Crony Capitalism – How Bad Has It Gotten In The US?

We all know the problem of the revolving-door in our political leadership and bureaucracy. Folks are in and out of government, keep their contacts and make a fortune from the known reality: it’s not what you know but whom you know. The problem with all this is exactly what Adam Smith warned us about; the incestuous relationship between government and business. Corporations in the US are large and powerful, and have and hire the best talent, retain and control endless resources – these corporations do not NEED government favors, nor does their executive leadership, they are doing fine.

To secure the most optimum efficiency in our economy, we must keep the free-market as free as possible, when we allow a skew due to political favors or inside information, or allow lobbyists to the run the table, often at the expense of the people all we do is prove the cynics correct that; the game is rigged. Perhaps this is why Donald Trump has promised to; Drain the Swamp. And, he’s human too, I have no doubt he will drain the left-side of the swamp first, but it’s still a good start. The trick is to set a new set of rules, lay down the letter of the law, and move forward.

In Harvard Business Review, December 2013 Issue, there was an interesting article titled; “Unwinding Inequality” and in that article was a quote by Angus Denton; “When people use their success to change the rules in their favor, that success is no longer to be celebrated.”

“Yes,” I say, “Indeed.” But let’s take this argument to a higher level shall we. First, I find it rather hypocritical to read of this in the Harvard Business Review, as most there believe in the concepts of Adam Bellow who wrote the book “In Praise of Nepotism” which might explain why all the Supreme Court Justices went to Ivy Leagues, Harvard or Yale, some both. Worse, look at the academic records of the last 5-presidents of the US, and a darn good many senators, and heads of major bureaucracies, corporations and NGOs.

Second, if we dissect that quote, it talks about “success” and the concept of changing the rules once one, a group or corporation gains in the synergy of their own success. Well, isn’t this really the same challenge with guerrillas or terrorists attacking the status quo, authority and government – if they succeed, they are then in control and then they inevitably seem to use the same so-called tyrannical methods of ruling that their predecessors had before they ousted them – thus, the word “revolution” as it just goes round and round as another group comes along to then unseat their new authority.

Now, one can see a similar process in business and industry. For instance, read;

1. “Rule Makers and Rule Breakers,” by David Garnder
2. “First Break All the Rules,” by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman
3. “The Innovator’s Dilemma: The Revolutionary Book That Will Change the Way You Do Business,” by Clayton M. Christensen

Once the company garners market share synergy, and industry status, it moves to change the sector’s associations to lobby to get the rules and regulations changed to its way of doing things blocking future disruptive competitors from coming along to change the industry just as they had to get to where they are today.

The easiest way to do that is through crony-capitalism, campaign contributions, public-private business partnerships, which also leads to selling goods and/or services to the government and secure a free flow of money to further continue their dominance by playing with the political elite – who all went to Ivy League schools. Thus, I find it so fascinating that HBR (Harvard Business Review) had the gall to even publish that article – due to the obvious hypocritical nature of the norm which comes from that elitist institution. Please consider all this and think on it.

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Sensible Manufacturing and the Ultrasonic Flow Meter

The Manufacturer MX Awards

Each year The Manufacturer MX Awards aim to recognise great achievements in the industry. Entries are invited for a number of different categories, with the ultimate title of ‘Manufacturer of the Year’ presented to a company that is strong across the board.

The winner of this year’s ‘Manufacturer of the Year’ title was announced in November and Dura Automotive took home the award. The company also returned to the office with awards for ‘People and Skills’, ‘World Class Manufacturing’ and ‘Sustainable Manufacturing’, so it was well worth attending the event!

Investment in Employees, Quality and Sustainability

Dura Automotive are an international company that design and manufacture control systems for the automotive industry. They may be a large operation, but the awards they won clearly illustrate what it takes to grow a successful business; investment in employees, quality and sustainability.

If you take a look on their website, you will see that their objectives are to ‘inspire drivers, customers, our people, the competition and stakeholders through innovation and performance’.

They understand that in order to deliver full customer satisfaction, they need to deliver high quality products. To do that, they need to stay ahead of the competition with innovative ideas, products and processes, staff training and development opportunities and a positive, customer focused vision. In addition, they understand the importance of integrating sustainability into every aspect of their business.

Sustainable Manufacturing

Sustainable manufacturing focuses on minimising the negative outcomes of production. The overriding aim is to lower the environmental impact of manufacturing and distribution, yet the real benefits to business come from the fact that in working towards sustainability is a process of continuous improvement.

Many manufacturers have been incentivised to take action. On the receiving end of Government initiatives or in a bid to reduce energy, water and waste management costs, more companies have been willing to consider sustainable options. Whilst they may have started off thinking of this as a tick box exercise, the real benefits of taking action soon become apparent. Huge savings have helped many companies to remain competitive in the global market, have paid for other investments or have boosted profits.

Flow Monitoring

When it comes to water and energy use, flow monitoring has proved valuable in running processes at optimised levels, improving quality control, minimising waste and reducing downtime due to problems in the process. This has supported significant cost savings in storage, processing, waste management and utility bills.

By investing in low cost ultrasonic flow meters, which retrofit to the exterior of pipework, flow monitoring can be straight forward to implement. Calibrated to the specific flow range of the liquid or gas that passes through the pipe, the ultrasonic flow meter provides data that quickly identifies when abnormal flow rates are detected. This acts as an early warning system, so the issue can be quickly identified and rectified.

The ultrasonic flow meter also supports the optimisation of the process, which can be highly effective in quality control. This has been widely used to reduce waste batches and waste management costs in food, pharmaceutical and automotive industries, to name but a few.

All of these potential cost savings from an affordable ultrasonic flow meter certainly justify investment in monitoring technology. Other low cost devices including tap aerators and rainwater harvesting systems have also helped UK businesses to gain a lot more than environmental credentials.

Recycled Materials

Another area in which Dura Automotive have invested is in research and developments around the use of recycled materials in their products. When manufacturers consider reusing materials rather than raw supplies, it can present a number of challenges. Being open minded to these challenges can lead to innovative thinking, fresh ideas and approaches which could open up new avenues for the product or company.

The use of recycled materials does depend on sufficient quantities being provided by a reliable source. Having said this, if a large scale operation such as Dura can find viable alternatives to raw materials, then a bit of research could lead to suitable supplies for smaller businesses.

There is often a cost in processing the material to ensure it is of a suitable standard for reuse. Companies may need to explore partnerships with other companies and other collaborative approaches to ensure that cost effective and convenient options are found.

Sustainable Advantages

Like Dura Automotive, the majority of the other manufacturing award winners also placed considerable emphasis on sustainability. If you want to see your company going from strength to strength, a greener approach could deliver many tangible advantages.

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A Heartfelt New Year’s Resolution: Show You Care

I heard the sirens behind me before I saw the flashing lights of an ambulance, followed closely by a fire truck. Like everyone else on the roadway, I looked around trying to figure out where the ambulance was heading, and as soon as I saw the lights, eased my car over to the right side of the road. Only the ambulance wasn’t traveling in the direction of traffic, the ambulance was heading for whichever side of the roadway was clear, if only for a few car-lengths – much to the surprise, no doubt, of those in the oncoming lane of traffic.

I figured it must be a truly urgent emergency for the ambulance and fire truck to be commandeering both sides of Pacific Coast Highway. Nonetheless, drivers on either side were nudging their cars onto the side, out of the way. At no time did the ambulance have to blow its horn, slow down, or do anything else to get where it needed to go.

We care. We really do. In moments of crisis, large or small, our respect for one another simply as human beings, shows up. I am reminded of a very touching video posted in the final weeks of the chaotic Presidential campaigns, which featured a woman trying to find the owner of a lost dog found wandering in a parking lot. It was an “equal opportunity” posting, in that the same situation was played out in both Trump and Clinton rallies. The woman wore a “Trump” t-shirt in the Clinton situation, and a “Clinton” t-shirt in the Trump situation. Didn’t matter. People in both rallies, without exception, treated the woman with respect, and tried their very best to help her find the dog’s owner. Small crisis, true, but oh-so-telling.

We care. We really do. So what if, this New Year, we made a resolution to show our caring, our respect for our shared humanity, when it isn’t a matter of a lost dog or tragic accident? What if, just as a matter of course, throughout our most ordinary of days, we made the effort to give people the benefit of the doubt, to assume people are doing their best (including ourselves!), and to respect them, regardless of whether or not we agree with them?

I know, it’s easier to do with lost dogs than it is with co-workers or family, much less strangers who are rude to us or ignore us altogether. But heck, we’re still all in this together, and a little bit of respect and consideration goes a long way.

And who knows? Someone may give you some of that respect and consideration when you least expect it, in a most delightful way.

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How Can a Packaging Custom Box Increase Your Sales and Attract More Customers?

Nowadays, marketing is everything, without a proper strategy and resources for advertising your company will not produce the results that you expect. In order to create these, you will also need a nice crafted, good looking product and of course, a custom box for packaging and shipping, because look matters. Most importantly look sells, so if you want to boost your product sales than be sure you create a unique and professional image of your product using custom boxes, that fits your product and adds a visual impact that determines customers to buy it. Let’s see how your custom box should look, in order to make a hit.

What colors should I use?
Well, statistics shows that for every type of product you should use a different color, that matches the product description. For example:

For food industry is recommended to use red, because it is found in many fresh products.

Brown can be used for furniture and wooden objects because it represents the natural color of the wood.

Green in usually associated with ecological products, so if your business is anything about environment protection this is your color.

Black can be used for household objects or miscellaneous things, it inspires confidence and control, this way showing you rule the market.

White it is associated with cleaning products because when you see white usually means cleanliness.

You can combine as many colors as you want and you obviously don’t have to respect these rules but as I said, these matches the products description so these should be your first options. But color isn’t everything, style counts too so we are heading to

How should my box look and what style should I choose?
Since now minimalist look is more and more appreciated, I think that this is the best approach. Also, text logo is a trend too so keep your custom box simple but elegant, to look professional, and to guarantee you a success.

A box loaded with too many information will scare the customers and will create a less attractive design.

Using multiple colors for my box
For the minimalist design, it is recommended to use a combination of 2 colors, one for the text and one for the background, usually, a good choice is to associate red and black, or white and gold. This colors create an elegant look and add more value to the product.

You can go for white and red too, or light green and pink, there are endless possibilities to make your custom box look very appealing are stylish, and also a high contrast between the colors will create an awesome effect and it will immediately attract customers.

You can use as many colors as you want but I don’t think you want your box to look like a rainbow. Keep it simple and you will succeed.

What type of box should I use?
There are many types but you have to choose one that makes your product stand out. For example, you can use Corrugated Trays for food, a Regular Slotted Container for small objects or a Full Over Lap for heavy items, choose the one that matches your product.

Be aware of how your product looks, it is very important to attract your first-time customers by the look of your product and then by the quality.

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Must-Know Facts About Armored Recovery Vehicles

Various kinds of military vehicles are used in used in war-torn areas or places where conflicts are present and continuous. One of the most common types of specialized vehicles you will see in such areas are armored recovery vehicles.

An armored recovery vehicle, also known as Armoredownload-12d Repair and Recovery Vehicle or ARRV, has the primary purpose of recovering and/or repairing damaged or inoperable vehicles right in the battle field.

These specialized vehicles were first called Salvage tanks during World War I. It was only during the Second World War that people began calling them recovery vehicles.

The earliest versions of these vehicles were usually equipped with repair tools or with winches of heavy-duty to release the stuck vehicles. However, the latter generations or newer models were outfitted with a type of crane attached to the A-frame – a feature which could perform the task of lifting heavy parts from disabled vehicles, such as the engine. In addition, during the post-war period, various great alterations and improvements were made in these vehicles. Some of these capabilities include the improved ability of these vehicles to carry an extra engine to replace a non-working on the field and fuel pumps which allow the easy transfer of fuel. They can also carry anchors which can be utilized as stabilizers in heavy lifting situations.

In the past, recovery vehicles were usually derived from battle tanks of other armored fighting vehicles. Today, most manufacturers build them from the same type of material or vehicle they will most likely or frequently recover on the war field.

Although recovery vehicles are one of the sturdiest and strongest specialized vehicles around, they also have limitations. In cases where the work of a recovery vehicle is not possible anymore, tank transporters will have to be used. Tank transporters have the mission of transporting the tanks on the war field for longer distances, to reduce road damage, save fuel, or to recover them from the war field. Certain types or models of tank transporters are equipped with special protection, in case they have to make their way up to the first line.

Armored recovery vehicles are important types of specialized vehicles to have and use where fighting, especially with the use of artillery, is consistently present. To make sure that you can make the most of your vehicles and that the operator and passengers will be safe during transport, make sure that you purchase them only from a well-known and trusted automotive manufacturing company.

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Your 50 – Part 2 – The Keys to Starting Your Own Business Now!

In part 1 of this article series we met 3 individuals with unique backgrounds that left corporate and forged their own way. Here we illustrate 2 addition stories along with important strategies and tactics you need s you go forward in your own business. This journey of starting your own business is not for the faint of heart, but the success you will find will be life-changing.

Here is what you will learn:
1. Franchising is a good option for a business.
2. Doing your own business is very rewarding.
3. How coaching is vital to making your business a success.

First Entrepreneur

Our first entrepreneur, was a successful high-level executive first at Ford and then at Terex, a firm focused on lifting and material processing products (e.g. cranes), with all the associated perks and incentives. Meet Pete Gilfillan. He had the good life and no reason to change until one day…

Alan: I saw that your main business is helping people evaluate franchises (FranChoice). How did you get started in your own business? What triggered that decision?

Pete: I was a corporate executive, first with Ford and later with Terex and they literally owned my life. I was traveling all the time. I just decided one day I had had enough and I would be an entrepreneur.

Alan: Tell me more about what happened when you decided to leave corporate life.

Pete: In my last position, I was with Terex. I live in Chicago, but the Terex is headquartered in Connecticut and I was on the road 6 days a week and much of the travel was international. With all the travel I didn’t eat right, didn’t exercise and frankly I was miserable. I was in another country and I woke up in the middle of the night and I couldn’t remember what country I was in. I realized then I had had enough. When I got back to Chicago, I told my wife about the decision. At first my wife wasn’t keen on the idea of my leaving corporate. She saw the practical side of staying in corporate (financial security), but I knew I needed to make a change. I quit my job and I started working with a franchise consultant in order to find a franchise. After a few months we found Junk King and saw that it was be a good fit. I liked that it was a service based business and could be scaled up; such as adding trucks as the business grew and it had little overhead. Later, I started to work with FranChoice, where today I’m one of the top franchise consultants. I really like the way their business model works. There is no cost to individuals (companies pay FranChoice) and it gives me the opportunity to do what I love most, which is to help people find the business that meets their needs.

Alan: That’s great. You are able to do what you love. Let’s change gears for a minute. I saw that you wrote a best-selling book. Writing a book is a big step. How did you come up with the idea for your book?

Writing is a key way to demonstrate your expertise and build your business

Pete: Darren Hardy, who is pretty well known in the entrepreneur circles, is my mentor. I went to his High Performance Summit and Darren said one of the best ways to give back is through writing a book. Since I have a lot of knowledge about the franchise business, doing a book on it was a good fit.

Alan: How did you find the time to write?

Pete: There is many ways to write a book. I found a company that would write the actual words while I talked. I would put together an outline for each chapter and talk for a couple of hours with the writers. We would meet for 2 hours a week, either early morning or late at night. After a draft of the book was created, I had someone edit the book. Even then it took a year and a half to complete the book.

Alan: How did you go about publishing it?

Pete: I was able to find a publishing company through my business coach.

Alan: It had to be daunting to start your own business after being in corporate. What is one thing you wish you knew before you started your own business?

Pete: If I could have been able to keep my corporate job and invested in franchise and then make the leap instead of going in cold to my own business, it would have saved me a lot of angst. I may have done something different than Junk King. I could have started a franchise on a part-time basis, say 15 hours week. With Junk King there was no way to do it on a part-time basis.

Alan: What’s next for you?

Pete: Speaking engagements, so I can reach more people and continue to work with ExecuNet, which is a private community made up of over 750,000 CEOs, VPs and various leaders and influencers.

Alan: Any final words?

Pete: I would say that for franchising, people need to have an open mind. When people ask me about franchising, they have already made up their mind that it would be food (McDonalds, etc.) They have that in mind because they see a lot of people eating at those restaurants so they assume it is a good business to get into. I help them understand that the food business is very competitive; has high capital investment and a high cost of goods sold (the food). There are over 3000 franchises in every conceivable business that may fit their needs. It doesn’t have to be food.
But regardless of what business you go in, whether it is a franchise or not, you need to work hard. There is no substitute for hard work.

Alan: Good words to live by. Thanks for your time.

Second Entrepreneur

Our second entrepreneur was a successful telecom executive before going into his own business. He shares key ideas on making your business grow. Meet Rick Lochner.

Alan: How did you come to be an entrepreneur?

Rick: I’ve known for some time that I wanted to be in my own business and that it would be in the leadership area. I worked with entrepreneurial company and it was sold 2 years after I started. I went to another company and 2 years later it was sold. The turmoil of being at companies that are going through turnarounds is very difficult for everyone involved. It is very long hours, great stress and often the rewards of that hard work just aren’t there. I’ve been laid off 4 times in my career so I knew corporate has no security. I even negotiated my severance package before I went to work a healthcare company.

Alan: How exactly did going into your own business occur?

Rick: My wife and I were having brunch with a couple and we talked about how it would be great to start business and details on what that business would look like when it started in a few years. At the end of the meal, I said, “Why are we waiting; let’s do it!” It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Alan: What do you like best about being an entrepreneur?

Rick: The best thing is I get to do what I love. In corporate, there were many things I had to do that I really didn’t enjoy. Being an entrepreneur, being in my own business, enables me to live with purpose and that is very meaningful to me.

Alan: Is there anything you would do differently now if you were just starting your business?

Rick: I would have pursued the non-profit market right away. I didn’t because people told me there is no money in that business, but that is not true. That market needs to be approached differently than for-profit but they need my services just as much. Now non-profit is 25% of my business. But you asked if I would have done anything differently and the answer is no. The business strategy worked and I would have approached starting the business the same way.

Alan: What challenges did you have starting out?

Rick: I started the business in July 2008. The US was already in a recession and financial markets were in turmoil and little did I know things in the business world were about to get a lot worse. I had worked in telecom for many years as an executive and I had been quite successful. I had a load of contacts at my previous company, Sprint; there were many people that knew me well and respected me but I was not able to get business from them. They still saw me as a telecom executive and not as knowledgeable in leadership development, even though I had been developing leaders at Sprint. I had traveled a lot during me years in corporate and my connections in Chicago were no better than in Atlanta or any other U.S. city. I knew I needed to develop roots in the local community. I joined Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce and started to created circles of influence. In time the contacts I made developed into connections for the business. It wasn’t easy, but I went all in; 100% to make the business work.

Why having a part-time business is so important

Alan: What advice would you give to someone that is climbing the corporate ladder?

Rick: Every corporate employee should have a part time gig to provide a bridge to go into business for themselves or just to have a secondary income source. I started teaching leadership at Keller School of Business in 2004. Teaching helped in the 8 months transition to my business full-time. It provided income after getting laid-off; making it easier to focus on the growth of the business and not where the next paycheck was coming from.

Alan: What has been the biggest challenge in your learning curve as an entrepreneur?

Rick: Marketing was new to me; I had not worked in that area. So I put together my business plan and my marketing plan and discussed it in detail with my two mastermind groups. They both said the business plan was great and was going to work but the marketing plan was not good. So I was tutored in marketing from people that were 20 years younger than me and their advice was spot on. This taught me a couple of valuable things. 1) You have to know what you are good at and what you are not good at and find experts in the areas that you are not good. 2) Spend a lot of time with people 20s to early 40s in order to gain insights on trends.

Alan: What additional advice would you give to someone that was looking to start their own business?

Rick: Know what problem you are trying to solve and position yourself so that is clear that you are the only one that can solve it. Too many people get hung up on their product or service and less focused on the problem to be solved. If you are going to go for it, then you really have to go for it. At the core, you have to know how to solve the problem in a unique way.

Alan: How did your writing a book come about?

Rick: The business model I developed has been a work in progress since 1999. I used that model to align the business at every organization I led as an executive. Often we try to fix a problem in an isolated way which doesn’t work. The process may not be broken; it may be the people, so you need a holistic approach. I wrote the first book in 2012 to complete my initial business strategy and a book does that. I was advised by a couple of authors and self-published it. I needed to promote the business alignment method and the book helps clarify the model as well as promote the business. I asked clients what is perfect length for a book and they said a Chicago to Los Angeles flight, which is about 4 ½ hours.

Alan: You’ve actually published multiple books. How did you come with your ideas?

Rick: The second book was to help the individual leader and the third book was for the entrepreneurs. I write books that apply to the business areas I work in.

Alan: How do you find the time to write?

Rick: The secret to success is having a coach. I’ve had 3 accountability coaches so far and each one helped me in a different way. When I first started the business, I needed an accountability coach; someone that would keep me accountable and keep me encouraged. She was the type of person I needed at that time. Keep in mind, I was starting this business during the depths of the Great Recession and needed that support. The second coach helped me write the books, not from the standpoint that he had ideas for the book, but he was able to get me moving along on the development of the book. I actually wrote the first book while my wife was driving during vacation because I was on a self-imposed deadline and needed to get it done. The third coach has helped me grow the business and take it took another level. If I would have had her in the beginning, it would not have worked well. Now that the business is growing and I am at a different place in my thinking and my business, she is exactly what I need.

Alan: Any final thoughts?

Rick: I talked with 20 different coaches before starting out in leadership coaching and based on my research, billions of dollars is wasted on leadership that doesn’t work. I am on a crusade to change that one leader at a time. It will take time to undo the wrong things that leaders are doing today; takes time to unlearn. But I will continue to work with them, one leader at a time. It is my passion.

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Brainstorming To Start A Small Business – Questions To Answer

Hello readers and potential future entrepreneurs. I understand the feeling; desire to create, operate, and succeed. Throughout my professional career, I have learned that there are numerous steps that must be taken in order to organize opening and operating a small business. I have put together a few questions which aspiring entrepreneurs should, at the very least, consider reading over. There are many questions that may arise with opening a small business, and I will address a few of those questions briefly in the following list of questions one may ask while brainstorming.

What type of business do you want to open? There are various business endeavors an entrepreneur could involve themselves in. It all comes down to what knowledge one has, or is willing to obtain. Are you a restaurateur? Repairman? Plumber? Home health / assistance? Do you have experience managing or working at such establishments? Do you need formal education from an institution? Will you work as a sole proprietor, or a partner / member? Research limited liability corporations (LLCs) in addition to sole proprietorships and partnerships. S corporations are another option, but they are for business with stockholders, and may not be right for your particular business application.

What kinds of licensing and/or permits are required? Each business will have different licensing requirements; it all comes down to what the entrepreneur ultimately chooses to do. A restaurant would need food safety licensing in addition to basic business licensing, and if alcohol is on the menu – there is another permit the entrepreneur would need to legally sell alcohol on the premises. Repair oriented businesses would need at least the business license to repair, but if they sell parts as well, they would need to have “retail” listed on their business license in addition to “repair”. Health care services require at least formal education and licensing as an LPN, RN, or one of several other health care related licenses. Be sure to check your state’s laws to ensure what is necessary to operate your type of business.

What training / education / certifications are required to legally run this business? We touched upon this in licensing / permits, however there is much more involved than the required licensing. For example, one cannot operate a vehicle collision repair business without the knowledge of performing those types of repairs. There are schools that can be attended to learn what must be learned to effectively operate nearly any kind of business. However, there are also businesses where experience is enough to operate effectively without needing any formal education (lawn care, house cleaning just to name a couple). Also, there are certifications for training in nearly, if not all, care industries.

Does this business require a storefront? Retail establishments will undoubtedly need a storefront. Bear in mind, retail business will have a much larger initial investment than a service based operation. That initial investment is inventory. Some service businesses may not need a storefront to operate, as much of the service performed could very well be on-site. If a storefront is necessary, be sure to consider delivery or on-site service if it is feasible for your operation.

How much will it cost? This number will vary wildly based on the type and size of business you are planning. For smaller businesses, this number could be as low as $200 for a license and/or permit, or as high as a million dollars or more. Obviously, inventory is very expensive, and so are specialized tools for performing extremely precise work. Calculate the expected opening and operating expenses. Determine what size storefront is needed (if applicable), and research local commercial realty properties, locations, and prices. It is absolutely cheaper to rent in the short-term, although the thought of owning property that is paid off is very tempting. Prices on most things will vary based on your location. Employees are another cost, if your business warrants employees. When employees come into the equation as opposed to sole proprietors or partnerships, one must add extra insurance for the business (unemployment insurance comes to mind). Check with your selected insurance company for which types of additional coverage are required, and if offering health insurance can be done reasonably. Those employees will also need to have taxes paid on their wages – part from the employee’s paycheck and part from the company. Another potential cost is repayment of loans, if you don’t already have the capital needed to open your business. Basic operating expenses are not to be forgotten, as heating/cooling, Internet connectivity, and utilities will be regular expenditures for any storefront. On-site service operations cost very little when compared to a physical storefront.

How can an individual pay for this? If you do not have the funds available, which is very common, applying for loans is a way to attain funding. Be sure to have a business plan with projected expenses and revenues. There are other ways to gain funds for a business. Look into grants. While they are not very common, they are a potential source for assistance nonetheless. If many people believe in your dream, one could possibly acquire donations from those individuals.

What about accounting? Bookkeeping is a necessity – research which accounting/bookkeeping software would work best for the type of business you are planning. Point-of-sale (POS) systems are needed for “ringing up” and selling inventory or goods to the customer. POS systems keep track of sales, sales taxes, employee labor dollars spent, and many other items. If you are apt at creating spreadsheets, you may be able to keep track of your own inventory depending on your particular business model.

I hope this brief listing of questions and potential answers has been of assistance to aspiring entrepreneurs. Although there are countless successful entrepreneurs who have little or no formal education in business, it is never a bad idea to research courses regarding administration and management. Be sure to take a look at the Small Business Administration’s website at http://www.SBA.gov for more helpful information.

The author, Johnathan Baker, is an educated entrepreneur, with over ten years of experience in small business administration and management. Opening any type of business is no simple task, as many things must be considered. With experience opening, operating, and managing small businesses, the author aims to help aspiring entrepreneurs in realizing their dreams. While the questions are not all inclusive, they are, at the very least, a good bit of information to consider throughout the beginning processes of opening a small business. Take the information provided and begin or continue working on your business plan on the road to entrepreneurship.

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Boosting Your Brain Power

The old theory that DNA could not be changed and that you would be stuck with what you were born with has now been disproved. Researchers found that your DNA actually changes continuously based on your experiences, emotions, and environment.

Our views of the brain have also altered in a similar way as our views of DNA. Science has now provided more and more evidence that your brain is malleable and adapts continuously in response to your lifestyle, physiology, and environment. This concept is called neuroplasticity or brain plasticity, meaning you are literally reforming your brain with each passing day. Your brain possesses the remarkable ability to reorganize pathways, create new connections, as well as neurons (nerve cells) throughout your entire lifetime.

For example, your brain has the ability to move functions from a damaged area to undamaged areas. It also has the ability to change its physical structure as a result of learning. When you acquire a new skill, the more you focus and practice it, the better you become. This is the result of new neural pathways that form in response to your learning efforts.

In the meantime, your brain also undergoes “synaptic pruning”, the elimination of pathways that you no longer use. This phenomenon even applies to emotional states. For instance, if you have a history of anxiety, your neural pathways will become wired for anxiety. However, if you develop tools to feel calm, relaxed, and peaceful, those anxiety pathways will be pruned away from lack of activity.

Consequently, you can see that your brain’s plasticity is highly affected by your way of life. The foods you eat, how much physical activity you have, your emotional states, and sleep patterns all have an influence over how your brain functions. Therefore, there is much that you can do to preserve or even boost your brain power. The following are key factors that will greatly affect your brain’s performance:

1. Link Between Gut Inflammation And Brain Inflammation

The fundamental mechanism that underlies chronic diseases, including the ones related to the brain like autism, Alzheimer’s, anxiety, depression, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s, is the process of inflammation. Current science is strongly supporting that this process of inflammation actually begins in the gastrointestinal tract, which subsequently spreads to affect the brain.

What are the instigators behind gut inflammation? To the surprise of many, it is predominantly dietary –

The mistake of eating too many carbs resulting in chronic high blood sugar levels. Blood sugar elevation raises the binding of glucose to protein. This process, known as glycation profoundly increases the amount of inflammation in the body.
Opting for a low-fat diet, eating the wrong types of processed, rancid fats, or too few healthy fats.
Insufficient intake of antioxidants, which are mostly found in fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
Consuming too much foods loaded with irritants and toxins, such as chemicals, preservatives, pesticides, GMOs, and heavy metals.
Having undiagnosed sensitivity to gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley) and other foods such as dairy, eggs, and corn.
Candida yeast overgrowth, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), and intestinal parasites all trigger the immune response and lead to gut inflammation.
Inflammation is the body’s natural defense against something it believes to be potentially harmful. For instance, if you sprain your ankle, the body will sense some kind of stress going on. The natural response is to create swelling and pain to reduce movement and promote healing. These are the hallmarks of the inflammatory process; in small doses, it is not a negative thing.

It only turns bad when inflammation gets out of control and becomes chronic. Chronic inflammation is typically low-grade, silent, and produce no symptoms. When the body is constantly under assault, the inflammation response stays on and it spreads to every part of the body through the bloodstream. The brain is particularly susceptible as it is also connected to the gut via the vagus nerve.

Unchecked inflammation results in the production of a variety of inflammatory chemicals called cytokines which are toxic to the cells. The cytokines travel throughout the body causing oxidative stress, leading to a reduction of cellular function and even cellular destruction, and resulting in actual loss of function in the body. Studies using new imaging technology showed dramatic elevation of inflammatory cytokines in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and individuals with other brain disorders. Hence, to prevent brain inflammation, the foremost is to maintain a healthy gut.

2. Foods That Feed The Gut And The Brain

The reason why inflammation is so rampant in western civilization is the modern diet. It is high in foods that provoke inflammation, such as refined flour, excess sugar, oxidized or rancid fats, trans fats, plus a wide range of chemicals and preservatives. And it is low in foods that reduce inflammation, like long-chain omega-3 fats, fermented foods, and fermentable fiber.

The following are some foods that are particularly beneficial to the gut and the brain:

Avocados
Beets
Blueberries
Bone broth (used for healing the gut lining damaged by inflammation)
Broccoli
Coconut oil (used as an alternative fuel for the brain, other than glucose)
Celery
Chocolate, dark only
Egg Yolks
Fermented foods (rich in beneficial bacteria to keep the gut healthy, e.g. kimchee, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, yogurt, and fermented drinks like kefir and kombucha)
Fermentable fiber (used as food for the good gut bacteria, e.g. asparagus, artichokes, garlic, jicama leeks, and onions)
Olive oil, extra virgin
Green, leafy vegetables
Rosemary (anti-inflammatory)
Wild caught Alaskan salmon
Sardines
Turmeric (anti-inflammatory)
3. Exercise To Reduce Inflammation

While bouts of exercise tend to promote acute inflammation, when done regularly over the long term, it actually decreases chronic inflammation. The oxidative stress from the exercise forces your body to build up your antioxidant defenses. This is indicated in studies showing extended exercise programs help reduce inflammatory markers, such as insulin resistance (a risk factor for diabetes) and high sensitivity C-Reactive Protein (an indicator of cardiovascular disease).

However, some people tend to over exercise and it is extremely important to allow for sufficient recovery, especially when doing High Intensity Interval Training (repeated sprints interspersed by recovery). If you over-train, as in marathons, you may do more harm than good since your body needs to recuperate from the damage (acute inflammation) incurred during your workout.

The average American adult spends about 10 hours each day sitting. Research shows that this level of inactivity cannot even be counteracted with a 60-minute workout at the end of each day. So, what do you do if you have a desk job?

Know that the body needs near-continuous movement throughout the day. At the bare minimum, you should get out of the chair every 50 minutes or so and walk around.
One way to increase activity is to simply walk more. It is recommended that you aim for 7,000 to 10,000 steps a day. A fitness tracker will be a useful tool to help you meet your daily goal.
4. Lack Of Sleep Impairs Brain Function

Sleep deprivation is really bad for brain function. Many studies show that sleep loss impairs various cognitive functions and behavior, including arousal, attention, cognitive speed, memory, emotional intelligence, and decision making.

Using brain imaging technology, like functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), scientists compared the brain of someone who was sleep-deprived to the brain of someone who had slept normally. They found reduced metabolism and blood flow in multiple brain regions which indicated impaired cognitive function and behavior.

Several nights of poor sleep or one night of no sleep will start to disrupt your hormonal balance. According to a study from Stanford University, your body’s ghrelin levels, which stimulate feelings of hunger, can jump nearly 15 percent. It also lowers your levels of leptin, a hormone that regulates energy balance, which explains why you tend to feel sluggish when you are sleep-deprived.

Your brain also struggles to curate and sort new memories. You are able to absorb new information but your brain has problems accessing that information and putting it to good use. You may feel distracted, while your reaction time plummets. This makes tasks like driving more difficult and dangerous.

A CDC survey shows that half of Americans (48%) do not get enough sleep. So if you want your brain to stay at tip-top shape, you need to place sleep high on your priority list. In the event that you just cannot get enough nocturnal sleep, a 30-minute nap at lunch time is still helpful although it cannot fully eliminate the negative consequences of sleep deprivation.

5. Vitamin D May Save Your Brain

Much has been learned about the health benefits of vitamin D over the past decade. While it has long been recognized that vitamin D supports strong and healthy bones, its role in brain-related disorders is becoming increasingly evident.

A new study that collaborated multiple highly respected institutions around the world found a profound correlation of low vitamin D level and increased risk of developing dementia. Even having a moderate deficiency of vitamin D was associated with a 53% increased risk of dementia. Those who were severely deficient had a 122% increased risk!

Many people are not aware that vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased inflammation. There are about 30,000 genes in the body, and vitamin D affects nearly 3,000 of them. Your brain has vitamin D receptors too. Therefore, unless you get 20 minutes of sun exposure daily (without using sunscreen on face, arms, and legs), you may want to consider supplementation.

Most people need around 5,000 I.U. a day to reach the optimal level of 50-70 ng/ml as determined by a blood test. If you supplement, opt for vitamin D3, which is the natural form, and take it with vitamin K2, with at least 100 mcg of menaquinone-7 (MK-7). The combination of D3 and K2 will make sure that calcium is deposited in the bones instead of the arteries.

6. Think Positive And Stimulate Your Brain

Stress and anxiety kill existing brain neurons and stop new neurons from being created. Research has shown that positive thinking speeds up the formation of cells and dramatically reduces stress and anxiety. Hence, catch yourself when your negative thoughts surface, discard them, and replace them with positive ones.

When you learn or do new things, new neural pathways are developed. As a result, you want to stimulate your brain on a continuous basis. Remember the phrase – use it or lose it?

Carol Chuang is a Certified Nutrition Specialist and a Metabolic Typing Advisor. She has a Masters degree in Nutrition and is the founder of CC Health Counseling, LLC. Her passion in life is to stay healthy and to help others become healthy. She believes that a key ingredient to optimal health is to eat a diet that is right for one’s specific body type. Eating organic or eating healthy is not enough to guarantee good health. The truth is that there is no one diet that is right for everyone. Our metabolisms are different, so should our diets. Carol specializes in Metabolic Typing, helping her clients find the right diet for their Metabolic Type.

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Why So Many People Will Talk You Out of Online Marketing

In this modern society where almost everything is digital, it is hard to believe that there are still those who prefer traditional methods, such as in the field of advertising.

Online advertising has been a hit in the last decade. Internet marketing has taken over businesses by storm and doubled their revenue. However, some people still see the field as unnecessary and taxing so they try to convince others to veer away. Below are other reasons why some individuals dislike online marketing:

Inability to adapt with technology
A person may refuse the method because they may not be technology savvy. They are afraid that technology is hard to monitor or manipulate so they choose to stay manual.

Mastery of craft
A lot of traditional people spent years perfecting their craft, so they believe that their capabilities are sufficient. Online marketing is a threat to physical advertising because it minimizes the need for logistics, hence the repulsion.

Less Jobs
Some people think that digital work reduces employment opportunities due to computers replacing manual labor. Only a handful of people are necessary to make internet marketing work.

Information Breach
Putting everything on the internet is a risk for hacking or information leakage that’s why many are skeptical about it. Online marketing requires a substantial amount of data that can be easily stolen or erased.

Lack of Equipment
Many marketers don’t have reliable internet or computers to handle critical work. Manual advertising is easier to delegate and segregate, so smaller businesses prefer it.

Lack of Empathy
Advertisers believe that online marketing is not good for client relations because it promotes a more detached form of communication and a robotic response. Manual advertising is more personal so it is easier to convince people.

Lack of Authenticity
Marketers are wary of online advertising because people nowadays are harder to convince, especially in terms of the authenticity of a product. Since everything can be manipulated or edited, they would have to work more to attract clients.

Population of Non-internet users
A big percent of the population is still manual so it is impractical to promote online marketing in these areas. Online commercials only work with regular exposure but if the audience only uses the internet a few times then it is a wasted effort. Manual advertising is beneficial when people are more inclined to support physical efforts or are part of a community network.

Promotes Mediocrity
Senior marketers believe that online marketing encourages laziness in the younger advertisers because most materials can be recycled, edited or rehashed. Marketing is a skill developed from experience and virtual training may not be enough to develop and create a better breed of advertisers.

Technology is a waste
People believe that using gadgets and computers are harmful to the health of workers so they don’t encourage the employment related to such. Manual advertising promotes brain functions through practice and personal relationships development. It is important for some people to backlog technology to help the environment.

Despite the many reasons why people may talk you out of online marketing, it is still undeniable that this form of marketing has a lot of potential. Learn how you can maximize the web when it comes to marketing your products and services, so you can expand your reach.

John Richards has many years of experience creating and developing books, eBooks, manuals, and videos, on a variety of subjects, including online wealth, pet care, Internet marketing, direct mail, health and wellness, and CD/DVD distribution service. John’s website provides ideas and practical advice for people who want to enjoy the rewards of earning an income from home using simple websites.

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The Obstacles Home Business Owners Face When They Start A Home Business

If you have made up your mind and you are 100% certain about starting a home business, then you might have in mind what product or service you want to market. You should also know that for the first two years you will be devoted to making your business grow. If you are willing to take a huge risk such as this, you will need to be motivated, determined and confident. There are numerous obstacles that you could run into if you don’t take the necessary precautions.

To work your way through the start-up of your business you will need to take the following steps

SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats). By knowing and using this method, you will be aware of what competition you are facing, where your business can grow, and you will get a better understanding of the business market.

Form a business plan. Forming a business plan can be overwhelming and slightly confusing. A business plan should include the audience that will be looking at your plan, an outline of the business plan, a collection of research and data, a general abstract of the market, an inquiry profile, finances, and finally the executive summary.
Funds for the business startup. Do you have the resources needed to start the business or do you need to find the money or money lender?

Naming your business. What will be the name of your business? This is a crucial and significantly important element.

Electing your business structure. Sometimes people get confused due to the business types. You will need to elect the right business partners. The choice you make will cause an impact on your business.

The license and permit. This entails registering your business, you might also need a business identification number, and may also include other tax licenses and zoning permits.

The location. This step also entails many minor tasks such as finding the right location for your business, buying office supplies and equipment and designing your business place.

The insurance. You are responsible for any risks associated to your business. Getting a business insurance will protect your office of any disasters or litigations that could occur.

Lastly, create an accounting system. Many individuals that want to start their own business tend to fail because they get caught up with location and buying supplies and other details that they forget to keep an account of money going in and out. A good option would be to hire a professional accountant that will keep track of the businesses finances.

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