Business Planning...

Starting and running a business begins with a Business Plan. Whether you are starting a new business or running an existing one, you need a business plan, if you don't have one.

Especially with the economy as it is today, we need to be close to our figures, and monitoring regularly is not an option it is a necessity.

Check my other blog on more on this topic:

What Salary to Pay Job Seekers and New Employees

by Diane M. Hoffmann

What Salary to Pay Job Seekers and New Employees

In my numerous business reading on the concerns of small business operators, one of the common statements often recurring is that of employees and workers expecting too high wages.

One business owner recently said that job seekers unrealistically expect a starting salary of $25 to $30 an hour. They’d rather collect cheques from the government rather than getting $15 - $17 per hour.

The employer went on to say that there should be a “local” report that states what the current earnings are. Well, there usually is in most places. It needs to be researched through various resources within your area.

However, what I want to point out right now is a way to gauge what is fair which can be used by both the employer and the employee.

First of all, the range mentioned above depends on what it is.  A starting salary for an executive is not high at $25 to $30. If an individual who has 10 to 15 years experience as an executive director, for example, applies for a job, that person would be right in expecting a continuity of salary at that level.
A starting salary of $15 - $17 would actually be unreasonably low.

But, in a rural community with low economic scenarios, it might be a good deal. I’ve seen plenty of folks moving from the big city to a small community having to take a cut of 50%, but they were happy for whatever reason (a purposeful change of life, a semi-retirement situation, etc.)

What is a “starting salary” as the business operator refers to above? Let’s analyze this for a moment.

In my book “Contextual Communication, Organization and Training”, I have a chart of salary grade. Here’s what it looks like:

 The chart is the 6-divisions of a business with the center point being the President level; the next circle around it being the Executive level, the next Manager/Assistant level, etc.  The levels work upward from 1 to 5. 

Within each of the levels, there are 3 sub-levels of Junior, Intermediate and Senior, as you can see in the second column. These represent departments or job functions within each of the levels.

The salary grades work along the sub-levels of Jr. Int. and Sr. in 3 grades per level.  This gives a chance to move people up with responsibility as they are able, along with relative salary increases. It is a continuous incentive to incrementally reward as responsibility is given. (Skilled people need to be moved fast or they will quit.)

So, starting from the entry level of “Support” positions, in any of the divisions, the grades read in groups of 3 as 1, 2, 3 for the Level 1;  4, 5, 6 for the Level 2, etc. – see the third column.

Depending on the type and size of business you are, you start your Grade 1 accordingly.  For example, if you are a small business, you can start at minimum wage of let’s say $8 per hour. So you would have $8.00 hourly rate at the bottom, moving up by $1 increment through the Salary Grade to the President at $22.

Now you would add a range within each level to allow for experience and skills a candidate/employee might have at any level (See the column next to the Hourly $ of Level 1, it shows the job pays $8 but you have a range of $9 and $10 in case you have someone with higher experience who applies for that job.  The same runs up to the top position.

Then look at the next examples… the next set has a Start point of $10 an hour, and the next, $12. You can manipulate these however fits your situation. A larger organization may start at a minimum wage but go up the grades in increments of $2, or $1.50.  Or you might go up $0.50 -$0.75 in Level 1 and $0.75 - $1 at Level 2 and $1 - $1.50 at level 3, and so on… until you see what comes up at the top. Then you ask yourself is that in line.  If so, you’ve got your Salary Grade Scale – if it is not in line, you make the changes on your Excel sheet until you have the right figures.

The point is that when the business owner mentioned at the beginning of the article said that $25 to $30 is unreasonable for a starting salary, well at what level is the job? Are we talking about a Support, level 1 job or a Manager/Technical position at Level 3, or the President position at level 5?

If your Salary Grade matches the local economy and competition at a similar or equivalent Level, then it’s fine. Obviously, the candidate/employee’s expectation has to fit within these criteria. You cannot compare a small rural community to the salary grades of the large cities, or the high and low state of the economy of any given regions. Neither can one compare a small business with a large corporation’s Salary Grade.

There is more to all this, but at least with this tool, one can be more aware of what salary to pay job seekers and employees. /dmh

 Article copyright(c)Diane M. Hoffmann. You may reprint this article without any changes and including the following bio:

Diane M. Hoffmann is owner/manager of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications, which offers ONline and OFFline business services and resources. She is the founder and creator of this web site and author of several books, e-books and articles, including "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training" "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". Copyright(c)2009-2011 Diane M. Hoffmann. You may reprint this article without any changes, making sure to include this bio.


Press Release

Internet Writer Awarded Diamond Level Recognition

Campbell River, BC, March 14, 2011 --  Diane M. Hoffmann of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications has reached the highest author level at EzineArticles publishers.

The Diamond level is a status that can only be earned by sending in high quality articles. Only a small fraction of the thousands of authors ever obtain this level. Diane also recently completed a writing marathon to produce 100 articles in 100 days which she divided into her various areas of expertise: online and offline business, verbal/nonverbal communication, home/office staging and decorating, health/nutrition and theology.

 EzineArticles is the trusted Internet publisher of best quality original articles.  It provides a searchable database of hundreds of thousands of quality content that email newsletter publishers can use for inclusion within their next newsletters. You can see Diane's articles at web site.

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Where Will The Money Come From to Start a Business?

Where Will The Money Come From to Start a Business?

by Diane M. Hoffmann
Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications (HRC)

Where Will The Money Come From to Start a Business?

At some point, after you’ve decided that you would like to start a business, and after you’ve brainstormed the type of business it’s going to be, your question will be "How much money will it take to start and operate the business and do I have the money for it?” If the answer to the last question is ‘no’, then the next question will be “Where do I get the money?”

At this point, I don’t know where you are financially. The answer to that last question depends on a lot of things going on in your personal life. For instance, are you presently working and you will start this business part-time, which means that you have some income coming in while you start-up your business? Or are you out of work, with some money or without any money?

There is also the consideration that some businesses take more money than others to start. For instance an Internet business running out of your home may require less money to start than a physical business requiring high inventory or one-on-one, time-consuming service.

A client of mine recently asked me to do a financial projection for a new business. She explained to me that she will start small in charging the fees for her services and work up from there. She couldn‘t see herself charge upward of $25-$35 an hour to get jobs from her personal contact prospectives.

However, when you do a financial projection, you don’t start it small, you start it where the fee is that will cover the operation.

For example, if an established competitor charges $100 an hour for professional services which adds up to $126,000 a year revenue, but you say well, I won’t charge that much to start (which is what my client’s thinking was), then you will fall short in the end.

If you charge, let’s say $50 an hour just because you’re starting out new, you will end up with $63,000 and if your operating costs are going to be half of that, you will end up with $31,500 before your salary. On top of that, you also have to make provisions for the fact that you will not achieve all your projected sales in the first year, plus you will have start-up costs over and above your normal operating costs. So what is left is what you will have for salary for yourself.

So, on the contrary, you have to charge whatever your financial projection is going to tell you to charge in order to cover all of the start-up costs, direct costs, operating expenses and your salary. Otherwise you might as well forget about it because you will run out of money in your first year. There is always some initial losses that you will have to carry forward and cover into your second year. But you want to minimize that realistically right from the beginning.

This brings me to the question at the beginning of this article, “Where do I get the money?” Once you know how much you will need, you can start looking for that money. There are people from local assistance economic development community programs that you can approach, probably the best place to start because they will even help you put together a financial projection and business plan.

There are banks if you already have some relationship with a bank. There are private venture capital entrepreneurs who are looking for good business opportunities. There are friends and relatives that may be in a financial position to help you out.

As a friend of mine says when she is faced with having to get money to make money, "I don't say I can't afford it, I say how can I afford it." And then she gets very creative about how to do it. This is quite a common trait amongst entrepreneurs. When you spend money for your business, it's an investment. It's not a frivolous expense. So you will have to decide what you need to do yourself. And then move on to your next step.

I recently attended a local Chamber of Commerce networking event and was talking to the loan officer of a local bank. He was saying that right now they are doing a lot of small business loans, because a lot of people are starting their own businesses in these corporate cut backs and high unemployment times.

I you are unemployed and need money fast, one way could be to look at what you know or can do that you can sell right now to make some cash. That's where you get creative. What can you offer your community? You could offer seminars in some expertise area you have learned through your working career. Or you could offer physical services like cutting grass, cleaning yards, picking up junk with a pick up truck. Get some flyers printed up and pass them out consistently.

Keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking, one thing will lead to another and a door will open somewhere./dmh

Diane M. Hoffmann is president of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications, which offers ONline and OFFline business services and resources. She is the founder and creator of this web site and author of several books, e-books and articles, including "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". Copyright(c)2009-2011 Diane M. Hoffmann. You may reprint this article without any changes, making sure to include this bio.


Simple Things Can Improve Communication and Cost Between Corporate Departments

Simple Things Can Improve Communication and Cost Between Corporate Departments

by Diane M. Hoffmann, ph.d/th
Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications

Administrative and management communication goes on in all departments of an organization. In most companies, there is one department that specializes in providing "administration" or “logistics” support, guidance and standards to all other departments -- at least there should be.

However, some of the most obvious and simple-to-fix problems are often ignored.

In one company's credit and collection department, I remember a problem the department had with customer reference numbers on invoices. It was the local administration department's responsibility to provide local billing and credits.

Many of the invoice information originated from an out-of-the-country head office. Instead of using the customer invoice numbers, they would use their own internal work order numbers which did not refer to the customer's number in the local system.

When customers called regarding billing of an invoice, their reference numbers could not be located because they used the head office work order number system. This created constant problems, and an enormous amount of time was wasted in finding the documentation, phoning the head office and checking the local files to match the head office work order numbers with the local billing numbers. Hours were spent this way everyday but nobody did anything about it.

Yet the solution was so simple. The administration people needed to implement a change immediately that all billing requires the original customer work order numbers to appear on the local invoices. These numbers could be tagged with a separator, or simply entered in a separate line.

Now, if a customer was talking to head office referring to their work order number and then spoke to the local invoicing company about payments, both numbers would be on the same invoice. Presto! It’s right there for all to see. No more chasing after the paperwork to trace down the information. Communication cost cut in half the time. If it took the clerk 20 hours a week before, to locate and match invoices with work orders, and the clerk is making $15 and hour, that’s a saving of $300 a week.

All communication is contextual to the environment. The contextual part of communication is for the supervisor or manager of the department where the administration problem exists, to see and recognize the great waste of time and money this creates and the frustrations caused to the customers and employees who have to put up with the nonsense daily.

Apart from saving in productivity, the company also reduces the negative morale caused by such a simple but damaging recurrent problem.

This may not bother some low-level clerk who couldn't care less about the company. But with high achievers, it is deadly. Management must recognize that these people will find it very hard to work under such discriminate circumstances when their idea of work is "when it's not quite right, it's wrong", and "if something is wrong, fix it". They will simply leave. That’s how companies often lose their best people.

Simple things can, not only improve communication and cost between corporate departments, but reduce negative morale and keep companies from losing their high achievers./dmh

Diane M. Hoffmann is president of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications, which offers ONline and OFFline business services and resources. She is the founder and creator of this web site and author of several books, e-books and articles, including "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training". Copyright(c)2009-2011 Diane M. Hoffmann. You may reprint this article without any changes, making sure to include this bio.


Tech Support Email Writing Exposed

Tech Support Email Writing Exposed

by Diane M. Hoffmann
Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications

We talk a lot about verbal and nonverbal communication, but there is also a written communication that needs to be addressed, especially nowadays with the web technology that has increased our communication by email writing. That's what I cover in this tech support email writing article.

Email writing is great, speedy, easy and concise. However I have been noticing in personal, business and technical email writing and on internet forums the way that people write emails. Sometimes it is even appalling. There is room to improve email writing.

Too many do not bother to check their email writing before sending out their email communication. The worst offenders are sales or business and technical emails that are full of errors. More and more, we see this sloppiness in the correspondence of tech support groups who are front end customer service representatives!

Ok, small occasional typos are understandable. We all make them. But unfortunately they are too common in the virtual platform of tech support and email writing. Big typos, one after another, along the whole string of e-conversations can be very unpleasant to say the least, and do not express a demonstration of customer appreciation nor professionalism.

Imagine standing in a real time face-to-face discussion and the person you're conversing with stumbles at every other word, stringing together a couple of words at regular intervals, skipping pronouns and endings, and leaving off whole consonants and prepositions...... and you had to put up with several of these communicators in your place of business within the inter-personal activities of management, customers and suppliers day after day. Imagine a salesperson dropping in on you this way.

How would that feel? What would it say about those people you’re communicating with? Well, this happens all the time in the virtual office under tech support and email writing! And it covers all spectra of email writings and correspondence. It is especially hard to take in Customer Service.

In the last while, I began to record a whole number of these e-communications email writing while working with several technical support groups at various e-service establishments. These are million-dollar outfits. And I'm one of their *treasured* customers.

For example, on one on-going dialogue, after several email exchanges, the tech support person 'suddenly' realized that I 'was an affiliate' and therefore had been giving me the wrong information all along -- but I had told him clearly right at the beginning of our email writing that I *was* an affiliate.

On top of this, there were bad spelling and grammar items in all of our lengthy correspondence. OK, I understand that support people are busy and don’t have a lot of time. However aren’t we all?  Isn’t this part of doing business?  And is there any place in business where we are excused from being businesslike and professional – especially, again, in customer service?

It truly only takes a minute to read over the email before hitting the send button. But, wow, the clean-up that that minute will do. As some experts have said, poor spelling and grammar show a lack of attention and sends the wrong message about the company’s reputation. The badly formed sentences can even give a completely wrong message that can irritate, frustrate and even totally lose a customer.

In another instance I recorded two totally different and opposite answers in email writings, to the same question that came from two tech support people from the same tech support department.

And to write correctly, one has to also read emails correctly. I remember one tech support person who totally lost the issue at hand, after several emails, and apologized profusely to the customer for "misreading" her email when, in fact, he hadn't! Why? Because he had not taken the time to properly read the emails that had been written./dmh

Article copyright(c)2009-2011, Diane M. Hoffmann. You may reprint this article without any changes, making sure to include this bio.

Diane M. Hoffmann is president of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications, which offers ONline and OFFline business services and resources. She is the founder and creator of and author of several books, e-books and articles, including "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training".


I have put a lot of my observations in an 11-page "Special Report" which includes samples of actual email communication that took place and my “3 Steps to Better Email Writingat this link.


Three Things You Can Do to Jeopardize Your Chance of Success

Three Things You Can Do to Jeopardize Your Chance of Success

by Diane M. Hoffmann, ph.d.
Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications

There are a lot of offers in way of "steps" or "things" we can do to achieve certain promises, like "5 things you can do to increase your sales", or, "7 Steps to a better sales letter", but doing them doesn't mean we will get rid of our bad habits.

You may be following these steps, however, if you are holding on to "not doing" the things that can lead to achieving success, then you are sabotaging your efforts.

For example, here are three things you can do to "jeopardize" your chance of success:

1) Not taking massive enough action on your ideas.

2) Not putting into action what you read or learn.

3) Not experiencing enough failures.

Let us examine each one of these.

1) Not taking massive enough action on your ideas:

So many advertising campaigns have not been successful because of not having taken massive enough action. Example, you send out 100 flyers and expect to receive results. But in direct marketing, the average response is from.001 to 10%, depending on how popular the product or service you offer is or how great or low the demand. And, believe me I have seen some campaigns bringing in.001% results in certain industry sectors.

That's when you know what people think of a particular product or service. That's why you do tests, to find out what the consumer wants or doesn't want. If you have a service that not many people are interested in, such as anything that requires a lot of work for example, or anything that is not pleasant to do, your expected response will be at the lower end.

On the other hand if you have a product or service that is in great demand, your result will be higher on the scale. And if you have an offer that is irresistible -- like free beer for instance:) -- you'll be at the very high end.

So let's look at the math:


 As you can see, the 100 flyers we talked about earlier will yield 0 response if only 0.001% of the market wants it, but will bring in 10 if the response rate for that product is 10%.

So with a product that has shown to bring in a 10% response, if you want to get 100 responses, you will have to send out 1,000 and not 100 flyers. You see, some people will send out 100 flyers and wait for the response, then send another 100 flyers and wait, etc... While all along, they should send 1,000 at once. And if you want 1,000 response, you will have to send out 10,000 flyers.

In the Internet business, with PPC (Pay-per-click) for instance, it's basically the same thing. Your offerings fall into one of the above categories of percent response (some could be higher than 10% too).

So you have to do your research ahead of time to find out what people are looking for. There's no sense doing a campaign on something that only 0.001% of the market wants - unless of course the sales gain of the product is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per unit. In other words if you reach a large amount but only 1 responds but the sales is $100,000, well then a 0.001% is ok -- providing it didn't cost you a lot of money to promote it.

Along the same line there's no sense doing a campaign for one or two days. You have to keep it there for one or two weeks in order to see results of your tests.

The same thing applies with working, for a different example. If you start a business and only put in 2 hours a day, you'll get very low results. But if you put in 10 hours a day - you'll get vastly different results. Another example is tinting a gallon of paint. If you only put a drop of blue color pigment into the white base, it won't turn blue, but if you put in the whole tube, it will do what you expect.

That's taking the massive enough action. The point is if you only take trickling actions, you will only get trickling results.

2) Not putting into action what you read or learn:

This one is pretty self-explanatory. If you read a book on how to start a business and you don't put into action the instructions or advice given, well, nothing will happen -- you won't start the business. It's as simple as that. If you read about how to set-up a web site and don't put what you read about into action, you still won't have a web site next week. If you read about improving communication but don't do what it says, you'll still have the same communication problems.

3) Not experiencing enough failures:

This one is simply that you have to make mistakes, you have to fail in order to get the odds required to succeed. If you try something and fail, then try and try again until you succeed, then you'll have a good success rate. Who does not know the failures of many a successful company or individual that kept at it until it got it. I can think of Hershey, Woolworth, and Kentucky Fried Chicken, Thomas Edison, etc., etc., all of them failed in different areas and at different times while achieving successes. The best of athletes, sports figures, golfers fail a lot to be the best at what they do.

In other words we will all fail at many things before we get it right. So the idea is don't be afraid to start something because of the possibility of failure. Success comes out of failures. And it doesn't mean you will fail on a grand scale, you might fail at certain areas of life or business along your journey to success. That's when you make the corrections for the changes that will lead to a better outcome./dmh

Article copyright(c)2009-2011, Diane M. Hoffmann. You may reprint this article without any changes, making sure to include this bio.

Diane M. Hoffmann is president of Hoffmann-Rondeau Communications, which offers ONline and OFFline business services and resources. She is the founder and creator of and author of several books, e-books and articles, including "Contextual Communication, Organization and Training".