rather than praised for my business acumen. So I took measures to ensure that the school could never pin anything on me. My 'stock' was hidden in a variety of secret locations. I was never caught and the risk never materialised. This lesson is that although we can never eliminate risk completely, we can take effective steps to minimise it.

You might argue that I was robbing the school and even devaluing their 'currency', and it's true that today this moral aspect would prevent me from adopting a similar business model. But then I was only 13 and learning the ropes! It would be quite a few years yet before I was being invited to speak at business schools.

The last and perhaps biggest lesson is the great feeling I had from helping my friends save money. My business made me a lot more friends than I'd have had otherwise. And that's the most important thing. A good business is about satisfying your customers needs in a way that they love. If you can do that, you'll always keep them coming back for more.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Selling a Private Company: Practicalities of a Share Sale

"My accountant says it has to be a share sale". I hear these words from almost all our clients, and for good reason, the effective rate of Capital Gains Tax tax on the sale of shares in a private UK business is only 10%. So long as the selling price is acceptable, the benefits of the 10% tax rate overwhelm all other considerations in the transaction. It just has to be a share sale.

Unfortunately, as with most good things in life, the tax benefits of a share sale come at a certain cost. Completing a share sale is more challenging than a sale of assets, and will saddle the seller with long term obligations to the buyer.

So what are the additional challenges and obligations thrown up by a sale of shares?

Legal Issues

A company limited by shares has a legal personality of its own. The consequences of actions taken through the company, good or bad, remain with the company even if ownership changes through a sale of shares. Any sensible buyer will attempt to limit the risks of illegal or deceitful behaviour under previous ownership by negotiating a contract that requires the sellers to make good any losses arising from events under their ownership. A large proportion of a share sale contract that will typically run to at least 80 pages is made up of assurances by the sellers about the company, and promises to pay if problems are found after the sale. Promises have to be made about taxation, employment matters, regulatory compliance, customer relationships and many other areas.

Buyers recognise that it can be difficult to extract money from sellers after the sale and typically insist that a proportion of the selling price is held back to settle any claims. Between 10% and 20% of the selling price may be held in escrow for up to two years.

Due Diligence

Because the buyer's exposure to past acts by the company is so much greater in a share sale due diligence will be far more intrusive. In particular tax records, corporate documents, board minutes and regulatory compliance will be subject to detailed scrutiny.

Working Capital

The buyer's valuation of the business will be based on a certain level of working capital (inventory, debtors, creditors) in the business. This expected level of working capital is usually stated in the offer letter with reference to a balance sheet at a certain date. To protect the buyer against a run down of working capital prior to the sale part of the selling price will be held back until audited balance sheets at the closing date are prepared. Typically around 10% of the selling price is held back for up to three months.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Business Mission Monitoring: Is Your Business on Track?

There comes a point in running a business when you have to take inventory of the reality of the status of the business in accomplishing your intended objective. That objective is the larger mission for the business. It may be tied to a particular theme or serving a particular segment of the population. You need to ask yourself the poignant question of whether your business is on the pre-destined path you designated for it.

This business reflecting must be strategic in not deflating your enthusiasm and appreciation for what you have already accomplished. It is a simple check to ensure that your business compass is in gear and pointed in the right direction. The first step is to reconnect with the goals that you established prior to starting the business. It may be your business plan, certain ideals or experiences leading up to the creation of the business. As you take the time to re-visit those prior motivations, the resulting effect may be an affirmation that you are on the right path or an opportunity to switch gear.

If you realize that you deviated from your intended purpose, you will need to explore further the underlying reasons. To properly evaluate, you will need to confirm that the attendant circumstances required for you to operate within a certain designated path are still present. For example, if you were counting on obtaining a particular loan and fail to secure it, you may begin to operate an online business instead of a brick and mortar business as planned. Often times, many conditions outside of our control may force us into other areas for survival. When that happens, you need to make sure that you are aware of the reasons for the migration. The reality is that the attendant circumstances always fluctuate and they are not determinative of whether your business will end up in the intended path. Instead, they may push you take other circuitous routes, and detours. Being aware of the fact that you have taken those detours will enable you stay on track to meet the overall business objective.

In addition, you need to ensure that the needs that you intended to address are still present. This may require you to research market conditions. Are there any drastic changes that would affect your targeted clients? Are they still looking for the solutions that you offer? Or has there been a change in the manner in which that demographic receives services? A common example that covers all three queries is oversaturation of the market. When needs are affected, a definite change will be required in your approach.

Monitoring of the business objectives is an essential part of running a business. The timing for this is ideal towards the end of the year. This inquiry is not necessarily related to the financial, though that may be a part of it. The central focus is to ensure that the expected motivations for the business are met. When you are operating within your intended purpose, the financials and everything else will correspond accordingly.