Sunday, March 11, 2018

Considering Growing Your Business? What You Need to Know Before You Start!

Don't Expand Your Business Before You ask Yourself These Questions!

Are You Ready to Grow Your Business?
When you start a business, you have a lot of hopes and dreams about where it will take you. You imagine things like financial security, doing something you love, and even just being your own boss.

Running your own business also comes with a lot of responsibilities. There are important decisions that need to be made concerning your business. There are the day to day tasks such as dealing with customers, overseeing inventory, invoicing, and paying bills.

But perhaps one of the most important decisions you will ever make is deciding if and when it is time to grow your business!

When it comes to growing and expanding your business, it is never wise to go in blindly. There are things you need to carefully consider before taking that step, and tips to help you if you ultimately decide to proceed.

If you get to the point where you start thinking about making that leap, then it is crucial that you take a good long look at your business first. And the best way to do that is to ask yourself some hard questions!

Before Deciding to Grow or Expand Your Business, Ask Yourself:

  • Are your existing products and services effective, or would you need to provide new ones?
  • Is your brand established?
  • Does your business have a strong and recognizable presence?

But perhaps the most important question you can ask yourself is….
Can You handle the Risks that come with Growing Your Business?

Growing your business comes with certain risks ~ if it didn’t, everyone would do it! These risks can effect both your Personal and Professional lives.

Personal Risks
It is important that you realize that in your quest to grow your business, you will not be the only one to feel the strain. Increased stress, health issues, time commitments and a seeming lack of control can all effect not just you but your personal relationships and commitments too.

Professional Risks
When you choose to expand your business, you open it up to potential business risks. These can impact your finances, customers, and employees.

That is why it is important to consider the following:

Your Business “Health”
Is Your Business Healthy enough to Sustain Growth? Making sure you really know the ins and outs of your company’s finances is essential. Do you have the capital, or will you need to borrow to fund your expansion? Have your profits continued to grow to the level where growth makes sense and are they consistent? Will the potentially altered timing of money in and money out create too much of a financial strain? 

Your Clients and Customers
Are you able to keep your current customer service up to par during the expansion? Will the increased demand on your time cause your customer service to go downhill? Without attention to this potential problem, your customers may begin to feel neglected.

Your Employees
Are you and your workforce up to the challenge? Do you have the necessary manpower to cover the expansion or would you need to hire? If you need to hire, will you consider temp or seasonal hires instead of committing to full-time ones?

Change is hard. You may find that your employees are uncertain or even fearful about the expansion. They may not even have the skills necessary to be successful during this transition. Growing your business can put a strain on your existing workforce that you have not foreseen.

So, before you commit to the expansion, it is essential that you dig deep and be completely honest with yourself about your company’s strengths and weaknesses.

Taking the time now to identify and understand the personal and professional risks associated with expanding your business, and whether you and you company is ready for them, makes you better informed on whether it is the right time to proceed. It also gives you the opportunity to come up with solutions to solve, or at least mitigate, these risks. 

However, it is important to remember that while there are risks in deciding to grow your business, there are also great rewards.

Expanding your business brings the potential for greater revenue, a larger voice in your market, and the personal and professional satisfaction of taking your business to the next level. It can give you a pride of accomplishment that is hard to match.

The key is to go in with your eyes wide open. 

Only after understanding the risks and rewards can you then think about going forward with your business expansion plan ~ and taking these steps will help!

Before You Begin:

Consider consulting an intellectual property attorney
Make sure your tagline and brand are trademarked and that any patents and / or copyrights are in place. 

Develop a Detailed and Precise plan
Decide what kind of business growth makes sense for you and your company and what you need to do to get there.

Here are 5 options you should consider:

DiversifyYou could add to your existing products or services, or choose to offer something completely new. Just make sure whatever you do is in line with your brand and your business goals.

Target New MarketsWhile you are currently having success with the market(s) you now serve, it might be time to consider something new. Focusing on a completely new market can give you just the growth push your company needs.

Buy, Merge, or Partner with another BusinessWhen you buy, merge, or partner with another business, you are immediately pooling your resources, services, and your markets. This grows your customer base and your collective skills and experience.

Open Another LocationThis can be risky but, if done right, can yield great rewards. It is important that you first consider the additional costs involved in acquiring the new location and the additional employees needed to run it. 

Increase Your Social Media PresenceThis can be a great “first step” for many businesses looking to grow and expand. Having a broader online presence can get you noticed and help you build credibility and recognition.

Learn more about how these tips can work for you in “
5 Steps to Help You Grow Your Business”.

No matter what you choose, the key is to pick the business growth options that work for you and your business. Focus on the ones that take into consideration both the risks and rewards that make sense.

There is no doubt that Growth and Expansion are ultimate goals for most business owners and entrepreneurs. But you must not go in blindly. 

Taking the time to ask yourself the hard questions, being honest with yourself about the risks, and ready with solutions to potential problems will go a long way towards making your quest to grow your business successful.

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Sunday, March 4, 2018

It’s Time to Stop the Bullying in our Schools

The time is now to stop School Bullying!

The horrific and violent tragedies that have been happening in our schools, both recently and in the past, need to be our wake-up call ~ and if not now, when?

And while there are multiple reasons why these tragedies occur, I believe that dealing with school bullying needs to be on the list. 

There are very real ramifications to school bullying that we should all face. The victims of this type of bullying often become alienated from their peers and begin to feel inferior. And what we feel about ourselves when we are children often continues on into adulthood.

There are even some school-yard bullies who go on to continue their bullying as adults.

Neither scenario is good for us or our society. 

These continuing behaviors can even be seen in our workplaces. That is why I addressed the consequences of workplace bullying in one of my previous articles. 

When adults are bullied, their health and work productivity plummet. It also “takes away from the environment most business owners are trying to create – an environment where each employee is encouraged and rewarded” and feels safe.

Find out more about the consequences and solutions to Workplace Bullying in “Bullying ~ Adults do it To!”.

The effects and practice of bullying starts early. It happens on our playgrounds and in our schools ~ often from the elementary level on.

And if we truly want it to stop, we first need to take the issue of bullying seriously.

We can no longer encounter bullying and say things like “kids will be kids” or think it is simply childhood “teasing”. We can’t blame the victim or tell them they need to “toughen up”.

But, most importantly, we can’t continue to base our lack of action in stopping the bullying on the belief that “it happened to me when I was a kid and I turned out fine”!

These are simply excuses for inaction and counter-productive sentiments that get us no where.

Instead, we need to address the behavior of the bully, not the victim, square on. We need to get students, teachers, parents, and administrators on board. We all need to be in on the solution.

We need Students to:

  • Create and participate in more peer mediation and student groups to address the problem.
  • Be willing and encouraged to stand up for the victims of bullying.
  • Practice the idea of “see something, say something”.
  • Strive for inclusion.
  • Let no one sit alone at lunch! 

For children who feel alienated and bullied, lunch time is a time of loneliness and isolation. It is only exacerbated when they see the rest of their peers sitting with their friends and having fun.

But there are ways for students to help. 

I recently came across an article about a program started by Denis Estimon, a former high school student, to help solve the problem.

Along with some of his friends, Estimon started a club called “We Dine Together”. Each day group members would seek out anyone who was alone at lunch and simply sit down with them. Before long, these students, who may not have ever connected without the program, would get to know each other and form real friendships.

Estimon, who has graduated since starting the group, has dedicated himself to taking the program nationwide. Find out more about “We Dine Together” here!

And while getting the students themselves involved in stopping school bullying is good, it is not enough. Adults must take on the biggest role for finding a solution!

Teachers, Administrators, and especially Parents, must join together and help put an end to bullying in our schools.

Teachers need to:

  • Keep an eye open for instances of bullying.
  • Look for students who are loners, who are feeling alienated, or are being bullied.
  • Act quickly on observed instances and accusations of bullying.
  • Place their focus squarely on stopping the bully.

Administrators need to:

  • Take bullying seriously.
  • Establish a strong, detailed anti-bullying policy.
  • Equip teachers with the training and tools to spot bullying.
  • Act on allegations of bullying from teachers, students, and parents.
  • Establish clear consequences for both bullying and retaliation against those that report bullying.

The focus needs to be placed entirely on stopping the bully. The victim should never be made to feel that they have somehow brought the bullying on themselves. They should never be told to simply ignore it and it will stop or that it is part of growing up.

We must all take a stand and say “Bullying is never okay”!

However, the most important piece to solving the school bullying puzzle lies with the parents. How parents address the issue of bullying at home carries over into our schools. 

Parents need to: 

  • Never tolerate bullying at home.
  • Never be a bully themselves.
  • Promptly address any bullying behavior from your own children, other children, or even adults.
  • Cooperate with the school or other authorities if your child is bullying or the victim of bullying.
  • Monitor your child’s social media for bullying and mentions of bullying. Be aware of both things they post and share and posts they see from others.
  • Cultivate an atmosphere of open communication with your child.
  • Encourage empathy and compassion.
  • Lead by example.

Acting as an anti-bullying example is the most important thing a parent can do. How we treat our children, our spouse, other family members, friends, and even strangers has a great impact on our children. If we act with kindness and compassion, our children will learn to do the same.

But, if instead, we are critical, rude, and bullying ourselves, our children will learn by our example and think that is how they are allowed to behave. 

The bottom line is that bullying is not acceptable and it should not happen in our homes or in our schools. We must do what we can to stop it early. 

Ending bullying will go a long way towards making our schools safer and more focused on what they should be ~ the teaching of our children and helping to develop strong, caring adults. This should be our ultimate goal.

But, to truly stop school bullying, we cannot continue to place the burden mainly on our students. We must, as adults, do everything we can to identify and help those who are left out, ignored, and bullied.

Remember, children who bully often grow up to be adults who bully. And children who are the victim of bullying can grow up to be fearful or angry adults. Neither is good for them as individuals or for the safety of our society. Stopping bullying early can help save us from the future ramifications caused by allowing it to continue.

The time is now for us to work together to find a solution and, for once and for all, stop the bullying of our children.

Authored by  

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