Do You Want To Improve The Performance Of Your Business?

A Checklist to Begin the Journey of Improved Business Performance

“Culture isn’t just one aspect of the game – it is the game. In the end, an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value.” Lou Gerstner, Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?

Reviewing the management process of a large, nationally operating company recently highlighted once again the continual challenge of remaining objective about the business we lead. Our repeated observation is owners and managers of businesses may declare they want to implement new ways to enhance business performance, but rarely understand and accept that as leaders of the enterprise, their own personal change must accompany or precede business change.

Although senior management may name a set of values they assume will create the organizational culture, the real culture will be determined by how all workers perceive daily operations are actually practiced and rewarded. An old maxim states, ‘Perception is stronger than reality’. Our work teams will see, feel, sense and then practice the culture of our business long before they adopt any stated values or formally announced strategies and processes.

Behavioural change will not come through talking, written communications, lecturing or demanding a particular process. Effective long term change to increase company value and stability requires carefully thought out modelling of the proposed practices and processes plus showing all team members what needs to be done and how to do it. Rose-coloured glasses will maintain business performance at mediocre levels, based on historical practices in the company.

Bill and Kristine Schneider of the Corporate Development Group (CDG) emphasise how company value and growth is likely to be highest when the cultural practices, leadership style and strategy adopted by a company are aligned.

The following is a detailed checklist allowing any business to begin the journey of improving business performance. It is not intended to be comprehensive but will highlight sufficient key issues for your business to review. Please use the checklist as a positive assessment of how you can kickstart new growth and understanding of your business strategy.

Company Leadership:

  1. Does your business have a clearly defined written strategy as a foundation for all decision-making?
  2. Does your leadership team pro-actively research, discuss and adopt what is required to enhance business certainty and clarity?
  3. Do you conduct frequent regular reviews of operational and strategic planning?
  4. Are you confident about what is required to take the business to the next level?
  5. Have all business owners and senior management team members formally indicated they will learn and adopt all required changes to enhance growth?
  6. Have all business owners and senior management team members formally indicated they will commence the journey of personal change required to enhance their own leadership?
  7. Have you listed 5-6 practices of yourself or other leaders/managers in the business clearly inhibiting growth and clarity for the future?
  8. Do you know how to lead all staff into a program of change and improvement?
  9. Can you succinctly explain the Vision and Mission of the business?
  10. Have you done any specific leadership and management training in the past 10 years?
  11. Do you read about and study businesses, leadership and management frequently?
  12. Do you have certainty and clarity about the business in all areas?
  13. If not, how do you deal with this? (This may include personal skills you struggle with, tasks you are required to do for which you do not feel equipped, team issues, business functions, how suggestions or recommendations are handled… or anything!)
  14. How would you describe your leadership and management style and practice? (be honest!)? How do you think others would describe it?

· Autocratic/Controlling

· Participative/Democratic

· Developer/Trainer

· Visionary/Big Picture

Staff Training:

  1. Many companies limit growth by neglecting staff training. The resultant focus on short term targets delays expansion or stops it completely.
  2. Do you have a specific program of in-depth staff training?
  3. Does formal staff training include learning methods additional to lecture style and written instructions?
  4. Has the business designed and implemented on-the-job training processes to model and demonstrate all systems and processes?
  5. Can staff have some autonomy and be free to make mistakes as they learn?
  6. Does every staff member have a personal training and development plan?
  7. Do all business owners and senior managers have a personal training and development plan?
  8. If each staff member was asked about on-the-job training would they say it is frequent, relevant and equips them well for their role?

Marketing and Customer Service

  1. Do you view marketing as unnecessary?
  2. Do you have a multi-strategy marketing plan?
  3. Is there a procedure and schedule in place to frequently review your marketing?
  4. Do you have a specific written description of your key target market groups?
  5. Can you identify your primary customers (ie customers who create 80% plus of your business)?
  6. If so, is the plan known by all key personnel?
  7. What perception do your primary customers have of your business? How do you know?
  8. What uniqueness are you giving clients to create competitive advantage?
  9. Can you list the performance drivers of the business? i.e the factors that determine success – they must happen or everything heads south.
  10. Are Innovation, Creativity and Research being specifically nurtured, developed, tested and measured?
  11. Do you have a system of testing and measuring all marketing and advertising strategies?
  12. Do you have a clear picture of how many leads are required to obtain 1 customer and what the process of lead generation costs?
  13. Are your staff trained in how to use an effective sales process?
  14. Does the business have a specific program for writing effective advertising copy for all marketing strategies?
  15. Would relevant staff say all marketing and sales processes are frequently reviewed and therefore work well?

Financials, Performance and Business Control:

  1. Is business growth decided and planned? (the alternative is merely hoping it will happen)
  2. Do you have a Gross Revenue & Net Profit target for each Market/Industry segment as relevant to your business?
  3. Do you have other targets for various indicators relevant to your business?
  4. Do you have a written comprehensive strategy with detailed action plans and teams to move toward strategy achievement?
  5. Have you identified key issues and risks hindering achievement of growth plans?
  6. Do you have a risk management plan to protect the business against all reasonably foreseeable scenarios?
  7. Do you have a plan to ensure all systems and processes to keep up with proposed growth are reviewed, installed, updated or changed?
  8. Is there a plan to adequately fund all proposed areas of growth for the business?

Combined, the answers to these questions will give you a general, overall picture of the strengths and weakness of your business. This will give you clarity as you move towards improved business performance.

Forex Education Tips – 5 Steps to Successful Forex Trading

Close to 95% of all Forex traders will lose money. We’re not just talking about novices, either. Whether you trade Forex for a living, as a hobby or just for fun, odds are against your success. That’s a simply astonishing fact. However, the remaining 5% of Forex traders somehow manage to break even and there are those lucky few that actually make money in the currency market – consistently!Like the TV show says … “How’d they do that, anyway?”That’s the million dollar questions, isn’t it? Countless books, seminars and expos have been hosted to answer this very question. That sad fact is that thousands of books have been written and countless seminars and interviews have been conducted in an attempt to answer the magic questions. The reality of the situation is that there is no magic formula; no one single Holy Grail of Forex trading.So what do the successful traders do that the rest of us have simple not comprehended. They have mastered a process of winning where they combine and customize several factor to produce consistent results. They have mastered the Process of Trading.The Process of Trading is:Strategy > Money Management > Self-MasteryHere are some simple Forex Education tips to help you master the process of forex trading:Success Tip #1 – You’ve Got To Have a PlanYou must have a written business plan that will detail all aspects of your trading. When are you going to trade, how much to risk, strategies for entries and exits are just o name a few. To become a consistent (profitable) Forex trader you have to plan your trade sand trade your plan.

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Simplicity rules! Don’t make this plan too complicated. One sheet of paper for you mission statement and another for your trading plan should suffice. Anything more is probably too complicated.Success Tip #2 – Focus on Your Personal PsychologyKnowing yourself will allow you to master the discipline necessary to execute high quality trades with solid money management techniques. Lack of discipline is fatal in Forex trading. Go on a personal journey to identify you attitudes towards risk and money. Get intimate with your strengths and weaknesses as a trader and build in to your trading plan strategies to minimize those weaknesses and maximize your strengths.Different personalities lend to different trading styles. Get familiar with all the different styles and over time you will begin to gravitate towards one particular style. Don’t fight the urge like I did. I insisted I was a day trader, but had only limited results. I found my winning percentages were much higher when I entered swing trades. Guess what’s my bread and butter strategy now!Success Tip #3 – Be Realistic About Your ExpectationsThis is a hard one, I know! I am on the internet every day and the amount of advertising is staggering. Brokers are offering free education (fox in the hen house if you ask me), forums of all different trading styles and points of view. Gurus pushing their system as “the one” that will make you the big bucks. How do you get through all that noise?Let me tell you loud and clear right now – everyone is right and everyone is wrong. You have to make a personal commitment to become a successful trader, find a trading style that works for you and expect a slow and steady approach to wealth building through Forex.What works for me may not work for you. Expect to go through an exploratory period where you are learning and at the same time exploring yourself as a trader. Keep an open mind and don’t pay attention to all the noise out there.Success Tip #4 – Exercise PatienceRome was not built in a day and neither will your trading account. In fact, I tell all of my students that while they are studying to become successful Forex traders they should not look solely at their account balance as an indication of success or failure.By tracking and increasing your percentage of high quality trades you execute is a far better barometer of your progress than your account balance. Cause and effect rule here. Over time when you increase your probabilities through the execution of high quality trades your account balance will respond accordingly.Keep the focus on the process and with time your results will blow your mind.Success Tip #5 – Money Management Is Top PriorityI would rather have a shaky strategy and excellent money management techniques than the other way around. This topic warrants its own blog post to do it justice. Limited your exposure (read “risk”) allows for you to stay in the game and allow the laws of probability to work.

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Let’s take a casino for example. They need gamblers to frequent their slot machines to make money. Why? They have a game that has a greater than 50% chance of making money for the house. The more people that play the slots, the greater the casino’s profits.The casino controls risk by payout tables (always favoring the house!) and increases their probabilities by keeping gamblers at the slot machines (read “free drinks”). As a trader you must limit your risk by committing only 1% – 3% of available capital to a single trade. When you execute enough trades with a high probability strategy you too can clean up like the casinos – but only by staying in the game long term.In conclusion, Forex trading is not easy. It’s hard work and will test the limits of your patience and perseverance. If anyone tells you otherwise .., buyers beware! It can be a very rewarding and profitable venture if done correctly. In the end it is a profession that requires a learning curve and practical experience, no different than an airline pilot or engineer. Understanding how to approach and learn this game will allow you to reap all the benefits advertised. It is your Forex Education that you will master the Process of Forex Trading.

The Energy Healing Power of Natural Medicine

Natural medicine is a system that uses a variety of therapeutic or preventive health care practices such as homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic, and herbal medicine. Alternative medicine is also known as traditional, naturopathic, natural or holistic medicine. Proponents of alternative medicine are not refuting the validity of discoveries in and the practical uses of conventional medicine, but are merely trying to put some things into perspective. Due to the widespread interest in natural medicine along with the disappointment and disenchantment with Western medicine, many people, especially in the United States and Europe, where conventional medicine has taken a dominant foothold, are seeking the advice and treatment from naturopathic physicians. These practitioners include herbalists, acupuncturists, naturopaths, chiropractors, and others, who advocate preventative health measures as well as recommend wholesome foods and nutritional supplements for their patients and clients. Considering the growing popularity and effectiveness of alternative health treatments and products, certified and licensed professional practitioners of such medical practices should be given their rightful and respectful place in medical society. Natural medicine has been proven not only to be safe, but more effective than Western medicine in treating many chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma and many other diseases as well

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The history of Natural Medicine and its roots can be traced back thousands of years to ancient cultures such as India and China. Ayurvedic (E. Indian) and Chinese medicine, along with their diagnostic and herbal systems, are still used in these countries extensively, as well as in the United States, especially in Europe, where alternative medicine is well respected. Chinese herbal medicine has a documented history of over 2500 years in China, and is now widely used by practitioners all over the world. It has been legally practiced in the United States. since the mid seventies by licensed acupuncturists. Homeopathy is also a well-known form of alternative medicine discovered in the 18th century by German physician Samuel Hahnemann, but was practically stamped out in the U.S. in the late nineteenth century by the American Medical Association. In 1938, though, the U.S. Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act finally recognized homeopathic pharmacopoeia as the legal equivalent of allopathic medicine.Another more contemporary and popular form of herbal medicine, called Western herbalism, can be traced back about two hundred years in America. Samuel Thomson, born in 1769, is considered the father of Western herbalism. He discovered over sixty different medically effective native plants by clinical testing, and on the basis of these findings, devised a theory of disease and botanical drug action. Randy Kidu, D.V.M., Ph.D., writes in his articled entitled A Brief History of Alternative Medicine: “The history of herbal medicine is interesting because herbs have been a part of our diet and pharmacy since man began roaming the earth. Coprophytic evidence (seeds and other plant part(found in preserved fecal pellets) points to herbal use by cavemen. Early herbalists practiced their trade since before recorded history in all parts of the world including China, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Africa, England, the Americas, and Europe. Many herbs are also mentioned in the Bible. Today, based on sheer numbers of folks who use one form of herbal medicine or another, it remains the most-used medicine worldwide.”Twenty-five hundred years after the advent of allopathic medicine, modern medicine is still grappling with the idea that herbal medicine could be an effective treatment, and not just quackery, although thousands of years of recorded history has proved its efficacy. A new model of understanding in medicine needs to be incorporated into the existing allopathic model. Because of the growing popularity and effectiveness of natural medicine, practitioners may eventually be given their deserved place in medical society. The incorporation of natural medical practices into the existing model of conventional Western medicine, including the training of new medical doctors, is now called Complimentary Medicine. In order to solve our health problems, this modern paradigm for treatment in medicine must be promoted. This can only truly emerge when bias, self-interest, greed and discrimination is discarded and diverse medical knowledge is promoted and shared, not only between university trained scientists and medical doctors, but among Alternative Medicine practitioners, philosophers, metaphysicians, and other intelligentsia of society as well.

Skip The Lines – Bring The Amusement Park Right To Your Own Back Yard

There’s no shortage of things to do in Atlanta. From professional sports to amusement parks, there’s something for everyone. In fact, Atlanta is proud to house some of the nations largest amusement attractions, including the ever popular Six Flags Over Georgia. Children (and adults) love the thrill and adrenaline rush of the large roller coasters. However, one thing most people don’t like about amusement parks is the long lines. By the time it’s all said and done, you can spend several hundred dollars for your family to have an afternoon of fun, and only get a few rides in. This year, instead of spending the day waiting in long lines for short rides, why not bring the fun right to your back yard? With today’s technology, you can literally do just that! One of the advantages of living in a large city like Atlanta is that we have large rental companies that can make your special event feel just like a trip to Six Flags… complete with a train and an ice cream cart!

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If you’re trying to replicate the amusement park feel, there are definitely specific items that you’ll want to be on the lookout for. As mentioned previously, ice cream carts and trackless trains help make the special event feel more like a day at Six Flags.In order to make your next special event more special, try some of the following tips:

Head online to do some research on the party rental company that has the selection your looking for. If you want an ice cream cart to complete your theme park adventure, look around until you find what you’re looking for.

Don’t settle for the first website you see. There are literally hundreds of inflatable party rental companies in Atlanta. Keep looking for a website that offers a wide variety of rental items that you’re looking for.

It’s better to rent everything from one company. Renting in bulk can help you save money. Larger companies will offer discounts for larger purchases of multiple units and rental items.

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Having a day of amusement park fun is cheaper and easier than ever before. By bringing the amusement park to your front door by using a party rental industry, you can include more people at a lower price. So next time you’re planning a special day, instead of spending tons of money for just a few people and braving the long lines of amusement parks, invite the whole neighborhood and bring the amusement park right to your own back yard!