What a Tour Broker Is and How to Become One

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A person who operates a tour company is a broker. A broker is a middleman. Brokers buy or arrange items or services and sells these items or services to the end buyer. Some examples of brokers are:

Independent insurance agents. These agents do not provide insurance; they arrange insurance for you from an insurance company. Insurance agents usually get a commission from an insurance company.

Stock brokers. Like insurance agents, stock brokers help you buy and sell stock. They don’t own the stock. These brokers also receive a commission based on the amount sold.

Real estate broker. Again, these brokers do not own the properties they sell and they get a commission based on the value of what they sell.

There are also tour brokers. Tour brokers serve a variety of customers. This article is about what a tour brokerage is and the basics of this business.

Here is a good description if what a tour is: A trip with visits to various places of interest for business, pleasure, or instruction.

Here travel is defined: To go from one place to another, as on a trip; journey.

A tour, then, is not only travel but it is travel with the purpose being pleasure or interest. You may think of a tour as extended travel with the object being to see and experience an area. Travel, on the other hand, is usually only about moving from one place to another.

A tour broker works with people on a continuous basis. If you are going to get involved in this type of business you should like working with people – you have to be a people person.

Tour brokers are not travel agents. Travel agents arrange for the travel needs of their customers. Usually a travel agent will only work with individuals or small groups (families, for example). Travel agents also always buy something that is already in place (air travel, car rentals, hotels, etc.), they do not originate anything.

Tour brokers originate – they arrange tours, they arrange the transportation, they arrange the lodging, they arrange the meals, and they arrange other services for their clients. A tour broker plans on what kind of tour he/she wants to operate.

Next, the tour broker makes arrangements for the various components of the tour – transportation, food, lodging, attractions, etc.

There are many types of tour companies. Some offer guided tours of a local area – tours of a city or an attraction, for example. Some offer tours in a natural setting – guided tours through the Grand Canyon fall into this category. Some offer tours to various national and state parks. Some offer tours through a large area, a multi-state tour is a good example.

IF YOU LIKE TO TRAVEL – FOR FREE – THIS IS A GREAT BUSINESS TO BE IN

You may have to do inspections of the hotels and attractions that you will be making a part of your tour. If you have been taught correctly you will know how to get “comp” (short for complimentary or Free) rooms and meals. If you will go along with the tour, you should expect to get comps again. How to set it up so that you get comps is something your mentor should teach .

NOTE THAT THE INFORMATION PROVIDED HERE ONLY APPLIES TO THE US. OTHER COUNTRIES MAY HAVE DIFFERENT RULES

As I mentioned before, this is a people business. Liking to work with people and liking to solve problems is a prime requirement.

Like a church is a church because someone calls it a church, a tour broker is a tour broker because someone says that they are a tour broker. There is no requirement for a license. If you do operate a business there may be a need for you to get a federal tax number and your county or city may require you to get a business license. As far as needing a license to become a tour broker – there is no license required. From the mid 1930’s until the 1980s transportation was strictly controlled by the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). Under the Deregulation Act of 1982, competition was allowed and the need for federal authority became a thing of the past.

Depending on where you are you may need some sort of business license. Call your local county office and ask for the office in charge of business licenses. This should be easy as all they really want is for you to file some paperwork and pay them a small fee.

If you are going to be making money (and why else get in the business?) you are going to have to get a federal tax number. This number is called a Tax Identification Number (TIN) and is used in business much as your Social Security number is used for benefits.

I have looked at various sites on the Internet purporting to be concerned with how to become a tour operator. Most do not seem to understand what a tour operator is or does. Those which got close to the concept either offers to teach or provided links to sites which may prepare someone how to be a tour guide. A tour guide is not a tour operator – at best, a tour guide works for a tour operator.

A tour operator runs his/her own business

It’s as simple as that – you own and run the business. If you plan to make a profit you follow this rule – buy low, sell high. People tend to make things too difficult. You buy at one price and sell at another price, easy, huh?

The real “trick” to making money in the tour business is to understand that concept of breaking even (BE). The break even point is where you don’t lose money and where you don’t make money. To help you understand this idea you have to understand that there are two types of costs in most businesses – fixed and variable. A fixed cost is one that will occur whether you have 10 clients or 46. Office rent is a fixed cost. You have to pay the rent whether or not you operate any tours. A variable cost is a cost that is dependent on something else. An example of a variable cost would be the cost an attraction (theme park). If you have 20 clients the total cost of the attraction is dependent (variable) on the number of clients you have.

The lack of good information on this business led me to believe that those in this business do not want competition or they don’t have time to write about how they run their business. A well thought out tour, advertised correctly, can bring in thousands in revenue. For example, suppose that you operate a seven- day bus tour. The tour sells for $985.00 (per person, double occupancy) and you have 36 people go on your tour. The gross revenue on this tour will be over $35,000.00 and you should be able to retain at least $10,000.00 of that amount.

IS THIS THE SORT OF BUSINESS FOR YOU?

It is possible to may some serious money in this business – you could also lose money. Here are some basic requirements that you should have before starting such a business.

You should like working with people

You should not panic when things go from good to bad to even worse

You should be able to organize things easily

You should have at least a working knowledge of certain computer programs – word processing, spreadsheet, e-mail

You should have a copy machine and a fax machine

You should have at least one telephone

You should have at least one fairly up-to-date computer

What sort of tours and what do I do next?

The world is your oyster

This is really the fun part – you can go anywhere! Successful brokers operate three-day tours from Denver into the nearby Rocky Mountains and seven-day tours to Branson, Missouri. Brokers on the east coast offer tours into New England and parts of Eastern Canada as well as longer tours into the American southwest.

Brokers in Seattle do a good business operating tours into the Copper Canyon of Mexico. Some brokers offer tours to musical events, art showings, and short trips to New York City for Christmas shopping.

Where to go is up to you as long as you keep it reasonable. Going to Iraq now may not be the best choice but there is a company in the UK offering and operating tours into Iraq – make sure that your clients sign many disclosures stating that you are not at fault in case of your death. Given the current state of the economy it may be wise to limit your offerings to North America but tours to Costa Rica seem to sell very well.

To find out more about this exciting business click here.

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Source by Arthur Lincoln Elliott

Overview of Zimbabwean Banking Sector (Part One)

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Entrepreneurs build their business within the context of an environment which they sometimes may not be able to control. The robustness of an entrepreneurial venture is tried and tested by the vicissitudes of the environment. Within the environment are forces that may serve as great opportunities or menacing threats to the survival of the entrepreneurial venture. Entrepreneurs need to understand the environment within which they operate so as to exploit emerging opportunities and mitigate against potential threats.

This article serves to create an understanding of the forces at play and their effect on banking entrepreneurs in Zimbabwe. A brief historical overview of banking in Zimbabwe is carried out. The impact of the regulatory and economic environment on the sector is assessed. An analysis of the structure of the banking sector facilitates an appreciation of the underlying forces in the industry.

Historical Background

At independence (1980) Zimbabwe had a sophisticated banking and financial market, with commercial banks mostly foreign owned. The country had a central bank inherited from the Central Bank of Rhodesia and Nyasaland at the winding up of the Federation.

For the first few years of independence, the government of Zimbabwe did not interfere with the banking industry. There was neither nationalisation of foreign banks nor restrictive legislative interference on which sectors to fund or the interest rates to charge, despite the socialistic national ideology. However, the government purchased some shareholding in two banks. It acquired Nedbank’s 62% of Rhobank at a fair price when the bank withdrew from the country. The decision may have been motivated by the desire to stabilise the banking system. The bank was re-branded as Zimbank. The state did not interfere much in the operations of the bank. The State in 1981 also partnered with Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) as a 49% shareholder in a new commercial bank, Bank of Credit and Commerce Zimbabwe (BCCZ). This was taken over and converted to Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe (CBZ) when BCCI collapsed in 1991 over allegations of unethical business practices.

This should not be viewed as nationalisation but in line with state policy to prevent company closures. The shareholdings in both Zimbank and CBZ were later diluted to below 25% each.

In the first decade, no indigenous bank was licensed and there is no evidence that the government had any financial reform plan. Harvey (n.d., page 6) cites the following as evidence of lack of a coherent financial reform plan in those years:

– In 1981 the government stated that it would encourage rural banking services, but the plan was not implemented.

– In 1982 and 1983 a Money and Finance Commission was proposed but never constituted.

– By 1986 there was no mention of any financial reform agenda in the Five Year National Development Plan.

Harvey argues that the reticence of government to intervene in the financial sector could be explained by the fact that it did not want to jeopardise the interests of the white population, of which banking was an integral part. The country was vulnerable to this sector of the population as it controlled agriculture and manufacturing, which were the mainstay of the economy. The State adopted a conservative approach to indigenisation as it had learnt a lesson from other African countries, whose economies nearly collapsed due to forceful eviction of the white community without first developing a mechanism of skills transfer and capacity building into the black community. The economic cost of inappropriate intervention was deemed to be too high. Another plausible reason for the non- intervention policy was that the State, at independence, inherited a highly controlled economic policy, with tight exchange control mechanisms, from its predecessor. Since control of foreign currency affected control of credit, the government by default, had a strong control of the sector for both economic and political purposes; hence it did not need to interfere.

Financial Reforms

However, after 1987 the government, at the behest of multilateral lenders, embarked on an Economic and Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP). As part of this programme the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) started advocating financial reforms through liberalisation and deregulation. It contended that the oligopoly in banking and lack of competition, deprived the sector of choice and quality in service, innovation and efficiency. Consequently, as early as 1994 the RBZ Annual Report indicates the desire for greater competition and efficiency in the banking sector, leading to banking reforms and new legislation that would:

– allow for the conduct of prudential supervision of banks along international best practice

– allow for both off-and on-site bank inspections to increase RBZ’s Banking Supervision function and

– enhance competition, innovation and improve service to the public from banks.

Subsequently the Registrar of Banks in the Ministry of Finance, in liaison with the RBZ, started issuing licences to new players as the financial sector opened up. From the mid-1990s up to December 2003, there was a flurry of entrepreneurial activity in the financial sector as indigenous owned banks were set up. The graph below depicts the trend in the numbers of financial institutions by category, operating since 1994. The trend shows an initial increase in merchant banks and discount houses, followed by decline. The increase in commercial banks was initially slow, gathering momentum around 1999. The decline in merchant banks and discount houses was due to their conversion, mostly into commercial banks.

Source: RBZ Reports

Different entrepreneurs used varied methods to penetrate the financial services sector. Some started advisory services and then upgraded into merchant banks, while others started stockbroking firms, which were elevated into discount houses.

From the beginning of the liberalisation of the financial services up to about 1997 there was a notable absence of locally owned commercial banks. Some of the reasons for this were:

– Conservative licensing policy by the Registrar of Financial Institutions since it was risky to licence indigenous owned commercial banks without an enabling legislature and banking supervision experience.

– Banking entrepreneurs opted for non-banking financial institutions as these were less costly in terms of both initial capital requirements and working capital. For example a merchant bank would require less staff, would not need banking halls, and would have no need to deal in costly small retail deposits, which would reduce overheads and reduce the time to register profits. There was thus a rapid increase in non-banking financial institutions at this time, e.g. by 1995 five of the ten merchant banks had commenced within the previous two years. This became an entry route of choice into commercial banking for some, e.g. Kingdom Bank, NMB Bank and Trust Bank.

It was expected that some foreign banks would also enter the market after the financial reforms but this did not occur, probably due to the restriction of having a minimum 30% local shareholding. The stringent foreign currency controls could also have played a part, as well as the cautious approach adopted by the licensing authorities. Existing foreign banks were not required to shed part of their shareholding although Barclay’s Bank did, through listing on the local stock exchange.

Harvey argues that financial liberalisation assumes that removing direction on lending presupposes that banks would automatically be able to lend on commercial grounds. But he contends that banks may not have this capacity as they are affected by the borrowers’ inability to service loans due to foreign exchange or price control restrictions. Similarly, having positive real interest rates would normally increase bank deposits and increase financial intermediation but this logic falsely assumes that banks will always lend more efficiently. He further argues that licensing new banks does not imply increased competition as it assumes that the new banks will be able to attract competent management and that legislation and bank supervision will be adequate to prevent fraud and thus prevent bank collapse and the resultant financial crisis. Sadly his concerns do not seem to have been addressed within the Zimbabwean financial sector reform, to the detriment of the national economy.

The Operating Environment

Any entrepreneurial activity is constrained or aided by its operating environment. This section analyses the prevailing environment in Zimbabwe that could have an effect on the banking sector.

Politico-legislative

The political environment in the 1990s was stable but turned volatile after 1998, mainly due to the following factors:

– an unbudgeted pay out to war veterans after they mounted an assault on the State in November 1997. This exerted a heavy strain on the economy, resulting in a run on the dollar. Resultantly the Zimbabwean dollar depreciated by 75% as the market foresaw the consequences of the government’s decision. That day has been recognised as the beginning of severe decline of the country’s economy and has been dubbed “Black Friday”. This depreciation became a catalyst for further inflation. It was followed a month later by violent food riots.

– a poorly planned Agrarian Land Reform launched in 1998, where white commercial farmers were ostensibly evicted and replaced by blacks without due regard to land rights or compensation systems. This resulted in a significant reduction in the productivity of the country, which is mostly dependent on agriculture. The way the land redistribution was handled angered the international community, that alleges it is racially and politically motivated. International donors withdrew support for the programme.

– an ill- advised military incursion, named Operation Sovereign Legitimacy, to defend the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1998, saw the country incur massive costs with no apparent benefit to itself and

– elections which the international community alleged were rigged in 2000,2003 and 2008.

These factors led to international isolation, significantly reducing foreign currency and foreign direct investment flow into the country. Investor confidence was severely eroded. Agriculture and tourism, which traditionally, are huge foreign currency earners crumbled.

For the first post independence decade the Banking Act (1965) was the main legislative framework. Since this was enacted when most commercial banks where foreign owned, there were no directions on prudential lending, insider loans, proportion of shareholder funds that could be lent to one borrower, definition of risk assets, and no provision for bank inspection.

The Banking Act (24:01), which came into effect in September 1999, was the culmination of the RBZ’s desire to liberalise and deregulate the financial services. This Act regulates commercial banks, merchant banks, and discount houses. Entry barriers were removed leading to increased competition. The deregulation also allowed banks some latitude to operate in non-core services. It appears that this latitude was not well delimited and hence presented opportunities for risk taking entrepreneurs. The RBZ advocated this deregulation as a way to de-segment the financial sector as well as improve efficiencies. (RBZ, 2000:4.) These two factors presented opportunities to enterprising indigenous bankers to establish their own businesses in the industry. The Act was further revised and reissued as Chapter 24:20 in August 2000. The increased competition resulted in the introduction of new products and services e.g. e-banking and in-store banking. This entrepreneurial activity resulted in the “deepening and sophistication of the financial sector” (RBZ, 2000:5).

As part of the financial reforms drive, the Reserve Bank Act (22:15) was enacted in September 1999.

Its main purpose was to strengthen the supervisory role of the Bank through:

– setting prudential standards within which banks operate

– conducting both on and off-site surveillance of banks

– enforcing sanctions and where necessary placement under curatorship and

– investigating banking institutions wherever necessary.

This Act still had deficiencies as Dr Tsumba, the then RBZ governor, argued that there was need for the RBZ to be responsible for both licensing and supervision as “the ultimate sanction available to a banking supervisor is the knowledge by the banking sector that the license issued will be cancelled for flagrant violation of operating rules”. However the government seemed to have resisted this until January 2004. It can be argued that this deficiency could have given some bankers the impression that nothing would happen to their licences. Dr Tsumba, in observing the role of the RBZ in holding bank management, directors and shareholders responsible for banks viability, stated that it was neither the role nor intention of the RBZ to “micromanage banks and direct their day to day operations. “

It appears though as if the view of his successor differed significantly from this orthodox view, hence the evidence of micromanaging that has been observed in the sector since December 2003.

In November 2001 the Troubled and Insolvent Banks Policy, which had been drafted over the previous few years, became operational. One of its intended goals was that, “the policy enhances regulatory transparency, accountability and ensures that regulatory responses will be applied in a fair and consistent manner” The prevailing view on the market is that this policy when it was implemented post 2003 is definitely deficient as measured against these ideals. It is contestable how transparent the inclusion and exclusion of vulnerable banks into ZABG was.

A new governor of the RBZ was appointed in December 2003 when the economy was on a free-fall. He made significant changes to the monetary policy, which caused tremors in the banking sector. The RBZ was finally authorised to act as both the licensing and regulatory authority for financial institutions in January 2004. The regulatory environment was reviewed and significant amendments were made to the laws governing the financial sector.

The Troubled Financial Institutions Resolution Act, (2004) was enacted. As a result of the new regulatory environment, a number of financial institutions were distressed. The RBZ placed seven institutions under curatorship while one was closed and another was placed under liquidation.

In January 2005 three of the distressed banks were amalgamated on the authority of the Troubled Financial Institutions Act to form a new institution, Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group (ZABG). These banks allegedly failed to repay funds advanced to them by the RBZ. The affected institutions were Trust Bank, Royal Bank and Barbican Bank. The shareholders appealed and won the appeal against the seizure of their assets with the Supreme Court ruling that ZABG was trading in illegally acquired assets. These bankers appealed to the Minister of Finance and lost their appeal. Subsequently in late 2006 they appealed to the Courts as provided by the law. Finally as at April 2010 the RBZ finally agreed to return the “stolen assets”.

Another measure taken by the new governor was to force management changes in the financial sector, which resulted in most entrepreneurial bank founders being forced out of their own companies under varying pretexts. Some eventually fled the country under threat of arrest. Boards of Directors of banks were restructured.

Economic Environment

Economically, the country was stable up to the mid 1990s, but a downturn started around 1997-1998, mostly due to political decisions taken at that time, as already discussed. Economic policy was driven by political considerations. Consequently, there was a withdrawal of multi- national donors and the country was isolated. At the same time, a drought hit the country in the season 2001-2002, exacerbating the injurious effect of farm evictions on crop production. This reduced production had an adverse impact on banks that funded agriculture. The interruptions in commercial farming and the concomitant reduction in food production resulted in a precarious food security position. In the last twelve years the country has been forced to import maize, further straining the tenuous foreign currency resources of the country.

Another impact of the agrarian reform programme was that most farmers who had borrowed money from banks could not service the loans yet the government, which took over their businesses, refused to assume responsibility for the loans. By concurrently failing to recompense the farmers promptly and fairly, it became impractical for the farmers to service the loans. Banks were thus exposed to these bad loans.

The net result was spiralling inflation, company closures resulting in high unemployment, foreign currency shortages as international sources of funds dried up, and food shortages. The foreign currency shortages led to fuel shortages, which in turn reduced industrial production. Consequently, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has been on the decline since 1997. This negative economic environment meant reduced banking activity as industrial activity declined and banking services were driven onto the parallel rather than the formal market.

As depicted in the graph below, inflation spiralled and reached a peak of 630% in January 2003. After a brief reprieve the upward trend continued rising to 1729% by February 2007. Thereafter the country entered a period of hyperinflation unheard of in a peace time period. Inflation stresses banks. Some argue that the rate of inflation rose because the devaluation of the currency had not been accompanied by a reduction in the budget deficit. Hyperinflation causes interest rates to soar while the value of collateral security falls, resulting in asset-liability mismatches. It also increases non-performing loans as more people fail to service their loans.

Effectively, by 2001 most banks had adopted a conservative lending strategy e.g. with total advances for the banking sector being only 21.7% of total industry assets compared to 31.1% in the previous year. Banks resorted to volatile non- interest income. Some began to trade in the parallel foreign currency market, at times colluding with the RBZ.

In the last half of 2003 there was a severe cash shortage. People stopped using banks as intermediaries as they were not sure they would be able to access their cash whenever they needed it. This reduced the deposit base for banks. Due to the short term maturity profile of the deposit base, banks are normally not able to invest significant portions of their funds in longer term assets and thus were highly liquid up to mid-2003. However in 2003, because of the demand by clients to have returns matching inflation, most indigenous banks resorted to speculative investments, which yielded higher returns.

These speculative activities, mostly on non-core banking activities, drove an exponential growth within the financial sector. For example one bank had its asset base grow from Z$200 billion (USD50 million) to Z$800 billion (USD200 million) within one year.

However bankers have argued that what the governor calls speculative non-core business is considered best practice in most advanced banking systems worldwide. They argue that it is not unusual for banks to take equity positions in non-banking institutions they have loaned money to safeguard their investments. Examples were given of banks like Nedbank (RSA) and J P Morgan (USA) which control vast real estate investments in their portfolios. Bankers argue convincingly that these investments are sometimes used to hedge against inflation.

The instruction by the new governor of the RBZ for banks to unwind their positions overnight, and the immediate withdrawal of an overnight accommodation support for banks by the RBZ, stimulated a crisis which led to significant asset-liability mismatches and a liquidity crunch for most banks. The prices of properties and the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange collapsed simultaneously, due to the massive selling by banks that were trying to cover their positions. The loss of value on the equities market meant loss of value of the collateral, which most banks held in lieu of the loans they had advanced.

During this period Zimbabwe remained in a debt crunch as most of its foreign debts were either un-serviced or under-serviced. The consequent worsening of the balance of payments (BOP) put pressure on the foreign exchange reserves and the overvalued currency. Total government domestic debt rose from Z$7.2 billion (1990) to Z$2.8 trillion (2004). This growth in domestic debt emanates from high budgetary deficits and decline in international funding.

Socio-cultural

Due to the volatile economy after the 1990s, the population became fairly mobile with a significant number of professionals emigrating for economic reasons. The Internet and Satellite television made the world truly a global village. Customers demanded the same level of service excellence they were exposed to globally. This made service quality a differential advantage. There was also a demand for banks to invest heavily in technological systems.

The increasing cost of doing business in a hyperinflationary environment led to high unemployment and a concomitant collapse of real income. As the Zimbabwe Independent (2005:B14) so keenly observed, a direct outcome of hyperinflationary environment is, “that currency substitution is rife, implying that the Zimbabwe dollar is relinquishing its function as a store of value, unit of account and medium of exchange” to more stable foreign currencies.

During this period an affluent indigenous segment of society emerged, which was cash rich but avoided patronising banks. The emerging parallel market for foreign currency and for cash during the cash crisis reinforced this. Effectively, this reduced the customer base for banks while more banks were coming onto the market. There was thus aggressive competition within a dwindling market.

Socio-economic costs associated with hyperinflation include: erosion of purchasing power parity, increased uncertainty in business planning and budgeting, reduced disposable income, speculative activities that divert resources from productive activities, pressure on the domestic exchange rate due to increased import demand and poor returns on savings. During this period, to augment income there was increased cross border trading as well as commodity broking by people who imported from China, Malaysia and Dubai. This effectively meant that imported substitutes for local products intensified competition, adversely affecting local industries.

As more banks entered the market, which had suffered a major brain drain for economic reasons, it stood to reason that many inexperienced bankers were thrown into the deep end. For example the founding directors of ENG Asset Management had less than five years experience in financial services and yet ENG was the fastest growing financial institution by 2003. It has been suggested that its failure in December 2003 was due to youthful zeal, greed and lack of experience. The collapse of ENG affected some financial institutions that were financially exposed to it, as well as eliciting depositor flight leading to the collapse of some indigenous banks.

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Source by Dr Tawafadza A. Makoni

Calculating the Marketing Allowable – Or How Much to Spend on Marketing

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Before starting a direct marketing campaign, managers often wonder, “How much should I spend on the actual marketing costs?” There’s actually a way to calculate this figure. You don’t have to guess, leave it to chance, or the whims of the accounting department.

Called the marketing allowable, this figure is a form of sensitivity analysis that gives you a good guestimate of the amount left to spend on marketing after the major costs are accounted for.

In order to calculate the marketing allowable, you’ll need a few numbers handy:

  • Net sales. If you don’t have your net sales figure, take your gross sales and subtract out the returns. That’s your net sales.
  • Variable costs: To figure out your variable costs, add together the cost of good sold by percent of orders, the fulfilment cost as a percent, and the bad deby percent, then multiply it by sales. Did your eyes just glaze over? Take a deep breath. You should know your cost of goods sold. If you don’t know your fulfillment costs, use a placeholder. Twenty percent (.20) is not unrealistic.
  • Overhead costs
  • Premiums: If you give away little items with every sale, like a free exercise DVD with the purchase of a home gym system, the DVD is the premium. The cost to make each is the number you’re going to use to determine your marketing allowable.

Marketing Allowable: The Formula

The formula to calculate the marketing allowable looks like this:

Net Sales

– Variable Costs

– Overheard

– Premium

= MARKETING ALLOWABLE

What It Looks Like with Real Numbers

I’ll plug in some numbers now from a real client, who has graciously given permission for me to use their numbers as long as I don’t mention the name of the business. It’s a small, family owned e-commerce business selling gift items.

Net Sales: $48,000 (rounded out for our example)

– Variable Costs: $11,000

– Overhead: $28,000

– Premiums: $1,000

Marketing allowable: $8,000

So technically, this client is “allowed” or can spend about $8,000 on direct marketing to obtain $48,000 in net sales. Remember that I kept the numbers small and nice and round so they would be easy to follow. In truth, a company generating these revenues would need a much higher net sale figure to pay a salary – which I’d include in the overhead line as part of the operating expenses of the company.

When to Use Marketing Allowables

Calculating the marketing allowable isn’t just a subtraction and decimals example, even if you have to work some decimal magic on the variable costs line. It’s actually a useful tool for budgeting. if your company does zero-based budgeting, the kind where you have to justify your spend from the bottom up for each fiscal year, you’ll want to know your marketing allowable for the product or product category. You can easily run some figures and adjust amounts in the spreadsheet for the premiums, for example, or the overhead costs, and see how it impacts the marketing allowable.

Remember that marketing numbers are rarely fixed in stone. One of the benefits of placing these numbers into a spreadsheet and playing around with them is watching how changing one line in the formula impacts others. For example, if you can keep your overhead nice and low, look at how much is left to funnel into marketing. And if you could funnel more money into marketing, how many more potential customers can you reach? Conversely, if you up the premium amount and offer a spiffy DVD player with that DVD, you may have less for marketing, but if you test that concept and it pulls in more sales, it can be a winning combination.

Direct marketing is all about measurement. Math is the language of reality, and direct marketing, so heavily based in math, takes nebulous marketing concepts that scare CEO’s and makes them real by adding dollars, cents, and sales to the conversation.

So calculate your marketing allowable today, and play the numbers out. Maybe there’s more in your marketing budget than you thought!

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Source by Jeanne Grunert

Custom Application Development Has Become Imperative

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Customization is par for the course of life; this is applicable not only to humans, but also to the entire animal kingdom. Life without adaptation is unfeasible. As far as human beings are concerned, this is an unavoidable part of all activities. Because of the huge technological leap that has come to pass in recent times, varied innovative ways have cropped up in various spheres of human activities. In conformity, custom application development has become crucial as regards the contemporary business activities.

A bespoke software system is a must for all businesses that function in our time. There is high competition in every field, and managing the organizational functions in a cohesive manner is very important. Only then, companies will be able to achieve their set goals precisely and perfectly. When the organizational activities are kept in disordered and incompetent ways, then that will seal the success leap of the organization. Hence, to thrive in this competitive business world, customized applications are necessary. The system should be created precisely in line with your business needs and the organizational working style. This is crucial to make the organizational working organized and effective. Smooth and organized working pattern is vital for the success of the company.

Key Advantages of Custom Application Development

  • The prime benefit is that you can control the entire activities related to your business in an economical manner by using the specifically developed software systems. You can stay away from the third-party apps, which will have less or added features that you don’t need. Moreover, as the system will be created with your business in clear focus, there will not be any complexities or intricacies in implementing the same.
  • The present market is very competitive, and specifically created software for your specific needs will lessen the burden of organizational management considerably.
  • Yet another advantage is the complete protection the user gains. Because of the exclusivity of the product, the usually-seen ‘commonness’ will be missing, and this will prevent hacking to some extent.
  • You can trim down the organizational working costs considerably. Moreover, the preciseness of the planning and execution will be commendable.
  • The overall organizational functions can be monitored smoothly and effectively.
  • The implementation costs will be comparatively less and this triggers more profit.

However, you must make sure that you hire the services of specialized software-development companies. This is imperative to get a perfectly tailored software system, which will be most suitable for your specific need.

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Source by Kaliyath Achutha Kumar

Should You Solder Your Wedding Bands and Engagement Rings Together?

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After the wedding is all said and done, the question is how you will wear your wedding rings and your engagement ring in the future. Deciding on the best way to wear your wedding and engagement rings together will ensure that you show them off in comfort and in style for many years.

Many women like to show off both the engagement ring and the band by wearing them next to each other on their ring finger. Usually wedding bands are placed on the finger first because it is the closest to your heart. However, sometimes these rings can rub against each other awkwardly or spin around the wrong way so that they do not look right. Some women choose to have their wedding ring and engagement ring soldered together to prevent this from happening and to make them more comfortable to wear.

Advantages of Soldering

Soldering wedding bands to engagement rings essentially turns the two rings into one. It is not a very expensive thing to have done and it has some advantages such as preventing the rings from twisting in different directions while they are on your finger. It is a popular option for wedding sets which are designed to fit inside each other, such as a solitaire enhancer band or a wrap.

Soldering the rings together also prevents them from rubbing up against each other, which can cause excessive wear and tear on the sides of the rings.

If you decide to have the rings unsoldered in the future so that you can resize them or upgrade them, a jeweler will be able to take them apart again and polish each ring so that it looks like new.

Disadvantage of Soldering

However, the disadvantage of soldering wedding bands and engagement rings together means that you will never again be able to wear them separately. If you think that there might be an occasion when you just want to wear your wedding band, you might want to think of other non-permanent methods of holding these rings together.

Adjust the Size

Your rings might be spinning around on your finger because they don’t fit properly. Take them to the jeweler to have them resized so that they fit your finger perfectly and they should not move or rub against each other.

Use a Ring Guard

You can also use a wire ring guard inside the two rings. Use a pair of pliers to fold the metal tabs up around both of the rings to hold them together. The ring guard should be invisible if you wear it on the inside of your hand.

Whether or not you solder your wedding bands and engagement rings together or use a more temporary method of attachment is up to personal preference. Take a look at the different options and decide which one will be more comfortable for you.

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Source by Dan S Globus

Die Casting – Advantages and Disadvantages

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Die casting is a process in which molten metal is forced under high pressure into mold cavities. The metal hardens to get a desired shape. In recent times, plastic molded parts have replaced die-casting, as they are cheaper and lighter than die cast parts. Die-casting can be done using a cold chamber or hot chamber process.

About Die Casting Process

Die casting is a widespread non-expendable technique in which metal are forced into the mold cavity under high pressure. Die casting mold that are known as dies can be used repeatedly to produce castings in a variety of sizes, shapes and wall thickness. The mold cavities are designed with intricate designs that enables in producing complex shapes with accuracy, surface finish and attractiveness..

History of Die Casting

In the early days of die casting only low-pressure injection method was used, but today high-pressure casting techniques like squeeze casting and semi-solid die casting methods are use to cast more than 4500 pounds per square inch. Initially, only tin and lead were die caste, but now magnesium, copper and other alloys are also to cast using this highly popular process.

Die Casting Process

In this process molten metal or other materials are forced, under high pressure into the cavities of the steel mold. Dies are two part molds that are made of alloy tool steel – The fixer die half and the ejector die half. The die or mold is fabricated with the impression of the component that is to cast. There are four types of dies:

Single cavity to produce one component

Multiple cavity to produce a number of identical parts

Unit die to produce different parts at one time

Combinations die to produce several different parts for an assembly

The molten metal is injected into the die under high pressure and high speed, which helps in producing a casting that is smooth and precise as the original mold. The pressure is maintained on the mold until the hot metal solidifies. When the metal is hardened, the die is opened to remove the casting.

There are several variations on the basic process that can be used to produce castings for specific applications. These include:

Squeeze casting – A method by which molten alloy is cast without turbulence and gas entrapment at high pressure to yield high quality, dense, heat treatable components.

Semi-solid molding – A procedure where semi-solid metal billets are cast to provide dense, heat treatable castings with low porosity.

Alloys used

Aluminum, copper, lead, zinc and tin based alloys are predominantly used in die-casting.

Automation

In modern day, sophisticated die casting machines are used that ensures consistent quality control. Every machined die-casting differs in the method in which molten meal is poured into the die. Automations are used to lubricate dies, pour the metal into the chamber, etc. Two processes called the hot chamber and the cold chamber methods are used for die casting.

Applications

Die casting is most suitable for casting medium sized parts with complex details. Die-casting is the largest casting technique that is used to manufacture consumer, commercial and industrial products like automobiles, toys, parts of sink faucet, connector housing, gears, etc. Most die castings are done from non-ferrous metals like aluminum, magnesium, etc.

Advantages

Economical process that can be used for a wide range of complex application

Parts have longer service life, dimensional accuracy and close tolerance

Post machining can be totally eliminated

A process that can be fully automated

Mold can be use repeatedly.

Disadvantages

Casting weight must be between 30 grams.

Casting must be smaller than 600 mm (24 in)

High initial cost.

Limited to high-fluidity metals.

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Source by Moonis Rehman

How to Repair a PCL XL Error

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Occasionally HP printers can run into an issue known as a PCL XL error. Apparently, the PCL XL error makes it impossible to print certain documents. It can occur intermittently or with every request to print. Fixing it is key to getting the printer to work correctly again.

Different Types of PCL XL Errors

This type of error indicates an interruption in the print stream: for some reason, the printer sees the stream as corrupt. PCL XL refers to a “language” that the computer uses to communicate with the printer. HP forums describe it as being “highly structured,” which is the reason that any little disturbance will be picked up by the printer and keep it from doing its job.

If the user only experiences these errors in an intermittent or seemingly random fashion, it is most likely that the error lies somewhere between the computer and the printer. Anything from a bad cable, to a bad network, to a bad port could lead to a PCL XL error. Possibly the printer itself is at fault.

If the error is more regular or produced every time a document is printed, the cause is most likely a driver issue. Drivers are the programs that let the computer communicate with the printer. These may be difficult to fix.

Several Ways to Fix PCL XL Error

Various activities can create problems with drivers. Changes to networks or the drivers themselves can trigger these errors. Unfortunately, staying on top of Microsoft update may also induce a driver error if one of the updates changes the driver. Try locating the printer’s disk and reinstalling the drivers or going to the manufacturer’s website to download them.

Sometimes, computers have been set up using universal drivers to communicate with the printer, and these seem to have more problems. Locate and download the exact drivers for the printer being used.

Another option that works well for some machines is to disable some extra printing features:

1. In the program you are working with, click File, then Print, then Properties, and finally Advanced.

2. Disable the “Advanced Printing Features” option.

3. Disable the “Print Optimizations.”

This does not necessarily fix the error per se, but allows printing to continue without seeing the error message.

Driver Errors Can Be Registry Errors

Drivers talk to printers by way of the registry, since that is how the computer catalogues these various background files. If a registry entry has been corrupted that deals with the printer-computer connection, the the user may see an error. Research using a registry cleaner to fix a PCL XL error and get the printer running again.

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Source by John E. Blake

How to Become Financially Wealthy in the Insurance Industry!

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When I started out selling in insurance, I never dreamed I would get to the level of income that I enjoy today. As in most professional sales careers, when you perfect your sales and prospecting techniques, your ability to earn a great living will follow. But, even then, you are still far from the peak of the mountain top in income potential.

In order to obtain income levels far beyond what most agents ever dream of, you must understand the power of leverage. “Leverage” is the way most MGA’s, IMO’s, FMO’s and NMO’s in the industry earn millions per year instead of thousands per year like most agents. With personal sales alone, there are only so many hours per week that are available to make sales. Not to mention the many other things that competes for your time like family, friends, church, leisure, etc. You create “Leverage” by maximizing your income opportunities through the efforts of others as well as your own. Only then can you free yourself from the limits you can earn from personal sales, because of your limited time available.

The traditional growth path for most agents who eventually become MGA’s, IMO’s, etc, has been to learn and perfect their sales and prospecting techniques over time, then take the next step to position themselves to earn additional income from teaching other newer agents what they have already learned. However, getting to the point of qualifying for an MGA or other marketing type contracts for multiple carriers can take years to accomplish. In addition, the start up overhead expenses and required resources can be very costly.

What if you had available to you right now a complete system that provides all the products, resources, training, compensation structure and opportunity to due exactly what I am talking about right now. Start creating Leverage today, even before you’ve perfected your own sales and prospecting, even though you do not have any MGA, IMO, FMO or NMO sales contracts.

The United Independent Wholesale Insurance Network has created a success system that provides an opportunity for savvy agents to not only survive, but thrive, in our very lucrative but demanding business.

I encourage you to fully examine this dynamic program and discover for yourself what other agents all around the country are calling “The Most Powerful Insurance Marketing System” ever designed.

Here are just a few of the reasons agents are joining the UandIWIN network around the country!

  • Retirement Security – Experienced agents know that renewal income alone will not provide a long term secure retirement. They understand that the only way to grow income year after year, even after retirement, is to create “Leverage”.
  • Ownership – You have full vesting rights from day one, meaning you own your block of business and renewals as well as your monthly bonus revenue from your down line sponsored agents. Leave the block of business and the distribution channel you build to your heirs!
  • Product Selection – UandIWIN has over 40 top featured Insurance Companies in their Portfolio. If you sell Health, Disability Income, Life, Annuity, LTC, Medicare Supplement or Medicare Advantage you will appreciate the product selection.
  • Sales and Product Training – Join in on as many of the weekly sales and product training webinars as your schedule allows. With the size of our product portfolio, there is always something new to learn.
  • Unique Bonus Program – Earn up to six different types of bonuses in addition to your personal sales commissions. Person Production Bonus, Personal Sales Volume Bonus, Quick Start Bonus, Organizational Volume Bonus, Structural Bonus and Breakaway Bonus!
  • Unique Opportunity – Immediately begin building a multi-state insurance sales organization through the use of Leverage. No costly multi-state license fees. Your sponsored agents don’t even have to be writing with the same company or products to receive volume credit!
  • Downline Development Program – Accelerates your agent sponsorships and the growth of your Quick Start, Organizational Volume and Structural Bonuses.
  • Business Building Tools – Comprehensive Website, UandIWIN Toolbar, Life and Health Quote Engines, Promotional DVD, Recruiting Brochure, Power Point and Flip chart Presentations, Sales, Recruiting, Coaching & Opportunity webinars, Downline Development Program and more.

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Source by Daniel Hagy

Financial Analysis on an Oil Corporation Takeover

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Gulf Oil Corp.–Takeover

Summary of Facts

o George Keller of the Standard Oil Company of California (Socal) is trying to determine how much he wants to bid on Gulf Oil Corporation. Gulf will not consider bids below $70 per share even though their last closing price per share was valued at $43.

o Between 1978 and 1982, Gulf doubled its exploration and development expenses to increase their oil reserves. In 1983, Gulf began reducing exploration expenditures considerably due to declining oil prices as Gulf management repurchased 30 million of their 195 million shares outstanding.

o The Gulf Oil takeover was due to a recent takeover attempt by Boone Pickens, Jr. of Mesa Petroleum Company. He and a group of investors had spent $638 million and had obtained around 9% of all Gulf shares outstanding. Pickens engaged in a proxy fight for control of the company but Gulf executives fought Boone’s takeover as he followed up with a partial tender offer at $65 per share. Gulf then decided to liquidate on its own terms and contacted several firms to participate in this sale.

o The opportunity for improvement was Keller’s principal attraction to Gulf and now he has to decide whether Gulf, if liquidated, is worth $70 per share and how much he will bid on the company.

Problems

o What is Gulf Oil worth per share if the company is liquidated?

o Who is Socal’s competition and how are they a threat?

o What should Socal bid on Gulf Oil?

o What can be done to prevent Socal from operating Gulf Oil as a going concern?

Competition

Major competitors for obtaining Gulf Oil include Mesa Oil, Kohlberg Kravis, ARCO, and, of course, Socal.

Mesa Oil:

o Currently holds 13.2% of Gulf’s stock at an average purchase price of $43.

o Borrowed $300 million against Mesa securities, and made an offer of $65/share for 13.5 million shares, which would increase Mesa’s holdings to 21.3%.

o Under the re-incorporation, they would have to borrow an amount many times the value of Mesa’s net worth to gain the majority needed to gain a seat on the board.

o Mesa is unlikely to raise that much capital. Regardless, Boone Pickens and his investor group will make a substantial profit if they sell their current shares to the winner of the bidding.

ARCO:

o Offer price is likely less than $75/share since a bid of $75 will send its debt proportion soaring, thus making it difficult to borrow anything more.

o Socal’s debt is only 14% (Exhibit 3) of total capital, and banks are willing to lend enough to make bids into the $90’s possible.

Kohlberg Kravis:

o Specializes in leveraged buyouts. Keller feels theirs is the bid to beat since the heart of their offer lies in the preservation of Gulf’s name, assets and jobs. Gulf will essentially be a going concern until a longer-term solution can be found.

Socal’s offer will be based on how much Gulf’s reserves are worth without further exploration. Gulf’s other assets and liabilities will be absorbed into Socal’s balance sheet.

Gulf Oil’s Weighted-Average Cost of Capital

o Gulf’s WACC was determined to be 13.75% using the following assumptions:

o CAPM used to calculate cost of equity using beta of 1.5, risk-free rate of 10% (1 year T-bond), market risk premium of 7% (Ibbotson Associates’ data of arithmetic mean from 1926 – 1995). Cost of equity: 18.05%.

o Market value of equity was determined by multiplying the number of shares outstanding by the 1982 share price of $30. This price was used because it is the un-inflated value before the price was driven up by the takeover attempts. Market value of equity: $4,959 million, weight: 68%.

o Value of debt was determined by using the book value of long-term debt, $2,291. Weight: 32%.

o Cost of debt: 13.5% (given)

o Tax rate: 67% calculated by net income before taxes divided by income tax expense.

Valuation of Gulf Oil

Gulf’s value is comprised of two components: the value of Gulf’s oil reserves and the value of the firm as a going concern.

o A projection was made going forward from 1983 estimating oil production until all of the reserves were depleted (Exhibit 2). Production in 1983 was 290 million composite barrels, and this was assumed to be constant until 1991 when the remaining 283 million barrels are produced.

o Production costs were held constant relative to the production amount, including depreciation due to the unit-of-production method currently used by Gulf (Production will be the same, so depreciation amount will be the same)

o Because Gulf uses the LIFO method to account for inventory, it is assumed that new reserves are expensed the same year that they are discovered and all other exploratory costs, including geological and geophysical costs are charged against income as incurred.

o Since there will be no more exploration going forward, the only expenses that will be considered are the costs involved with production to deplete the reserves.

o The price of oil was not expected to rise in the next ten years, and since inflation affects both the selling price of oil and the cost of production, it cancels itself out and was negated in the cash flow analysis.

o Revenues minus expenses determined the cash flows for years 1984-1991. The cash flows cease in 1991 after all oil and gas reserves are liquidated. The cash flows derived account for the liquidation of the oil and gas assets only, and do not account for liquidating other assets such as current assets or net properties. The cash flows were then discounted by net present value using Gulf’s cost of capital as the discount rate. Total cash flows until liquidation is complete, discounted by Gulf’s 13.75% discount rate (WACC), come to $9,981 million.

Gulf’s value as a going concern

o The second component of Gulf’s value is its value as a going concern.

o Relevant to the valuation because Socal does not plan to sell any of Gulf’s assets other than its oil under the liquidation plan. Instead, Socal will utilize Gulf’s other assets.

o Socal can choose to turn Gulf back into a going concern at any time during the liquidation process, all that is needed is for Gulf to start exploration process again.

o Value as a going concern was calculated by multiplying the number of shares outstanding by the 1982 share price of $30. Value: $4,959 million.

o 1982 share price chosen because this is the value the market assigned before the price was driven up by the takeover attempts.

Bidding Strategy

o When two companies merge it is common practice for the purchasing company to overpay for the purchased firm.

o Results in the shareholders of the purchased company profiting from the over-payment, and the shareholders of the purchasing company losing value.

o Socal’s responsibility is to their shareholders, not the shareholders of Gulf Oil.

o Socal has determined the value of Gulf oil, in liquidation, to be $90.39 per share. To pay anything over this amount would result in a loss for Socal shareholders.

o Maximum bid amount per share was determined by finding the value per share with Socal’s WACC, 16.20%. The resulting price was $85.72 per share.

1. This is the price per share that Socal must not exceed to still obtain profit from the merger, because Socal’s WACC of 16.2% is closer to what Socal will expect to pay their shareholders.

o The minimum bid is usually determined by the price the stock is currently selling at, which would be $43 per share.

1. However, Gulf Oil will not accept a bid lower than $70 per share.

2. Also, the addition of the competitor’s willingness to bid at least $75 per share drives the winning bid price up.

o Socal took the average of the maximum and minimum bid prices, resulting in a bid price of $80 per share.

Maintaining Socal’s Value

o If Socal purchases Gulf at $80 it is based on the company’s liquidation value and not as a going concern. Therefore, if Socal operates Gulf as a going concern their stock will be devalued by approximately half. Socal stockholder’s fear that management might takeover Gulf and control the company as is which is only valued at its current stock price of $30.

o After the acquisition, there will be large interest payments that could force management to improve performance and operating efficiency. The use of debt in takeovers serves not only as a financing technique but as a tool to hopefully force changes in managerial behavior.

o There are a few strategies Socal could employ to ensure stockholders and other relevant parties that Socal will takeover and use Gulf at the appropriate value.

o A covenant could be executed on or before the time of the bid. It would specify the future obligations of Socal management and include their liquidation strategy and projected cash flows. Although management might respect the covenant, there is no real motivation to prevent them from implementing their own agenda.

o Management could be monitored by an executive; however, this is often costly and an ineffective process.

o Another way to ensure shareholders, especially when monitoring is too expensive or too difficult, is to make the interests of the management more like those of the stockholders. For instance, an increasingly common solution towards the difficulties arising from the separation of ownership and management of public companies is to pay managers partly with shares and share options in the company. This gives the managers a powerful incentive to act in the interests of the owners by maximizing shareholder value. This is not a perfect solution because some managers with lots of share options have engaged in accounting fraud in order to increase the value of those options long enough for them to cash some of them in, but to the detriment of their firm and its other shareholders.

o It would probably be the most beneficial and the least costly for Socal to align its managers concerns with that of the stockholders by paying their managers partly with shares and share options. There are risks associated with this strategy but it will definitely be an incentive for management to liquidate Gulf Oil.

Recommendation

o Socal will place a bid for Gulf Oil because its cash flows reveal that it is worth $90.39 in a liquidated state.

o Socal will bid $80 per share but limits further bidding to a ceiling of $85.72 because paying a higher price would hurt Socal’s shareholders.

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Source by Colleen May

Rudiments of Drawing: Learn How to Draw the Basic Forms

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Drawing is a journey that teaches a number of skills that you can use for any endeavor. Just about anyone can learn to draw, depending on how much time you want to put into it. Even the most basic skills can be transformed into something pleasing.

The most important thing to remember is to ‘forget’ what you learned in your early educational development. You must use a fluid approach, that doesn’t prescribe the stick figures learned in elementary school. Start by doing a little research into what you might like to learn. The cardinal rules are good to begin with and a book that gives proportions of the figure is a good way to start. Even Michelangelo used measurement and proportion just as other artists like Leonardo De Vinci.

Beginning drawing is a reflection of one’s self just as advanced drawing is; therefore don’t hesitate to ask for help from professionals, because they know how to critique your work in a positive way. In contrast, your friends probably know less than you do. But whatever you find pleasing is important because drawing should remain fun. Although some people find it a good discipline, something like logic for the fundamentals of philosophy, if you find ways that you most enjoy your work you will find it a workable experience.

It’s not important to wish for perfection, even for the most advanced artists, because you learn to be most creative from your mistakes. You should never be afraid of your progress, always keep it fun.

Making your mistakes into something beautiful and pleasing or powerful and passionate, causes you to be more fluid, avoids the traps some artists box themselves into. Because they have found a pleasing style may also mean that they are stuck. Other media will help you to improve your drawing; watercolor is a good one, because it forces you to make quick decisions and give a good overall approach to your work. It also makes you more fluid in drawing because you begin to see the value in quick sketching and the importance of good line.

Whatever gives you more confidence in your approach to drawing is good. If you can visualize your pencil like a brush and make long, strong strokes this is a valuable way to approach your work. Later you can improve on the detail. Another method taken from other media is to start from an overall design and then ‘layering’ your technique using cross hatching or other methods to convey darks and lights will help to fill out your work make it more robust with a 3D effect.

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Source by Hugh Quentin

Wholesale Xbox 360 Distributor Myth – Exposed

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How many times have you tested to find wholesale Xbox 360 games and consoles at bargain prices? I believe the answer is quite a few if you are reading this message. Fact is, searching for wholesale these days is like scrutiny for many business owners. Always in search to possibly get more of the same, big time retail prices.

The reason of why getting 360 systems and its accessories at big time bargain prices is complicated. Everyone that is addicted to wholesale that own them as entertainment, without having to go out from their home and look for them should have the Internet as the best option and everyone that sells tangible game related items needs reliable and profitable distributors for short term and long Term profits for their retail stores.

So what does this have to do with a myth? It means that in 2007 the gaming industry will be promoting for the sell of tangible items. Not only for 360, but PS3, Nintendo Wii and many of its competitors are going out for the hut of the leadership war in the video games industry. That equals to profits.

And what is the fact of wholesale Xbox 360? Since Xbox launch its 360 model, numerous wholesale sources have scheduled the market appearing as middleman companies. Middleman equally means the use of an intermediary to reap some commisions out of a sale, meaning buying wholesale Xbox at wholesale gets really complicated if you are not in the business and are a new comer.

The full myth is that being a middleman and placing as a wholesaler is a devil work- it is not. Reality for many of us is that when you buy from a distributor, you buy from a middleman, since distributors buy directly from the manufacturer most of the time or directly from suppliers. This is indeed many of the truth that has never been exposed into many marketing books and many wholesale list sources available online. Kind of hard to swallow when you are a small business owner or just planning to save for your home entertainment needs.

So in a clean and precise conclusion, becoming a distributor is not a devils work. Many eBay power seller friends of many of us are distributors, but many just purchase from the right sources to receive profitable wholesale Xbox 360 games and consoles at cheap prices for immediate profits. Get the facts for any kind of business you role in for the beginning of 2007 and so on.

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Source by John A. Roberts

Core Roles Of A Human Resources Expert

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The human resources department is one of the most important departments in an organization. Almost all the activities of an organization revolve around the HR department. A Human resource professional must perform a lot of functions and roles in an organization towards the actualization of the corporate goals and objectives of the firm in a way to drive the organization’s vision and mission.

The core roles of a human resources person are grouped into four broad roles that must be carried out professionally. The Human resources professional must be all of these:

A STRATEGIC PARTNER TO HIS ORGANISATION.

AN ADMINISTRATIVE EXPERT.

A CHANGE AGENT.

AN EMPLOYEE CHAMPION.

As a strategic partner, the HR professional must be able to partner with the organization in developing plans that will align the human resources of the firm with the long term corporate goals and vision of the firm. He should be able to contribute to business strategy development by aligning HR jobs with strategic goals. He should be able to provide tools and create an enabling environment to actualize these goals. He is the eyes of his firm in the outside world and should be a liaison between his firm and the society, environment and government. He should be able to analyze work processes and recommend improvements where necessary. He should develop policies that will benefit the firm, Management and employees alike.

As an Administrative expert, the HR professional is expected to carry out administrative duties like providing the necessary tools needed for the organization to operate successfully. He should be able to manage the overall labour costs in his organization and plan for administrative budgets. As an administrative expert, the HR person should be an information manager. He should have at all times all data relating to employees and make same available …at all times. The HR person should be able to discover new and evolving trends that will be beneficial to the company and advise Management accordingly. He should always conduct research to find out what is obtainable in other firms that makes them tick and advise management. The HR person should be able to manage HR budgets (recruitment, selection, training and development, etc. He should be a good negotiator in times of salary decisions.

As a Change agent, he should be able to find out new ways of doing things that can move the company forward. He should be able to convince Management on the need for the change and address employees about changes. He should coordinate and facilitate the change process. He is to provide the tools and structures needed during change period. As an expert, he should be able to create a new organizational change without disrupting the firms business.

As an Employee Champion, the HR professional should be able to manage the selection, recruitment, training, development, career planning, performance management, succession planning, and Staff retention exercises. He is to determine the long term human resources needs, assess current resources and determine area of changes. He is to determine whether human resources needs can be sourced internally or externally. He is to conduct training needs assessment, to determine the type of training that will benefit the staff and organization. Conduct and arrange for trainings and determine the training results on the productivity of the firm. The HR professional manages and carries out career management in a way to align the employees’ dreams with the organizational requirements. Also as an employee champion, the HR expert is to carry out performance appraisal exercises to determine staff performances in their present responsibilities a well as determining those that will be rewarded, promoted, demoted and recognized. As an employee champion he should be involved in grievance handling and disciplinary issues in the firm. He is to handle all employee related matters like leave issues, medicals, pension matters, housing and general welfare issues.

In summary a HR professional should be able to perform the following functions; Manpower planning, recruitment, compensation and salary issues, employee development and administration, Training and career development, labour relations and discipline management, personnel transfer and movement, performance management Human resources information system, payroll, organizational development etc.

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Source by Ndunuju Adiele

What Is A Blog Or What Does Blog Stand For

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What is a blog or what does blog stand for are two questions that many internet users still often ask. Well, in short, a blog is basically an online journal whereby a blogger or a contributor to a blog, can digitally note their own thoughts, ideas, opinions and practically anything else that bloggers want people to read about.

Blogs are often called weblogs because after all they are a particular type of website, usually maintained and updated by an individual with regular entries of events, descriptions of situations, personal commentaries or other material such as graphic images or video. Entries are, more often than not, displayed in reverse-chronological order.

Blogs are fluid, interactive platforms for bloggers to get their message across to readers, as opposed to a more static website platform.

There are many resources available on the internet to provide you with blogging tips and information. For instance should you create your blog via a blogging platform such as blogger.com or buy your own domain and set up your blog via a platform such as WordPress. One important aspect of setting up your own blog is that it enables the blogger to create a bond with their readers and to be able to interact with them. It is a great way to make your own thoughts known to others, to pass on valuable information to interested readers, or to create a web presence for your business. The options are numerous.

To achieve this it is advisable for the blogger to include an “About Us” type page, where the blog owner can outline who they are and to disclose the purpose of the blog to their readers.

It goes without saying therefore that, in the main, the blogger needs to know the subject well enough to write regular blog posts. I say “in the main” because the flexibility of a blog will allow the blogger to write a post inviting their readers to comment on a subject that is not so well known by the blogger.

This approach will further enhance the bloggers bond with the readers and will provide more, fresh unique content to their blog.

As mentioned above, blog posts need to be made on a regular basis, but not too regular if the quality of the blog posts are of a poor quality. For instance it is better to post just one really informative, quality blog post every 2 or 3 days rather than several flimsy posts on a daily basis. In short it is the quality of the post rather than the quantity. Posting poor quality posts too often will drive your readers away.

Very often forgotten by bloggers is the need to include tags in their blog posts. Tags let you target your posts into different categories, which can then be searched by readers. For each of your posts you should be looking to have two or three tags. Make use of tags correctly. For example, ensure you use the same words for similar posts but don’t give posts too many tags, as this tends to clog up categories.

Don’t have too many widgets and/or images on your blog to the extent that it slows down the loading of your blog. Readers will exit very quickly if the blog takes too long to load.

Always remember as well that blogs and blog posting should be enjoyable. It is not like writing articles for article directories. A blog post should be written more like your own experiences rather than a regurgitation of a load of researched facts. For instance, one of my passions is football. If I was posting a blog post on a football match then I would write it based on my own experiences of attending a football match rather than spout a load of facts about what a football match is – rules, the time a match lasts for etc.

The flexibility of a blog enables the blogger to get their message across and to take on board any responses or feedback from their readers. It doesn’t take that long to set up a blog – again there are many tips and guidelines available on the internet.

On a more administrative level, if you do set up your own blog, don’t forget to include a “Contact Us” and a “Privacy Policy” page as a bare minimum.

Try blogging, you will find it to be both enjoyable and rewarding.

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Source by Frank Pasinski

Platforms – Trading Forex – I Make Tens Of Thousands Every Day

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Most people lose all their money in forex, at least the first few times they load up their live account and try to profit from platforms trading. They start out with demo accounts with the platform, most probably with Meta-Trader 4 as it is the most widely used and they practice varying strategies and at least master the basics of platforms trading like opening and closing trades.

The first thing that strikes people when they go live is that all their cool handed emotions that were under control with their demo account has flown straight out the window and change into a completely different person. They start smoking 2 cigarettes at the same time and cannot leave the screen to eat of visit the toilet. Certainly going live even with a tiny $200 account is a very emotional awakening. In no time at all, they’ve lost all their money and don’t have enough equity in the account to open even a single micro-lot trade.

But even if the emotions were not a problem, the true reason that most people lose their money is that they operate under the same nonsense belief system that has been taught throughout the ages. And the main problem these people suffer with is the use of Stop Losses. The real issue is the Stop Loses settings do not stop losses – they only crystalize and confirm them. They lock in losses which seems to me to be a crazy way to hope to make a profit.

I do use the same methods to calculate a stop-loss position, often 50-80 pips away from the price of a trade – but I never enter the setting on a trade. In the alternative, what I do is open a pending Stop Order at the 50-80 pips, and so if a trade does go bad on me, the trade will always stay alive until it eventually does hit my profit target and the pending order goes live in the interim period just locking my equity to no further losses. Thereafter I have time to manage the trades, and to close both the hedged trades in profit. I refuse to accept any trade is a loser; I hedge my bets at safe levels and then make money on both of them.

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Source by Phillip David Jarvie

Forces and Trends in Business

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The corporate environment is characterized by a number of variables: competition, dynamism, turbulence, complexity and change. All organizations must develop ability to continuously and consciously transform themselves and their contexts. Such contexts include restructuring for optimum effectiveness, reengineering key processes and streamlining functions that are able to provide a source of competitive advantage. The aim is to adapt, regenerate and most important, survive. (McLean, 2006).

For a company to thrive today, strategists must find ways to increase the organization’s ability to read and react to industry and market changes. They must know their goal to boost the company’s strategic flexibility by recognizing disruptions earlier and responding faster.

Strategic flexibility or adaptability can be defined as the organization’s capacity to identify major changes in its external environments, quickly commit resources to new courses of action in response to such changes, and to recognize and act promptly when it is time to halt or reverse existing resource commitments. Being adaptable means leaders must not get stuck in a too-rigid way of looking at the world. The organization must view change as an inevitable and essential part of an organization’s growth, in order to achieve this adaptability.

When there is uncertainty or unpredictability in the environment, managers tend to focus almost all their energy on successfully executing the current strategy. What they also should be doing is preparing for an unknown future. Flexibility stems from the ability to learn; managers tend to overlook the negative and emphasize the positive. They need to understand not only what led to the positive outcomes but also what led to the negative ones. This will optimize their learning experience. According to Ford (2004) four points to foster and maintain adaptability include challenging complacency, giving all employees a voice, encouraging participative work and driving fear out of your group.

The companies chosen for this task vary by industry: a famous automobile manufacturer (Ford) a bank going through a merger (Compass) and a start-up software company (DawningStreams). Ford and Compass have been in business for a long time; it is likely they have changed their strategic plan based on changing forces and trends. DawningStreams is new (established in 2005 and incorporated in 2007). Even though they have not had their first sale and have no staff, the owners have devised several iterations of their strategy.

There is a diversity of stakeholders all that are interested in the activity of business organizations. Emphasis must be placed on their adaptability in strategic analysis and their adaptability in strategic management of business organizations. The organization must have a strategic management model.

Each company might scan the same areas, but for different reasons. Considering technological advances, Ford would prepare itself to lead the market by having various electronic equipment in their vehicles, as well as robotic equipment with which to build them and the supply chain technology to keep all in check. Compass Bank is going through a merge and expanding globally; therefore they will need to keep abreast of communication technology. DawningStreams is a software company; they will need to monitor those companies who would be their competition to ensure their product offers better functionality. All three companies would make sure potential customers would be able to get good information from internet websites and advertisement, which encompasses yet another area of technology the organizations may need/want to scan. In this instance, many members of the organization must be enrolled: upper management and finance, who will determine budgetary factors; the IT department, who will be responsible for the implementation and maintenance of some of the technology; the staff who must be trained to use the technology; a sales force who will sell the technology.

To the outside observer, it may seem unnecessary for any but Ford to scan the (actual) environment when it comes to issues such as emission control, fuel efficiency and hybrid cars. That is true however; Compass Bank and DawningStreams can plan a strategy to be friendlier to the environment (and their pocketbooks) by practicing paper reduction (through the aforementioned technology). Lastly, DawningStreams’ product may be useful as a file sharing service to environmental groups.

With regard to the legal environment, all three must be acutely aware of laws, which affect their respective industry among others. To Ford, legal applies, among other areas, to environmental protection laws and department of transportation safety laws. To Compass Bank, they would abide by the rules of the Federal Reserve (www.federalreserve.gov) and the Federal Insurance and Deposit Corporation (www.fdic.gov). DawningStreams must follow laws as they pertain to the transfer of files, which have intellectual property and also the export of products, which have algorithms. All three companies are global and will need to monitor those laws in other countries, which could effect the strategic planning.

At one company after another–from Sears to IBM to Hewlett-Packard to Searle, strategy is again a major focus in the quest for higher revenues and profits. With help from a new generation of business strategists, companies are pursuing novel ways to hatch new products, expand existing businesses, and create the markets of tomorrow. Some companies are even recreating full-fledged strategic-planning groups. United Parcel Service expects to spin out a new strategy group from its marketing department, where strategic plans are now hatched. Explains Chairman Kent C. Nelson: “Because we’re making bigger bets on investments in technology, we can’t afford to spend a whole lot of money in one direction and then find out five years later it was the wrong direction.”

In such a world we need a planning model that allows us to anticipate the future and to use this anticipation in conjunction with an analysis of our organization–its culture, mission, strengths and weaknesses–to define strategic issues, to chart our direction by developing strategic vision and plans, to define how we will implement these plans and to specify how we will evaluate how well we are implementing these plans. The fact that the world is changing as we move forward in the future demands that the process be an iterative one.

Ford Motor Company – Socio-cultural

Ford Motor Company embraces the socio-cultural changes taking place to allow the company to move in the right direction with respect to attitudes in the society. Two areas that stand out in terms of socio-cultural attitudes would be that of fuel economy and smaller cars. The growing concern by the public for better fuel economy has influenced the company’s introduction of the Ford Escape Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid. The organization is committed to the hybrid to improve fuel economy as a global strategy to meet customer demands. The increased demand in society for such environmentalism has assisted in the decision for Ford Motor Company to look forward to adding the hybrid feature to the Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan and continue in such a strategic planning direction.

The customers that use these vehicles get a substantial break on their insurance in many states and a tax credit as well while enjoying the increased mileage of a vehicle that runs on gasoline and capabilities for 100 percent electric power. The environmental scanning by Ford Motor Company has allowed the company to be knowledgeable of the fact that the people in the United States are buying more small cars today than any other type of vehicle segment. The lifestyles changes have been monitored and there is good data that shows that such a trend will continue in this direction and the expected growth in this segment will continue. The company has redesigned the inside and outside of the Ford Focus to set the car apart from the competitors in the small car segment while increasing upgrades and features to experience positive outcomes. The direction that the company is taking is based on a competitive advantage and being a leader in the industry. The vehicle line has both a sedan and a coupe to attract targeted markets including younger buyers at an entry level to build upon brand loyalty and customer retention. Ford Motor Company will continue to use the socio-cultural factors to drive the business and enjoy future success.

Ford Motor Company – Legal –

Ford Motor Company with regard to the Environmental Protection Agency adheres to the legal aspect of environmental scanning. Ford Motor Company accepted an award in March 2007 from the Environmental Protection Agency called the Energy Star 2007 Partner of the Year Award in Energy Management. The company is the first automaker to have ever been awarded the award two years in a row. The award has come to be presented due to the commitment made by the company to increase energy efficiency and to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from all of the facilities in the company.

The organization is committed to the responsible use of resources and energy efficiency. The leadership realizes that the environmental protection laws are of great importance and use the environmental scanning to move in the right direction to obtain future success in the company. In 2006 alone the company has improved the energy efficiency in the United States operations by five percent and saving approximately $25 million with enough energy saved to equal 220,000 homes. The effective energy management protects the environment and reduces the greenhouse emissions. Some of the actions taken by the company include replacing lighting fixtures that use 40 percent less energy and using different low-energy, long-lasting compact fluorescent lamps in the properties to include the plants, corporate offices, distribution centers, and research and development campuses. Due to the environmental scanning that takes place at Ford Motor Company the company will use the information that is collected and continue in this direction. New projects for the company include Fumes-to-Fuel that is a system that converts paint fumes into electricity that is being performed with Detroit Edison along with attempting to consolidate the application of primer, base and clearcoat paint applications into a single application to eliminate the need for separate applications and ovens. In addition to the paint booth emissions Ford Motor Company will continue to rely on alternative energy sources such as landfill gas and wind and solar technologies to power their manufacturing facilities.

Ford Motor Company – Technology –

Another environmental scanning tool that Ford Motor Company monitors and uses would be the technological portion. The company has invested $1 billion in the latest technology for flexible manufacturing. The technology that is involved is in many forms to include wireless technology that is installed on the delivery trucks with supplies to the plant as a monitoring status and improved efficiency to reduce inventory. The flexibility of products in the same plant allows the organization to use the same machinery and process for all areas from body assembly, paint facility, and final assembly. The improved efficiency at the manufacturing facility allows for several vehicle platforms to be built on the same line to produce multiple models and quickly change the vehicle mix, the volume, and options based on customer demand.

The technological changes that are being embraced by Ford Motor Company through environmental scanning enables the company to experience huge cost savings through new product launches and 50 percent reductions in cycle changeovers along with waste reduction. Robots are among the technological changes that are being experienced within the organization to include the 400 from the project that are used to weld and assemble the metal body of the vehicle for stamping and assembly. Artificial intelligence in the form of advanced visions systems and laser tracking systems are used to ensure quality through accuracy and dimension abilities. A multi-million dollar training facility is used to ensure that the workforce has the knowledge, skills, and ability to reap the benefits from the new technology that is being used by the company. The training that is administered includes the new servo-electric weld gun system that identifies the perfect center for welding that has replaced the older and loud air-powered system that used a less sophisticated spring system. The environmental scanning of technology that is performed by Ford Motor Company has allowed the company to have positive outcomes in efficiency while remaining a competitive company in the industry through cost savings and continuous improvement.

Compass Bank- Political –

On February 16, 2007, Compass Bancshares, Inc., the parent company of Compass Bank, announced the signing of a definitive agreement under which Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A. (NYSE: BBV Madrid: BBVA) (“BBVA”) will acquire Compass for a combination of cash and stock. Compass will become a wholly owned U.S. subsidiary of BBVA and will continue to operate under the Compass name. The transaction is expected to close during the second half of 2007, pending customary closing conditions, including necessary bank regulatory approvals in the U.S. and Spain and the approval of the stockholders of both Compass and BBVA.

BBVA, which operates in 35 countries, is based in Spain and has substantial banking interests in the Americas. The transaction will facilitate BBVA’s continued growth in Texas and will create the largest regional bank across the Sunbelt. Upon completion of the transaction, Compass will rank among the top 25 banks in the United States with approximately $47 billion in total assets, $32 billion in total loans and $33 billion in total deposits. In addition, the combined company will rank fourth in deposit market share in Texas with $19.6 billion in total deposits and 326 full-service banking offices.

Compass is a $34 billion Southwestern financial holding company that operates 415 full-service banking centers in Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Texas. Compass provides a broad array of products and services through three primary lines of business – Corporate Banking, Retail Banking and Wealth Management. Compass is among the top 30 U.S. bank holding companies by asset size and ranks among the top earners of its size based on return on equity.

Under the terms of the definitive agreement, which has been approved by the board of directors of Compass and the relevant bodies of BBVA, Compass will become a wholly owned subsidiary of BBVA. After closing, BBVA intends to merge its U.S. based banking affiliates – including the former operations of Texas Regional Bancshares, State National Bancshares and Laredo National Bancshares – with Compass.

The aggregate consideration is composed of a fixed number of approximately 196 million shares of BBVA common stock and approximately $4.6 billion in cash. The merger is subject to customary closing conditions, including necessary bank regulatory approvals in the U.S. and Spain and the approval of the stockholders of both Compass and BBVA. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2007.

The merger between both companies will be determined by the political factors ranging from implications of laws and regulations to the state of world politics including the consideration of wars which may be going on in different parts of the world. New laws, regulations, tax programs and public policy create forces and trends, which may provide challenges and barriers or opportunities for any company or organization.

Compass Bank – Technology –

Ford is in the process of implementing a laser marking system on its production line to ensure the highest standard on each transmission assembled. The system will be checking for quality on different points on the assembly line. Ford is teaming up with a company called MECCO to implement this process and a trial run of the new system will last for 3 months. MECCO is a leader in its industry when it comes to laser technology. The decision to implement this new laser marking system came because it is more cost- effective and safer than previous ways of marking checkpoints for quality.

Although this process at Ford has not officially been implemented yet, Compass Bank can learn a few different things. It may be a good idea for Compass Bank to do a short trial of online cell phone banking to see how popular it becomes and if it worth all the time and effort, being spent to get it launched. Compass Bank should also consider investing into a company who is the best at what they do, is in the same time zone, and can meet their demands in a timely manner, not simply because they may be cheaper. Finally, Compass Bank can learn that they need to consider what will be most cost-effective and in the best interest of the company over time. Organizing a time line and a list of costs and potential risks would also be beneficial to Compass Bank so they know what to expect and when with the implementation of online cell phone banking.

When completing the global scan one looks for emerging new technologies which may impact any business in any industry. At one time the emergence of the Internet was a technology that was becoming an emerging trend across all industries. Today very new technologies are used to develop information systems at a fraction of the cost and time of processes that were used five years ago. Wireless is a telecommunications technology that may have moved from a trend to a force in revolutionizing the way information is stored, accessed and used across all industries around the world. Some, if leveraged by a company within an industry before competitors use it, may even provide a competitive advantage.

Compass Bank – Competition –

Although mergers may be costly and rather difficult, the value it creates in the end is the desired outcome companies seek. The eagerness to merge is based on several beliefs, those beliefs are, that the performance gains are greater, expenses are reduced, market power is increased, and shareholder’s wealth is also greater than before. The value of a merger is enhanced when the overall benefit is more valuable than the aggregate of two separate pre-merger companies.

In the end, both John and Bernard should consider this before finalizing a decision. When Zion’s purchased Stockmans, there overall value increased by 43 branches. These branches will help performance and brings much more power to the financial market. In the Journal of Money article, Pilloff states “Companies are more willing to acquire others to avoid being acquired themselves.” Keeping this in mind, companies must figure out a cross border strategy.

As part of the broad environmental scan, it is important to identify the internal capabilities of the organization. There are various models for defining capabilities. Most focus on the broad set of intangible assets such as brand, human capital, organizational capital and even relationship capital. Others include the more concrete assets such as available capital, the organization structure, current technologies and information technology infrastructure. In addition to doing a broad environmental trend, Compass Bank needs to do a more detailed capability assessment using any of the models available.

DawningStreams – Competitors –

Business activities are becoming more and more complex to manage, because of distance, time zones, number of parties involved in projects, number of tasks to achieve, multiple prioritizations, lack of general synchronization, insufficient secure and confidential communication channels and growing complexity of IT infrastructures. The use of task list managers has become very common. It is becoming more difficult to keep teams synchronized, to follow and to implement new business processes and to exchange sensitive information confidentially. The DawningStreams software application is aiming at increasing the practicality of daily executive activities. The types of business, which will most probably be interested in our product, are construction (size of network), consulting (need for synchronization), pharmaceutical research (secure exchange of information) and the software industry (complexity of manufacturing).

Many companies have already developed software applications that enable secured communications and file sharing. However, most, if not all, are relying on Microsoft technologies, which prevent them from expanding to Mac or Unix users. DawningStreams is developed in Java, which can be used on any platform, including Mac and Unix. Microsoft has acquired the Groove Company and has released a new version of the product, which can perform many of the functionalities of DawningStreams, but not generic activities (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/groove/default.aspx). This is our closest competitor by far. More recently, we found, merely by accident, a company called Shinkuro (www.shinkuro.com), which offers the file sharing aspects of DawningStreams but lacks other capacities.

Although DawningStreams will face competition from many existing players, the fact that it will combine a super-set of functionalities in one application, for a very reasonable price, will give it some leading edge over other competitors. If the US patent is granted, the position of DawningStreams will become a niche. Even if the patent were not granted, it would take a profound architectural redesign of Groove (or other competitors) to include generic activities and match the offer of DawningStreams. As a strategy we will monitor the activities of those companies’ websites and understand what they offer in terms of similar functionality and try to ensure we match or best those functionalities to the best of our ability and resources

DawningStreams – Political –

Maintaining the secrecy of information is the fundamental function of encryption items. Persons abroad may use such items to harm US law enforcement efforts, as well as US foreign policy and national security interests. The US Government has a critical interest in ensuring that persons opposed to the United States are not able to conceal hostile or criminal activities, and that the legitimate needs for protecting important and sensitive information of the public and private sectors are met. Since 2000, US encryption export policy has been directed by three fundamental practices: technical review of encryption products prior to sale, streamlined post-export reporting, and license reviews of proposed transactions involving strong encryption to certain foreign government end-users and countries of concern. US encryption policy also seeks to ensure that American companies are not disadvantaged by the European Union’s “license-free zone.” (Bureau of Industry and Security, 2007).

DawningStreams will contain cryptographic functions. Any reliable and efficient cryptographic system requires a central authority to avoid identity theft. Cryptography is a key functionality of DawningStreams. All specialists insist on designing systems using well-studied algorithms and fully tested protocols; novelty is considered a source of risk. The cryptographic layer of DawningStreams will rely on a dual public-private key system. The private key encryption system will implement Rijndael, the Advanced Encryption Standard (http://csrc.nist.gov/CryptoToolkit/aes/rijndael/), the public key system will implement RSA (www.rsa.com) and the hashing function will implement the 256 bits version of the Secure Hash Algorithm (http://secure-hash-algorithm-md5-sha-1.co.uk/ ).

Encryption products can be used to conceal the communications of terrorists, drug smugglers, and others intent on harming U.S. interests. Cryptographic products and software also have military and intelligence applications that, in the hands of hostile nations, could pose a threat to U.S. national security. The national security, foreign policy, and law enforcement interests of the United States are protected by encryption export controls. These controls are consistent with Executive Order (E.O.) 13026, which was issued on November 15, 1996, and the Presidential Memorandum of the same date. (Bureau of Industry and Security, 2007).

DawningStreams also plans to be an international company, as offices now exist in the Netherlands and the US. As part of the strategy, we will ensure we remain compliant by registering our product with any necessary agency and allowing those agencies access to the processes if they feel there is a threat. We will be responsible to monitor (as best as we can) our client base and to put the proper verbiage in our contracts that illegal activities will not be tolerated. We will continue to monitor the BIS site mentioned in previous paragraphs and also sites in the European Union such as the Crypto Law website of legal expert Bert-Jaap Koops (http://rechten.uvt.nl/koops/)

DawningStreams – Technology/Intellectual Property –

The management of organizational strategy requires a comprehensive assessment of the macro environment of the business. Intellectual Property (IP) refers to the original ideas and innovations evolved by an organization in order to haul up its systems and processes. Creation of ideas requires large investments. This necessitates the protection of IP. Benchmarking is the continuous process of measuring products, processes, and systems of an organization against those that are rated best in the industry. It helps in uncovering weaknesses and flaws in the organizational systems, processes, and products. (Watson, 2003)

The study of the global research conducted by McAfee Inc. and MessageLabs Ltd. on security threat in small businesses in the U.S. reveals that 80 percent of small-and-medium-sized businesses (SMB) believe that an information technology (IT) security failure would be damaging in attaining their business priorities. Yet, only few are courageously making steps to fight against infringements due to resource limitations from other business related priorities. The research implies that company size plays an essential part in the way senior management views security. Among the challenges that SMBs face include keeping up-to-date with security solutions and keeping costs low. Small-to-medium businesses’ behavior towards security is very tactical and meets only immediate requirements. (unknown, 2007)

DawningStreams’ relevance to these forces is two-fold. We are a software company—there is an opportunity for us to lose the intellectual property by those who would download and attempt to modify the code. We have competitors who offer functionality similar to ours, however we offer an additional functionality the others do not. It is this ‘specialty functionality’ for which we applied for a patent the United States Patent and Trademark Office. If the patent is granted, there is less likelihood of software piracy or the loss of our IP. Environmental scans should show us if there are other companies trying to do this.

The functionality, which most resembles our competitors’, is the ability to share files. That brings in a different concern with intellectual property- the possibility someone else’s IP could be sent from one of our users to another, as this could seriously damage our reputation, as what happened with Napster. (www.napster.com).

Conclusion

At one company after another–from Sears to IBM to Hewlett-Packard to Searle, strategy is again a major focus in the quest for higher revenues and profits. With help from a new generation of business strategists, companies are pursuing novel ways to hatch new products, expand existing businesses, and create the markets of tomorrow. Some companies are even recreating full-fledged strategic-planning groups. United Parcel Service expects to spin out a new strategy group from its marketing department, where strategic plans are now hatched. Explains Chairman Kent C. Nelson: “Because we’re making bigger bets on investments in technology, we can’t afford to spend a whole lot of money in one direction and then find out five years later it was the wrong direction.”

In such a world we need a planning model that allows us to anticipate the future and to use this anticipation in conjunction with an analysis of our organization–its culture, mission, strengths and weaknesses–to define strategic issues, to chart our direction by developing strategic vision and plans, to define how we will implement these plans and to specify how we will evaluate how well we are implementing these plans. The fact that the world is changing as we move forward in the future demands that the process be an iterative one.

References

Bilek, E. (n.d.) Compass Bankshares to be Acquired by Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria, S.A.,

Investor Relations. Retrieved from the Internet on March 31, 2007 at

http://media.corporate-ir.net/media_files/irol/77/77589/bbvarelease.pdf

Cole, Jim. Zions makes small deal, cites growing Arizona market. American Banker, 171(175), 1-1. Retrieved March 31, 2007 from Proquest Database.

Ford Motor Company (2006). Ford Motor Company. Retrieved March 2007,

from the World Wide Web, Web Site: [https://ford.com]

Ford, S. (2004) Adapted from 13 Skills Managers Need to Succeed, Harvard Business School

Press. Retrieved March 31, 2007 from EBSCOHost Database.

Hockenberry, Todd. (2006). Ford implements advanced laser marking. Industrial Laser Solutions, 21(4), 6-7. Retrieved March 31, 2007, from EBSCOhost database

Jacobs, P. (2005) Five Steps to Thriving in times of Uncertainty. Negotiation (p.3) Retrieved

April 1, 2007 from EBSCOHost Database.

McLean, J. (2006) We’re going through changes! British Journal of Administrative Management

54. Retrieved March 30, 2007 from EBSCOHost Database.

Pearce, J. & Robinson, R, (2004). Strategic Management: Formulation, Implementation, and Control. [University of Phoenix Custom Edition e-text]. The McGraw-Hill Companies. Retrieved March 2007, from the University of Phoenix, Resource, MBA 580-Strategies for Competitive Advantage Course Web Site: https://ecampus.phoenix.edu/secure/resource/resource.asp

Author Unknown, Strategic Planning, After a decade of gritty downsizing, Big Thinkers are back in corporate vogue. (2006) Retrieved from the Internet at http://www.businessweek.com/1996/35/b34901.htm

Unknown (2007) 80% of Small-to-Medium Sized Firms Fear a Security Threat. Computer Security Update 8 (4). Retrieved March 30, 2007 from EBSCOHost Database.

Unknown (2006) Strategic Planning, After a decade of gritty downsizing, Big Thinkers are back

in corporate vogue. Retrieved from the Internet at

http://www.businessweek.com/1996/35/b34901.htm

US Department of Commerce (2007), Encryption (ch.10, section 742.15). Retrieved March 27, 2007 from the Bureau of Industry and Security Website at http://www.bis.doc.gov/news/2007/foreignpolicyreport/fprchap10_encryption.html

Watson, G. (2003) Business Environmental Scans for Intellectual Property Strategy (PowerPoint Presentation). Retrieved March 28, 2007 from the Oklahoma State University website at http://www.okstate.edu/ceat/msetm/courses/etm5111/CourseMaterials/ETM5111Session3Part2.ppt#260,1,Business Environmental Scans for Intellectual Property Strategy

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Source by Steven Phillip Brown

Definition of "Halogen-free" Leaves Many Materials Incorrectly Classified: The Florine Loophole

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While chlorine and bromine are widely recognized, reported and restricted as halogens in many applications, it is noteworthy that fluorine, iodine, and astatine (other Group 17/VIIA halogens on the Periodic Table of the Elements) are not restricted in the accepted industry definitions of “halogen-free”. Dependent on the industry considering the “halogen-free” designator, chlorine and bromine are the only halogens restricted and then at levels below 900-1,000 parts per million.

In the case of fluorine used in plastics, many anti-drip agents employed in “halogen-free” plastic compounds including polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), better known as Teflon®, contain fluorine and the anti-drip agents have been reported to be used in the 0.1-1.4 wt% range. Some of these products can contain significant quantities of fluorine exceeding the level typically accepted under IEC 61249-2-21 as content limits established for other halogens (0.09% or 900 parts per million). In other cases, fluorinated salts may be formulated into plastic products at typical levels of 800 parts per million, especially plastic parts produced from polycarbonate, to impart flame retardant properties while the product is labeled “halogen-free.”

Additionally, it is noteworthy to consider that fluorinated polymeric resins incorporated or alloyed into a plastic compound also do not contribute to the “halogen-free” standing of a finished polymer because of the omission of fluorine from the list of considered halogens. Such fluorinated resins that could be incorporated or alloyed to impart improved electrical, flammability and processing properties include:

o polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF),

o ethylenetrifluoroethylene (ETFE)

o copolymers of ethylene and chlorotrifluoroethylene (ECTFE)

o polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE)

o fluorinated ethylene propylene (FEP)

The apparent omission of fluorine, a halogen used in polymeric additives and plastics that are subsequently compounded into other plastics regularly to impart flame resistance and other properties, is due primarily to test methodology and limitations in detecting fluorine. The test methods employed to detect bromine and chlorine do not have the capability to detect fluorine and as such fluorine is left undetected and unreported although it too is a halogen. Without significant address in test methodology, it is unlikely that total halogen content will be considered by regulators in the near future; however, environmentalists have become aware of fluorine toxicology and the potential human effects in recent developments related to groundwater contamination by fluorinated compounds and potential effects of thermal decomposition of PTFE.

Recent concerns over the potential toxicological effects of groundwater contamination by some fluorinated precursors and by-products including perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in the United States as well as potential human toxicological effects caused through contact with products containing PTFE produced by DuPont, better known as Teflon®, could cause a review of this apparent dual status for halogen materials used throughout industry. According to the environmental investigative organization Environmental Working Group:

“… in the past five years, the multi-billion dollar “perfluorochemical” (PFC) industry, which underpins such world-famous brands as Teflon®, Stainmaster®, Scotchgard® and Gore-Tex®, has emerged as a regulatory priority for scientists and officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The PFC family is characterized by chains of carbon atoms of varying lengths, to which fluorine atoms are strongly bonded, yielding essentially indestructible chemicals that until recently were thought to be biologically inert. No one thinks so now.”

Since 2000, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) has undertaken a significant review of perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). [US EPA PFOA Factsheet] In 2000, the US EPA peremptorily forced the elimination of PFOS, the chemical used for decades as the active ingredient in the popular Scotchgard® stain and water repellant from 3M. At about the same time, 3M ceased manufacture of the related perfluorochemical PFOA.

Throughout 2005, the United States Environmental Protection Agency has had PFOA under intense regulatory scrutiny due to reports of groundwater contamination. PFOA is most widely used in the manufacture of PTFE. One significant brand of PTFE under scrutiny is Dupont Teflon®. Due to findings from toxicity studies and by the presence of PFOA in the blood of more than 90 percent of the United States population, the United States Environmental Protection Agency continues its review of human toxicity studies and potential health effects.

In December 2005, Dupont reached a US$16.5 million settlement agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in an enforcement action related to the chemical compound PFOA; this settlement follows a civil settlement of US$107 million in March 2005 on related matters concerning alleged PFOA contamination of local drinking water by Dupont in West Virginia, USA.

In 2006, the issue of PFOA and PFOS content in plastics and other materials will be considered by many states. In California (USA), a coalition consisting of the United Steelworkers (USW), Sierra Club, Environmental Law Foundation, Environment California, U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Environmental Working Group (EWG) filed a petition to have PFOA listed as “a chemical that is known to the state to cause cancer” under California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, commonly referred to as Proposition 65. If adopted, the finding would require information labels on products based on specific toxicological findings under California Right to Know requirements. Additionally, a preliminary report on perfluorochemical contamination in Minnesota was considered by the Senate Environmental Committee in February 2006.

In April 2006, sixteen lawsuits filed in a US$5 billion class-action suit have been transferred to a Federal Court in Des Moines, Iowa, USA. Court papers allege Teflon® makers withheld information about chemicals used to make Teflon® chemicals that are allegedly released when the pans are heated. Dupont, the manufacturer of Teflon® says the material is safe.

With the settlements in recent cases, pending class actions in Iowa (USA) related to potential human poisoning from fluorinated stick-free cooking surfaces and the information that has now been developed and exchanged during peer review, environmental watchdog groups and regulatory officials alike are continuing their reviews and investigations into the widespread use of perfluorochemicals in many industries with no immediate indication of potential outcome. It should be noted that the use of perfluorochemicals as anti-drip agents and flame retardants or the use of fluorinated polymers like PVDF or FEP has not been affected by any of the investigations to this point. However, because the use of perfluorochemicals is allowed within the guidelines of “halogen-free” materials, the reformulation of polymeric materials to eliminate the use of these scrutinized materials provides for significant opportunity from a technological development standpoint in providing truly “non-halogen” materials for the marketplace.

JMME, Inc., Copyright 2006, All rights reserved

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Source by John Moritz

Advantages to Android Game Development

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The industry of mobile game development has introduced a very important aspect to the market – the ability to conceptualize, develop, and release video games on devices with far more success and ease than ever before. And with the Android app marketplace only requiring a one-time fee for submitting an application, the cost becomes almost negligible to put the product out for millions of customers to find. Even the submission process is drastically shorter than on most other smartphones, as the app regulation is far more lenient for the Android OS.

Another drawing point for developing games on Android devices is the programming language featured- Java. Java has long been one of the most popular programming languages for video game developers, and thus makes it extremely easy for the average programmer to pick up Android development for the first time. Compared to most other mobile platforms, which usually sport modified or newly invented languages, the learning curve is decreased to nearly nothing, so a new developer can complete a game in a fraction of the time.

Another unique aspect to Android game development is the lack of standardization in the droid phone family. As the Android OS is not licensed to a single mobile phone making company, the phones themselves can vary to an extreme degree in terms of features and hardware specifications. While one device may have a fully functioning A-GPS and HDMI video compatibility, another may have a QWERTY keyboard and no GPS at all. While this is certainly appealing to some developers, as they are likely to find a phone that will meet their hardware needs precisely, it will also restrict the potential audience, as some phones will not be able to support the more complex applications.

When the game development process has finally reached the point where it can be released to the public, the developer is presented with yet another choice- which market would the game be most visible in? Unlike the iOS, there are numerous marketplaces and app stores for Android phones, each one with it’s own advantages and disadvantages. From the basic Android marketplace, built to only display the apps compatible with the phone currently being used, to the Amazon app store, which offers a different free app every day, the myriad of marketing strategies can be almost daunting, which makes it all the more useful that an application can almost always be entered into multiple marketplaces without issue. However, whether it makes sense to spread attention across several different fields is another question entirely.

The Android game development process overall truly gives the most variety on the smartphone market. From start to finish, strategies can be hand-tailored to the developer’s desires, making the game as close to the original concept as currently possible. While the audience may not be as large as that of iPhone users, the Android presents itself as a strong contender, purely through its accessibility. And with the largest variety of smartphones on the current market, the possibilities for development are inexhaustible, and continued releases can only add to the capabilities the platform has to offer.

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Source by Michael VK

Niche Awareness – 5 Things You Need to Know

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When you are first starting out in internet marketing one of the hardest things to do can be deciding which niche market you are going to target.

I know when I was first starting out I went from having no idea what area I would be targeting to being bombarded by so many different niche markets my head was spinning at the prospect of picking just one or two.

With that in mind I am going to look at some of the various kinds of niche markets available to you as well as a few other things you will need to consider, with the intention of casting a little light on the subject and hopefully as a result make the whole process of choosing a niche market that bit easier for you.

1. Try traditional niche markets

The traditional niche markets break down into three main categories

• Health and Fitness

• Wealth Creation

• Lifestyle

Each of these markets has existed for far longer than the internet has and will always be in demand. In fact, these markets have existed since before the beginning of marketing itself.

For example, people are always looking to improve their health, this could be health in general or dealing with a health condition that they have to live with such as diabetes, high blood pressure, back pain, asthma or IBS to name but a few.

Maybe you are more interested in the fitness side of things, again the scope for this market is huge and very much in demand. People are always looking for ways to work out at home or shorten their time at the gym with different ways to get the maximum results in the shortest amount of time. A lot of these gym goers are looking at ways to put on weight or build muscle.

Which brings me nicely onto what is probably the biggest area under the health and fitness banner, this is weight loss. The global weight loss market is estimated to be worth £220 million with an estimated 29 million Brits attempting to lose weight last year alone and with obesity on the rise this market is only going to get bigger. With that in mind there’s always a marketplace out there that will be hungry for information in this area.

In the same way, people are always looking to make more money, maybe they have retired and want something to fill their time and top up their pension, or they could be looking for something to do as a hobby that can generate a little extra cash to supplement their wages. It could be, they have dreams of quitting the drudgery of the 9 to 5 and starting out on their own. As with health and fitness, wealth creation is a huge marketplace with numerous possibilities.

Similarly, lifestyle is an area that people want to improve constantly, this again covers a wide range of subjects, quitting smoking or drinking could also be covered by the health and fitness banner but tends to come under lifestyle as does improving sleep and stress management. You could also look at relaxation techniques and meditation as well as the very popular relationship niche. So as you can see a vast number of people will always be looking for solutions within this market.

In conclusion, the markets I’ve mentioned are a fantastic place to start if you’re thinking of going into internet marketing, or even if you’re already up and running and you want to explore a new niche then these are huge markets for you to tap into.

2. Solve peoples problems

Every single person who is in internet marketing brings a wealth of knowledge with them, and if you think that this is not true for you, then you are wrong. We all have things that we are passionate about, or are knowledgeable in, it could be a hobby that you have been doing for years or maybe you do a job in which you have gained knowledge that could be passed on to the less initiated – insider information, tricks of the trade etc. You can use what you know or love to help solve other peoples problems. Even if you don’t have all the answers, with access to the internet you have all the experts in your chosen topic at your finger tips – just Google it! And if you’re solving a problem, you’re helping someone. If you’re helping someone, then you can get paid for your time and effort.

Every single day people all over the world are looking for answers to problems they may have, in every single subject under the sun. Don’t believe me? try googling ‘how to get my bread to rise’ and you get over 5.6 million results, or try ‘How to improve my golf swing’ and over 1.25 million results are returned, or try something more obscure like ‘How to stop my dog barking’ and you get over 770,000 results. What I’m trying to say here is that regardless of what you are knowledgeable about there is someone out there looking for answers to problems in that particular area.

If you can provide a solution to the people who are looking for answers, in a way that they can easily access, then you can get paid for doing it.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to produce an e-book and with websites such as Amazon kindle direct publishing; https://kdp.amazon.com it’s now easier than ever to get your e-book out into the market place. If you add an audio or video version as well, then you will greatly improve your widespread appeal.

Do your research right and you can easily find the most common problems in your chosen niche. A very good way of finding what problems people need solving is to go direct to the market itself. One of the best places to look can be online forums dedicated to your chosen subject, you will find numerous people here looking for answers to an abundance of problems. Places like Yahoo Answers are also a great way of finding out what problems people are facing. If you want to you can always go and survey people in your chosen niche.

This is not only a great way to find out what problems people need solving, it’s also very valuable to you because the people are basically telling you what product they need. All you have to do is give it to them.

3. Do your research

Research within your chosen niche is vital. It’s important because it tells you what the market is thinking and more importantly what it wants. It also tells you if the demand is big enough to be worth your time and effort creating products that that particular market is asking for.

By going direct to the market you can discover what problems they face, what solutions they’ve tried, what has worked and what hasn’t worked, you’ll get a better insight into what people want and be better placed to provide a solution in a targeted way.

If you already have a list, that’s great, send them a brief email questionnaire, ask them what they want to learn about, what problems they have (short term and long term), what kind of information they need.

One great way to find a niche market is to use the Google Keyword Tool https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal You can see how many people are searching for a specific word or phrase, this is an invaluable tool to ascertain if there is a demand for the niche you are considering. If there are 10,000 searches per month or more and very little competition from advertisers, you may well have found yourself a niche that’s ready and waiting to be tapped into.

4. Keep looking

It’s important as an internet marketer to constantly be on the lookout for new ideas and continue to search for new niches and markets that you can potentially tap into, this will not only increase the number of income streams you have but will also ensure that you are not putting all your eggs into one basket should one niche area start to wane. Having said that, don’t give up on one niche just because you have had a successful product. If one product has worked, then the potential is there to sell more, keep going in that same niche until you have 4 or 5 good products all making you money.

Don’t forget to keep a constant relationship with your existing buyers, send out emails at least once a month, send them offers, upsells and other products that you think they may be interested in. Remember it is easier and cheaper to sell to someone who has already been a customer than to sell to a complete stranger.

You are surrounded by places where you can gain inspiration for new niche markets. Try going to the magazine section of your local shop, look at the various magazines on sale and the subjects they cover, chances are that If there’s a magazine for it, then it is likely to have enough potential buyers to be a worthwhile niche market.

As I mentioned earlier you can also find inspiration by playing around with the Google Ads Keyword Tool as well.

5. Go deeper

What I mean by this is quite simply finding more specific fields of interest within your chosen niche. For example, maybe your niche is the beauty market so then your more specific areas within this market could be hair, or nails, looking younger or even the make-up niche.

Taking the make-up niche as an example, you can narrow this down to things such as applying lipstick, foundations for different skin types, or applying eye make up.

Lets say you decide to create products about eye make-up, If you are somewhat of an expert on this subject then that’s great, turn what you know into an e-book or a step by step video tutorial. If you are not then don’t worry you could interview experts in this area and maybe record the interview and produce your product from this.

By going deeper and being more precise you could really get the most out of your chosen niche and because you’re being very specific you can open up a whole world of possibilities to build on. Remember people love to learn from experts and so that attention to detail will pay off.

It’s also a good idea to think laterally within your niche market and consider what other products or services people might be interested in. As I mentioned earlier, if people have already bought from you, then suggest other products you think they may be interested in or offer them an upsell of another higher priced product.

Finally, make sure that you take careful notes of what works and what doesn’t work, then maybe look at how you can use what works in the future and whether you can fix the things that do not work or if you need to discard them and try a different approach.

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Source by Darren Russell

Evolving Web Development Industry

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An elaborated interpretation of several actions that are linked to the formation and development of a website is known as web development.

It may include numerous things such as web designing, web server configurations, e-commerce, coding etc. But the general view of web expert’s states that web development is the non-design features of formation of a website. It may include simple static tools dealing with plain texts up to highly complicated electronic businesses, web aligned internet applications.

A vast number of web developers are included in gigantic business and corporations. Whereas the small scale business or organizations can just work with an individual, permanent or on a contract, developer. Another option that is available is, assigning the job to a company that is established for the sole purpose of development of websites for others.

With time, web developing got included amongst the most evolving industries globally that too in a short period of time.

The major driving force behind the rising of this industry are the big companies that want to enhance their businesses and promote their products and services not only to the existing clients but also to make sure that their products and services are exposed to the greater customer market.

Another factor that helped boost this field to such an extent is the fact that the development and web hosting does not cost much. Compared to the past, it now costs minimal to create and develop a website. Creating a simple website is no longer considered a tough job considering you have the idea and the relevant information.

Minor web page development companies are now capable of producing designs that help small scale organizations to enhance their businesses. The minor web developers are equipped with such skills that is playing a big role in boosting the web development industry.

Not only this, a large number of applications are available publicly and free and serve as development tools, which help to assist in the process of development. Such applications include PHP, Linux, etc. these applications are usually available for free. This promotes the usage of these applications by individuals globally who is working on making new websites for their brands as well as adds to the advancements of the already existing ones.

The software’s such as Adobe Dreamweaver also play their part in the popularity of website development.

By using these software’s, you have the ability to create web pages that are dynamic, elegant and highly professional looking, in a short duration of time. The special skills required for HTML or other programming, coding is not a necessity for these, but having them just adds as an advantage.

Strong and highly advanced versions of Linux, PHP, and Apache are utilized as the latest tools in the development of web pages.

Microsoft.NET technologies are also employed to form a website that serves as a medium to utilize all the applications available on the internet. Applications that are accessible even in the offline state are more preferred and widely distributed by the developers to promote them as much as possible.

New content is developed now by the applications available rather than using the conventional way to executing code. This is made dispersal of information quick and easy. Web professionals can now access applications from around the world rather than accessing just the ones in their location.

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Source by Yasir M Chohan

The 7 Principles of Business Integrity

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If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t

have integrity, nothing else matters. — Alan K. Simpson

If I were to ask you what attribute is the most influential

in regard to the success of a business, would you know

immediately which one is the most important? Based on my

many years as a business owner and entrepreneur, I have

discovered that at the very top of the list is the

distinguishing quality of integrity. Without integrity at

the helm of a company, a business is usually short-lived. In

fact, when business integrity is present throughout the

deepest layers of a company and not just at its surface, it

becomes the heart and soul of the company’s culture and can

mean the difference between a company that succeeds and a

company that falters.

The Internet’s Immeasurable Impact on the Marketplace!

The importance of integrity has always existed among the

business community, but in recent times has been shown as

falling short. It is the Internet’s immeasurable impact on

the global marketplace that is now making the expression of

integrity, reliability and credibility extremely important.

Furthermore, the consequence of global competition means

that customers will simply not consider a company that shows

any less than the highest level of integrity. Since there is

a wealth of competitive companies easily available and

accessible via the Internet, there is in fact no need to

accept anything less than the best.

Where Does Integrity Start?

In an effort to build upon a foundation of integrity, the

first requirement would be to establish excellent rapport

with clients. Based on many years of study, the best and

most practiced method for achieving rapport is by way of

Relationship Marketing. Just as it sounds, Relationship

Marketing is founded on the single and most critical

characteristic, known as “Integrity.” However, achieving

true integrity with clients often leaves many an

entrepreneur bewildered, grasping for techniques and

strategies that guarantee their futures. But integrity is

not something that can be grasped and then simply used.

Integrity in its essence must be so ingrained within the

nature of an individual, its company and the team members,

that it remains steadfast no matter what. Without question,

others sense it and find it very attractive.

The True Nature of Integrity!

Now you are probably asking yourself, what is the true

nature of integrity? There are in fact some very basic

principles that surround the qualities of business

integrity. At its core, integrity begins with a company

leader who understands the qualities of integrity which then

filters down throughout the company into every department

and every member’s approach and attitude.

In recent research performed by the Institute of Business

Ethics- an organization which is among the world’s leaders

in promoting corporate ethical best practices, it was found

that companies displaying a “clear commitment to ethical

conduct” almost invariably outperform companies that do not

display ethical conduct. The Director of the Institute of

Business Ethics, Philippa Foster Black, stated: “Not only is

ethical behavior in the business world the right and

principled thing to do, but it has been proven that ethical

behavior pays off in financial returns.” These findings

deserve to be considered as an important tool for companies

striving for long-term prospects and growth.

The following 7 Principles of Business Integrity are the

basics of integrity and a good starting off place to

consider. By integrating each of these principles within a

company environment, the result will be nothing short of a

major rebirth of the enterprise.

Principle #1: Recognize that customers/clients want to do business

with a company they can trust; when trust is at the core

of a company, it is easy to recognize. Trust defined is

assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or

truth of a business.

Principle #2: For continuous improvement of a company, the leader

of an organization must be willing to open up to ideas

for betterment. Ask for opinions and feedback from

both customers and team members and your company

will continue to grow.

Principle #3: Regardless of the circumstances, do everything in your

power to gain the trust of past customer’s and clients,

particularly if something has gone awry. Do what you

can to reclaim any lost business by honoring all

commitments and obligations.

Principle #4: Re-evaluate all print materials including small business advertising, brochures and other business documents

making sure they are clear, precise and professional;

most important make sure they do not misrepresent or

misinterpret.

Principle #5: Remain involved in community-related issues and

activities thereby demonstrating that your business is a

responsible community contributor. In other words, stay

involved.

Principle #6: Take a hands-on approach in regard to accounting and

record keeping, not only as a means of gaining a better

feel for the progress of your company, but as a resource

for any “questionable ” activities; gaining control of

accounting and record keeping allows you to end any

dubious activities promptly.

Principle #7: Treat others with the utmost of respect. Regardless of

differences, positions, titles, ages, or other types of

distinctions, always treat others with professional

respect and courtesy.

While it is most certainly an integral and positive step for

a small business to recognize the significance of integrity

as a tool for achieving its desired outcomes, that is only

the beginning. What must truly be recognized for true

success is that while certain precise universal principles

lead to business integrity, it is in the overall mindset of

the company and the unfailing implementation of these key

elements that an enterprise is truly defined. A small

business that instills a deep-seated theme of integrity

within its strategies and policies will not only be evident

among customers, associates and partners, but its overall

influence cannot help but to result in a profitable,

successful company. By recognizing the value of integrity,

and following each of the aforementioned 7 principles for

achieving integrity, your success cannot be far off.

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Source by Robert Moment