The Meaning of Business

What is business about?

If you are in business, whatever the type, it would serve you well to understand the reson d’être, or reason, a business exists. Anyone who ever participated in an economics class back at school would have learned this ‘basic principle’ of business. I admit, from experience many business owners have forgotten it, and surprisingly, even more business owners are not aware of it.

Business is all about selling a product or service in order to make a profit.

This is powerful stuff if you can make it your guiding principle behind everything that you do – but as I said, I have been surprised during my consultancy work that many business owners are completely unaware of it.

But I go one step further in assisting business owners lay down the foundation stone of their business. I have added some extra words (critical points) and a fourth element to motivate clients to continue achieving great results with their businesses. So here are my reasons why a business should exist:

A business (1) specialises in selling (2) specific products or services with a distinct point of difference in the market, (3) to make a profit (4) sustainably and continuously.

I have highlighted the critical words (which I have added) to the age-old economic phrase. My thinking behind customising the reason for a business’ existence lies in my belief that it is simply not good enough for a business to offer the same goods and services as the bulk of other like minded businesses, and nor is it good enough to experience industry benchmark returns/percentages of profit. Furthermore, the actions of every member within every business must be tuned for the long-term (sustainable and continuous) growth in profit.

This means that a static profit percentage following a predictable bell curve, leading to a flattening of growth, then decline, does not have to be law so long as the business focus is on integrating ‘different’ methodology, structure, and philosophies guaranteed to deliver solid sales growth. These approaches shun the ‘normal’, and widely accepted, asphyxiating year on year practice of draconian fiscal restraint and/or cutbacks. (Incidentally, it is my firm opinion, proven by 100’s of success stories, that the carte-blanche razoring of inputs and operational expenses of businesses actually diminishes sales over periods greater than 12 months). In other words, the actions of most business owners actually damage their business because they do not appreciate fully the implications of my description of why a business exists.

When is the Best Time to Sell Your Business?

When to sell a business is the most common question among business owners. The time to sell is when you want to move on to the next challenge or retire. If you don’t move on when your heart is no longer into it, you may do harm to your business. Don’t worry about if you’re selling when the market is at the top because no one really knows where that is; or how far it may go down. Efficient markets price everything from gasoline to cheese fairly and your business is no different. This is true as long as there is a liquid market for your business; meaning there are enough buyers and sellers to create an efficient market. People worry about not getting enough money for their business instead of worrying about their buying power. In a buyer’s market, buyers demand a discount so you may get less for your business, but you also get more buying power from the sale of your business. In a seller’s market, you may collect more money at closing, but you will have less buying power as goods and services are priced at a premium. As long as you create an efficient market for your business, the time to sell is whenever you are ready.

A strong business is worth more money than a weak business. Every business owner should always be strengthening their business to enhance its value. Don’t worry if your business isn’t perfect, none are and the imperfections in your business may be just the thing that gets it sold. People like to buy businesses with the right things wrong. If a manufacturing company had a great line of products but poor marketing, a marketing person could buy the company and maintain existing product line and add strong marketing. The business would be more valuable for the new owner after marketing was added.

Your business must be presented in a way to create an efficient market so you get maximum fair market value upon sale of the business. This process must be done without anyone knowing your business is for sale until you leave the closing table. Failure to do this could result in the loss of key employees, customers and vendors.

Business brokers or business intermediaries are commonly used to connect buyers and sellers. Business broker typically collect a fee of 10-12% of the sales price, but some will negotiate depending on the circumstance. It is possible to sell a business on your own, but you must carefully plan how you will present the business to the largest amount of buyers while maintaining complete anonymity so no one knows it’s for sale.

Classroom Technology – New Terms For the 21st Century Classroom

As a teacher, you know the importance of a good vocabulary and using the right technical terms for the right things. So it’s important that you keep your own vocabulary up to date when it comes all the different new pieces of classroom technology. You need to know your Java from your jpegs and your blogs from your browsers.

So what terms do you need to be familiar with for the classroom technology of today? Knowing what they are (and that they exist) is an important first step – understanding what they are can also help you work out how you can use each type of technology in your classroom to best effect.

Classroom Technology Glossary:

Web 2.0: No, this is not a new version of the internet or Windows Explorer/Firefox/Google that you will have to download. Instead, this refers to the way the internet tends to work these days. Before, the internet was a place that you went to look up and read information – kind of like a library or an encyclopedia. Now, the web is a place where you can read and write bits and pieces. One classic example that has its place as classroom technology is the use of forums, where members can write and post their opinions on a given topic.

Blog The word sounds horrible, but it is short for “web log”. This is a sort of publicly available online diary where somebody can post short articles (opinion pieces, information, events, etc.) on a regular basis (daily, weekly, fortnightly). One way that this can be turned into classroom technology is for a teacher to have his/her own blog that students can read, and the teacher can post advice, study tips, homework reminders, etc.

Social networking: Social networking sites are where users can connect and converse -privately or publicly – to others. People can chat via the keyboard, post links to sites they recommend, find people with common interests and so forth. Delicious, Twitter, Facebook and Bebo are some example of the most “basic” social networking sites. Chat rooms are other examples. More sophisticated ones (which tend not to be used as classroom technology) are those of the Second Life type, where users create an “avatar” who lives a virtual life in the Second Life world: shopping, making friends, and the like.

Wiki: “Wiki” is derived from the Hawaiian for “quick” and tends to refer to a website that anybody can edit. Wikipedia is the best known one, and while it may not the be best place for your students to do research in, it does have some strong requirements and standards relating to distinguishing opinion from fact, unbiased writing and supporting references.

Put on Your Technology Hat

“Technology people tend to have what I call ‘Smart-Kid Syndrome'”

Do you understand your IT (information technology) team? As the Chief Technology Officer for my company I can tell when I have my technology hat on because the non-tech people can’t understand what I’m talking about (and usually don’t want to). Fortunately I learned how to put on and take off my technology hat in order to work with both business and technology teams, to bridge the communication gap, so to speak. You can too if you understand just a few things about the typical technology persona.

Technology people tend to have what I call “Smart-Kid Syndrome”. This is a condition whereby the person is naturally really smart (at least in their area of expertise, if not overall) and they tend to make you feel stupid when they communicate. They speak fast, use terms you don’t understand and get easily frustrated if you don’t get what they’re talking about right away. Its not that they intentionally want to show off and make you feel stupid (though some do), its that being successful in technology requires both detailed and high-level thinking – a skill that IT people tend to have in spades.

To improve communications with your resident techies I suggest you try to move conversations in one of two directions, depending on what you’re trying to accomplish. Either keep the conversation at a high level so the IT person must speak to you in terms of benefits (not features) and concepts. Or, ask the technology person to explain the details of the technology as though they are an expert tour guide speaking to novices. By asking them to be the expert (which they usually are) you are giving them permission to be smarter than you and at the same time you’re asking them to not get frustrated when you ask questions.

Ultimately your IT team can be your best friend, helping you be more productive with your tech tools. So I also recommend that you make friends with your resident guru and not just regard them as lifeguards. By including IT in other aspects of your world and business your natural rapport will make communicating even easier.

Using Classroom Technology the Right Way For the 21st Century Learner

Classroom technology has come a long way from the old days of slates and inkwells. And along with embracing modern technology, teachers have to start thinking about new ways of “doing school”. One teacher from Alabama, Suzanne Freeman, is leading the way with some concepts she outlined in an interview with Time magazine in 2007.

This concept is sometimes referred to as “School 2.0”. If you don’t get the reference, it’s time to upskill slightly in your knowledge of classroom technology, as it’s a reference to “Web 2.0”, which is the new way of using the internet – using the internet as a place to share information and write things, rather than just a place to look up information that has been created by experts and professionals.

One of the key ideas of the “School 2.0” concept is the idea of integrating classroom technology properly and the reasons why this should be done.

1. Classroom technology engages students. Most students like using technology and find it fun to interact with, and this applies to everything from videos through to use of the internet for research. Let’s face it: would you rather present your project as a poster with a few photocopied pictures stuck on with glue and accompanied by scratchy handwriting, or would you rather give a Powerpoint presentation where you can add in sounds, animations and writing that changes colour? Would you rather learn times tables by reciting them or by playing a game where you have to zap monsters marked with, say, “4 x 6” by shooting the answer “24” at them?

2. Computers are part of everyday life. We are no longer in the 1980s where computers were boring black and white screens with dot-matrix printers. And computers are no longer a novelty. Your students are now of the generation where computers are part of everyday life. Your students are used to playing on playstations (and the like) and seeing computer technology used for everything from parking meters to displaying songs and sermon notes at church.

3. Classroom technology can be used to bridge the gap between school and home. Emails to parents as a back-up to paper notes is an obvious form of communication. But it can go further. If a student has looked at a website at school, he or she can visit it again at home, and show his/her parents so they can talk about the issues and subjects with them. And projects and presentations can be displayed for other relatives to see – a student can send a link to the class website with the great photos of school sports day to Uncle George who’s working in Hong Kong (and as a bonus, Uncle George can post photos and descriptions of life in Hong Kong that can be used for a study on Hong Kong).

Teaching Technology Enhances Learning Experiences

One of the real bonuses of modern classroom technology is that is brings the whole world into your classroom. With telecommunications, the world really has become a global village, and communicating with the other side of the world is easier than ever before. If you thought that school students benefited from studying other countries, seeing films and videos about other countries and maybe having a penpal in another country, then just think what they will be able to do with the Internet and new technologies in communication.

What’s more, classroom technology helps students become more aware of issues and problems facing the world – and can even help them take action. This not only educates your students about the big issues of the world, but it also has an effect on other people outside your classroom that you may never meet.

In practice, how does this work? Let’s assume that you have the following pieces of classroom technology: a laptop with a wireless modem that is set up for Skype (with a speaker set) as your hardware, and a classroom website where students can post projects and helpful links – and so can you. You’ve also got access to some of the older forms of classroom technology, such as a DVD player or VCR.

Let’s say that you were listening to your car radio on the way to work and you heard that an earthquake has hit a particular country. On the spot, you decide to abandon the unit you’d planned on studying the weather and you’ll look at earthquakes instead. The old way of doing this would usually involve recording video clips off the televised evening news, mixed with a few videos on earthquakes and tectonic plates. You’ll probably still be able to do this, but with the classroom technology in place, you can get started straight away by accessing immediate news from the Internet, and that can include the news from that country. As soon as you get to your class, you can find a link to a live news feed and find out exactly what’s going on.

Easy Home Improvement Ideas to Add Curb Appeal

Are you looking for some easy home improvement ideas to add curb appeal when selling your home? There are many things you can do. These things can be done by you, not a professional, so they won’t cost a lot of money. Let’s look at what some of these ideas are.

Spruce up the yard is the first thing you can do. If it is the spring or summer get the lawn in better shape by cutting it and fertilizing it if possible. Feeding it necessary nutrients will green it up quite nicely. Also plant some colorful flowers if needed. Trim up bushes and add some fresh mulch. This will give your whole yard a facelift.

Now you can pressure wash your house or have it done by a professional if you have siding. Get all the pollen and dirt off of it. This can make a house almost look brand new at times.

After pressure washing your house you need to paint the trim and any other parts that need it. Painting brightens the whole outside of the house. If you have a single-level home you can probably handle the job yourself. However, if you have more than one level you may want a professional painter to come paint for you. You’ll be amazed at the difference a fresh coat of paint can do for a home.

Wash down your driveway too. Have any cracks repaired or do it yourself better yet. If the driveway is too big of an eyesore though, you may consider replacing it. This could be a major expense, but is easy to get done.

If your roof is noticeably in bad shape, look into getting it re-shingled. This is a big expense, but can help make a good impression for a potential homebuyer. Remember if you can see it needs to be fixed from the street it spoils the curb appeal for the house.

Replace the old mailbox with a brand new one. This is such an easy and inexpensive thing to do. Plant some fresh flowers around it if the season is right for it. Make sure the windows are all in good shape including the screens. If any windows or screens are cracked or broken replace them. This is a must and quite easy to do.

Remember that any of these things that you do, improve not only the curb appeal of your home, but could also increase its value. So go out and examine your home as if you were looking to buy it today. What would you want changed before you would buy it? You will not be sorry you made these and other improvements to your home.

How to Buy the Right Table Saw For Home Improvement Projects

One of the tools you should probably have on hand for most major home improvement jobs is a table saw. It is very useful and will definitely be used over and over again. Of course, there are many different table saws to choose from out there. There are bench top table saws, contractor table saws, and cabinet table saws. Wondering which saw you should buy? Here is a look at how to buy the right table saw for home improvement projects.

Look at What You Really Need in a Table Saw

No matter what specific type you go with, there are some specific features that you should be looking for when purchasing your table saw. You want to make sure that the table is totally flat, you want the extensions to fit right, and you want to ensure that the fence is very sturdy as well. Think about what you really need in a saw as well. You need a saw that will do the jobs you need it to do. If you are only doing small jobs, then a bench top table saw will probably be enough for you. Most people doing home improvement projects find that this option is enough for them.

Think About the Dust

The dust should be thought about as you are choosing a table saw as well. There are some saws that are much easier to keep very clean. The cabinet saws are easier to clean, while the contractors table saws are the most difficult to keep clean from all that dust. Look for saws that have special ducts that will keep the dust from going all over the saw. You don’t want to end up having a huge mess when you use your saw.

Remember the Space You Have

It’s important that you consider the space you have available for the table saw when you are making your choice. If you don’t have a whole lot of space, then consider going with the bench top saw, which takes up the least amount of room. If you have more room, then you may want to go with one of the larger options, such as the contractors or cabinet table saw. Just remember, bench top saws don’t take up much room, but they aren’t as durable and accurate as the larger saws either.

A table saw is going to be a pretty big investment. You’ll end up spending at least several hundred dollars and some of the larger options are more than $1000 for a good one. Make this choice carefully and keep these tips in mind to help you pick the best one for your home improvement needs.

Planning Your Home Improvement

There are several reasons why people prefer to redecorate their home. You may want to renovate your home if you feel that your home no longer reflect your changing lifestyle and taste. You may also like to change the color scheme of your home because it no longer suits the decor of your home. At times, people may require a change in their home to make it more practical and convenient.

Whatever be your reason for home improvement, it is important that you categorize your priority. There may be certain areas that desperately need change, while some areas can be postponed. Once you have categorized your priority if becomes easy for you to carry out improvements in your home.

When you have completed the list, you must calculate the money that you are willing to spend. If you have the money in your bank, then you to look at ways of getting finance for home improvement. When opting to get a loan, make sure you check the amount that you can pay every month. If your monthly payment exceeds the amount that you have to pay every month, it may become difficult for you to repay your loan.

Once you have arranged for the finances, you need to find a contractor or an architect that can help in carrying out renovations at your home. You need to divide the work you can do and the work that you will assign to the contractor.

Taking care of all these factors will help you carry out home improvements without exceeding your budget.

Tax Credits For Home Improvements

Tax credits for home improvements are an incentive to make your home more energy efficient. It is our responsibility as consumers to improve the quality of our environment. Energy-efficient products are one way for us to make a conscious decision to do our part. The perk is that credits are available for these home improvements.

What is a tax credit?

A tax credit is a direct reduction in tax liability (not dependent on the tax payer’s tax bracket). It is a “dollar for dollar” reduction on taxes owed.

What improvements qualify for a tax credit?

Credits available at 30% of the cost, up to $1,500 total. These credits only apply to existing homes, not new construction.

Windows and Doors
Insulation
Roofs
HVAC
Water Heaters
Biomass Stoves
Credits are available at 30% of cost, with no limit, through 2016. These credits apply for both existing homes and new construction.

Geothermal Heat Pumps
Solar Water Heaters
Solar Panels
Small Wind Energy Systems
Credits available at 30% of the cost, up to $500 per.5 kW of power capacity, through 2016. These credits apply for both existing homes and new construction, excluding vacation homes.

Fuel Cells
How to know if you’re eligible for a tax credit?

A general rule of thumb is that if you don’t pay any taxes, you are not eligible for a credit. It is not dependent upon if you’re getting a refund or not. The total amount of income tax that you are responsible for paying is what determines your eligibility. You can not get more in credits than you are responsible for paying in federal taxes.