Blog Archive

Page 12

Look after your Valuables.

Business value is different from value that is personally placed on something.  When thinking about, for example, the three most valuable things either to oneself, a wider context, or ones business, each top three  is likely derived using different criteria. Which, of the chosen items, has an enabling trade price?  Chances are the most valuable may not have the most trading value, because, although much is seemingly banded about that everything has a price, the most precious things are usually priceless and immune from such type of trading.  Just like those TV programmes in which an article is brought in to be valued, `because not enough is known about the history’, the green light to put the item up for sale is virtually visible and the pound signs begin rolling in the eye socket’s of the holder of the item, given by `a very dear friend, aunt or uncle’,  as they are told an amount beyond their guesstimate. When did the item change from being valuable to the person, to being valuable enough to sell?  Likely when the price was given because the item never held any value, other than it being `possibly valuable’ and they were therefore removed from sentiment; the  For Sale sign was ready to put out as their eyebrows raised at such fortunate news.

It would therefore follow, in business, that the larger a business, the weaker an awareness of what is valued, insomuch that the business structure might remove, or be removed, from what that business values. Yet, the more value becomes diluted, the less likely such a business will be valued compared to the business who takes a concern beyond self-interest.  To think beyond what Blake termed `mind forged manacles’ or, without going into a lengthy analysis, the way things are done without question, is always challenging, but businesses creating success surely need the least shackles possible. Faced with an increasingly abstract concept of  business  ‘You say tomato I say tomahto’  is a minor difference compared to the diversity within markets, Companies, management roles,  job titles, finance  and business language, as the ‘mind forged’ manacles of business  have, ironically, been given a twist with unrestricted ideas, therefore, for a business area such as Marketing, uncertainty in direction can have a result in a domino-effect towards, for example, identity, customers, staff and ultimately sales or turnover.

All businesses have the groan task or conversation which, each time it comes around on the `to do’ list, will be followed by a groan far worse than the one that used to be given on a Sunday night when it was realised the least favourite subjects homework was still to do for Monday morning.  In such a circumstance,  business isn’t unaware but it might be dis-organised. Constantly questioning why things are run in a certain way and questioning decisions before they are taken, including asking those on the receiving end; staff, customers or clients can highlight strengths and weaknesses. Fresh perception, or approach, or gaining trust will garner response: a huge value to any business and one which is incalculable, the more someone is trusted, the more they will respond so creating opportunities for honest dialogue or feedback as an insight can only raise the standard all around in a cycle of  `business quantitative easing and improvement’, no matter how small or big, in raising aspiration and potential and ultimate profit.

(Image credit: rpongsaj   Article credit: Copyright SUF)

At a time of annual fetes, festivals, fairs and holidays in general we thought we’d give the news site a break this month, although it won’t be in recess for as long as either the House of Commons or the House of Lords.

Meanwhile some online reading picks to take you through the month:

Media/Marketing at Seth Godin’s Blog

Retail with a Twist at Tescopoly

Looking around big business

All things property

Always a favourite

And some paper picks:
Ayn Rand  Atlas Shrugged – a marmite book

Marc Levinson The Box  – Watched the programme?  Now read the book

The Stieg Larrson Trilogy – Another marmite moment

Nassim Taleb  The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable  – Some interesting ideas

Let us know your thoughts and what we should add to the list.

(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF )

Language You’ll Understand:  Business

Whilst amongst French friends a phrase was required but missing from known vocabulary to convey appreciation of their generous hospitality. Having later obtained the missing phrase it was repeated to the accommodating hosts during a car journey. The car came to a grinding halt as the French host, agitated, reverted to fluent French. Any knowledge of French or English vanished, completely sealed away as both sides swayed towards panic and hysteria simply because someone had thought it would be humorous, whilst we thought we were paying a compliment, for us to exchange a vulgar and corrupted phrase. Needless to say, after the discovery was made and some laughter exchanged, the phrase was used again, along with a few more familiar phrases, when the one who’d divulged it appeared.

The point is that, if you want to aim for success, there is no escape when learning a new language, you have to be prepared to take a risk. Living in the land of business is no different because businesses don’t have a universal tongue. Have you ever been in the situation of hearing a foreign language and understanding some of it but not quite knowing how to speak it?  That’s how business operates. Elements of business include some of the same vocabulary; work ethic, aptitude, understanding the functions of business and employees, personnel issues, use of resources, marketing and profit. But  improving business skills takes effort, awareness and repetition, as with any language acquisition. Understanding your businesses’ language is just the start of an ongoing process because it may seem that businesses talk the same language, but they don’t.  That is why successful businesses are always prepared to immerse themselves in a new language and talk to the natives.

5  Key Tips for Minding Your Businesses’ Language

1.     Start Over : It’s easy to forget how much we each know about our businesses  and easy to forget that others speak a different language. Go right back to basics and look at the business from outsiders eyes. Think in a new language and don’t forget just as language has dialect, so too does business. Keep things simple and don’t try to overcomplicate things. Identify your core vocabulary, add some basics that are required to run your business such as cashflow, and profit margin, then build on those. Don’t fixate on your ideals listen to your customer ‘s needs to reinforce your model.

2.     Share Experiences :  When business is the common ground there are many areas and practices that can be shared which will add value to yourself, those you are sharing with and, ultimately the customer. Learn from each other’s mistakes. Rarely will those businesses be direct competition and exchanges can become strengthening. Go with the flow and absorb the things that you are comfortable with rather than feeling you have to know everything. Open up to conversation otherwise you’ll be talking to yourself. You don’t need to learn the language to try the conversation.

3.     Talk : It may seem too obvious but if you want to learn a language the best way is to try to speak it. Fear can stop us from wanting to communicate but most businesses enjoy learning from each other. Communicating isn’t just talking your business needs to be able to intonate and be aware of its body language to make itself understood. Communicate with other skilled and experienced experts or businesses, get to know their language. Sometimes business isn’t aware of other cultures.

4.     Ask questions : Be inquisitive. Those who want to talk will, and those who don’t, won’t. Conversing and interacting with other businesses extends the back to basics and, although your specific culture might not be mutual, there are many things that you’ll have in common as being in business is your root commonality, just as so many languages have a root commonality. There are many business thoughts, ideas, media, books that are not product or service specific. Perfection isn’t the key to communication.

5.     Just do it : Best practice makes perfect, seek out opportunities. Making mistakes is all part of developing your business, obviously costly ones need to be avoided but networking is all about extending your community which in turn extends your skills. Not many are lucky enough to visit every country in the world  to learn a language and business is no different.  It’s better to be very skilled in one specific area with  fluency as the objective  remembering  it can take many years to be fluent in a second, or more, language. Try to enjoy the journey, enjoy the learning.

(Image credit: cogdogblog   Article credit: Copyright SUF)

Additional  Choice to Social Lending

A new entrant to social lending has appeared, Yes-secure will be offering competitive loans, as in the vein of the first online Bank, Zopa, allowing consumers to both lend and borrow money to each other online via a social network element, with a prime focus of the borrowing and lending process. Lenders bid on member loan listings, between £10 and £25,000 currently being  offered for Yes-secure and £1,000 to £15,000 from Zopa,  with charges and credit checks taken for the P2P model for UK resident borrowers and lenders.

Flood Warnings to Businesses

The Environment Agency has put out a warning to tourism businesses regarding Health and Safety responsibilities as the holiday season starts, with regard to floods for both customers and businesses in terms of danger and damage. In their report for 2007 the average cost per flooded business was £75,0000  to  £112,000 with 5% of  businesses not covered by insurance.

Supermarkets Move into New Areas

After hearing of Asda’s intentions to build commercial developments around its stores and move into commercial property development, Tesco’s property venture with British Land, Waitrose’s hunt for a distribution hub, Spar’s announcement for Haven Holiday sites, and Sainsbury’s  considering opening up in China it seems the big boys are on the move again.

Précis of Emergency Budget

For those who might have missed elements from the Boy George’s recent Red Box delivery, we’ve picked out a couple of catch-ups for you:
1. Full HM Treasury Budget Report

2. BBC Budget Calculator

3. Entrepreneurs viewpoint

4. Money Observer

And finally……….

Some Summer reading, as recommended by and to us, with a business or associated perspective – Let us know your thoughts and what we should add to the list.

2020 Vision –  Stan Davis and Bill Davison

Capitalism: The Unknown Deal – Ayn Rand

The Dilbert Principle – Scott Adams
Against the Odds – James Dyson

The Back of the Napkin – Dan Roam

Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall

(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)

Waiting for Pain to arrive…. is a Pain.

What do coffee, a romantic, passionate, poetic or philosophical experience, a haunted house, champagne, electricity, waiting for test results, running, the dark, heights, certain chemical substances, some phone calls, dancing and being caught doing something you shouldn’t be doing all have in common? Answer to the frightening or fun, fight or flight, response to these situations; Adrenaline.

And there have been plenty of things to make the heart beat faster over the last month besides the dehydrating effect of heat.  Fear about the Emergency Budget, for England during the World Cup matches, for the Florida coastline following the BP oil spill or that  the sound  systems won’t be amped up at Summer music festivals and no Brit will qualify for the Wimbledon finals.

The culture of fear for long term decision making, brought about in recent difficult times, is an easy way to get a hedgehog roll reaction; however understandable, it’s not going to accomplish anything. Whilst rolled up in a metaphoric ball, meals are being missed with  opportunity blank out, less Sonic the Hedgehog and more Mrs Tiggy Winkle.

Pre-warnings about potential outcomes of the Budget, commentaries about the England squad’s performance, understanding the effects of oil spills all contribute to forewarned, forearmed – therefore –  anxiety.  Seemingly, anxiety is worse than shock, as illustrated in an experiment that asked, `Before being given an electric shock, would the participants prefer to receive a bigger shock sooner, or a lesser shock after a lengthy wait?’

Worrying over the pain meant the outcome was game over for small shocks as the participants preferred being hit hard rather than having time to think about the consequences.  Anyone who’s been on the receiving end of a misdirected bat or racket will immediately empathise with this notion. The memory of pain, even for a millisecond, can be enough to instigate a hedgehog response as soon as the sound of the unzipping of sports bags is heard.

Not all decision making is unpleasant, it’s the event that is being put off because of dread that has the unwanted adrenalin rush. Just as in the experiment, should the anticipated shock be put off with a consequence of coping with dread and then pain, or be taken with the consequence of short, sharp pain, no dread and clear thinking?

We’ve all been there at some point, not liking what we’re hearing, our brains shut down. Worrying expends energy and it’s much easier to take ourselves to less energetic places as few things are certain, until they happen, and any present comfort is more desirable than making an effort to go through pain. However, the consequence is, for such situations, the time for pain will come around and when it does, energy seizes up like a rabbit caught in headlights;  any ability to be enquiring is impaired, hence fear restricts choice.

Value-based decision making requires, to maximise any positive value, minimising any negative value  i.e. an immediate response, whether it be business sector, individual or company, or personal situation.  Making the decision to respond with a situation that needs attention, business plans, career change, or whatever might not be considered better value when there is an unpleasant shock but, the value is that, any consequence of delay would potentially include compounding the state of anxiousness and impairing the ability of decision making, when the time comes.

The England v Germany match or drug testing are two examples where situations  are put off and fear creeps in but they also highlight that those who are prepared can benefit. The risk is lessened because rational thought isn’t being impaired by adrenalin or dread. Information for decision making, needs to be of Value to the recipient to improve the making of decisions.  The experimenters would need to relay as accurate information about the shocks ahead to the participants as Capello did to his team about their opponents, or Drugs Companies do regarding their tests.

There is a ‘Brave Pill’ being currently tested for those whose stress situations go off-the-scale. For the rest of us, the continued volatility shouldn’t be ignored but, instead, set aside whilst rational thought emerges and considers how, with limited commodities and resources being vied for, the step-up can be taken to plan ahead.  Shocks tend to be like buses…… They inevitably come in threes.

(Image credit: SashaW   Article credit: Copyright SUF)

It probably hasn’t gone unnoticed that we have a new Government since our last newsletter. We recommend several sites for up-to-date news coverage and associated articles related to the latest changes, since Pickfords day at Downing Street, including HIPs being scrapped, Bank regulation reform and changes effecting the economy in general - BBC Your Money, Times Online Money, Guardian Money, Telegraph Personal Finance.

For generally genuinely interesting writing about economics, economy and numbers, The Undercover Economist, and Pensions Guru are our two recommendations for this month.

Anyone looking for start-up costs and willing to pitch to the Enterprise Business Challenge for a Grant of up to £10,000? Entries close 2 July.

Over 1,100 students recently surveyed by online student accommodation finding service, illustrated that students rank big bedrooms and kitchens with ample surface space, and living close to campus, at the top of their wish list, and `cost’  is a deal-breaker due to money being tight.  Affordable rent, but not wanting to compromise on style, 62% admitted to being ‘extremely picky’. Buy-to-Let landlords – take note.

From September 2010, any Nationwide home-owners who let-out their properties for more than three years, and have a residential mortgage, will face an additional 1.5% to borrowers’ monthly payment, plus a £50 fee.

Nationwide saw its pre-tax profits fall by 69% from last year; CEO had said that he’d “lobbied the Government for an increase in the FSCS limit from £50,000 to at least £100,000″ to “re-assure savers with independent institutions that they have similar protection as those with Government-owned, nationalised and part-nationalised banks”, after blaming its’ fall on a combination of reasons, including high charges to FSCS.

Recent research by Money Saving Expert has shown a back-pocket cash culture. From their poll, in which the question asked was “What would you do if a builder…. or… anyone else offered you a 15% discount because ‘it’s better in my pocket than in the taxman’s’?”, 65% of respondents would happily pay in cash to get a discount, even knowing they might be encouraging tax evasion…

(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)

Calculate the Cost of Heating Water…

Casting our minds back to a time of previous Summers, in which every primary school up and down the land had a fish tank full of tadpoles, our early learning was that tadpoles have limited choices; they swim, they get to eat algae and they grow legs.

When real experience of reduced options has been felt, maybe sympathy should be given towards the frog who, when placed in warm water, will sit quietly thinking about his tadpole days and wait for the water to heat up. It is said, to make such a frog soup, start with a frog in cold water and just keep applying heat; the Jacuzzi method apparently lulls them into a sense of oblivion. The key to successful frog cookery is not to put the live frog in boiling water because its reaction is to leap out; when Jacuzzi method is used, they’re unaware they’re cooking.

When it comes to reacting towards personal and business money management, hands up, who’s with Jacuzzi frog? Whose with boiling pan frog?  The bain-marie moment occurs across the board, with businesses, people and people working for businesses.

But it’s a double-boiler when realisation dawns that reaction to any increase in temperature hasn’t happened because all too often, just like the frog that fell into the pail of farmyard milk, the exit is too steep.

However, unlike Jacuzzi frog, milk frog wasn’t lulled into a false sense of security, and by thrashing around, another chance opened up as the milk turned to butter and there was the potential option to leave the pail.

It’s rare for someone to place themselves intentionally in warm or hot water. For most, it’s understandable that under pressure, temperatures rise and the cool water can soon get hot, however, unlike milk frog, too much thrashing around might just make very hot milk and not butter. As Galileo supposedly said, “where the senses fail us, reason must step in”. So, why did the frog make so many mistakes? Simple: it jumped to the wrong conclusions.

Please note: No frogs were hurt during this musing and we do not recommend that anyone tries any such experiments.

(Image credit: Moonlightbulb  Article credit: Copyright SUF)

Monthly Noteworthy News:

Bank Taxes to Fund Future Bailouts

The IMF is set to propose new taxes on global financial institutions. FSC (Financial Stability Contribution) and the FAT  Tax ( Financial Activities Tax) – did we just see irony? – will be placed on profits and pay. The next G20 held, Canada in June, is certain to have much to talk about. 

Inflation Rate rate at 3.4%

With a target of 2%  from the Bank of England (BofE), when above-target inflation persists the BofE is likely to raise its rate, although The BofE has held its interest rate at 0.5%.  The reasons given for the acceleration is higher fuel costs, air transport and food along with oil prices soaring   and petrol prices increasing

Dancer for Money

No, we’re not about to burst into song,  aka Tina Turner, but Barclays Live  has launched a regional competition for dancers. Wonder if we’ll be seeing any winners in future promo ads; we’re thinking a fusion of Halifax Howard, Diversity  and the Barclaycard rollercoaster. For those who dance for their money in a different way there is always the Small Step campaign  aimed at new and existing businesses. Rhetorical question:  a small step up for some ?

April Musings:

Ethical Money: Transparent Oxymoron or an Elephant in the Room? – The effect of fairness and the treatment of others.

We’re Guilty…..  – Reaction to the realisation of overspending.

Addicted to Money….. Or a Prescription for Pain  – Is handling money and pain such a new idea?

High Five?  –  5 bullet points that haven’t changed……. just like the economy.

Outside the Box – No clues required – Investigate  – Mistrust, blood-stained knife and CSI forensic science.

(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)

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