Business Models

A  business  model succinctly describes how your  business  will make money. It is shorthand, insuring that all your  business  bases are covered, detailing only the essential elements: how you produce a product or service people want, how you tell people about it so that they want it, how you put that product in their hands, and how you make a profit.

What model best represents the unique way your  business  successfully delivers its products and services? A turnkey  business  model is based on the McDonald’s principle: to deliver a product of identical quality in an atmosphere of identical ambience and with high customer satisfaction every time across 14,000 or 15,000 stores. Of course, you don’t have to aim that high, but it is important to view the  business  modeling exercise exactly as it is intended: how would you build this  business  in a way that can perfectly replicate the ideal prototype of your  business ?

The key to the modeling approach is delegation of roles. It is almost universal that  business  owners struggle with the concept of delegating key roles in the  business . Being stuck with a problem about delegation is being stuck in a kind of trap where you will continue to work in your  business  rather than on it. It’s your role to give leadership by creating a  business  that will duplicate itself as required. Rather than thinking that you are somehow a critical part of the work flow, ask yourself, ‘How can I get my people to work to a level without my consistent interference or supervision? How can I spend my time doing the work I love to do rather than the work I have to do?’

The challenge for you and your key people is to make a  business  model that is a complete system. The set of practices and procedures in the model become the essential tools of the  business , making it incumbent on you to teach everyone in the enterprise how to use them.

Modeling creates clarity about roles and it facilitates order rather than chaos. This is good for  business : it creates an environment where customers receive consistent service. It creates confidence amongst staff and it creates confidence amongst suppliers that there is order. It creates confidence and goodwill with bankers and partners who demand order and organisation rather than an individual’s personal whims.

The  business , after all, is there to ensure you realise your  business , financial and perhaps lifestyle goals. Thus the  business , rather than being a provider of a job that you created, should become a model for others to work in. This will leave you free to create what you want to create from your  business . The idea of a  business  model should also serve as a warning for those who see  business  as being just a job: if they do, it will be guaranteed to remain their job.

 Business  models can take all shapes and sizes and do not need to be complex. But all require two essential ingredients:

* All the parts that go to make up the whole of the  business  – the processes and procedures – are documented. These become the procedures manuals for each part of the whole (system).

* The model must manifestly demonstrate consistency of product and service. If you need to write up the specifications for this beyond the procedures manual then some training will be in order.

Strategies become the cornerstone of a model; often the simpler they are the better.

Note that, by definition, models are designed to simplify work roles and processes so that you are not inexorably bound to any individual skill or talent. In other words, by producing a model you are in effect ensuring that the skills required to run the  business  are available and accessible – and can be replicated – to you both inside and from outside the  business .



Finding the Perfect Business

So, you want to succeed in your first business right? You are doing all the research and reading all the books on how to run a good shop. You are talking to brokers and getting ideas and finding out about tons of different opportunities. You are finding out that no business is perfect, and it’s hard to get money when you have no experience. You are taking all the right steps, except the main ones that will keep you from failing, and you most likely will fail.

You see what most people do is spend their time looking at the business that they want to buy; you first need to look inward at you. Business success has much less to do with the business than it does you. Don’t tell me that you don’t care what type of business it is, that it only needs to be making money. That is a recipe for failure if I ever heard one. There needs to be passion, love, desire, need and obsession to get into a particular industry, not…”Oh well I may as well buy this one because the numbers look good”. Your lack of passion will decimate those numbers in two weeks.

It’s not the business that is failing it is YOU

How do you know if you found the right business for you? You know because instead of looking at what business practices they are doing, you are imagining what you would do to build it up and double it quickly. You see all the flaws and envision the opportunity. You are willing to work for free to learn the business from the inside. You would start a similar business on the side, at night and work on it while others are sleeping. You would be living as if you already own it by waking up when you would need to and driving to see what the traffic is like. You would spend the money that you would need to do advertise for them if you had too, and see if you would get any customers. You would be willing to be a commission sales person for them and get them business and see the real reason why people buy their product or service. YOU, YOU, YOU…

Once you have done all that, it is time to look for a business to buy that will complete your business plan that has begun. It is like an “add on” at this point. You are already “in the business” in your head. You already have the experience and know that you won’t get sick of it too soon. Now the seller has confidence in your ability and will be willing to lend you money to get the company.

Companies are sold at different prices and at different terms to different people.

You know this and it makes sense. In the vending business for example, a person new to the business will pay a premium to get in and learn the system of serving accounts, and how to buy, and manage the business. Once you are in however, you no longer need all that stuff and would not be willing to pay for it. All you need now are the accounts and not all the rest. You can get those accounts for much less even though the revenue generated is the same.

Experience has monetary value.

Just make sure that it is the right kind of experience. Working in an industry for 20 years won’t cut it. You need to have experience getting new clients and having people buy products. Managing people with someone else’s money does not count. Buying advertising with someone else’s money does not count. All that helps, but before you venture out on your own it would be a good idea if you had your own hot dog cart for a while. In fact I am going to recommend that. Get a hot dog cart and learn how to run a business and see if you can handle it. You will have to follow all the rules that a big business does in licensing, location, sales and marketing, and service. You will look for ways to get repeat customers and will be forced to be concerned with purchasing product and pricing. You will be working in all climate conditions and will be affected by the surrounding economy. And also you will find out if you can handle the assault of your ego to see your friends and neighbors while you are wearing a funny cap selling wieners. You must be willing to, and enjoy putting yourself out there for a purpose, and not care what others may say about you.

This is how you really test yourself to see if you are ready, and how you succeed in your first business venture. Also, you can do it for less than your printing costs will be when you buy an existing business that you know nothing about.

You succeed by doing

So get out there and stop talking and researching and planning and boosting yourself up to be the smartest businessman on the planet.

• Get a side job in the industry that you think you like and see if you really like it.

• Start a side business in that field to do the same thing with your own money and risk.

• Gain experience and make industry and business contacts.

• Learn to sell your product or service and be proud of it.

• Then you can look for an “add on” business that will bring you the cash flow that you need to exist.

I should add that all of this is done while you maintain your present job. You may try out several different industries before you find the perfect opportunity for you. There is enough time in the day, in fact, this method will demand that you take more control of you time and day and better prepare you for success.

So stop reading, shut off the TV and get to it. You have a business to build…Good Luck!!



Keys To Success – Business Networking

One of the primary reasons to invest time and effort into business networking is to get more business. Yet, for many the outcome of greater business remains elusive.

Business Networking – How To Get More Business

As a personal business coach one of the first things I ask a potential client, whether it be a self – employed small business owner or a corporate manager or executive, is if they are doing any business networking. Most of them will tell me that they do some business networking.

The main reason they do business networking is to get more business. When I ask how successful it has been the answers range from very successful to virtually no success at all.

How come one person has great success and another doesn’t. Is one’s product or service in greater demand? Possibly, but very often it has nothing to do with that.

Business Networking – Success Is About How You Fish

For a moment visualize a business networking event as a big pond with many fish. You have come together with a group of other people and all of you are fishing in the same pond. Some of you will catch fish, prospects, referrals and customers. And most of you will put your bait on a hook and come up with nothing.

What’s causing the difference in results? It could be the pond you are in. Maybe the fish you are swimming with aren’t ideal for you or your business. But, more often than not it is not the fish in the pond that is the problem.

The problem is how you are choosing to fish in that pond. Especially for small business owners seeking more small business growth and success how you fish is a critical determinant in your results.

Running a small business is a big enough challenge to your time and energy without engaging in business networking that is not producing positive results. So if the pond of your business networking is not yielding the results you desire, yet appears to be a good pond, then you must change the way you fish in the pond.

Business Networking – It’s About The Human Being And Not The Human Doing

How do you catch a fish? It’s easy. You give him some bait where he wants to bite on your hook. The best hook you have is you. It’s not your business. It’s not your service. It is who you are. Most people when you engage them do not need your product or service.

The key is that they certainly may need it at some point in time in the future. The goal is to start building a relationship with them based on who you are, not what you do. In the end they will do business with someone they know, like and trust.

The key to successful business networking is to get beyond the human doing, your business, and let others get to know the human being. Focus on learning about who someone else is. Reveal to them more about yourself. It will give you and them many more reasons to build a solid relationship.

Focus on the human being, not getting business. And, the last part is the most important. If you have business networking functions every month attend them regularly. Even if business is good and you feel too busy attend them regularly.

Great relationships aren’t built with intensity but with regular contact over a period of time. Be consistent in showing up and persistent in building your relationships. When you approach business networking as an essential marketing activity focusing on human beings instead of human doings you will start catching a lot more fish in your pond and even greater small business, large business and personal success.



10 Business Tips to Live By!

The following is for those who have, do, or want to own a business. You just may find a gem herein to help you find your acre of diamonds and keep them.

Premise: It is my observation during my business lifetime that those who successfully choose to own their own business are confident, creative, some what disciplined, persistent, optimistic and typically genuinely unaware that 90% of their business and personal problems are usually self induced.

If that seems harsh to you, then the following tips may remind you of some basics of business life that often get overlooked while meeting your responsibilities to yourself, your family and others who may care in seeing you succeed.

1. Entrepreneurship

An entrepreneur, with a great business vision, a modicum of capital, a dogged determination and a learning attitude, can build a business by the seat of his/her pants until he/she achieves a personal comfort level, at which time the entrepreneur must transition to being a professional manager to reach higher heights.

The key element of building a long time successful business is learning to plan, organize, delegate and manage the successes and stresses of being — the boss.

2. Every successful business will eventually be sold or closed.

Understanding the above fact is essential to remaining in control of your business destiny.

Sickness, disablement, divorce, death, retirement and a myriad of other reasons to move on are all reasons a business may have to be sold. Therefore, operating your business to be salable, at any time, will provide you with the best long term outcome, whenever a sale is necessary.

Operating a business with the prime objective of tax minimization is short sighted, as it will then take three years on average to prepare your business for a top dollar sale.

If time and circumstances do not allow the tax minimizer to reposition his business for sale, a life time of building business “market value” will can quickly turn to pennies on the dollar and may go to zero. Business buyers purchase a reliable stream of adjusted discretionary cash flow and rely solely on the past three years tax returns to determine market value.

3. Availability of capital is the life blood of a stable and growing business.

The best and least expensive capital is cash earned and saved.

The profits generated by owning and operating a successful business are the just compensation for the sacrifices made to build an stream of continuing income from your enterprise.

Separate your rewards into two baskets, one to maintain a comfortable life for you and yours and one to meet, and beat, Murphy’s Law and/or provide the seeds from which more rewards can grow.

4. You can not borrow your way to riches.

Business debt should be avoided like the plaque, unless the use of borrowed funds will generate at least 25% more cash flow than expenses and the principal and interest on the incurred debt.

Purchased business assets depreciate with time and incur additional overhead and required maintenance. Part of graduating from entrepreneur to a professional manager is learning, and mastering, how to figure return on investment (ROI). An asset is generally only worth the value of a provable, risk free, stream of of bottom line income. It is that excess earning power that will justify a cash and/or financed purchase.

5. Sales vs Gross Profit

It is true that nothing happens until something is sold. However, purchasing at the proper price, whether it be materials, products or labor will determine ultimate profitability.

The concept of buying low and selling high is simple, but like poker, the game is simple to learn but takes a lifetime to master. Entrepreneurs typically spent more time controlling fixed and variable overhead and not enough time on gross margins.

Professional managers learn that a dollar increase in their gross profit margin goes straight to the bottom line and into the owners pocket.

6. Customer diversification

It’s a no brainer to say that there is safety in numbers when it comes to your customers.

In the life time of a business, there invariably will come a time when a very profitable customer will fall in love with your company and bless you with ever increasing business. Beware of the fact that as that customer grows to be a larger and larger percentage of your total sales, the risk to your business increases dramatically.

Large customers, over time, will use their sales volume to erode your pricing power. More businesses have failed from allowing their largest volume customer to eventually hold them at ransom by forcing them to choose to produce at zero profit or lose the largest part of their sales volume.

The general rule is to not to allow one customer become more than 20% of your sales.

7. Accounts Receivable

If you extend credit by giving customer payment terms, you become a banker.

Entrepreneurs can grow their business by extending favorable terms, if their margins are high enough to cover the opportunity costs as opposed to cash sales. Professional managers understand the costs of credit terms and pass them on in higher prices. Needless to say, managing credit sales is a complicated subject and is subject to common practice in the type of product, service or industry within which your business falls.

As a general rule, from a safety point of view, cash sales are preferred, credit card sales are the next best option but if you have to extend credit, operate it like a profit center not as a service. In addition, there is safety in many customers. If you only have a handful of customers and you extend them credit, it only takes one to go belly up to seriously damage or sink your business.

8. Accounts payable

If your suppler offers net 30 billing, ask for a 5% or 6% discount, if paid within 5 to 10 days. If you have followed the advice in number 3 above and have set aside a basket of cash for growth and emergencies, the ability to take that discount will go straight to your bottom line.

9. Bookkeeping

Unfortunately this is a sore subject with me, as typically many entrepreneurs and professional managers are notoriously weak in this area.

Too many business people think of keeping the books as a necessary evil to be pushed off to a bookkeeper or an accountant until tax time. The truth is the keeping of financial records, checking them daily and learning to interpret them is probably the most vital aspect of becoming and staying a successful business owner. In short, your “books” are the best management tool an owner has at his/her disposal, if kept meticulously, understood and used properly.

A monthly Profit & Loss Statement (P & L) and a personally checked balanced bank statement that is read and understood is an absolute minimum survival requirement for every business owner.

Businesses are complicated, no mater how simple they may seem. Running a business and living out of a checkbook doesn’t cut it. An accurate and frequent P & L statement is a must for an owner to know if things are going well or to recognize when things are getting get out of whack.

Do you know that 1 out 10 small businesses get ripped off by the trusted in house bookkeeper, because the owner wasn’t paying attention with good financial controls? How will you get a loan from a lender, if you can’t quickly produce a P & L to prove you deserve one. I could go on and on.

Every business owner, who isn’t an accountant, should take a few accounting courses or at least read up and understand the concepts. Your financial records are like having an X-Ray picture of your business at your beck and call. Becoming versed in the the financial aspects of your business can be the most valuable asset you will ever own.

10. Living the good life as a business owner

People go into business for many reasons, but usually it because they want to be their own boss, answer to no one but themselves, build a better life than can be accomplished having a JOB and serving their own ego. Needless to say, if owning a business and being successful were easy, everyone would be doing it.

That said, successful business owners are unique in that they work harder, smarter, longer, usually have better incomes and are more responsible citizens than “normal” people. On the the other side of the coin, business owners are also subject to more stress, family problems, self doubt, loneliness and political disrespect. Both sides of the coin come with the territory, so how do you balance it all to be respected, live a good life and be “content”.

Here is a few humble suggestions, in no particular order, from a curmudgeon who cares:

  • Remember the rainy day basket and keeping your business salable, — stuff happens and so does retirement
  • To err is human, don’t be too hard on yourself when your are not perfect
  • Compartmentalize, give business and and loved ones and friends equal time and effort
  • At the end of the business day, briefly plan tomorrow, take a moment to decompress and get lost in your mode of peace until tomorrow
  • When the stuff hits the fan, take a deep breath, relax and quietly fix it
  • Realize you can’t know, or be an expert in, everything, — develop a trusted mentor and use him/her as knowledge source and sounding board
  • There are only 24 hours in the day, block out time for each day’s priorities, including family, friends, confidants and your personal self
  • When faced with a tough decision, in the final analysis, trust your gut
  • Love what you do and love those that you you do it for
  • Laugh a lot, it will keep you sane



Online Business Directories

Online Advertising has become a major marketing force for new and established businesses alike, offering quick exposure, the chance to speed up a web presence and means to effectively track a marketing budget.

There are a whole host of Online Directories available to a business owner or decision maker, especially here in the UK. Deciding on where and who to advertise with, will depend on several factors.

Budget:

Every companies budget is different, the smaller or start up business will be looking to get the most effective spend. Do you spend it all in one go with a market leader, or try a scatter gun approach listing with multiple Business Directories?

Target Audience:

What services or products do you provide? Are you in a niche market, or limited to a particular area? This will narrow down the options available to you. Do you have a popular and well known local area business directory, or are you looking for national exposure? Maybe both!

Expected return On Investment:

What are your realistic expectations? We have all been promised the earth in one shape or form, but what do you need to gauge this piece of marketing a success? How many customers would you need to justify the cost of signing up with a business directory? Too many smaller, and even larger businesses get swept up in the marketing trap.

Can you categorically say which of your campaigns were successful. Do you have complete control over your marketing spend? Unless you’re a large company on a brand building crusade, marketing is simply a tool to generate more business. If your marketing spend isn’t generating a higher return in sales or services, then why are you wasting the money?

Branding:

This can be a decider for a lot of people. Who are you familiar with? Whose brand do you recognise. Positive branding is the holy grail for most companies, people associate your company with value for money, respectability and security.

This can also be a double edged sword, going with a brand leader doesn’t always assure you are going to get the best deal. This then comes down to you having the time to do your own due diligence and research. What’s out there? Then we are back to return on investment.

Recommendations:

What safer way of doing business is there than following a trusted colleague’s recommendation. Of course hardly foolproof, but reduces the risk of the unknown if you can witness someone else’s results.

The importance of the above factors will vary from person to person, but hopefully a lot of this will ring true.

Search Engines

Any business looking for an online advertising presence wants to get listed by all the major search engines. Most search engines have a submission process that site owners can utilize, or some businesses utilize search engine optimization companies that will examine and optimize a website to try and ensure it performs well in search engine rankings.

This is another area where a business directory can help. Directories get regularly indexed by all the major search engines, and links from these directories can enhance a businesses own listing. A good example of this is Google that utilizes PageRank technology. Google will determine a website or web pages importance by a multitude of factors, one of these being the number of relevant links coming in from other websites to yours.

So who should I list with?

Well final preference is down to the individual, and the factors listed above, so below are a good selection of UK Business Directories offering free and paid listings that should suit most budgets.

Free Index Business, Magnet, Thomson Directories, The UK Small Business Directory, Scoot, Matren, The Best Of, Yell, 192.com and of course us!



New Online Business Ideas

There are lots of guides posted around the Internet that teach average Internet users how set up their own online business where they can earn enormous amounts if they stay committed. These guides present online business ideas that are easy to understand and have become so popular that so many people took note of these online business ideas and applied them to their future businesses. This lead to more online businesses and greater competition. If you are planning to join the competition, you will need new online business ideas in order for your business to have any leading advantage over the rest. Here are some new online business ideas that can push your business beyond the limits.

Web 2.0 Design Technologies

Web 2.0 technologies aren’t anything new to the Web and online businesses have been using it for years, but many of the online businesses managed by aspiring Internet marketers often use the easiest ways to get an online business up and running and in most cases, the easiest ways result to very basic websites that use dated designs.

To avoid using these designs, it is best to utilize the Web 2.0 design concepts and web applications to make your online business look better and allow better interaction between you and the visitors. You can start by incorporating a blog on your site using one of the minimalistic design themes. Then decorate that blog with some widgets for even more interactivity.

Web 2.0 Marketing

Web 2.0 also changed the way people market their businesses. E-mail marketing and classified posting are still popular methods, but there are so many other people to reach out to in social networks and video sharing websites. Get into a single social networking site if you haven’t yet, create your profile, and start spreading the word while growing your network at the same time. The larger your network, the more likely you will have visits to your profile. Once you feel that you are getting visitors from one social networking site, create other accounts in other popular sites and do the same.

Video marketing is another great way in generating traffic to your online business. If you make a good convincing video, your sales may skyrocket if you are selling products or services directly. You can still take advantage of video marketing even if you don’t have a recording device by creating videos using some of the free video creation tools online.

It is important not to commit yourself to these Web 2.0 online business ideas because one day these techniques will be frequently used and newer techniques will surface. Therefore, it is important to keep up with the trend and pay attention to the competition to see how they market their business. The search engines are always open so you can easily see what the other online businesses are up tois the most effective way to increase sales without being taken over by competitors.. You should also find new ways to improve your site to make sure it looks as unique as possible. This is the most effective way to increase sales without being taken over by competitors.



Business Alliances – Strategy For Small Business Growth

Business alliances are often overlooked or not given much consideration by small businesses, yet they can be vital in helping a company grow and prosper. All too often, small businesses think alliances are just for big businesses; as a result, they neither explore nor pursue them. However, they can be just as beneficial for small businesses as they are for large corporations. If a small business is serious about gaining access to new markets, capitalizing on technology, growing profits using shared resources, they should consider a business alliance.

It’s no secret, businesses that share resources can create greater efficiencies and become more profitable. Business alliances can increase synergies and mitigate potential risk, while allowing companies to work together toward common goals as they maintain their individuality. There are several types of business alliances, each with its unique attributes.

Now is the time to assess what your business brings to the table. What assets, either tangible or intangible, does your business possess that when leveraged with another company can unlock greater potential for each business?

Alliance opportunities can be developed with suppliers, customers, investors, complementary businesses and friendly competitors. Some alliances are natural matches, while others require some creative thinking. I’ve listed the different types of alliances below, along with a description and example of each. When reading through them, think about how your business can create the benefits of a win-win proposition with another company.

JOINT VENTURE

A joint venture is a contractual arrangement whereby a separate entity is created to carry on a trade or business on its own, separate from the core business of the participating companies. Businesses often come together to share knowledge, markets, funds and profits. In some cases, a large company can decide to form a joint venture with a smaller business in order to quickly acquire critical intellectual property, technology, or resources otherwise hard to obtain. Companies with identical products and services can also join forces to penetrate markets they wouldn’t or couldn’t consider without investing a tremendous amount of resources. Separation is often inevitable because JVs generally have a limited life and purpose.

Example: You’ve developed a product but have a limited distribution base. Another company has the distribution system in place with a sizable market and wants to expand its company’s product offerings. You form a joint venture with the other company to jointly promote the product. It’s a win-win because you don’t have to fund the costs of reaching the potential customers and the other company expands its value and product offering to its current distribution base without having to fund the research and development costs of a new product. A contract would be signed detailing the aspects of the agreement.

STRATEGIC ALLIANCE

A strategic alliance is generally an arrangement whereby a separate entity is not created. Participants engage in joint activities but do not create an entity that would carry on trade or business on its own. The strategic alliance partners may provide resources such as products, distribution channels, manufacturing capabilities, capital equipment, knowledge, expertise, or intellectual property. Each party in the alliance maintains autonomy.

Example: A business management consultant wants to expand his services. He currently offers coaching, marketing, financial and operational consulting. He has noticed an increase demand for HR and diversity consulting from his clientele. He currently has no desire to hire additional personnel with the degrees and certifications required to offer these services. He seeks a strategic alliance with a HR and diversity consulting firm. The new firm agrees to work with his firm when opportunities arise for their services and a percentage of the revenue generated from the services provided will be returned to his firm.

PARTNERSHIP

A partnership is a legal agreement between two parties wherein both the parties agree to share profits and losses of a common business with no anticipated end date.

Example: A company whose primary function is to sell ads and produce unique coupon circulars to promote a variety of small businesses to the residential community had a substantial printing bill monthly. The company sought a partnership with a small printing company. The printing company had the expertise but limited printing volume. It required purchasing equipment that the printer didn’t have but saw a need for. A contract was signed establishing the new company; cost of the equipment was split between the two entities. The coupon circular producer sent all its business to the new venture at a substantial discount. The profits from the new venture were divided among the coupon circular company and the printing company. Each kept their original businesses separate from the new business.

MARKETING ALLIANCE

A marketing alliance is an agreement involving two or more companies to share cost and resources to promote each of the companies within the group. The target markets of the companies within the alliance usually share similar characteristics. The alliance can be a formal or an informal agreement.

Example: A group of locally owned and operated restaurants band together to form a marketing alliance. The alliance, similar to groups throughout the nation, promotes the uniqueness of their cuisines in an effort to stand out against the national chains. The group pools their resources to run ads and produce a direct mail guide to promote their menus, while offering discounts. They pay an upfront fee and then contribute several hundred dollars in gift certificates every quarter. Those certificates are sold online at a discount to help fund their marketing efforts. Donating gift certificates help keep the cost down for the participating restaurateurs.

COLLABORATION

A collaboration is when two or more businesses come together to share resources to create greater efficiencies such as the sharing of employees, equipment, shipping cost, rent, products and etc. Collaborations are generally for specific time periods and resources.

Example: As a small business you may have a difficult time throwing a first class holiday party for your employees. You want to show them just how much they are appreciated but the economy is tight and company funds are even tighter. Pooling your resources to have a party with a complementary company, saves money for both companies and could potentially pay off in new business opportunities and networking.

Managing the Alliances

Each company should bring a balance set of strengths to the alliance but there are other considerations as well. You must manage the alliance to ensure it contributes to the success of each company. Listed below are few of the things you should consider to produce a successful alliance:

1. Alliances should be made with the decision maker. You must have the support and commitment from the business owner and not just a manager.

2. Communication is a key ingredient. Clearly communicate the goals and objectives of the alliance in the beginning.

3. Develop the metrics the alliance will be measured against. Determine how the performance of each of the companies will be measured.

4. Allocate proper resources to the alliance. Don’t get half way through the project before you determine the proper resources were not allocated to the venture.

5. Ensure that all participating employees are committed to the success of the alliance. You need buy-in from everyone involved, not just a few select people.

6. Detail the responsibilities of each of the participating companies. Be explicit in what the expectations are for each of the companies in the alliance.

7. Just like all things, nothing is perfect. Be prepared to make changes if something is not working.

8. Stay committed and focused on the benefits of the alliance rather than the inconveniences the alliance may cause.

Each party must benefit from the alliance for it to be successful. Otherwise, like a marriage, the relationship will go from honeymoon to divorce court quickly and all parties will suffer.



Business Directories

The Internet has changed buying behaviours to the extent that customers habitually research suppliers of goods of services online long before they seek to make a purchase. In fact, increasingly the actual purchase transaction now occurs completely within the online environment – meaning if you can get the customer to your online space, you have a chance of making a sale then and there.

This considered, business directories can be compared to full time sales staff; answering customer queries about where to find a particular product, service or business segment (including the non commercial and public service) and directing them accordingly via a convenient web link.

Local business once meant a street presence

Occupying a main street frontage in a local community used to be the standard model for local business operators. Butchers, retailers, food outlets and other business serving the local community could be found in prime positions on the main streets of the locality. Quite apart from the fact that your ‘local’ butcher may now not occupy any local real estate at all; preferring to operate wholly online, customers are now less willing to linger in main thoroughfares as they seek ever greater efficiency and convenience from suppliers.

Put simply, local customers have adjusted to the conditions of an online world. There is little need to sit down with a travel consultant when the entire transaction can be researched for price and inclusions and finalised online. Even a trip to the local supermarket can be avoided by organised shoppers who make their purchases online in the convenience of the home; with no supermarket lines or runaway shopping trolleys.

Online street presence

To compete in the world of local business, real street presence has been supplanted by virtual presence or an online profile. Part of the equation is setting up shop in a pleasant, user-friendly online space; though not even nearly sufficient in and of itself.

Physical street presence comes at a much higher cost than its online equivalent, with prime positions attracting high rents due to the regular foot traffic, business exposure and likelihood of unsolicited off the street custom. This can happen in the online world also, but requires significant efforts to position the site correctly and strategies to drive internet traffic in the right direction.

There are varying ways to increase online traffic; back links, promotions and giveaways, community presence at local events, cross promotion with other community websites and local businesses and a myriad of other marketing strategies which harness the power of the online world to reach local households and businesses.

Local business directories are like an online phone book

While we already have access to an online version of the standard phone book, enhanced with additional goodies using the unique strengths of the internet, local business directory is a different proposition in that it serves the needs of a particular community grouping.

Often the scope is wide: such as industry based, or state or regional in focus. Consumers may then filter down to their specific requirements. By listing in a number of differently focused directories, local businesses increase their reach across the community in varied ways. This provides additional touch points with the consumer and assists in building familiarity and customer loyalty.

A complement to search engines

The prevalence of search engines as an everyday research tool has trained modern consumers in basic research methodologies; customers generally have a good idea what they are searching for and what keywords to enter to increase their percentage of useful hits.

Internet business directories help customers by filtering one level for them without any more effort being expended; simply by going to the directory as a starting point rather than the standard internet-wide search engine. Now they know that all the hits will be relevant to their locality: no strange pizza place on the other side of the world popping up unexpectedly.

Experience with search engines has trained internet users to expect great results and to be impatient with nonsense hits and keyword stuffed content that causes them to waste unnecessary clicks on useless information. A directory can remove a lot of this clutter, engendering a more positive frame of mind as the customer peruses the options.

Closing the deal without saying a word

A really great site which is easy to use and offers a clear and simple means of processing payment is best geared to operate as a virtual shopfront. Internet directories usually allow a range of contact details to be provided, but ideally the transaction can be undertaken without any need for manual intervention.



Business Strategy Rules

Is your  business  a hobby? Did you look for something that you are passionate about and then go for it? Were you able to turn that hobby or passion into a real money-maker?

The truth is that about 90% of small  businesses  fail. There are multiple reasons for the disasters. An important and not so obvious truth about all these failures is that the failure starts in the planning process. The battle is won in the mind before the game even begins. So, how do you create a master plan that will give you a great chance of success? The beginning, of it all, is to understand strategy.

 Business  Strategy Rules to Live by

1- A  business  owner must gain proprietary intellectual property.

Selling a commodity is nearly impossible to make a profit on. And, small  businesses  can’t compete on price against large rivals with superior purchasing power. Since consumers are so price motivated, the small  business  must find a way to innovate. The innovations do not have to be large or “earth shattering”. Innovations can also be small. For example, you might discover faster ways to organize your materials than your competitors or see a way to do something cheaper and better. Holding onto these good ideas and protecting them will go a long way towards long-term profitability.

2- A  business  owner must understand short-term thinking.

If you study game theory or the prisoner’s dilemma, you learn that people always go for the short-term strategy. Some strategists point to long-term win-win scenarios, but these strategies rarely, if ever, play out as planned. Instead, people are always looking to get the best advantage possible. This results in short-term thinking. What a  business  owner must realize is that their employees, their suppliers, and their competitors will do what is best for the short-term. It’s sort of like Keynesian economics. Take care of the short-term and the long-run will work out. Of course, this type of economics also states that in the long-run we’re all dead.

We can always come up with reasons why long-term planning is best and even look to a few examples of it being applied correctly. However, the science of  business  proves short-term thinking works and that it is prevalent within companies and individual motives. In other words, put this into your planning process.

3- A  business  owner must understand deception.

There are many ways to interpret the word deception. It does not mean you have to lie, cheat, and steal. Instead, it might mean finding ways to hide your secrets from competitors. It might mean managing employees in ways that they do not know enough to compete with you. It could also mean that you use clever ways to gain proprietary intellectual advantage. One example of this would be to use spies. Large companies are adept at using spies. How many times have you seen a competitor hire an employee from another company for the sole purpose of learning what they know? This is common practice. Everybody is trying to do the same thing. The people doing it best win!

4- A  business  owner should only accept challenges they know they can win.

Many  business  owners are pretty cocky. They think they can compete with anybody and that they can do anything they want. This is not realistic. There are many battles to fight that will only result in you losing it. One of the most important things to learn is to only take on battles that you know you can win. How do you figure that out? Well, according to Sun Tzu, the master battle strategist, the most important thing is to know thyself and thy enemy. If you understand these two things, you will win in every battle. It sounds so simple and yet most  business  owners don’t really understand the competition or what their main strengths and weaknesses are. According to Sun Tzu, without this knowledge, you will lose very battle. If you gain some of this knowledge, you will win some battles and lose others.

5- A  business  owner must understand leadership.

A great leader will motivate the employees to do great things. For this to happen, there has to be a level of respect for the leader. The employees must be moral and follow strict rules. The enforcement of the rules should be done quickly. In addition, feats of bravery and strength should be rewarded quickly and openly. These are some of the basic tenets of great leaders.

According to Sun Tzu, the highest form of leadership is to first: Balk the enemy’s plans. And Second: Prevent the junction of the enemy’s forces; and third: Attack in the field and fourth: Attacking a besieged city. There is so much that can be said about each one of these leadership principles.

Planning the Strategy

It’s impossible to tell you exactly how to build your strategy. However, there are three most important points you must follow.

1- The most important thing is to get proprietary intellectual advantage.

2- The second most important thing is to understand your competitor and yourself.

3- The final point is to fight in battles you know that you can win.

If you follow these points, you will be on your way to a great  business  plan.



Business Analyst Finance Domain Sample Resume

This is just a sample Business Analyst resume for freshers as well as for experienced job seekers in Finance domain of business analyst or system analyst. While this is only a sample resume, please use this only for reference purpose, do not copy the same client names or job duties for your own purpose. Always make your own resume with genuine experience.

Name: Justin Megha

Ph no: XXXXXXX

your email here.

Business Analyst, Business Systems Analyst

SUMMARY

  • Accomplished in Business Analysis, System Analysis, Quality Analysis and Project Management with extensive experience in business products, operations and Information Technology on the capital markets space specializing in Finance such as Trading, Fixed Income, Equities, Bonds, Derivatives(Swaps, Options, etc) and Mortgage with sound knowledge of broad range of financial instruments.
  • Over 11+ Years of proven track record as value-adding, delivery-loaded project hardened professional with hands-on expertise spanning in System Analysis, Architecting Financial applications, Data warehousing, Data Migrations, Data Processing, ERP applications, SOX Implementation and Process Compliance Projects.
  • Accomplishments in analysis of large-scale business systems, Project Charters, Business Requirement Documents, Business Overview Documents, Authoring Narrative Use Cases, Functional Specifications, and Technical Specifications, data warehousing, reporting and testing plans.
  • Expertise in creating UML based Modelling views like Activity/ Use Case/Data Flow/Business Flow /Navigational Flow/Wire Frame diagrams using Rational Products & MS Visio.
  • Proficient as long time liaison between business and technology with competence in Full Life Cycle of System (SLC) development with Waterfall, Agile, RUP methodology, IT Auditing and SOX Concepts as well as broad cross-functional experiences leveraging multiple frameworks.
  • Extensively worked with the On-site and Off-shore Quality Assurance Groups by assisting the QA team to perform Black Box /GUI testing/ Functionality /Regression /System /Unit/Stress /Performance/ UAT’s.
  • Facilitated change management across entire process from project conceptualization to testing through project delivery, Software Development & Implementation Management in diverse business & technical environments, with demonstrated leadership abilities.

EDUCATION

  • Post Graduate Diploma (in Business Administration), USA
  • Master’s Degree (in Computer Applications),
  • Bachelor’s Degree (in Commerce),

TECHNICAL SKILLS

Documentation Tools UML, MS Office (Word, Excel, Power Point, Project), MS Visio, Erwin

SDLC Methodologies Waterfall, Iterative, Rational Unified Process (RUP), Spiral, Agile

Modeling Tools UML, MS Visio, Erwin, Power Designer, Metastrom Provision

Reporting Tools Business Objects X IR2, Crystal Reports, MS Office Suite

QA Tools Quality Center, Test Director, Win Runner, Load Runner, QTP, Rational Requisite Pro, Bugzilla, Clear Quest

Languages Java, VB, SQL, HTML, XML, UML, ASP, JSP

Databases & OS MS SQL Server, Oracle 10g, DB2, MS Access on Windows XP / 2000, Unix

Version Control Rational Clear Case, Visual Source Safe

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

SERVICE MASTER, Memphis, TN June 08 – Till Date

Senior Business Analyst

Terminix has approximately 800 customer service agents that reside in our branches in addition to approximately 150 agents in a centralized call center in Memphis, TN. Terminix customer service agents receive approximately 25 million calls from customers each year. Many of these customer’s questions are not answered or their problems are not resolved on the first call. Currently these agents use an AS/400 based custom developed system called Mission to answer customer inquiries into branches and the Customer Communication Center. Mission – Terminix’s operation system – provides functionality for sales, field service (routing & scheduling, work order management), accounts receivable, and payroll. This system is designed modularly and is difficult to navigate for customer service agents needing to assist the customer quickly and knowledgeably. The amount of effort and time needed to train a customer service representative using the Mission system is high. This combined with low agent and customer retention is costly.

Customer Service Console enables Customer Service Associates to provide consistent, enhanced service experience, support to the Customers across the Organization. CSC is aimed at providing easy navigation, easy learning process, reduced call time and first call resolution.

Responsibilities

  • Assisted in creating Project Plan, Road Map. Designed Requirements Planning and Management document.
  • Performed Enterprise Analysis and actively participated in buying Tool Licenses.
  • Identified subject-matter experts and drove the requirements gathering process through approval of the documents that convey their needs to management, developers, and quality assurance team.
  • Performed technical project consultation, initiation, collection and documentation of client business and functional requirements, solution alternatives, functional design, testing and implementation support.
  • Requirements Elicitation, Analysis, Communication, and Validation according to Six Sigma Standards.
  • Captured Business Process Flows and Reengineered Process to achieve maximum outputs.
  • Captured As-Is Process, designed TO-BE Process and performed Gap Analysis
  • Developed and updated functional use cases and conducted business process modeling (PROVISION) to explain business requirements to development and QA teams.
  • Created Business Requirements Documents, Functional and Software Requirements Specification Documents.
  • Performed Requirements Elicitation through Use Cases, one to one meetings, Affinity Exercises, SIPOC’s.
  • Gathered and documented Use Cases, Business Rules, created and maintained Requirements/Test Traceability Matrices.

Client: The Dun & Bradstreet Corporation, Parsippany, NJ May’ 2007 – Oct’ 2007

Profile: Sr. Financial Business Analyst/ Systems Analyst.

Project Profile (1): D&B is the world’s leading source of commercial information and insight on businesses. The Point of Arrival Project and the Data Maintenance (DM) Project are the future applications of the company that the company would transit into, providing an effective method & efficient report generation system for D&B’s clients to be able purchase reports about companies they are trying to do business.

Project Profile (2): The overall purpose of this project was building a Self Awareness System(SAS) for the business community for buying SAS products and a Payment system was built for SAS. The system would provide certain combination of products (reports) for Self Monitoring report as a foundation for managing a company’s credit.

Responsibilities:

  • Conducted GAP Analysis and documented the current state and future state, after understanding the Vision from the Business Group and the Technology Group.
  • Conducted interviews with Process Owners, Administrators and Functional Heads to gather audit-related information and facilitated meetings to explain the impacts and effects of SOX compliance.
  • Played an active and lead role in gathering, analyzing and documenting the Business Requirements, the business rules and Technical Requirements from the Business Group and the Technological Group.
  • Co – Authored and prepared Graphical depictions of Narrative Use Cases, created UML Models such as Use Case Diagrams, Activity Diagrams and Flow Diagrams using MS Visio throughout the Agile methodology
  • Documented the Business Requirement Document to get a better understanding of client’s business processes of both the projects using the Agile methodology.
  • Facilitating JRP and JAD sessions, brain storming sessions with the Business Group and the Technology Group.
  • Documented the Requirement traceability matrix (RTM) and conducted UML Modelling such as creating Activity Diagrams, Flow Diagrams using MS Visio. Analysed test data to detect significant findings and recommended corrective measures
  • Co-Managed the Change Control process for the entire project as a whole by facilitating group meetings, one-on-one interview sessions and email correspondence with work stream owners to discuss the impact of Change Request on the project.
  • Worked with the Project Lead in setting realistic project expectations and in evaluating the impact of changes on the organization and plans accordingly and conducted project related presentations.
  • Co-oordinated with the off shore QA Team members to explain and develop the Test Plans, Test cases, Test and Evaluation strategy and methods for unit testing, functional testing and usability testing

Environment: Windows XP/2000, SOX, Sharepoint, SQL, MS Visio, Oracle, MS Office Suite, Mercury ITG, Mercury Quality Center, XML, XHTML, Java, J2EE.

GATEWAY COMPUTERS, Irvine, CA, Jan 06 – Mar 07

Business Analyst

At Gateway, a Leading Computer, Laptop and Accessory Manufacturer, was involved in two projects,

Order Capture Application: Objective of this Project is to Develop Various Mediums of Sales with a Centralized Catalog. This project involves wide exposure towards Requirement Analysis, Creating, Executing and Maintaining of Test plans and Test Cases. Mentored and trained staff about Tech Guide & Company Standards; Gateway reporting system: was developed with Business Objects running against Oracle data warehouse with Sales, Inventory, and HR Data Marts. This DW serves the different needs of Sales Personnel and Management. Involved in the development of it utilized Full Client reports and Web Intelligence to deliver analytics to the Contract Administration group and Pricing groups. Reporting data mart included Wholesaler Sales, Contract Sales and Rebates data.

Responsibilities:

  • Product Manager for Enterprise Level Order Entry Systems – Phone, B2B, Gateway.com and Cataloging System.
  • Modeled the Sales Order Entry process to eliminate bottleneck process steps using ERWIN.
  • Adhered and practiced RUP for implementing software development life cycle.
  • Gathered Requirements from different sources like Stakeholders, Documentation, Corporate Goals, Existing Systems, and Subject Matter Experts by conducting Workshops, Interviews, Use Cases, Prototypes, Reading Documents, Market Analysis, Observations
  • Created Functional Requirement Specification documents – which include UMLUse case diagrams, Scenarios, activity, work Flow diagrams and data mapping. Process and Data modeling with MS VISIO.
  • Worked with Technical Team to create Business Services (Web Services) that Application could leverage using SOA, to create System Architecture and CDM for common order platform.
  • Designed Payment Authorization (Credit Card, Net Terms, and Pay Pal) for the transaction/order entry systems.
  • Implemented A/B Testing, Customer Feedback Functionality to Gateway.com
  • Worked with the DW, ETL teams to create Order entry systems Business Objects reports. (Full Client, Web I)
  • Worked in a cross functional team of Business, Architects and Developers to implement new features.
  • Program Managed Enterprise Order Entry Systems – Development and Deployment Schedule.
  • Developed and maintained User Manuals, Application Documentation Manual, on Share Point tool.
  • Created Test Plansand Test Strategies to define the Objective and Approach of testing.
  • Used Quality Center to track and report system defects and bug fixes. Written modification requests for the bugs in the application and helped developers to track and resolve the problems.
  • Developed and Executed Manual, Automated Functional, GUI, Regression, UAT Test cases using QTP.
  • Gathered, documented and executed Requirements-based, Business process (workflow/user scenario), Data driven test cases for User Acceptance Testing.
  • Created Test Matrix, Used Quality Center for Test Management, track & report system defects and bug fixes.
  • Performed Load, stress Testing’s & Analyzed Performance, Response Times. Designed approach, developed visual scripts in order to test client & server side performance under various conditions to identify bottlenecks.
  • Created / developed SQL Queries (TOAD) with several parameters for Backend/DB testing
  • Conducted meetings for project status, issue identification, and parent task review, Progress Reporting.

AMC MORTGAGE SERVICES, CA, USA Oct 04 – Dec 05

Business Analyst

The primary objective of this project is to replace the existing Internal Facing Client / Server Applications with a Web enabled Application System, which can be used across all the Business Channels. This project involves wide exposure towards Requirement Analysis, Creating, Executing and Maintaining of Test plans and Test Cases. Demands understanding and testing of Data Warehouse and Data Marts, thorough knowledge of ETL and Reporting, Enhancement of the Legacy System covered all of the business requirements related to Valuations from maintaining the panel of appraisers to ordering, receiving, and reviewing the valuations.

Responsibilities:

  • Gathered Analyzed, Validated, and Managed and documented the stated Requirements. Interacted with users for verifying requirements, managing change control process, updating existing documentation.
  • Created Functional Requirement Specification documents – that include UML Use case diagrams, scenarios, activity diagrams and data mapping. Provided End User Consulting on Functionality and Business Process.
  • Acted as a client liaison to review priorities and manage the overall client queue. Provided consultation services to clients, technicians and internal departments on basic to intricate functions of the applications.
  • Identified business directions & objectives that may influence the required data and application architectures.
  • Defined, prioritized business requirements, Determine which business subject areas provide the most needed information; prioritize and sequence implementation projects accordingly.
  • Provide relevant test scenarios for the testing team. Work with test team to develop system integration test scripts and ensure the testing results correspond to the business expectations.
  • Used Test Director, QTP, Load Runner for Test management, Functional, GUI, Performance, Stress Testing
  • Perform Data Validation, Data Integration and Backend/DB testing using SQL Queries manually.
  • Created Test input requirements and prepared the test data for data driven testing.
  • Mentored, trained staff about Tech Guide & Company Standards. Set-up and Coordinate Onsite offshore teams, Conduct Knowledge Transfer sessions to the offshore team.

Lloyds Bank, UK Aug 03 – Sept 04

Business Analyst

Lloyds TSB is leader in Business, Personal and Corporate Banking. Noted financial provider for millions of customers with the financial resources to meet and manage their credit needs and to achieve their financial goals. The Project involves an applicant Information System, Loan Appraisal and Loan Sanction, Legal, Disbursements, Accounts, MIS and Report Modules of a Housing Finance System and Enhancements for their Internet Banking.

Responsibilities:

  • Translated stakeholder requirements into various documentation deliverables such as functional specifications, use cases, workflow / process diagrams, data flow / data model diagrams.
  • Produced functional specifications and led weekly meetings with developers and business units to discuss outstanding technical issues and deadlines that had to be met.
  • Coordinated project activities between clients and internal groups and information technology, including project portfolio management and project pipeline planning.
  • Provided functional expertise to developers during the technical design and construction phases of the project.
    • Documented and analyzed business workflows and processes. Present the studies to the client for approval
    • Participated in Universe development – planning, designing, Building, distribution, and maintenance phases.
    • Designed and developed Universes by defining Joins, Cardinalities between the tables.
      • Created UML use case, activity diagrams for the interaction between report analyst and the reporting systems.
      • Successfully implemented BPR and achieved improved Performance, Reduced Time and Cost.
      • Developed test plans and scripts; performed client testing for routine to complex processes to ensure proper system functioning.
      • Worked closely with UAT Testers and End Users during system validation, User Acceptance Testing to expose functionality/business logic problems that unit testing and system testing have missed out.
        • Participated in Integration, System, Regression, Performance, and UAT – Using TD, WR, Load Runner
        • Participated in defect review meetings with the team members. Worked closely with the project manager to record, track, prioritize and close bugs. Used CVS to maintain versions between various stages of SDLC.

Client: A.G. Edwards, St. Louis, MO May’ 2005 – Feb’ 2006

Profile: Sr. Business Analyst/System Analyst

Project Profile: A.G. Edwards is a full service Trading based brokerage firm in Internet-based futures, options and forex brokerage. This site allows Users (Financial Representative) to trade online. The main features of this site were: Users can open new account online to trade equitiies, bonds, derivatives and forex with the Trading system using DTCC’s applications as a Clearing House agent. The user will get real-time streaming quotes for the currency pairs they selected, their current position in the forex market, summary of work orders, payments and current money balances, P & L Accounts and available trading power, all continuously updating in real time via live quotes. The site also facilitates users to Place, Change and Cancel an Entry Order, Placing a Market Order, Place/Modify/Delete/Close a Stop Loss Limit on an Open Position.

Responsibilities:

  • Gathered Business requirements pertaining to Trading, equities and Fixed Incomes like bonds, converted the same into functional requirements by implementing the RUP methodology and authored the same in Business Requirement Document (BRD).
  • Designed and developed all Narrative Use Cases and conducted UML modeling like created Use Case Diagrams, Process Flow Diagrams and Activity Diagrams using MS Visio.
  • Implemented the entire Rational Unified Process (RUP) methodology of application development with its various workflows, artifacts and activities. Developed business process models in RUP to document existing and future business processes. Established a business Analysis methodology around the Rational Unified Process.
  • Analyzed user requirements, attended Change Request meetings to document changes and implemented procedures to test changes.
  • Assisted in developing project timelines/deliverables/strategies for effective project management.
  • Evaluated existing practices of storing and handling important financial data for compliance.
  • Involved in developing the test strategy and assisted in developed Test scenarios, test conditions and test cases
  • Partnered with the technical areas in the research, resolution of system and User Acceptance Testing (UAT).

Environment: Windows XP/2000/NT, SOX, MS Office Suite, SQL, MS SQL Server, XML, HTML, Java, J2EE, JSP, Oracle, WinRunner, Test Director