Your Business Mission – What the Heck Do You Do, Anyway?

Do you really need a business mission statement? Is it just some fancy words to put in that business plan that collections dust on your shelf, or is there really more to it?

One of the key attributes of successful businesses is that they clearly know what they do. Defining the goal or the "mission" of your business can be the key to your success.

A good mission statement does three things:

"States what business you are in." Defines your target market. "Provides inspiration for your business.

One of the best examples of a mission statement comes from Levi Strauss & Co. [http://www.levistrauss.com/Company/ValuesAndVision.aspx]

"We will market and distribute the most appealing and widely worn apparel brands. Our products define quality, style and function. We will clothe the world."

Clothing the world is a pretty lofty goal, but Levi Strauss has the ability to do this for one reason — Their founder, Levi Strauss, started the business with a mission and focus.

Levi started his wholesale dry goods business in San Francisco February, 1853. Rather than hoping to make his fortune in the Gold Rush, he created a fortune by wholesaling clothing and fabric to the small stores supplying the thousands of miners and later, families of the West.

In 1872, he was contacted by Jacob Davis, a tailor who had developed a method to rivet the stress points of the pants he made from fabric he bought from-you guessed it — Levi Strauss. Jacob did not have the funds to patent the process, so he teamed up with Levi Strauss to patent the original blue jean in 1873. The rest is history.

Now, if Levi Strauss was your typical small business, he would probably have spun off in ten different directions in their early years, but the company remained focused on supplying quality clothing and fabrics to the working men and women of the West, and later the world. Rather than focusing on their core market, they would have fallen into the AFAB method … Anything for a Buck.

Most small businesses suffer from this lack of focus.

When we work with struggling business owners, the first thing we ask them is "What is your bread and butter?" What one product or service provides you with the majority of your business profit?

Unfortunately, most business owners can not answer that question. They did not define their core product or service and target market when they started, and end up doing a little bit of everything, and nothing well.

Or, they focus most of their time on a product or service line that they like, without knowing whether it actually is their most profitable.

Fortunately, there is an easy fix for this problem.

You have to determine your gross profit margin from each of your product lines or services. Get together with your accountant, and figure out what you need to do to separate your revenue and expenses by the major product lines of your business. Then, you can find out your gross profit margin, or the percentage of gross profit you receive from each activity.

The product or service with the highest gross profit margin is your core business activity. It is the bread and butter of your business, and the key to your company profits.

Now, you must focus as much of your company resources as possible on this core activity. Market it, systemize it, and turn your business into a machine for duplicating this product or service over and over again.

What happens?

Well, rather than running around like a chicken with your head cut off, putting out fires all over your business, you suddenly have the focus to know where to spend your time and energy. You know your core, and you can work to make a good thing even better.

This focus will transform your business and your life.

Remember the term "Jack of All Trades, but Master of None"? You can not really really good at something without focus, and focusing on your most profitable core product or service will make your business even more efficient.

Does this mean that you should never expand beyond your core? Of course not, but you must make sure you are really good at your core product or service before you venture into different directions. Creating a strong bread and butter business will give you the base necessary to expand.

Your core product or service is the foundation for your business. Build it well.

Video Professor

Video Professor Review

Whether you are trying to learn how to work with popular word processing programs, or navigate the difficult paths towards selling items on eBay, video professor is there to teach you everything you need to know about computer applications and the internet. With over fifty tutorials available on an easy to view disc, it is easy to learn everything that you need to know.

Never again will you be accused of being non-computer friendly, or be behind the times with the applications you are expected to use in the office on a daily basis. You can learn at your own pace, on your own schedule – about programs that you want to learn about. Whether you are trying to learn a program without any background knowledge, or just brush-up on the techniques of the program – these tutorials are suited for beginners to those with novice experience.

With interactive lessons, many find themselves learning sooner than they have with other programs – which they spent hundreds of dollars, and hours upon hours of study on. Now, the courses are available on the internet, so even those with the most basic of internet skill are able to learn with ease, on their own schedule, through the use of the convenient internet applications that demonstrate examples and teach lessons as each tutorial evolves.

How do you know these lessons are right for you? An hour is the average length of the video professor tutorials, and people are always shocked at how much they were able to learn within one short hour. Although many of the lessons go over an hour, the information presented is organized in such a fashion that it teaches as much as possible in the shortest period of time. Each lesson has been fine-tuned to be as effective as possible, and can be watched again and again to brush up on the skills learned within the interactive tutorial. Even one of the most difficult programs to master, Microsoft Excel, sees success when students are taught by video professor.

Programs difficult to master, like Photoshop could cost up to five hundred dollars to learn in a classroom environment. Considering, that lessons can be obtained for a percentage of that price, why wouldn’t you want to try that out? Whether you are an aspiring photographer or an amateur trying to brush up your photo retouching skills – video professor is for everyone! With detailed tutorials, learning tools and interactive features that debunk the myths of the internet, it is possible to learn any program within the program!

There are many benefits to taking these tutorials on the internet. Not only can you take them when you have the time, but you can get the same information that is taught in many college classrooms throughout the country, for a fraction of the price.

Video professor is so sure about their services that they offer a free tutorial to new customers, to gauge how much can be learned from only one session of video professor. These samples are well-placed and should be tried before you choose which program you are going to learn about next. Get a free trial of the Video Professor [http://couponredeemer.com/videoprofessor] program with our coupon plan.

A Brand New Recipe For Branding

In a recent article, I told the story of when I was a young whippersnapper, attaining classes at what was then and still is called "one of the more famous hotel schools in North America", the marketing professor gave us an interesting, but quite challenging assignment.

We were to find a hospitality business that marketed itself by using the participation of the owner as part of the "distinctiveness" of the business. At the time, this seemed like a most difficult assignment, because in those days, it seemed that not too many people really stood out in this field. At least that what it seemed like to me in my youth. Or maybe it was just that they did not want to either make a fool of themselves. There seemed little need to drive the world to their door. I chose a very different restaurant enclosed within an old 19th century Mansion in this very cosmopolitan city. It was called Julie's Mansion and was owned and operated by a very eccentric, but wonderful showman who knew that he had to differentiate his restaurant from all the rest. He knew that the best way to do that – after the assumption of great food, entertainment and service – was to turn himself into the "brand."

My job, as a young hospitality student, was to watch him carefully and learn as much as I could. One Saturday night I showed up and Julie was trying to 'insert' himself into the home team's pro hockey uniform. It was immediately obvious that Julie had never played hockey. To see a middle-aged man struggling to get into and then have to have me extricate him from the jersey, equipment, elbow pads et al, was hilarious for a young guy like me, who had been on skates and playing the game since age four. He certainly was not afraid to make a fool of himself. When I showed up that night, he had less than no idea what piece of equipment went where, and was struggling with the shin guards. He had got himself all tangled up with what he thought were hip guards, when in fact they were shoulder pads, worn over the shoulders. It was indeed the first time I had ever seen a 'player' wearing shoulder pads, stretched around his butt.

I helped him get 'dressed'. Next came the taping of the hockey stick. This was really hilarious, watching this fellow trying to figure out the right way to tape a hockey stick without making a mess of it and looking foolish to his customers. He had a special plan for that stick.

I taped his stick and now he was ready. He had on his uniform, equipment and helmet, borrowed from one of the local NHL players who were a frequent guest at the mansion. Now, he actually looked like a real NHL hockey player … in black and white running shoes, sans skates!

Then Julie 'flew through' the different alcoves and floors of the restaurant with a big ball of foodservice aluminum foil as his 'puck'. He stick-handled in and out and between tables, took shots with the aluminum ball off the walls, cross-checked his own waiters trying to serve tables, all the while yelling cheers and the phrase made famous' round the world, by Foster Hewitt : "he shoots …. he scores!" All this, at the top of his lungs. Then he had planned for a horn to sound loudly indicating that the 'period of play' in his imaginary 'game' was over. It was now time to go to the dressing room. In a flash, just like an on-stage magician, he quickly disappeared into thin air, hidden in his office.

My face was covered in tears. I could not stop laughing! The restaurant was in an uproar. Guests were laughing so hard … one guy literally fell off his chair. The waiters were laughing, the guests were laughing, I was laughing and all the while Julie was having a ball too. Here was a restaurateur who made his work fun.

I had not met one of these types before. I really liked and respected this fellow. But I figured then, and still today, that anyone who had that much fun … and made that much money … must know something the others did not. And he did. He became his own brand. 'Distinctive. 'Differentiated. 'There is attractive to people who are sick of seeing the same old, same old every day. People are attracted to differences not similarities. Take a look at what you can do with yours. It's right under your own nose.

© Copyright, Roy W. MacNaughton, 2006

Shipping Companies’ International Services – What Mode of Transport to Use?

There are a few freight forwarders which ship goods only within the same country. Usually, the shipping companies' international services are quite extensive. Most are able to arrange any mode of product transportation for their clients. You will certainly get the advice and assistance that you require to make a decision, but the final choice is yours. That is why it is important to know as much as possible about the available options and to be able to define your needs clearly.

The choices of transport which you can select from include road, rail, sea and air. Of course, the range of options may be limited depending on the initial location of the goods and their final destinations. For instance, if you want to use shipping companies' international services for transporting goods from New Zealand to Australia or from the US to Europe, you will have just two variants – sea and air. Taking, these limits into account, you can quickly define the criteria which you will base your choice on.

What is the nature of your product? What are the weight, size and volume of the goods? Perishable products such as fruits and vegetables require faster shipping from one country to another so that they can be effectively preserved. In this case, speed should be the leading criterion when making a choice. Most companies export large volumes of goods with reasonable weight and this is the reason why sea transport is often preferred for international shipping. This mode of transport is suitable for goods with odd shapes and sizes. On the other hand, for a small volume of goods even air transport can be cheaper.

How important are speed and safety for you? Undoubtedly, the fastest choice of transport available is air. However, it is typically the most expensive of all shipping companies' international services as well. In this case, you have to know exactly how much faster delivery will cost you and whether you can afford to pay the price.

When it comes to safety, you have to consider the risks associated with the different kinds of transport. For instance, air transport accident is much less likely than a road transport accident. However, in case of a plane crash, the risk of your goods being completely destroyed is times higher.

How much can you afford to pay for the transportation of your goods? It is best to compare the costs of each mode of transport for your particular product depending on its nature, size and volume. This will help you make the right choice between the shipping companies' international services.