Starter Tips To Selling On eBay

There’s stiff competition on eBay. Consumers are spoilt for choices. They can easily consider you or reject you at a blink of an eye. You cannot become a star seller overnight but you can gradually build your reputation and become a formidable seller. When you are starting out, the odds would be stacked against you. But you should endeavor to outdo your competition.

Here are some starter tips to selling on eBay.

  • You should market your products both domestically and internationally to reach the largest audience. You should have a reliable cheap international parcel shipping service in plance. Ideally they shouldbe routing work through the large branded international couriers, such as DHL, FedEx and TNT for reliability. However you need to also get low rates, and one company  that does this is com who offer a global coverage so you can send parcel to Spain or to the US without worrying about the quality of their service. You can rely on the quality of service offered which is very important given the fact that the safety of the item and the end customer experience would be greatly influenced by the way your parcels are delivered.
  • You need to grab attention of your audience. Use images or videos to gain traction. Use high quality images. You don’t have to focus on very high resolutions as that would be confined to the norms of the site, especially for mobile devices. You should focus on the type of image you are using. If you are selling a product then don’t just click normal images of the product. Try to endorse the best practices of product photography. You don’t have to hire a professional photographer. You can do it yourself. Use videos if there are provisions or if they are relevant to what you are selling.
  • Use an apt headline, helpful description and the snippets of information you provide must be lucid, informative and accurate. You need to write great copies if you want to sell well. Using content to your advantage is the most significant unique selling point for any seller on eBay.
  • You must become a reputed seller. You should not have complaints or poor reviews. Any problem you have with your customers should be addressed properly and on public domains. The complaints that are already public would remain so and hence you must show to the world that you can walk an extra mile or do what is needed to attend to the grievance of the customer. A great seller doesn’t have a track record free of any blemish but a profile that people rely on. Consumers know that the seller would attend to their needs and get problems resolved if there are any.

Waste management tips for business

By encouraging reuse, recycling and resource recovery in your business, you can reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfill. Reducing your business’s waste can save you money, and benefit the environment.

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Steps to develop a better waste management plan for your business

Follow these steps to effectively manage waste in your business:

Step 1 – Measure business waste

For a quick visual waste assessment, go around to all the bins presented for collection just before the collection truck arrives and see how full they are. Don’t worry if there are different sized bins; simply note down the sizes, an estimate of how full they are, and how often waste is collected.

For example, there might be a standard domestic 240L wheelie bin that is 50% full and collected once a week, equalling 120L of waste per week. Use the bin conversion chart (PDF, 596KB) to help determine the size of bins.

Once you have collated this information, you will know how much waste material your business produces within a given time frame.

Step 2 – Reduce waste going to landfill

Identify options to:

  • Reduce – can waste be avoided or reduced by the way your business obtains goods and services or by changing the way it operates?
  • Reuse – does another local business have a use for the waste materials you produce?
  • Recycle – what materials can be targeted for recycling?

Step 3 – Identify local collectors of recyclable materials

By knowing how much material your business produces over a period of time, and the types of materials that can be diverted from landfill, you can identify the most suitable waste and recycling collection contractors.

Planet Ark’s business recycling directory lists private and local government recycling services (including collection, transport or drop-off points) across Queensland and Australia. You can search by type of material and location to easily find the recycling services you want.

Step 4 – Understand waste and recycling collection contracts

You should try to secure the most appropriate collection arrangement for the recoverable materials you produce. Your first contact should be your current waste service provider, who may be a private operator or the local council.

As part of investigating what can be recycled, you also need to consider what impact your waste or recycling contract arrangements are going to have on your ability to recycle. For example, if your recycling is picked up fortnightly, ensure that your recycling bin is large enough to hold 2 weeks worth of recycling or change your contract to have your bin picked up weekly.

Think about what your current contract offers and how this may affect your waste and recycling practices. Remember that a waste or recycling contract is a legal document and you may require independent legal advice.

Step 5 – Implement material collection systems at business premises

Different businesses generate different types of recoverable materials. The bins emptied into the collection truck, typically wheelie bins and bulk bins, may not be the same bins used for collecting the material around your business premises. How you separate materials in your business will be determined by how waste is collected.

For example, if you have separate paper or cardboard collection services, then paper and cardboard will need to be separated from other recyclable materials, preferably at the point where they are generated. This requires clear communication and signage to be available to staff, cleaners and, in some cases, clients.

If your business is in a strip of shops or a shopping centre with shared bins, communicate with other business owners to ensure waste is being sorted correctly.

The Manufacturing Warehouse 5 Material Handling Tips To Make It More Efficient

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How well materials are handled in your warehouse makes a large difference in efficient operations and profits. Poorly organized products, too little or too much inventory, wrong shipments and over-handling all cut into profitability. Below are top material-handling ideas to make your manufacturing warehouse more efficient.

1.  Start right from the beginning

When materials come in, or are completed from the shop floor, take care of the inventory and stocking process in one complete step. The more times an item is handled, the more it costs you. Barcodes, scanners or RFID technology will greatly reduce the time spent updating inventory. As a piece of material is moved from receiving or the shop floor, it can immediately be entered into a database.

The same technology can tell your personnel where the material needs to be placed in stock. Even with the use of technology, your bin or shelving systems should be clearly labeled for identification. This will speed up the stocking process and help reduce errors.

2.  Organization

How your warehouse is organized really is critical in how efficiently it operates. The way you organize it is your choice — choose the method that works best for you. You might want to stock materials by the order of the most frequent sales, or stock groups of items that tend to sell together. If you sell seasonal items, this is another organization option.

Stocking by barcode or RFID does help, but take this a step further and keep your materials in an order that works. This will save you a great deal of time and money during order filling and inventory procedures.

3.  Pick lists

If you only process one or two orders a day, picking by order is efficient. That is not the way most manufacturing warehouses operate. You need a method to increase the efficiency and the accuracy of the pick process. Find a good logistics program or a third party to assist you in setting up a software program that works for your unique needs.

You will obtain greater efficiency if materials are picked in bulk with grouped orders. The items can then be brought to your shipping department and sorted by individual order. Shippers must verify the materials against a pick list anyway; you are not losing time trying this approach.

In addition, if incorrect materials are pulled, have the items returned immediately. Allowing the wrong materials to pile up could create a shortage on the next orders. The items would appear in stock, but not be on the shelves for picking. You would have a customer with a delayed order, you would order more inventory and you’d end up with an overstock.

4.  Routing and shipping

When your orders are loaded for shipping, the first items in will be the last items delivered. Make use of GPS technology to set up efficient delivery routes.

Even if you use a third party for shipping, you still need to make use of tracking technology. Whether your manufacturing warehouse is B2B or B2C, your customer wants to know where the order is. Using a tracking system allows you to provide an immediate answer.

5.  Use the right equipment

It is not all about technology and databases. You still need the right equipment for loading, unloading and movement in your warehouse. If your products are normally stored on pallets, have the correct forklifts or hand trucks to move the pallets. Keep your equipment well maintained to prevent breakdowns.

Train your operators in safe equipment use. Make sure your warehouse floor space is large enough for material handlers to navigate. Accidents and equipment failures will disrupt your efficiency. Downtime or loss of skilled employees does not benefit your business.

Public Relations Tips and Tricks for Your Business

Creating an efficient PR and marketing plan is a cornerstone to building up your organization’s success. Marketing and PR, unfortunately, sometimes can be costly, particularly if you’re running a lean operation and just starting out.

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Creating an efficient PR and marketing plan is a cornerstone to building up your organization’s success. Marketing and PR, unfortunately, sometimes can be costly, particularly if you’re running a lean operation and just starting out. Thankfully, there will include a few affordable PR and marketing tips and tricks which may offer your small business a cost-effective way to successfully increase sales and grow your consumer base.

You may have an excellent service or product, yet if nobody has knowledge of it, generating sales might be difficult. Effective public relations and marketing include proactive methods for you to spread the message to your market and attract potential customers and clients.

Marketing is about discovering methods of reaching your targeted audience–these potential customers and clients who possess an interest in and possible necessity for what you are selling. Public relations includes obtaining positive press and publicity in regard to your business concerning its most recent services, brands, and innovations.

Follow up with customers through email

Email includes a reasonable method of keeping shoppers apprised of new products and developments. Because of the high quantity of spam out there, you must make the email communications informative and interesting. Beginning a month-to-month email newsletter which targets the different segments of your base of customers may assist your small business in marketing new products or attracting new business. (Plus, make certain that the email communications are CAN SPAM Act compliant).

Harness power of social media

Being the manager of your own social media includes a highly valuable method of promoting your company. Social media provides your shoppers a platform for engaging with your business by giving feedback and asking questions concerning your organization’s products. Social media websites like Twitter and Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, and YouTube all are economical methods of networking and advertising your company.

Maintaining and building your own site increases your customer base and visibility. By utilizing SEO techniques, your company may appear at the top of the ranks as possible investors and clients look for services and products which your company offers. Additionally, linking to other sites provides your enterprise even more exposure. There will include several available Internet tools which permit you to construct your own site, yet if the chore is too much, barter with an Internet designer to keep expenses down.

Build brand through blogging

Blogging may get the message out to prospective investors and customers. Establish a regular blog upon your site to promote the business, and become a featured guest blogger for additional like-minded sites. According to director of B2B Marketing at StraightNorth, Brad Shorr, guest blogging has been an excellent source of free-of-charge publicity for him personally and his agency. As you appear upon respected and relevant blogs, your articles receive lots of positive comments and social media shares.

Be a part of the conversation online

An additional low-cost Internet marketing instrument is Hootsuite. According to Nellie Akalp, to expand her base of customers, she had discovered that the most cost-effective path includes signing up for Hootsuite and using their search tool. She has set up search phrases and terms which are relevant to her industry and as she sees somebody tweeting with an issue or question, she jumps in with good advice.

Additionally, bear in mind that economical, non-traditional techniques might show to be just as efficient as expensive traditional techniques for reaching your targeted audience. According to Brand.com’s Zammuto, it’s recommended to cut out the traditional approach to public relations altogether: Stop relying upon press releases and begin to release genuine news content regarding your brand as you want to, as well as how you want to. Any additional public relations strategy is merely tossing cash at the wall of demographics and hoping that something will stick.

Maintain relationships with journalists

The relationship does not cease after you have had your company’s news covered. How a brand engages with media outlets or journalists after a story has been reported may hurt or help future outreach as much as the first pitch does. A brief email that thanks the journalist is polite, as is sharing the post (and additional posts) with your social media networks.

6 Business Development Tips for Professional Services

When it comes to business development for professional services, one of the biggest challenges professionals face is finding time to do it all. After all, you don’t sell full-time. Your work, whether it’s consulting, accounting, or engineering, is what you do full-time. And that makes it very difficult to find time to create and develop the relationships necessary to bring in new business.

There simply are not enough hours in the day to do it all.

As a result, business development activities are unplanned and inconsistent, which leads to limited touches and prospects slipping through the cracks due to lack of follow-up.

While I cannot create more hours in the day, I can give you some business development tips that will help you become more effective with the balancing act of selling and doing.

6 Business Development Tips
  1. Do a Little Bit Every Day

The excuses for not selling are plentiful: I was busy delivering, I had to run a report, a meeting went long, and the list goes on. There is always something else. To be successful, you must make business development a priority, and you can start by setting aside a little bit of time every day to focus on your sales efforts.

Mornings tend to work best, before you get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the day. Block this time off in your calendar, close your door, and don’t allow any interruptions. This is your sacred selling time.

  1. Focus On Efforts That Offer the Best Chance of Success

Know where to spend the sacred selling time you have. Often, it takes just as much time and effort to sell a $5,000 deal as it does to sell a $50,000 deal. Focus on deals that have the greatest potential for long-term success.

In 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, Steven Covey writes, “Put first things first.” He suggests focusing on work that is less urgent but more important to your long-term goals.

Apply that thinking to your business development efforts. Know where the highest potential is, and focus on those prospects first.

  1. Make Action a Priority

How many times have you thought, “I should really give Jim Smith at ABC Manufacturing a call to follow up on our conversation from last week, but I don’t have time right now. I’ll do it later.”

But later never comes.

When you think about doing something, do it (or at least set a reminder to do it during your sacred selling time). Half of selling success is just showing up and doing it, yet so many professionals get caught up in their other work and don’t do essential sales work.

  1. Leverage Your Resources—Both People and Technology

Make your life easier by delegating when possible. Do you need to write the proposal and follow-up materials or can a junior staffer or virtual assistant sit in on the sales meeting and write the first draft? Do you need to write follow-up emails after you speak at an event or can you hand this off to a marketing person?

When you leverage your resources well, you can get more done for your clients and prospects and create more time to focus on business development and relationship building. And resources do not just include people; technology has come a long way to help you become more efficient.

Automate some of your lead nurturing by sending email or direct mail that provides valuable insights to prospects. Connect with prospects and clients on LinkedIn and Twitter. Publish a blog and post regularly. These technologies can help you build and strengthen your relationships. They also help you stay top of mind with clients and prospects, so when the need does arise, you are the first one they think of.

  1. Keep Efforts Organized

Business development can be a daunting task when you do not keep all of your contacts, leads, and activities in a central place. To make your sacred selling time most effective, use a CRM tool to keep track of your sales conversations. I use and recommend Salesforce.com, though there are many other tools out there that you can use.

Take good notes, and at the end of each conversation, set a solid next step for yourself and record this in your CRM. This will help you stay organized as well as prioritize your follow-up and sales efforts.

  1. Build Your Business Development Skills

If you’re a consultant, account, engineer, or other professional service provider, you likely came up through the ranks building knowledge around your particular technical skill or area of focus. You’ve had very little business development training and the thought of having to sell may make you uneasy. After all, who wants to be seen as smarmy salesman?

But I have a secret to share with you. The skills that make you a great service provider to your clients are also the skills that can make you great in sales. You just have to know how to apply those skills.

That’s why we created the two online training programs:

    • Selling Consulting Services: for those in consulting, accounting, and technology services.
    • Selling AEC Services: for those in architecture, design, construction, and engineering.

In these programs we teach you a proven process for business development success that you can apply to your sales efforts starting tomorrow.

10 Business Development Techniques to Grow Sales Fast

Time to crank up sales. Thankfully, the economy is starting to heat up, and as such, it may be an ideal time to learn how to crank up your sales.

For a little guidance, I give you 10 lessons from John Whitehead, the fabulously successful former chairman of Goldman Sachs. Besides climbing to the top of the corporate ladder and making billons for his firm, Whitehead stormed the beach at Normandy on D-Day. We should memorize his pearls of wisdom:

  1. Don’t waste your time going after business you don’t really want.

We hired a mechanical engineer from West Point this month to help us grow sales. His focus is to help manufacturing engineers in industrial S&P 500 companies understand why Marlin Steel, my company, is better than our competitors. Why? Our clients are not marketing companies, nor are they point of purchase display companies. These folks don’t appreciate quality and engineering. Instead, they are looking for the lowest price. Make sure you point your sales and marketing team in the right direction for profitable business.

  1. The boss usually decides–not the assistant treasurer (or the intern).

Selling to the right person, the decision maker, is critical. Many times engineering interns will reach out to Marlin Steel for a quote. This is a colossal waste of time for our team, who can see this as a sign of interest and a potential sale. The last thing you want to do is devote sales resources to uninterested buyers. It is imperative, early in the sales cycle, that you discover who calls the shots and don’t waste your time with those who aren’t likely to buy your products.

  1. It’s just as easy to get a first-rate piece of business as a second-rate one. (So focus your resources.)

When we do our quarterly analysis of our best clients, we consistently get results that stress how important our white-glove clients are. Our top 80 percent of sales are generated from less than 20 percent of our clients. We have anointed these clients our white-glove clients because they deserve the finest treatment. The bottom 80 percent of our clients generate a paltry mid-teens share of our revenue and even less of our profit. The tiny client aggravation spent to close and nurture these sales is time spent away from your best prospects and most of your profit. Focus on the clients that really matter–the ones that can make your year and stop spinning your wheels with the little guys.

  1. You never learn anything when you’re talking.

Ask questions of your clients. Listen carefully. If you are talking more than 50 percent of the time, you are talking 10 times too much. Your job is to probe and understand what the prospect’s problems are so you can save the day. You will be the preferred vendor in a competitive economy if you are a good listener.

  1. The client’s objective is more important than yours.

Don’t sell what you offer. Sell what the clients needs. By listening carefully to their requirements, you will refine your pitch and your product offering to make sure you are addressing their needs. One of our former salesmen would push stock material handling baskets because it was easy. No creativity needed. He did not make it. Our best salespeople engage the client and understand their challenges and provide solutions that are tailored to each one’s requirements.

  1. The respect of one person is worth more than an acquaintance with 100 people.

Some salespeople know many people superficially. Their back-slapping antics might make them the life of the party but do they really understand that particular key client? The key client could be a life-changing client. Go the extra mile with your white-glove clients and they will embrace you and shower you with opportunities. You can only have respect if you know them and their business model deeply.

  1. When there’s business to be found, go out and get it!

The economy is picking up. Your competition is still hunkered down from the recession. Engage now while your rivals are dozing. Proactively meet prospects early in the economic boom that is charging our way.

  1. Important people like to deal with other important people. Are you one?

Get active in your business community. Do not be a wallflower. Join associations that dovetail with your best prospects’ interests. Volunteer for industry committees and network with this select group of high-value targets. Rise to the top of these organizations to generate deserved prestige in your industry. The orders are bound to flow. People like to buy from winners.

  1. There’s nothing worse than an unhappy client.

First things first–alleviate the client’s pain. Drop everything and fix problems. When a problem happens at Marlin Steel (we are human), the quality error is fixed first before any other standard production. Our clients will not be thrilled with us but they will remember we transparently communicated with them and we resolved the problem quickly.

  1. If you get the business, it’s up to you to see that it’s well-handled.

Once you nail the big clients, give them amazing service. Meet your deadlines. Usher them through the process so they are enchanted with your performance and they will send you repeat business and new opportunities.

8 Financial Management Tips for Small Business Owners

Running a small business is never easy. It seems that there are an endless stream of problems to deal with and administrative tasks to be taken care of. However, there is a way through the fog that can descend over business owners who feel like they do not know which way is up.

What can be especially difficult is keeping a tight rein on the financial side of things. Often business owners lack the experience with accounts, having never worked in an accounting firm before and so make many rudimentary mistakes along the way.

Here we outline some financial management tips to help small business owners navigate the tricky financial waters so their businesses can thrive:

#1. Create a Realistic Budget

Financial budgets within a business are often treated like a chore and an unnecessary piece of paperwork to handle. This is not the case at all. Just like with a business plan that is only good on paper until the business gets off the ground, a budget at least lays out what the financial plan is moving forward.

It acts as a guiding hand rather than locking the owner into certain decisions ahead of time. A budget can also indicate more clearly whether projected income levels will be sufficient to handle the ambitious capital expenditure plans to expand the business in the coming year. This can then highlight whether marketing needs to be pushed harder or expansion plans need to be scaled back if it is not believed that sales will support the desired level of spending.

#2. Don’t Treat the Business Like Your Personal Piggy Bank

Whilst it can be tempting to buy a fancy company car or an upgrade to the latest computer hardware, one of the biggest mistakes a young business can make is spending too much in the early years. Overspending beyond the expected numbers from the budget (see above) can create a shortfall which business cash-flow may be insufficient to handle. Lines of credit may also not be available from the not-so-friendly local bank and all of a sudden the business is in a financial crisis of its own doing.

Put yourself on a salary and learn to live on that amount. If the business makes a reasonable amount of profit, consider paying out an end of year dividend to the shareholders to distribute a portion of the profits while reinvesting the rest towards the future growth of the business.

#3. A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place

Do you know where all your invoices, credit notes, bank statements and other financial documents are located? Are any missing? Lost or incomplete records can create a major problem for an organization. Computerized records ensure that should the business premises suffer a fire overnight, the accounting records won’t be lost if there are computer backups off-site or accounting is conducted online in the cloud. QuickBooks is an excellent solution for the desktop and cloud-based accounting needs of small businesses.

#4. Managing Debts Effectively

When businesses are run partly using financing to expand, this debt needs to be managed well. Business debt management is something that needs to be properly understood including knowledge of the different finance options available for small businesses and how much the financial solutions will cost.

#5. Maintain Separate Business and Personal Accounts

It can be tempting, especially for new business owners, to not bother to keep records separate between business finances and their personal affairs. Whilst this might seem like a simplistic and simple way to handle things, ultimately it can create a confusing mess for any accountant who has to deal with the problem later. If paying for an outside bookkeeper to run through the numerous personal transactions, it can also be quite costly to process the account statements to isolate what is related only to the business. Keep accounts separate from the start and avoid the problem altogether.

#6. Run a Lean Operation, Not a Flashy One

Fixed costs are things that cannot be avoided once the money has been spent. For example, some businesses decide to buy the building that they operate from even though it will sap their available cash to do so and may require a business loan to complete the transaction. Only later do they hit hard times and really need to pull the money back out that has been sunk into the commercial real estate.

Keep costs lean by avoiding as many capital expenditures as possible. Do you need the fastest computers or to upgrade them every two years? Do employees need to travel to branch meetings or can they meet virtually over a group Skype connection instead? Don’t wait for times to be tough to start cutting back. That is when it is too late. Always be lean with the expenses so that there is flexibility to tighten the belt further when the economy is not doing so well.

#7. Don’t Expand the Staffing Too Fast

Employees are great to have, but they ramp up the costs to the business really fast. There is the salary, the taxes, desk and other furniture, computer, etc. The indirect costs of each employee can actually exceed the salary.

Consider outsourcing, either in-county or internationally, in order to avoid many of these associated costs. Pay per task or per hour. Freelancers effectively pay for their own office space, equipment and internet connection, plus they will often cost less than the real cost of the equivalent employee. It is also possible to hire different freelancers for small jobs consisting of a few hours only rather than trying to find one person who can do everything which is an impossible thing to find.

#8. Keep a Tight Rein on Accounts Receivable

Ensure that as the business expands, the accounts receivable doesn’t expand too much with it. At the very least, be careful to ensure that the average number of days that invoices are outstanding doesn’t grow over time along with expansion. Keep a keen eye on the money that is due to come in and make sure that it does. You don’t want any bad debts because companies slow-walked the payment right before they went into receivership.

Managing the finances of a business takes discipline, systems and controls, and the desire to manage them well. Keep business separate from personal accounts, and don’t be afraid to use plans. You don’t have to stick to them but they will help you.

Agriculture Classes and Courses Overview

Agriculture classes prepare students for a variety of careers, including ranching, farming, agriculture science or horticulture management. Agriculture courses are found in associate’s, bachelor’s and graduate degree programs, and students learn everything from horticulture basics to how to run a farming business. Read on to get details on what students typically learn in common agriculture classes.

Essential Information

Though many agricultural workers who work directly on a farm or ranch learn their skills through on-the-job training, undergraduate agriculture programs can prepare students for more advanced positions, such as agricultural and food science technician. These programs can include internships that provide hands-on training and often have a high concentration of courses that focus on the biological sciences. Careers in management or as agricultural scientists require more specialized training that is usually found in graduate-level programs. These programs often include lab work and focus on original research.

Here is an outline of common concepts taught in agriculture courses:

  • Agribusiness
  • Agricultural Science
  • Sustainable Agriculture
  • Agriculture Education
  • Agricultural Resource Management

List of Courses

Natural Resources

A natural resources course covers topics pertaining to forestry, soils and wildlife. Students learn about power sources, such as electric motors and combustion engines, as well as government regulations and programs that relate to natural resource conservation. The effects that current power sources have on the agriculture industry and what it means for the future of natural resources and power are also addressed.

Basic Horticulture

Horticulture is a science that studies plants, gardening and natural growth. This course helps students develop skills in controlling plant growth and development. Specific topics of study may include plant production, pruning, regulations of plant growth and storage processes. Horticulture courses may also cover marketing concepts in horticulture.

Animal Science

Depending on the focus of the agriculture program, animal science classes may focus on all animals or be specific to horses, cows, and other farm animals. Students learn about animal development from a biological standpoint. Specific topics in animal products, animal feeding and animal breeding are also covered. During an animal science course, students learn the history of the animal industry, animal disease and current trends in animal rearing as well.

Soils and Pesticides

Agriculture students learn about soils and pesticides to understand the chemical make-up and effect that these elements have on crop growth. A soils and pesticides course covers conservation of water and soil, fertilizer use and soil formation. It is a course that is delivered in lecture and lab format so that students may apply their skills to live scenarios. This course that may also cover soil types specific to the state in which the agriculture program is taught.

Food Systems

Whether providing crop or animal food, farmers and others in the agriculture business need a strong understanding of the U.S. food system and processes. Students in this course study the U.S. food system as it relates to the current economy, health factors and regulatory laws. Specific topics of study may include political systems, health, environment, food retailing and international food regulations

Agriculture Degrees by Degree Program Level

Students interested in entering the agricultural industry might consider applying to an agriculture degree program, where they are taught foundational agricultural business operations as well as how to operate machinery used in the farming industry.

 

Essential Information

Prospective students of agriculture might consider programs at the associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels, according to their previous education. Agriculture-related bachelor’s degree programs, which take four years to complete, are excellent introductions to the field. By earning a master’s degree in agriculture, crop and soil scientists can prepare to conduct relevant research or teach agricultural topics.

Through advanced international agribusiness and market forecasting coursework and a dissertation, Doctor of Philosophy in Agricultural Economics programs prepare students for careers as university professors and top-level business executives.

  • Program Levels: Associate’s degrees, bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees, Ph.D. degrees
  • Prerequisites: Associate’s degree programs require a high school diploma or equivalent certificate; bachelor’s degree programs require a high school diploma and a strong background in math; master’s degree programs often require excellent grades, high GRE test scores and a bachelor’s degree; doctoral degree programs require students to have completed advanced math and science coursework as well as to present their GRE test scores to be considered for admission.
  • Program Specializations: Doctoral degree students are offered many possible topics to focus on, including agricultural market theory, international agribusiness and agribusiness market forecasting
  • Online Availability: Bachelor’s degree and master’s degree programs may offer online course work
  • Program Length: Associate’s degree programs take two years to complete; bachelor’s degree programs take four years
  • Other Requirements: Associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree and master’s degree programs often offer internships as part of their course work; doctoral degrees require a dissertation, while master’s degree programs may requires a thesis

Associate’s Degree in Agriculture Production Technology

Most agriculture programs at the associate’s level focus on the skills needed to operate farming equipment and the business aspects of the agriculture industry. Prospective students need to earn a high school diploma or successfully complete the GED exam in order to qualify for an associate’s program. Associate’s degree programs take two years to complete. Students enrolled in these programs often gain hands-on experience through required internships. Core classes may include:

  • Marketing in agriculture
  • Soil management
  • Crop science
  • Livestock management
  • Agricultural chemicals

Bachelor’s Degree in Agriculture

Before enrolling, students should have taken plenty of high school math and science classes. The bachelor’s program emphasizes management coursework in order to prepare students to oversee livestock and agricultural businesses. Internships and online coursework might be featured in the bachelor’s program.

Bachelor’s degree programs in agriculture are typically divided between programs that focus on managing agricultural businesses and those that emphasize soil, plant or animal management. Possible degrees could include a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture, Agricultural Systems Management, Agribusiness or Soil and Crop Management. Some programs are available in a distance learning format. A high school diploma or its equivalent is required in order to apply to an agriculture bachelor’s program. Additional prerequisites may include high school-level coursework in lab sciences or advanced mathematics.

While the specific curriculum may vary depending on the type of agriculture bachelor’s program, many programs explore business-related topics. The topics mentioned below are usually covered:

  • Microeconomics in agriculture
  • Agribusiness management
  • Livestock biometrics
  • Food and agricultural marketing
  • Agricultural research and statistics

Master’s Degree in Agriculture

Agriculture programs at the master’s degree level are designed for agribusiness professionals seeking career advancement. Many crop and soil scientists who wish to teach and pursue research opportunities enroll in master’s degree programs in agriculture. Programs also appeal to people who want to use their skills in developing nations to address the problems of hunger and sustainable development. Students can pursue a Master of Agriculture (M.Ag.) or a Master of Science (M.S.) in Agriculture. The M.Ag. is often considered a terminal degree, while the M.S. program may prepare students for enrollment in a doctoral program. Some schools offer these programs online.

Most master’s degree programs in agriculture only admit a few students each year. Schools look for students who earned top grades in their undergraduate classes and scored well on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) test. Students in an M.Ag. program may be asked to complete an internship or final project. M.S. program students are usually required to write a thesis paper; some schools offer a non-thesis option. Common topics in both types of programs include:

  • Agricultural leadership
  • Research methods in agriculture
  • Agricultural technology
  • Statistics in agriculture
  • Agriculture education techniques

Doctorate Degree in Agricultural Economics

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Agricultural Economics programs may prepare students for high-level positions with agriculture businesses or international agriculture initiatives. Earning a Ph.D. in this field also prepares graduates for work as agriculture professors. In addition to knowledge about agricultural technology and theory, prospective students need to understand advanced mathematics and economics. Completion of undergraduate classes in economic statistical methods, microeconomic theory, mathematical economics and macroeconomic theory may be required prior to admission. Most programs expect applicants to meet undergraduate grade point average and GRE standards.

Doctoral candidates in this field are often able to choose a degree specialization. The majority of the coursework teaches students to apply complex economic theory to the agriculture and food production industries. Some common specialization options are listed below:

  • Agricultural demand and production
  • Agricultural market theory
  • International agribusiness
  • Agribusiness market forecasting
  • Strategic management in agribusiness

Popular Career Options

Associate’s degree programs in agriculture prepare graduates for entry-level careers in agricultural equipment repair, agricultural product marketing or range management. Potential job titles include:

  • Agricultural technician
  • Agricultural field work personnel
  • Greenhouse technician
  • Farm manager
  • Agriculture sales associate

Earning a bachelor’s degree in agriculture provides graduates with a solid foundation in a number of fields within the discipline. Popular options include those mentioned below:

  • Agricultural business and technology management
  • Plant and soil systems technology
  • Pest control
  • Livestock management

Earning a master’s degree in agriculture could lead to work in government agencies, private businesses or college departments of extension education. Many people who earn a master’s degree in agriculture often earn the following job titles:

  • Agricultural educator
  • Agricultural policy maker
  • Soil composition analyst

Individuals who earn a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics are usually qualified for advanced management or academic positions. Some common career options are listed below:

  • Agriculture professor
  • Agribusiness chief executive officer
  • Agribusiness investor

Agricultural and Applied Economics

Are you interested in the problems of global poverty and hunger? Are you concerned about wetlands, industrial pollution, global climate change, and the survival of endangered species? Are you curious about the effects of globalization on the American economy? Have you traveled overseas and been fascinated by how other countries organize their food system? Do you wonder whether bio-fuels are the answer to rising gas prices? Are you intrigued with the issues of genetically modified foods versus organic foods? Would you like to pursue a degree in law, perhaps specializing in environmental, business, or international law? Are you interested in getting an MBA?

A program of study in applied economics will open many doors to an exciting and rewarding future—your future. It will introduce you to some of the following topics

  • The economics of the domestic and international food system
  • Global markets and international trade
  • The economics of sustainability and development
  • Analytical tools for business forecasting
  • Environmental economics and public policy
  • Economic growth and development in low-income countries
  • Production economics, technology, and the economics of the life sciences
  • Managerial economics and markets

Agricultural and Applied Economics

There are four concentrations within the major, all leading to the Bachelor of Science degree.

  • Applied Economics
  • Development Economics
  • Environmental Economics
  • Managerial Economics

Agricultural Business Management

If you are particularly interested in business you will find our program in Agricultural Business Management (ABM) ideally suited to your career goals.

You will learn managerial economics, how businesses make decisions and minimize risk, and how to use applied mathematics and statistics to analyze prices and markets. This is a major designed by you and your advisor to fit your specific interests.

ABM students receive permission to take specified business courses that are normally reserved for students in the School of Business.

Regardless of whether you choose one of the applied economics options or the ABM option, our program offers many opportunities.

Tailor coursework to your interests

Start with the basics. During your freshmen and sophomore years you will take courses that form the foundation for your major. These include basic economics courses, an elementary statistics course, and a semester of calculus.

With those basics out of the way, you can then focus on your specific interests. Your advisor will help you choose from among our more advanced courses to find those suited to your interests. You can also take courses in other departments that complement your increased knowledge of economics and its applications to important issues.

Learn how to analyze real-world issues

Our courses are taught by professors who are international experts in their specialty and they will bring real-world experiences and insights into the classroom. Learn economics with professors who are involved in pressing economic matters around the world.

Get prepared for law school, an MBA, or graduate school in economics or applied economics

Your study of economics, applied statistical analysis, and the related courses for your major will provide excellent preparation for pursuing further education in the professional schools (law, business) or graduate school, where you can pursue a Master’s or Ph.D. degree.

Build your network and your resume

Learning is not confined to the classroom. Our undergraduates get real-world job experience—and make great professional contacts—through student organizations. There are opportunities for part-time jobs and internships in fields that interest you. Specific opportunities include:

  • Agricultural Business and Economics Club is a great place to start networking—making friends you will value for a lifetime. You will learn of internships and meet potential employers. You will organize field trips to the Chicago Board of Trade and the Federal Reserve or take a spring break trip to St. Louis to interview agricultural business executives. Monthly meetings feature speakers from a variety of firms and agencies.
  • National AgriMarketing Association. UW-NAMA is the college’s student chapter of the National AgriMarketing Association. This group competes very successfully with other chapters from around the country in a national marketing competition. It’s a great chance to learn the ins and outs of launching a product and to showcase your talents in front of hundreds of potential employers.
  • Internships enable you to experience the workplace of your desired career, get on-the-job experience, make valuable contacts, and earn a little extra money. Our students get internships in a broad range of fields: marketing, commodity trading, agricultural production, natural resources, food processing and government agency service, to name a few.

We educate future leaders and decision makers

Applied economics is geared to teaching people how to make decisions, how to calculate the benefits and costs of alternative courses of action, and how to collect and analyze data for decision-making in the public or private sector. Our world-class faculty, and the marvelous learning environment in our classrooms, will make you want to learn and to excel in your chosen career. Our graduates are leaders in their fields—whether in private industry, academia, government, or consulting firms. In our department’s hundred-year history, our graduates have made their careers all over the world.

Financial assistance

The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences offers many scholarships that are granted based on academic performance, need or extracurricular activities. For more information on scholarships, loans and work-study programs contact the UW-Madison Office of Financial Services.

Agricultural Business Management

Are you interested in the problems of global poverty and hunger? Is your goal a career in international business? Are you curious about the effects of globalization on the American economy? Are you concerned about wetlands, industrial pollution, global climate change, and the survival of endangered species? Have you traveled overseas and been fascinated by how other countries organize their food system? Do you wonder whether bio-fuels are the answer to rising gas prices? Are you intrigued with the issues of genetically modified foods versus organic foods? Would you like to pursue a degree in law, perhaps specializing in environmental, business, or international law? Are you interested in getting an MBA?

A program of study in applied economics will open many doors to an exciting and rewarding future—your future. It will introduce you to some of the following topics

  • The economics of the domestic and international food system
  • Global markets and international trade
  • The economics of sustainability and development
  • Analytical tools for business forecasting
  • Environmental economics and public policy
  • Economic growth and development in low-income countries
  • Production economics, technology, and the economics of the life sciences
  • Managerial economics and markets

Agricultural and Applied Economics

There are four concentrations within the major, all leading to the Bachelor of Science degree.

  • Applied Economics
  • Development Economics
  • Environmental Economics
  • Managerial Economics

Agricultural Business Management

If you are particularly interested in business you will find our program in Agricultural Business Management (ABM) ideally suited to your career goals.

You will learn managerial economics, how businesses make decisions and minimize risk, and how to use applied mathematics and statistics to analyze prices and markets. This is a major designed by you and your advisor to fit your specific interests.

ABM students receive permission to take specified business courses that are normally reserved for students in the School of Business.

Regardless of whether you choose one of the applied economics options or the ABM option, our program offers many opportunities.

Tailor coursework to your interests

Start with the basics. During your freshmen and sophomore years you will take courses that form the foundation for your major. These include basic economics courses, an elementary statistics course, and a semester of calculus.

With those basics out of the way, you can then focus on your specific interests. Your advisor will help you choose from among our more advanced courses to find those suited to your interests. You can also take courses in other departments that complement your increased knowledge of economics and its applications to important issues.

Learn how to analyze real-world issues

Our courses are taught by professors who are international experts in their specialty and they will bring real-world experiences and insights into the classroom. Learn economics with professors who are involved in pressing economic matters around the world.

Get prepared for law school, an MBA, or graduate school in economics or applied economics

Your study of economics, applied statistical analysis, and the related courses for your major will provide excellent preparation for pursuing further education in the professional schools (law, business) or graduate school, where you can pursue a Master’s or Ph.D. degree.

Build your network and your resume

Learning is not confined to the classroom. Our undergraduates get real-world job experience—and make great professional contacts—through student organizations. There are opportunities for part-time jobs and internships in fields that interest you. Specific opportunities include:

  • Agricultural Business and Economics Club is a great place to start networking—making friends you will value for a lifetime. You will learn of internships and meet potential employers. You will organize field trips to the Chicago Board of Trade and the Federal Reserve or take a spring break trip to St. Louis to interview agricultural business executives. Monthly meetings feature speakers from a variety of firms and agencies.
  • National AgriMarketing Association. UW-NAMA is the college’s student chapter of the National AgriMarketing Association. This group competes very successfully with other chapters from around the country in a national marketing competition. It’s a great chance to learn the ins and outs of launching a product and to showcase your talents in front of hundreds of potential employers.
  • Internships enable you to experience the workplace of your desired career, get on-the-job experience, make valuable contacts, and earn a little extra money. Our students get internships in a broad range of fields: marketing, commodity trading, agricultural production, natural resources, food processing and government agency service, to name a few.

We educate future leaders and decision makers

Applied economics is geared to teaching people how to make decisions, how to calculate the benefits and costs of alternative courses of action, and how to collect and analyze data for decision-making in the public or private sector. Our world-class faculty, and the marvelous learning environment in our classrooms, will make you want to learn and to excel in your chosen career. Our graduates are leaders in their fields—whether in private industry, academia, government, or consulting firms. In our department’s hundred-year history, our graduates have made their careers all over the world.

Financial assistance

The College of Agricultural and Life Sciences offers many scholarships that are granted based on academic performance, need or extracurricular activities. For more information on scholarships, loans and work-study programs contact the UW-Madison Office of Financial Services.

Agricultural Business Manager Job Description and Career Info

Learn about a career as an agricultural business manager. Read the job description, duties, education requirements, salary and employment outlook to decide if this is the right career for you.

Job Description

Agricultural business managers oversee the business operations of a farm by providing leadership and organization during the production process. From contacting creditors to selecting seeds for the planting season and buying new farming equipment, it is their responsibility to ensure that the production and distribution of produce, grain or livestock abides by government and environmental regulations at the best rate of profit. They may have a number of duties, including selecting and supervising workers, planning a budget, organizing routine maintenance, keeping records and communicating with potential product buyers. Agricultural business managers usually specialize in crops, horticulture or livestock, and these workers may oversee more than one facility.

Most agricultural business managers are employed full time and work long hours during the planting and harvesting seasons. They may conduct administrative tasks in an office and spend the rest of their time directing activities on the farm. Managers who work for large operations may travel to handle business with farmers or farm supervisors.

Educational Requirements

Many agricultural business managers begin their training with hands-on experience either by growing up on a farm or by working as a farmhand. Today, the demand for agricultural business managers with knowledge of business administration, accounting, finance and farming technology has risen with the need to apply modern business concepts to farming operations. For this reason, many aspiring agricultural business managers obtain a bachelor’s degree in an area such as agriculture, farm management or agricultural economics. Relevant courses may include environmental law, biotechnology, agricultural markets, U.S. agricultural policies, computer science and business management. Those who work at livestock or dairy facilities may choose to pursue programs in veterinary or dairy science. Students who have not had practical training may be able to participate in government-sponsored internships or apprenticeships under experienced farmers.

Certification Requirements

Agricultural business managers can earn an optional certification, which may increase their job prospects. The American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA) offers the Accredited Farm Manager designation, which requires completion of a sample farm management plan, ASFMRA-sponsored management courses and a certification exam. Candidates must have a bachelor’s degree and four years of farm or ranch management experience to be eligible.

Required Skills

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that agricultural business managers needed the following traits:

  • Excellent business skills, including knowledge of accounting and bookkeeping, in order to manage financial records and client transactions
  • Superb communication
  • Employee management and decision-making skills

Employment and Salary Outlook

According to the BLS, the overall employment of farmers, ranchers and agricultural managers was predicted to decrease 8% from 2010-2020; however, the consolidation of privately-owned farms into larger operations should result in an increased demand for the expertise of agricultural business managers. The median annual salary for people in this field was $69,300 in 2012, as reported by the BLS.

Agricultural Business

The Agricultural Business major teaches students the operating techniques and business skills used in the modern food and fiber industry. This program builds student knowledge and skills needed to manage small and medium sized business in agriculture and allied industries. This is true whether the business is directly involved in production, value-adds to raw agricultural products, or provides support services including the distribution, processing, packaging, and marketing of agricultural products.

Two things tend to distinguish the major in Agricultural Business from a typical business degree: first, our focus tends to be on small and medium sized businesses where the decision maker must be more attuned to all dimensions of their operating environment, whereas more traditional business degrees often focus on a larger business organization where functions are more specialized. Second, the major emphasizes the importance of understanding the underlying technical processes that drive business decisions through formal course requirements in the agricultural sciences. The interface between technical training in agricultural sciences, economics, and management sets this degree apart.

Completing this program enhances students’ professional development, technical competence, problem solving skills and communication skills. The program operates in the nexus of business management, public policy, and agriculture. Strong interdisciplinary coordination in the department allows majors in agricultural business to strengthen their technical training by simultaneously completing a second major in allied fields including animal science, equine science, soil and crop science, agricultural education, technical journalism, and other fields of interest.

Agricultural Economics Concentration

The Agricultural Economics concentration focuses on the theoretical and analytic tools of applied economics. This degree is more quantitative in nature and best prepares students interested in graduate study.

Farm and Ranch Management Concentration

The Farm and Ranch Management concentration builds skills in applied decision making that is required in production agriculture. The program of study allows students to develop a solid understanding of the underlying physical and biological sciences that drive agricultural technology.

Learning Outcomes

Successful students will demonstrate:

  • Technical competency including appropriate use of economic theory in formulating analytical problems, identifying and gathering appropriate data, and employing appropriate economic methods to analyze those problems, utilizing appropriate available computer technology
  • Ability to solve real-world problems beyond the pedagogical context. Students will be able to identify a problem and its scope, evaluate resources to address the problem, formulate alternative solutions, and select the solution(s) most consistent with a stated objective
  • Proficiency in oral and written communication including the ability to communicate critically and analytically at a professional level

Potential Occupations

Although students from farms and ranches choose this major each year, business-oriented students with a wide variety of backgrounds have launched successful careers with this versatile degree. Graduates establish careers in management, marketing, sales, and finance to name a few areas. Participating in internships and experiential opportunities is strongly encouraged to enhance practical training and development. Graduates who seek further specialization are prepared to pursue advanced studies.

Examples of career paths of recent graduates include, but are not limited to: commodity broker, agricultural statistician, loan officer, farm manager, supply chain analyst, farm machinery sales representative, grain merchandiser, operations manager, landscape contractor, human resources specialist, ranch manager, credit analyst, crop insurance agent, precision ag technologist, feedlot manager, agricultural chemical sales representative, real estate appraiser, and elevator manager.

Travel agency business

Do you feel your company is threatened by changes that are happening in your industry right now or could be in the near future?  This can be a bad thing – but you might be able to turn the threat into an opportunity, as well.

To begin, threats can exist for many reasons, but the most strategic threats occur because something in your value stream is undergoing a fundamental change.  The best examples, in recent years, have been changes brought about by technology, such as the impact of online travel websites on the travel agency business, or the impact of the cell phone on landline phone business.  Fundamental changes do not always have to be caused by technological change, though.  It’s possible for a shift in regulation or business practices to dramatically change an industry, as well.

One important factor to remember when you are threatened by such changes is that the changes will only occur because someone wants something to happen differently.  It may not be your company, or your competitors who want to see change, but strategic changes, as a general rule, tend to happen because a customer or supplier group either chooses to meet their needs in a different way or – in the case of regulation – are required to meet their needs in a different way.  Thus, fuel-efficiency standards, which drove a greater use of plastic in automotive trim, led to changes in demand for chrome plating in auto manufacturing.

Almost always, these changes will seem to be something to avoid, because the way you have done business in the past won’t work in the changed market.  People who used to sell pay phone equipment, for example, find a greatly diminished market for their products because consumer cell phone use has dramatically reduced demand for the product.  People who sell paper accounting forms find that the use of electronic tax filing has also diminished product demand.  One of the most important lessons to learn from the experience of companies that faced this kind of threat in the past is that you cannot prevent the threat from happening, nor can you control the rate of change that comes with the threat.

In some cases, such as the tax form industry, the inevitability of the threat means you must find ways to adapt to the new world in which your product is less in demand.  Many companies would react to such a threat by downsizing, but the strategy of becoming the threat calls for you to ask a fundamental question:  Is my company’s strategic competency limited to the current, threatened product (or service), or is there a competency that can jump from the old product to the newer, threatening product.  Using this strategy, the tax form manufacturer would get into the business of writing tax software, and, as another example, a DVD video rental company would move into the business of renting movies online.

Obviously, this possibility isn’t always viable.  The pay phone manufacturer, for example, may find difficulty gaining the manufacturing expertise to make cell phones, and a company that makes great internal combustion engines might not excel at making motors for electric vehicles.  This can happen because the strategic competency which made your company successful is very closely tied to the old technology or practice which is being displaced.  In such cases, the strategy of being the threat is a poor choice, and you should instead look for applications of your relevant strategic competencies to less threatened markets (for example, the pay phone manufacturer, being adept at making sturdy and secure telecommunications equipment, might make airport check-in kiosks or automated teller machines).

For many of us, however, the threat is not a fundamental threat to the existence of our company – it is simply a threat to the way we used to do business.  Markets that are being transformed by such threats are fertile hunting grounds for upstart companies that are not married to the old way of doing business.  It is not unusual to see a Netflix rising over the ashes of the videocassette/DVD rental market, for example.

How can we assess (a) whether our company can be the threat and (b) how to make this happen?  The key to both of these questions lies in our strategic competency.  The main way that your company distinguishes itself in creating value for customers is the thing that will determine whether your company will be a nimble survivor or a has-been that should have jumped to a new market or product.  To assess this, pay careful attention to the adaptability of your competency to the new world presented by the threat.  If your competency is not too closely tied to the old way in your market, you can probably be successful in jumping from the old world into the new.  If the competency is closely tied – your strategic planning should steer you towards new uses for your competency, rather than struggling to apply your competency to a dwindling market.

So, let’s say you have a strategic competency that will enable you to create value in the new world created by a strategic threat.  How do you make your company into the threat?  Here are a few ideas from companies I have seen successfully make this jump:

  1. Don’t delay getting any missing capabilities or technologies – acquire them if you have to.
  2. Closely examine your company culture and push hard on adjustments that will drive your employees to embrace the new world.
  3. Pay careful attention to compensation and other practices that may create incentives or disincentives to change.
  4. Understand that some key employees will have difficulty making the change – and be willing to re-train them and even let go of them if they will become a drag on your agility.
  5. Remember that the rules of the game may be changing fundamentally, and closely examine how you may need to change your strategic thinking to succeed in a dramatically changed market.

While these aren’t the only ways to assure success at becoming the threat and surviving a shrinking market, they are the most common ways of fostering revolutionary innovation that will confound your competitors and – hopefully – delight your customers.  Of course, a good strategic planning process will help your thinking in this immensely, and could possibly lead to the innovation that makes your company king of the hill in your evolved markets.

Strategies 18 tips and tricks for daily business life

Running a business means taking care of lots of little things. Sure, success depends on the big things, such as your strategy, marketing and technology. But sometimes, we could use a bit of guidance on how to better handle the little things to make our business lives easier.

Here are a few tips and tricks learned in my years of business:

  • Develop and practice your “elevator pitch,” a brief sentence to describe what your business is all about. Use it when you introduce yourself to others, at business mixers, meeting with prospects. You’re more likely to land a customer and get referrals if you can clearly describe what you do.
  • If you’re giving a customer or client a discount, let them know it! When you send the bill, be certain to indicate the regular price and then the voluntary discount you’re giving them. That reminds them they’re getting a special deal.
  • If you get more than 50% of your business from one customer or distribution channel, diversify. Don’t become overly dependent on one source for your long-term economic well-being.
  • Think of the long-term value of the customer, not just the one-time transaction. It’s almost always better to retain a happy customer than to make a big fuss over a small issue in dispute.
  • If you’re a consultant, don’t nickel-and-dime clients with charges for small, routine expenses, such as overnight delivery, parking, copies and such. Figure those costs into your hourly or project fees. You’d be surprised at how many clients who never blink at being billed $100 an hour get peeved by being charged $12 for an overnight delivery.
  • Make it easy for customers to pay you. Accept credit cards and get the money in your bank fast, often the day after processing. If you’re on the go, get a card reader that attaches to your mobile device from Square Up, Intuit GoPayment, or PayPal Here.
  • Get a mileage-earning credit card for business purchases you now pay for by check. Then IMMEDIATELY pay off the credit card bill. Ask your vendors if they accept credit cards. You’ll get miles and extend your payment period.
  • If you travel frequently, look for hotels that feature lobbies set up for working and meeting so you can stay close and cut down on travel time. And look for hotels with free Wi-Fi and, ideally, free hot breakfast.
  • Build a database of your current and former customers or clients. Get in the habit of tracking every customer interaction, not just orders, and their specific needs and concerns. Then you can personalize your offers, emails, and rewards. And be sure to remember their birthday.
  • Whenever possible, expand the number of contacts you have at each client company. Other divisions may have additional opportunities. And your current contacts may change jobs. Get to know additional decision-makers.
  • Join your trade association. Participate in the local chapter if such exists. Attend a national industry convention at least every two to three years. Subscribe to and read an industry magazine or e-mail newsletter.
  • Keep a list of your best referral sources and best customers where you can see it frequently. Contact these people at least every couple of months.
  • Fire bad clients. A few reasons to end a client relationship: they don’t pay their bills, are unethical, want you to take on work you’re uncomfortable performing, they soak up all your time and energy, they make you hate your business.
  • View customer complaints as an opportunity to learn how to improve your product or service rather than merely criticism.
  • Keep as little stock on hand as possible and avoid waste. Don’t purchase something just because it’s a good deal. Inventory is money in a different form.
  • Never compete on price alone. Make sure you have other competitive advantages that make your customers want to purchase from you even if a competitor undercuts your price.
  • If you work from a home office, set office hours. Set time aside for personal and family life.
  • Do everything with integrity. Treat everyone fairly and honestly, including employees, customers, and vendors. Don’t rationalize bad behavior by saying, “It’s only business.” Be someone worthy of respect.

The 10 Best Business Travel Tips

A large part of my work as a business author is speaking and conducting workshops all over the world, which of course entails a good bit of

Tip #1: Stop the germs. Airplanes are cauldrons of bacteria and viruses, but with an ounce of prevention you can stop the germs cold (pardon the pun). You’ll need a small bottle of hand sanitizer and tube of Bacitracin. Sanitize your hands, then put a dab of Bacitracin on your finger tip and use it to coat the inside of one nostril. Repeat for the other nostril. Doctor-recommended, this wards off all the evil sick-makers.

 

Tip #2: Bring down the noise. Forget the expensive, noise-canceling, bulky headphones. Get some E-A-R soft foam disposable earplugs. There are five good reasons why these trump other solutions: they’re far cheaper, far less bulky (thus easier to pack), easy to replace, takeoff- and landing-friendly (non electronic), and you can actually sleep comfortably wearing them because you don’t have to wrangle big earmuffs.

 

Tip #3: Eat smart. Dan has four road rules for eating in airports. First, look for where the airline personnel—pilots, attendendnats, etc.—are eating, and follow their lead. Second, go for protein over carbs, because it takes longer to digest and burn, and therefore lasts longer. Third, always choose bottled water as your preferred beverage (never soda, it messes with your tummy). Fourth, if you’re at a loss for what to eat, go with the always-safe chicken quesadilla.

 

Tip #4: The rule of HAHU. Every once in awhile I, like Dan, bring a family member, or members, along if it’s someplace cool, or I have multiple international dates spread too far apart for return trips home. Family travel is made easier by the acronym HAHU. H is for hustle. A is for anticipate. HU is for “heads up.”

 

Tip #5: Sanitize the tray! The folding tray table is rarely, if ever, cleaned. So it’s rife with unsavory artifacts of human presence and food debris. Carry some antibacterial wipes with you and wipe that tray before you use it for anything. Then wipe it again. (Warning: be prepared to be unpleasantly surprised at the amount of dirt on your wipe after using.)

 

Tip #6: Stay connected. For frequent travelers and heavy laptop workers, Dan recommends a wireless broadband USB modem, such as those made by Sierra Wireless. It’s a potentially better solution for several reasons. More and more it’s easy to find WiFi spots, but they generally require accounts. There are a number of different providers, which means you need to remember all your accounts and passwords, and you’ll be paying several different fees. The wireless USB modem uses any cell signal, so you can use it anywhere, and you pay one monthly fee. It may be more expensive, but the tradeoff is convenience.

 

Tip #7: Zip through security. First, if you have any reasonable claim to a premier status, get in a premier line, it’s worth a shot. Second, when you show your ID and boarding pass, ask the agent which line they think will move the fastest. Third, get in any line with more male solo business travelers. Men have fewer accessories to discard and are hyper-competitive, which means they tend to view the security line as a race. Finally, avoid any line with married couples traveling alone on leisure… you’ll miss your plane.

 

Tip #8: Avoid the TV. Unless there’s show you can’t possibly live without seeing, the one thing you should never do upon entering your hotel room is turn on the television. Before you know it you’ve wasted 90 minutes. So step away from the remote. Just say no. Instead, Dan suggests trying one or all of these activities for “more enduring satisfaction”: call a loved one, get some exercise, or read a book.

 

Tip #9: Beat jet lag. To battle the fatigue of long-range travel through multiple time zones, focus on three key things: time, food and light. Time: trick your body into thinking it’s in the time zone of your destination by resetting your watch to that time as soon as you’re on the plane, and try to only sleep if it’s night at your destination. Food: eat less—if you’re offered food, eat no more than half what’s offered. It’s better to eat an appropriate meal when you arrive at your destination. Light: even if you’re dog-tired when you land, never ever sleep unless it’s dark outside. If it’s light out, stay up. And if it’s dark, go to sleep even if you’re not tired. To fall asleep, Dan has a foolproof remedy. Step 1: take one Benadryl. Step 2: Read The Economist.

 

Tip #10: Buy a local paper. One of the first things you should do as you venture out when you’re in a new country is pick up the local paper. Carrying a paper makes you look a bit more like a local, which if you’re in a big city can be a good thing by making you less conspicuous and thus less of a target for any unsavory characters that may be lurking about. Also, you might actually learn something from the paper, even if you can’t read it, just from looking at the pictures. Finally, it will make great wrapping paper for any gifts you might pick up.

7 Tips for Networking

Networking goes hand in hand with running a successful business.

But many of us dread walking into a room and introducing ourselves to a bunch of strangers.

I’ve been asked to share my best networking tips at a meeting today of the National Association of Women Business Owners in Philadelphia. Here are the most valuable tips I’ve come across – and put to work myself – over the years:

  1. Resist the urge to arrive late. It’s almost counter-intuitive, but showing up early at a networking event is a much better strategy than getting there on the later side. As a first attendee, you’ll notice that it’s calmer and quieter – and people won’t have settled into groups yet. It’s easier to find other people who don’t have conversation partners yet.
  2. Ask easy questions. Don’t wait around the edges of the room, waiting for someone to approach you. To get the conversation started, simply walk up to a person or a group, and say, “May I join you” or “What brings you to this event?” Don’t forget to listen intently to their replies. If you’re not a natural extrovert, you’re probably a very good listener – and listening can be an excellent way to get to know a person.
  3. Ditch the sales pitch. Remember, networking is all about relationship building. Keep your exchange fun, light and informal – you don’t need to do the hard sell within minutes of meeting a person. The idea is to get the conversation started. People are more apt to do business with – or partner with – people whose company they enjoy.

If a potential customer does ask you about your product or service, be ready with an easy description of your company. Before the event, create a mental list of recent accomplishments, such as a new client you’ve landed or project you’ve completed. That way, you can easily pull an item off that list and into the conversation.

  1. Share your passion. Win people over with your enthusiasm for your product or service. Leave a lasting impression by telling a story about why you were inspired to create your company. Talking about what you enjoy is often contagious, too. When you get other people to share their passion, it creates a memorable two-way conversation.
  2. Smile. It’s a simple – but often overlooked – rule of engagement. By smiling, you’ll put your nervous self at ease, and you’ll also come across as warm and inviting to others. Remember to smile before you enter the room, or before you start your next conversation. And if you’re really dreading the event? Check the negative attitude at the door.
  3. Don’t hijack the conversation. Some people who dislike networking may overcompensate by commandeering the discussion. Don’t forget: The most successful networkers (think of those you’ve met) are good at making other people feel special. Look people in the eye, repeat their name, listen to what they have to say, and suggest topics that are easy to discuss. Be a conversationalist, not a talker.
  4. Remember to follow up. It’s often said that networking is where the conversation begins, not ends. If you’ve had a great exchange, ask your conversation partner the best way to stay in touch. Some people like email or phone; others prefer social networks like LinkedIn. Get in touch within 48 hours of the event to show you’re interested and available, and reference something you discussed, so your contact remembers you.

9 Helpful Tips for Business Blogging

It’s one thing to create a blog – it’s another to create a blog that readers want to visit again and again. If you’re serious about using blog hosting to meet your business goals, there are nine tips to follow when developing a business blogging strategy.

#1: Find a valuable niche

The ideal blog dares to be different. Find a neglected (or new) area of your industry that will appeal to your target audience. Ask yourself, “Will they want to read about this every day?” If the answer is “yes,” you have a great reason to create a blog.

#2: Enjoy yourself

Business blogging should never feel like a chore. When you create a blog because you’re interested in its topic, your readers will appreciate – and even reciprocate – your enthusiasm.

#3: Look at the big picture

While it’s only natural to focus on the products and services you offer, you can also benefit from broadening your scope. For example, if you create a blog for your pet toy store, your target audience may be interested in posts about pet health and nutrition, or even pet rescue programs. Stick with your overall business blogging theme, but explore diverse (yet related) topics.

#4: See what’s out there

Online sources like Technorati® and Google® Blog Search can help you determine how many blogs are currently covering the topics you are considering. You might also want to look at the additional topics these blogs are discussing, which can inspire new ideas of your own.

#5: Network with other bloggers

Connect with other bloggers in your industry by using Technorati®, Google® Blogs, and other social sites to find like-minded bloggers. Once you find relevant blogs, you should bookmark them, comment often, talk with the author, and social tag their blog entries. By building these relationships, you can gain new links to your blog and – ultimately – new readers.

#6: Add media

Blogs don’t have to consist of text alone. Video, images and surveys can all add interest to your blog. Mix the creative media into the text instead of placing it at the top or the bottom.

#7: Encourage interaction

Blogs have a unique ability to encourage conversations and create interaction. A blog with no comments isn’t really a blog – it’s an editorial column or a standard website. Be sure to invite readers to leave comments each time you post.

#8: Keep up the good work

Develop – and stick to – a schedule when you create a blog. Your readers should know when to expect a new post, whether you’re posting every day of the week or on the same day every week.

#9: Don’t give up

It can take months to build a loyal base of readers when you create a blog. Plan to make business blogging a regular part of your communication strategy for at least a year.

6 tips to help you make sure your business networking is FIT for purpose

The vast majority of people when networking have pleasant conversations, which lead precisely nowhere. It’s a big sweeping statement, but from my research for The Financial Times Guide to Business Networking, I found this to be true. This is the reason I devised The FITTER™ model. This is my own model which I have developed over the last few years and used to train professionals and business owners on how to network in a time efficient manner. This model gives you a simple mnemonic which, if applied to your networking activities, will enable you to network efficiently and effectively anywhere and anytime.

FITTER™ stands for:
Follow up: Your follow up is crucial to your networking success. After meeting new people, decide on whether they are an A, B or C-lister; send them a note after meeting them, connect with them on social networking sites and add them to your relationship management systems. Follow up is more than the ‘one cup of coffee’, it’s important to make sure that you build the relationship after the event, rather than just leaving them as a name in your LinkedIn connections or relationship management database.

Introduce yourself with impact: You never get another chance to make another first impression. A good first impression enables you to start and build a mutually beneficial relationship. Don’t forget the most people meet you online first, so make sure that your online presence, and particularly your LinkedIn profile showcase the best sides of you!

Target specific people: Your time is precious, so make sure you know who you want to meet and why you want to meet them. See if you can arrange to meet people at an event, rather than hope you will meet them at an event. LinkedIn and Twitter are great tools to contact people before meeting them for the first time at an event.

Turn social conversations into business chat: Remember, regardless of whether you meet someone online or in real life, it’s not about pitching or qualifying them as a prospect. Build the relationship first…  So, before you start talking business, take your time to get to know the person first and generate some rapport. Once rapport has been established, then move the conversation onto business topics.

Engage: So many people treat networking, and in particular online networking passively. They just expect the relationship will grow and build over time. Well yes, however, if you manage the relationship proactively, it will grow faster and you will benefit from the relationship earlier. So what do I mean by managing the relationship proactively. If you see a name, or have a conversation with them and you think you could benefit from a deeper relationship, then take the next step. Normally this is a further meeting, or if you have met them online initiating a phone call or face-to-face meeting.

Research: Your research will enable you to focus only on the events worth attending, the people who will be beneficial to you to meet or re-connect with and help equip you with interesting topics to talk about.

Common Sense Business Tips

If you’re thinking of starting your own business, or even if you already are an entrepreneur, there are certain common sense business practices that apply to any industry.  Check out the following list to see how many you currently incorporate into yours.

  • Keep accurate records.  This includes not only records of transactions, but also receipts from purchases, invoices for services performed or products sold, and all tax documents.  You can choose to keep hard copies, electronic copies, or a combination of both.  However, don’t forget to have a backup somewhere for anything electronic.  The more accurate and organized your records are, the easier it will be to correct a problem if or when it arises.
  • Organize your desk/office.  Wherever your main workspace is, it should be well-kept area; a cluttered, disorganized area will inhibit your productivity.  Even worse, you may be unable to locate an important document or product you need when you actually need it.
  • Treat customers and employees/colleagues with respect.  You’re bound to encounter difficult situations involving the people with whom you do business.  The way you handle such issues speaks a lot about your character and business ethic.  Sometimes problems cannot be avoided, but handling them calmly, professionally, and respectfully will help you maintain relationships that are important to your business.
  • Create a budget and stick to it.  Even when you’re doing well and money is rolling in, it is important to be frugal whenever and wherever you can.  Actually put your budget in writing, and revisit it frequently to see where changes need to be made so you can adjust accordingly based on your business’s evolving needs.
  • Cut down on the multitasking.  It’s inevitable that there has to be some level of multitasking involved in being a small business owner. However, don’t make it the norm.  Start and finish one task at a time to prevent you from losing your train of thought and forgetting important details.  Practice the self-discipline it takes to complete one task at a time and do it well.
  • Seek help, advice, and education.  Identify some industry experts and read their materials, take their workshops, subscribe to their blogs, etc.  There are countless successful entrepreneurs who have come before you; use their experiences to continually learn about how to run and grow your business.
  • Have a positive outlook; expect challenges.  Of course, you want to maintain a positive attitude about your business.  That is why you should always challenge yourself to be the best that you can be, but at the same time, be prepare for the challenges that may arise.  For example, before sinking every last dime into that new marketing plan, figure out what you would do if it falls flat. Being financially and emotionally prepared will help you move past any setbacks.
  • Get involved in the community.  Connecting with other businesses and organizations within your community is extremely beneficial.  It shows that you are vested in the best interests of the community and that you have something valuable to contribute.  Furthermore, it is a great way to network and meet the very people you hope to do business with.  Get in touch with your local chamber of commerce for ideas about how to get involved and who to contact.